Sometimes I think I’m pretty,” confides Brooke Shields. “But other times I think, yuk!” That sounds fairly normal for a 13-year-old actress still on the cusp of adolescence, but little else does. Brooke became a moral cause célèbre playing a nude scene as a child prostitute in the movie Pretty Baby. She’s a princess in King of the Gypsies, and in Tilt, due next year, she’s a pinball wizard. And her life is not getting simpler.
Since hitting her teens last May, Shields has wrapped two other movies: Wanda Nevada, in which she plays a gold-rush orphan opposite Peter Fonda, and Just You and Me, Kid, teamed with George Burns (whom Brooke can mimic to perfection). Her fee for modeling (which she began at 11 months) is now up to $3,000 for two to three hours’ work; she is just back from Tokyo where she shot a 60-second commercial for Silkcot, a cotton face pad, and pocketed $144,000. Her next film, Morning, Winter and Night, will bring her $500,000 plus 10 percent and put her atop the teen millionaires, right along with Tatum, Leif and Shaun.
For all of that, Brooke’s allowance holds steady at $5 a week. Still growing (5’6″) and filling out (106 pounds), she teeters between being “just an average kid” (her dad’s words) and “a special gift from God” (according to her mom). While makeup men gush over Brooke’s sensuous lips and thick, shiny tresses, she quietly reads her eighth-grade English text assigned by Manhattan’s New Lincoln School. Fans have sent her everything from rubies to Mace (for self-defense), but Brooke cherishes most an autographed glossy of her unlikely idol, Carol Burnett.
“I’m just a kid who has done things that some kids haven’t,” she says matter-of-factly. Her ever-present mother-manager, Teri, 44, continues to screen her mail, negotiate her contracts (she ruled out one script in which Brooke would age 65 years) and see that the child’s professional life is free of drudgery. “Brooke wants to do young, happy things,” Teri explains. “She’s very clean-minded.” After the controversy over Pretty Baby, Mother has nixed love stories on or off screen: “Brooke isn’t ready to fall in love with a boy and kiss.”
Her social life is restricted to group parties, and a perfect evening is staying home with Mork and Mindy and a Japanese meal. She and her mother, who was divorced from Frank Shields shortly before Brooke was born, will soon move into a 16-room house they purchased for $460,000 in Englewood Cliffs, N.J. There will be a corral for Magic, a chestnut bay filly just given to Brooke by co-star Fonda. “I’m pretty content with what I have,” she says. “I’m a working 13-year-old, but my mom makes sure I have a childhood too.”