Their relationship wasn't romantic, she says, and he was "sort of juvenile"
Brooke Shields tells all about her celebrity romances, her mom and her crazy life as a child star. Subscribe now for instant access to our exclusive PEOPLE cover story and excerpt from her new book.
“From the day we met, we saw something of ourselves in each other,” says the star, 49, who opens up about her history of celeb romances in her new memoir about her mom, There Was a Little Girl. “We felt really safe. Together, we felt impervious to the craziness that swirled around us. We joked about how silly people were and watched movies and ate candy.”
“Of course we loved each other, but nothing happened romantically,” Shields explains. “I would be like, ‘Oh please, knock it off.’ He was like this kid who would ask you [about dating and romance]. Nobody was telling him and nurturing this stuff and I think he was terrified. He was terrified and sort of juvenile. I think there was an arrested development.”
Still, she notes, “He wanted us to never not be with each other. It wasn’t something that people were going to understand. It was so much easier to marginalize it and diminish it.” He even gave her a ring to mark their friendship. “It sparkles and you sparkle,” she says he told her.
In the end, she says, “We understood that the other person had no agenda. I wasn’t trying to get anything from him. We’d go to obscure restaurants and could just sort of commiserate and say ‘Aren’t people crazy?’ ”
Jackson took her as his date to Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding, and they also shared private jokes on the red carpet.
“I would have this running commentary under my breath that only he heard: ‘Five, four, three, two, one and yes, I’d love to sign our autograph!’ ” she recalls. “I think it made both of us feel like we weren’t going through the isolation of being that famous alone.”
“His mom asked me to speak,” she says. “The magnitude of that is unbelievable to me. She just said, ‘You knew him.’ My one concern was her. She was sort of my main focus, and Janet and the kids.”
For more of Brooke’s bombshells, come back to PEOPLE.com every day at 3 p.m. ET! And for much more of PEOPLE’s exclusive excerpt from Brooke Shields’s memoir and her revealing interview, pick up a copy of the newest issue, on newsstands now
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