|Cheryl Rae Tiegs is an American model, actress, designer, author, and entrepreneur. Frequently described as the first American supermodel, Tiegs is best known for her multiple appearances on the covers of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and TIME and for her 1978 “Pink Bikini” poster, which became an iconic image of 1970s pop culture.|
Tiegs was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota, to Phyllis and Theodore Tiegs, a funeral director. Along with her family, Tiegs moved to Alhambra, California in 1952. As a senior at Alhambra High School, Tiegs posed for a swimsuit ad for bathing suit manufacturer Cole of California; the ad, which appeared in Seventeen, launched her career as a model. Although she enrolled as an English major at California State University, Los Angeles, Tiegs left college before her junior year to pursue her career.
Tiegs’ break as a model came when she was 17, after the editorial staff at Glamour saw the Cole’s bathing suit ad. Bypassing the traditional in-person meeting, Tiegs was booked on a shoot in Saint Thomas with Ali McGraw, which resulted in her first Glamour cover. Later that same year, Tiegs made the covers of Seventeen and Elle. She subsequently appeared on the covers of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, among others.
Tiegs was the first model to appear twice on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, but she significantly raised her profile in 1978, when she posed in a fishnet bathing suit which exposed her nipples. Tiegs additionally made the cover of People four times, and did three covers for TIME, most notably for the “All-American Model” cover story in 1978. A year later, she was signed to a reported $1.5 million two-year contract with Cover Girl cosmetics, then the biggest contract ever. In 2004, Tiegs was inducted into the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s 40th anniversary “Hall of Fame,” and was included on People’s 2008 50 Most Beautiful People list, and Men’s Health Magazine’s 2012 “100 Hottest Women of All Time” feature. In 2001 Tiegs posed in a bikini for the cover of More, and earned considerable praise for breaking age barriers related to fitness, fashion, and beauty.
Tiegs met photographer Peter Beard in New York in 1978. In 1979, she traveled to Kenya with him on a photographic expedition to investigate the management and widespread destruction of African wildlife; their journey was documented in an Emmy-winning episode of ABC’s ‘‘American Sportsman’’ titled “Africa: End of the Game.” Tiegs and Beard were married in 1981; between 1978 and 1982 she traveled back and forth between the US and Hog Ranch in Kenya. In 1979, LOOK Magazine ran a cover story titled “Cheryl Tiegs: The New African Queen.” She was also featured on the cover of Outside in 1980.
In 1980, Tiegs launched a signature line of clothing and accessories for Sears. The first retail venture by a supermodel, the Cheryl Tiegs collection neared 1 billion in sales by 1989. Tiegs was credited with helping the retail chain’s 1980s turnaround, and once again appeared on the cover of TIME, this time for a cover story titled “Sassy Sears.” A doll in her likeness was created in 1990 as part of the “Real Model Collection,” which additionally featured Christie Brinkley and Beverly Johnson. In 1995, Tiegs established “Cheryl Tiegs Sportwear,” which sold exclusively on QVC. She also developed a line of wigs and hair accessories for Revlon.
In 2012, Tiegs was a contestant on Celebrity Apprentice, with proceeds from her participation benefiting the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. She has also appeared on NBC’s Just Shoot Me, Oxygen’s Girls Behaving Badly and in a recurring role portraying herself on Family Guy. Tiegs hosted a 13-part travel adventure series, Pathfinders: Exotic Journeys for the Travel Channel, appeared as a judge on the ABC reality show True Beauty, and was a regular guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Additionally, Tiegs has frequently appeared on The Today Show, Access Hollywood, Extra, and The Dr. Oz Show. Her film credits include Vincent Gallo’s The Brown Bunny and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story with John C. Reilly. Tiegs created and was featured in Sports Illustrated’s exercise video “Aerobic Interval Training.”
Tiegs is the spokeswoman for Renewal: A Time for You, a program created by Deepak Chopra which offers practical advice on healthy lifestyle changes for women in transition. Additionally, she is the spokesperson for Cambria, a producer of natural quartz surfaces, and the TriVita Health and Wellness company’s Nopalea, an anti-inflammatory drink which is derived from the cactus of the Sonoran Desert.
Tiegs is active in the philanthropic community, and serves on the Board of Directors of C.O.A.C.H. for Kids and the Earth Conservation Corps. She is a spokesperson for City of Hope and an Ambassador for the International Planned Parenthood Foundation. Tiegs also supports the Macula Vision Research Foundation, I Am Waters, and the Farrah Fawcett Foundation. As an activist, Tiegs explored the effects of global warming via an expedition to the Arctic. She also participated in a General Motors environmental program, driving a hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicle for three months to raise awareness for zero emissions. In 2010, she appeared on Living with Ed, to promote environmentally conscious living, and was named “Green Star of the Week” by Access Hollywood.