Also Credited As:Eleanor Nancy Gow, The Body
|Eleanor Nancy Gow on March 29, 1963 in Australia|
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Eleanor Nancy Gow was born on March 29, 1964 in Sydney, Australia to Peter Gow, an entrepreneur and sound engineer, and Frances Gow, a nurse. Before she found fame as a model, the statuesque beauty was already living a glamorous life. She was in her early teens when her parents divorced, and her mother remarried Neil Macpherson, a multimillionaire who owned a chain of stereo equipment stores in Australia. After briefly attending Sydney University to study law, the statuesque Macpherson was discovered while on a ski vacation in Colorado in 1982, and was immediately signed to the Click modeling agency. One of her earliest jobs was appearing in a television commercial for Tab Cola; by 1984, Macpherson was gracing the covers of high-profile magazines like Cosmopolitan, Elle, and Harper's Bazaar. Even her personal life was linked to her modeling career; in 1986, Macpherson married Gilles Bensimon, famed French photographer and creative director of Elle. The couple divorced in 1989.
Macpherson cemented her status in the fashion world by appearing on a 1986 cover of TIME magazine, which nicknamed her "The Body" in a feature titled "The Big Elle." Like many of her contemporaries, Macpherson's springboard to fame was appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated's highly-anticipated swimsuit edition in February 1986. Tailor made for the magazine's cover and pictorial's, the 6' foot model was not only athletic but game for any kind of revealing bikinis or lack thereof. An overnight star by the time her first cover hit the newsstands, she went on to grace the SI swimsuit cover several times. She also entered into lucrative contracts with Victoria's Secret and posed for a 10-page spread for Playboy magazine in 1994, where she reportedly earned $25,000 per page. Macpherson parlayed her newfound pin-up fame into conquering the business world as well; she marketed a series of bikini-clad calendars, starred in several fitness videos, launched a best-selling lingerie collection called "Elle Macpherson Intimates," and also released a successful skin care line called "Elle Macpherson The Body." In 1995, Macpherson opened the Fashion Café in New York City, alongside fellow then-supermodels Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer.
Having conquered the fashion and business worlds, Macpherson began turning her attention to acting in the mid-1990s. She stuck her toe in by starring in the comedy "Sirens" (1993), opposite Hugh Grant, Portia de Rossi, and Sam Neill. In the film, she played one of three models living with an artist (Neill) notorious for creating blasphemous paintings; Macpherson reportedly gained 20 pounds to obtain a representative figure for models of the time period. She also appeared in the film adaptation of "Jane Eyre" (1996), the Barbara Streisand romantic dramedy "The Mirror Has Two Faces" (1996), and in the colossal embarrassment that was Joel Schumacher's "Batman & Robin," as Batman's (George Clooney) buxom girlfriend. On a less entertaining note, in July 1997, Macpherson became the victim of an attempted extortion after two men, William Holt and Michael Mischler, broke into her Los Angeles mansion while she was away, reportedly stealing an estimated $100,000 in jewelry and some nude photos of the supermodel. After unsuccessfully demanding $60,000 from Macpherson, both men received prison sentences for attempted extortion and burglary. The incident did little to derail the leggy beauty from her budding acting career. In 1999, she had a multi-episode arc on the hit sitcom "Friends," as Joey Tribbiani's (Matt LeBlanc) dancer girlfriend and roommate, who transforms the show's resident playboy into a more sensitive guy, much to the chagrin of his close friends. She also appeared on the Showtime miniseries "A Girl Thing" (2001), as a woman who experiments with bisexuality with Kate Capshaw.
Macpherson suffered yet another personal setback after the birth of her second son, Aurelius Cy Andre, in 2003. She was engaged at the time to French financier Arpad Busson, with whom she had had her first child, Arpad Flynn Busson, in 1998. After Aurelius was born, Macpherson reportedly suffered from postnatal depression and exhaustion, and checked herself into the Meadows Institute in Arizona for treatment. After her recovery, Macpherson busied herself as she had before with appearances on the covers of magazines like British Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and Sports Illustrated. She also dealt with a controversy involving the use of the moniker "The Body," which Macpherson had been using professionally since 1986. In 2006, Macpherson accused fellow supermodel Heidi Klum of stealing her nickname after the German catwalk queen called herself "The Body" in a television commercial for Victoria's Secret. Macpherson initially planned to sue Klum over the use of the name, but decided against it after a spiritual trip that included meeting the Dalai Lama.
In 2008, she expanded her fashion empire by becoming one of the "global representatives" of Revlon, alongside other high-profile names such as Halle Berry and Jessica Alba. That same year, she guest starred on The CW's reality competition series "America's Next Top Model" (2003), where she surprised the newly "made-over" contestants by asking them to model her new lingerie line; two years later, Macpherson took over the hosting duties on "Britain's Next Top Model" (LivingTV, 2005- ), the U.K.'s counterpart modeling competition show. She took another shot at drama acting on the short-lived series "The Beautiful Life: TBL" (CW, 2009), as an owner of a fashion agency in New York City as well as a mother figure to the younger models that she represented. Again called upon to host, she headlined - along with judges Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie - the American fashion competition series, "Fashion Star" (NBC, 2012- ).
By Candy Cuenco