I am profiling actress Brooke Shields in my forthcoming book It’s the Iron: How My Iron Deficiency was Misdiagnosed as Arthritis, and Why Your Depression, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, and Chronic Pain and Fatigue Might Be Low Iron, Too. Ms. Shields, in her brave autobiographical account of her experience with postpartum depression, Down Came the Rain, was one of the first celebrities to speak out about this common condition. Based on my research and my recently obtained knowledge of Ms. Shields’ life, I have numerous reasons to believe that her postpartum depression was, in fact, caused by low iron. A number of studies have linked the development of PPD to iron deficiency, and there are certain facts of Ms. Shields’ case – including excessive bleeding during and after the delivery of her daughter Rowan – that indicate that this could have been the precipitating factor of her depression.
But that’s not why I’m writing this post! I have also been reading There Was a Little Girl, Ms. Shields’ account of her relationship with her hard-drinking but well-loved manager mother. In it, Ms. Shields recounts numerous details of her early and young adult life, including this charming story of dating a young George Michael! In light of his untimely recent passing, I thought you might get a kick out of reading this biographical tidbit, and I do hope you will “get” all of Ms. Shields’ lyrical references, which add significantly to the cuteness of the piece. But I’ll let her tell it:
“I had recently gone on The Tonight Show to promote On Your Own and Johnny had asked me with whom I would want to be stranded on a desert island. (Such an original question!) I said I had a crush on George Michael. Mom had decorated a denim shirt of mine with ‘WHAM’ in glitter paint and Bedazzles. She glued pins and little pictures of George and surprised me with it to wear to his concert. I almost wore it on Carson.
“As luck would have it, while in Chicago on the book tour, we discovered we were staying at the same boutique hotel as George. Mom was enamored of the fact that he was famous, and she loved his voice. Mom had contacted George’s publicist to say that I was staying in the same place and hoped to meet him if possible. He said he would love to take me to dinner but because of our being bothered by the press we should probably just arrange dinner at the hotel. I nearly fell on my face.
“George decided to get food delivered to the private dining room on the rooftop. I arrived at the meal in colored jeans and a blouse. The table was beautifully set and all the foods I liked had been ordered. George said he had read some place that I liked to be healthy so he picked accordingly. There were flowers and candles and we talked nonstop. He complimented me on my blouse. When dinner was over, George walked me to my hotel room and said he wanted to see me again. He left without even trying to kiss me. I was so touched by what a gentleman he was. (I wanted to yell, ‘Wait, please don’t ‘go-go’!’)
“Back in my hotel bedroom Gavin and my mom had put CAUTION: POLICE LINE. DO NOT CROSS tape all over my bed. There were signs that said THIS MEANS, YOU, GEORGE! I guess this was payback for my sign-hanging stunt down the hallway for Mom after her date with Woody Allen.
“George and I managed to go on a few more dates in New York City that involved shopping or meals. He held my hand and even bought me a mauve cashmere sweater from Charivari on the Upper West Side. I thought he was a remarkable, respectful, and patient gentleman who was obviously aware of my hesitance regarding sex. Mom was thrilled. She said he had good taste and was sweetly old-fashioned. Nobody had ever been willing to move so slowly. It must be love.
“On the night before I was to go back to Princeton for my sophomore year, George invited me to a party for Grace Jones. When we arrived at the club, Boy George ran up to us and started screaming about how he had heard the rumor but was happy to see us actually together. Before the evening got too late, my boyfriend George ‘carelessly’ whispered into my ear, ‘Why don’t we get out of here?’
“We got into the limo and headed back to my home in New Jersey. As we were nearing the house, George put up the partition and turned to me. I thought, Oh my God – I’m going to get to have my first time with George Michael in the back of the limo! Forget Catholicism and the book. Forget my mother. God would understand! I gazed at George with puckered lips. He looked deep into my eyes and said, ‘I think we need to take a break. I need to concentrate on my career.’ WHAM!
“I was devastated. Mom tried to comfort me and promised that I was going to be OK. She obviously didn’t see him as a threat at any stop of the way. Mom encouraged friendships with people like George Michael, Michael Jackson, and John Travolta, because I believe she was impressed by their genuinely sweet natures as well as their level of fame. These were the types of more gentle male friends who loved my mom and did not pose a threat to her.
“I went back to my new place just off campus and cried myself to sleep for weeks. But my sophomore year went by and I finally got over George.”
Sweet story, isn’t it? Shields has many other entertaining stories to tell, and I must say, her insights are often impressive – she is definitely much more than an exceptionally pretty face :)