Family & Companions
Statuesque actress Brigitte Nielsen enjoyed brief Hollywood stardom in the mid-1980s opposite her then-husband, Sylvester Stallone, in such films as "Rocky IV" (1987), but found more lasting fame as a unapologetic participant in numerous reality series, including "The Surreal Life" (The WB/VH1, 2003-2006). Born Gitte Nielsen in Rodovre, a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark, on July 15, 1963, she had a relatively normal childhood, marked by an interest in swimming and work at a local bakery. But at the age of 16, Nielsen decided to leave school to pursue a career in modeling. Her Scandinavian heritage and considerable height - she stood 6'1" - made her a striking representative for some of international fashion's most famous lines, including Versace and Armani. Producer Dino De Laurentiis invited her to audition for an action film he was producing, and in 1985, Nielsen made her acting debut in "Red Sonja," a fantasy film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and co-starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film did modest business at the box office, but Nielsen drew more headlines for a relationship with Sylvester Stallone that culminated in marriage just 19 months after their first meeting. Nielsen would co-star with Stallone in two films - "Rocky IV" (1985), which cast her as the steely Soviet wife of Dolph Lundgren's Ivan Drago, and "Cobra" (1985), with Nielsen as a model and love interest to Stallone's taciturn cop - and enjoyed a starring role with Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop II" (1987). Her marriage to Stallone ended that same year amidst a storm of allegations, including infidelity on Nielsen's part; when the split was finalized, her film career went into rapid decline. She shifted her attention to a music career, and enjoyed Top 40 success in Germany and Austria with the Giorgio Moroder-penned single "Body Next to Body." Subsequent releases failed to repeat the success, and Nielsen soon divided her time between hosting duties on European talk and variety shows and low-budget American films, including "Chained Heat II" (1993), which capitalized on her waning celebrity and icy appeal. During this period, Nielsen was romantically linked to American football player Mark Gastineau, with whom she had a son in 1989, before marrying director/photographer Sebastian Copeland. That union, along with her third marriage to Raoul Meyer, ended in divorce, and she took up with Mattie Dessi before becoming linked to Public Enemy co-founder Flavor Flav. The couple co-starred in the third season of the reality series "The Surreal Life," and to the surprise of many, struck up a romantic, if volatile relationship. A subsequent series, "Strange Love" (VH1, 2005), documented the spectacular flameout of their relationship, after which Nielsen married Dessi in 2006. She returned to tabloid prominence the following year for a stint in treatment for alcohol dependency issues, which led to her participation in another VH1 reality series, "Celebrity Rehab" (2008-2012). Nielsen soon settled into steady work as a contestant on European competition series, including "Ich bin ein Star - Holt mich hier raus!" ("I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!" RTL Television, 2004- ), which she won in 2012. She also penned a best-selling autobiography, Gitte Nielsen - You Only Have One Life - This is How I Found Myself Again, in 2009, and in June 2018, drew headlines for giving birth to her fifth child at the age of 54.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Feature film debut in "Red Sonja"; producer Dino De Laurentiis reportedly picked Nielsen to play the heroine opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger; film was a critical and commercial disappointment
Appeared with then-husband Sylvester Stallone in the action features "Rocky IV" (1985) and "Cobra" (1986)
Cast as a villain in the sequel "Beverly Hills Cop II" opposite Eddie Murphy's Axel Foley
Released debut album, the dance-oriented <i>Every Body Tells a Story</i>
Acted the CBS TV-movie "Murder by Moonlight"
Cast alongside Jim Varney and Corey Haim in the comedy feature "Snowboard Academy"
Reemerged in mainstream U.S. television when she co-starred on the third season of "The Surreal Life" (VH1)
Co-starred with Flavor Flav on the VH1 spin-off reality series "Strange Love"
Appeared on the U.K. version of "Celebrity Big Brother" (BBC) alongside former mother-in-law Jackie Stallone
Attempted to beat her alcohol addiction on "Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew" (VH1)
Celebrated two years of sobriety
Won Season 6 of the German verison of "I'm a Celebrity - Get Me Out of Here!"