How did Brigitte Nielsen end up as a drunk in the park?
Brigitte Nielsen, who has a minor role in the upcoming low-budget movie Skinny Dip, says she defied the threat of kidnap from drugs gangs while filming in crime-torn Colombia.
Perhaps it goes without saying that a Palme d’Or award at the next Cannes Film Festival is hardly on the cards. But then, Brigitte Nielsen, 49, is brutally aware that beggars can’t be choosers.
And for now, the Danish-born actress, the ex-wife of Sylvester Stallone, has more pressing concerns than her once glittering, but long since washed-up, movie career.
Brigitte Nielsen’s continuing personal disintegration was starkly – and tragically – illustrated this week in pictures of her drunk and confused in broad daylight in a Los Angeles park.
The statuesque blonde was photographed swigging from a half-bottle of Popov vodka – a U.S. brand seen more often clutched by down-and-outs than in the bars of the finer Hollywood establishments she once frequented.
In other shots, Brigitte Nielsen is seen coughing while dragging on a cigarette and being ill on a park bench. Eventually, she curls up in the foetal position on the grass to sleep off the bender.
Most pitifully of all, perhaps, Brigitte Nielsen is then seen drinking mouthwash in a bid, one imagines, to cover up evidence of the binge, before wandering off home to her much younger fifth husband, Italian former bartender Mattia Dessi, 33.
From Hollywood “glamazon” to hopeless alcoholic, – it’s a cruel fall from grace. Particularly as, for all her professional travails – which have seen her submit herself to the indignities of the international reality television circuit – the woman once dubbed The Great Dane appeared to have beaten the addiction to booze that saw her enter rehab five years ago.
Just what has gone so very wrong for the 6 ft 1 in former model, now a mother of four, who had leading men such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sean Penn falling at her feet?
Brigitte Nielsen blamed the latest episode on the stress of her mother being ill. She told an American website: “Looking at the pictures, I can understand the level of worrying, but I can assure everyone there is no cause for alarm.”
“I just haven’t been coping well with my mother’s illness. I’m not making any excuses. I have spoken to my sponsor from Alcoholics Anonymous, and I continue to go to meetings. I’m committed to my sobriety, and I’m not going to let this momentary relapse define me.
“I’m not perfect, and I’m battling a disease, and yes, there will be setbacks, but I know what I need to do in order to be healthy.”
But already, Hollywood is buzzing with rumors that it is money troubles that led Brigitte Nielsen, who once blew hundreds of thousands of dollars on a single shopping spree, to fall off the wagon so spectacularly.
She has left a string of debts as her career, which saw her cast as the leading lady to Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Eddie Murphy in the Eighties, has flatlined.
Last night, former close friend and manager Ryan Glasgow, who played a pivotal part in helping her beat the bottle before, claimed he is one of several high-profile industry figures to whom she apparently is in debt.
“Brigitte’s financial position is precarious,” claimed Ryan Glasgow.
“She owes me a lot of money. She has had a few managers since we parted company, and it’s because she owes them all money, too.
“Everyone thought she received a fortune when she was divorced from Sylvester Stallone, but I know she walked away from him with almost nothing. I did some work for her and lined up a TV pilot for her, then she just vanished, and I haven’t had any contact from her for two years.
“In the end, I just accepted the loss of money because I was happy she was sober and living a happy life. But it was a bit of an elephant in the room where she was concerned. Despite the issues between us, it is heartbreaking what has happened to her, because Brigitte is basically a good human being and a good person.
“But she is sick. I helped her get sober the first time in 2007 and got her into a clinic. She was very keen to get herself clean and was very excited and happy to be changing her life. I thought she was still sober.”
Ryan Glasgow adds: “Sadly, alcoholism is a disease. As anyone who follows the celebrity world knows, it is not uncommon, but it is unfortunate.”
Last year, Brigitte Nielsen wrote a tell-all book, You Only Get One Life.
The book chronicles in all-too-graphic detail how she once attempted suicide, lived through an abusive (fourth) marriage, as well as her adulterous fling with Arnold Schwarzenegger when they starred in her 1985 film debut Red Sonja.
Brigitte Nielsen need for cash has also led to her lurching from one reality TV show to another – with her willing to accept the public humiliation. Having appeared in the British version of Celebrity Big Brother in 2005, in which she made her peace with Sylvester Stallone’s mother Jackie (who had called her a “pig”), this year Brigitte Nielsen appeared in the German version of I’m A Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here! where she ate turkey testicles live on air.
Last year, Brigitte Nielsen was strapped on a rotating wheel on ITV while knives were flung at her, and on a bizarre British satellite television programme she agreed to be “murdered”, after which the producers attempted to convince innocent contestants they were real-life suspects.
Brigitte Nielsen even agreed to a programme entitled From Old To New, in which she was filmed having $80,000 of plastic surgery including a facelift, boob job and liposuction on her thighs.
It’s all a massive comedown from her last major movie role 25 years ago in Beverly Hills Cop II with Eddie Murphy.
In truth, Brigitte Nielsen was always famed far more for her Amazonian figure and shock of bleached blonde hair than for any discernable talent in front of the camera. But in 1985, her looks were enough to snare Sylvester Stallone, then the biggest movie star in the world.
Brigitte Nielsen, still married to first husband, Danish musician Kasper Winding – with whom she has a son Julian, now 28 – sent scantily clad pictures of herself to the married actor’s New York hotel. Within weeks of them meeting, Sylvester Stallone, 17 years older than the 22-year-old Brigitte Nielsen, cast her in Rocky IV.
Sylvester Stallone divorced first wife Sasha Czack and married Brigitte Nielsen within a few months. They starred together in another action movie, Cobra, and Sylvester Stallone had full-size nude bronzes of Brigitte Nielsen commissioned for the garden of their Beverly Hills mansion.
She gave his cheque book an outing in New York, Milan and Paris, buying jewellery and clothes, and spent $5,000 in an LA wig shop. The marriage collapsed within 18 months, with Sylvester Stallone accusing her of being a gold-digger who “fleeced me as if I was a Christmas turkey ready for the pluckin”. More fool he, you might say.
Following their 1987 divorce, in which Brigitte Nielsen was erroneously reported to have received $6.5 million, she accused the powerful Sylvester Stallone of torpedoing her acting career, and had to make do with a string of low-budget flops. She went on to have a son with an American football player, as well as a short marriage to a photographer, before she married again, in 1993, to Swiss motor racer Raoul Meyer, with whom she has two sons.
But the marriage was blighted by her claims of domestic abuse and their younger son having a brain tumor (last year Brigitte Nielsen tearfully revealed he faced further surgery after the benign growth returned).
By the time they divorced in 2005, Brigitte Nielsen admits she was a tormented alcoholic. She said: “Booze turned me into a bad mother, an ugly, depressed woman and a complete loser. I looked in the mirror and realized I’d reached rock bottom. I heard voices in my head telling me to drink. I even drank just to pick up the phone [and talk to someone] because I felt such self-loathing and embarrassment.”
Brigitte Nielsen claims to have found salvation with fifth husband Mattia Dessi, despite meeting him, unpromisingly, in an Italian bar where she was getting drunk on cocktails and he was serving them. Indeed, Ryan Glasgow says her six-year marriage to Mattia Dessi, who is trying to launch a modelling career, has been a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.
“I never thought he had Brigitte’s best interests at heart,” Ryan Glasgow said.
“I felt he was interested in the fame. He really wants very much to be famous and to be a model.”