Also Credited As:Heidi Samuel
|June 1, 1973|
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Born in Bergisch Gladbach, a small city near Cologne, Germany, on June 1st, 1973, Klum was fated to be a fashion superstar. Her father, Gunther, worked for a cosmetics company and her mother, Erna, was a hairstylist. On a lark, the fresh-faced high school senior entered and won the "Model '92" competition organized by Petra magazine when she was just 18. Klum immediately signed with Metropolitan Modeling Agency and her career took off like a V-2 rocket. After conquering the European modeling scene of Paris and Milan, Klum traveled to the States, and immediately forged a longtime relationship with lingerie powerhouse, Victoria's Secret, appearing as one of its original "Angels." Even more high-profile, she also nabbed the holy grail of magazine covers - the 1998 Sports Illustrated annual Swimsuit Issue cover. These two monster achievements in the fashion world sealed her status as one of the world's top supermodels. With this seemingly overnight clout, she secured lucrative signature lines for Birkenstock sandals, Mouawad jewelry, and a line of perfume. Later signed with Elite Agency, Klum continued to make her presence known. She continued to appear in many of the major fashion runway shows - most notably, the annual televised droolfest, "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" - and, counter to the public's perception of models, proved an engaging talk show guest. Sparring with obviously smitten hosts, from Billy "Access Hollywood" Bush to David Letterman to Conan O'Brien, Klum's down-to-earthiness - including eating pizza before hitting the runway - appealed to both male and female viewers.
With her career flying high, Klum's sometimes tumultuous personal life helped solidify her popularity as well. When Italian Formula 1 MD driver Flavio Briatore romanced the supermodel, resulting in a pregnancy he publicly decried as not his. The tabloids had a field day, painting Klum as the abandoned and wronged beauty, much as they had done with Elizabeth Hurley after her paternity battles with producer Stephen Bing. Despite the ugliness of the back-and-forth, the couple had a daughter, Leni, together, before they ultimately split. As tabloid readers oohed and aahed, Klum found true love with her knight-in-shining-armor, Grammy-winning British singer Seal, who promptly adopted Leni. The couple eventually married at a secluded Mexican beach in May, 2005 and began their multicultural family, having in quick succession sons Henry Gunther Ademola Dashtu Samuel in 2005 and Johan Riley Fyodor Taiwo Samuel the following year. Like many supermodels, acting proved a natural segue for Klum. She made her acting debut on ABC's "Spin City" (1996-2002) as Michael J. Fox's love interest and continued doing guest spots on both American and German TV series. She also landed small parts in the films "Blow Dry" (2001) and "Ella Enchanted" (2004), before truly testing her acting chops as Swiss bombshell Ursula Andress in the Emmy Award-winning HBO Peter Sellers biopic, "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers" (2004). She also appeared as the villainess scientist Katya Nadanova in the best-selling James Bond 007 video game, "Everything or Nothing."
In addition to acting, Klum was not surprisingly named one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2001. She hosted an episode of the Discovery Channel's "Shark Week" where she literally swam with the sharks, as well as hosted MTV's "Fashionably Loud Europe" and "Model Mission" shows, which no doubt led to the creation of her own show for Bravo, "Project Runway." In 2004, Bob and Harvey Weinstein teamed up with Klum to launch the popular fashion designer-competition reality show, which gave aspiring designers a chance to break into the notoriously difficult fashion world. Apart from hosting the show, Klum headed a panel of industry luminaries and insiders, including designer Michael Kors and Elle magazine fashion director, Nina Garcia, who served as judges and mentors for the budding designers. Like the majority of competition-based reality shows, "Runway" began with a selection of amateur designers, who were then eliminated on a weekly basis, based on their execution of design challenges.
The show became a pop culture sensation, vaulting Klum into a new stratosphere beyond anything she had done on catwalks or in magazine spreads. The respected host and business woman created Heidi Klum, Inc. and continued to host the show, as well as titillate fans still fascinated with her stronger than ever marriage to Seal. In 2008, Klum received the first-time honor of being nominated for the newly minted Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality Program. Although she lost to longtime "Survivor" (CBS, 2000- ) host, Jeff Probst, Klum was asked to co-host the prestigious awards show itself, along with fellow nominees, Probst, Tom Bergeron, Ryan Seacrest and Howie Mandel. But the five-host experiment went up in smoke when the opening monologue, which was unbearably long and pointless, made clear from the start that audiences were in for a dull evening. Klum returned to the Emmys in the following years, but only as a nominee in the reality host category. For her second nomination, Klum was pregnant with her fourth child, and her third with husband, Seal.
In 2010, after 13 years as one of their most famous spokesmodels, Klum left Victoria's Secret with little in the way of explanation other than to say that all good things must come to an end. Also that year, she launched lines of maternity wear for A Pea in the Pod and Motherhood Maternity, and later worked with New Balance to put out a line of active women's wear on Amazon. In fact, Klum had become so diversified that by 2011, she was ranked behind only Gisele Bündchen on the Forbes list of top-earning models with estimated annual earnings of $20 million. Meanwhile, Klum's apparently happy marriage to Seal ended in divorce in 2012 despite yearly renewals of their vows in front of friends and family. Having legally taken his surname of Samuel in 2009, she restored her own name of Klum once the divorce became final in April 2012. Though citing the standard irreconcilable differences, there was no apparent reason for the split. The couple had a pre-nuptial agreement and had no legal entanglements concerning money or property, while Klum retained physical custody of their four children. In September of that same year, Klum was reportedly having a romance with her bodyguard, Martin Kristen, who served in that capacity while she was still married to Seal. In fact, Seal caused a bit of an uproar when he accused Klum of "fornicating with the help," an accusation she denied. Meanwhile, in 2013, Klum was announced as the fourth judge on the eighth season of "America's Got Talent" (NBC, 2006- ), where she was set to join Howard Stern, Howie Mandel and new judge Mel B of the Spice Girls.