Actress, model and singer Brigitte Nielsen was born on July 15, 1963, in Rødovre, Denmark, a suburb of Copenhagen. After moving to Los Angeles to pursue acting, she landed roles in Red Sonja with Arnold Schwarzenegger (who admitted to an affair with her during filming) and Rocky IV with Sylvester Stallone, both in 1985. She has continued to appear in B movies and reality TV shows.
Model, actress and singer Brigitte Nielsen was born in Rødovre, Denmark, a suburban area outside of Copenhagen, on July 15, 1963. Gitte (pronounced GHEE-te) Nielsen was born to Svend, an engineer, and Hanne, a librarian; she also has a brother, Jan. As a 10-year-old, she delivered bread from the local bakery each day at 4:30 a.m. before she went to school. She was also an avid swimmer.
With her parents' permission, Nielsen dropped out of school at age 16 to start modeling, eventually traveling internationally and working with top fashion designers like Giorgio Armani, Gianfranco Ferre and Gianni Versace, who appreciated her height, athleticism and striking Danish looks. Nielsen was sometimes referred to as "The Great Dane."
Nielsen married Danish musician Kasper Winding in 1983 and bore him a son a year later, but she left them soon after, having decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career.
Nielsen's first acting roles were in high-profile films with popular action stars: Red Sonja with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rocky IV with Sylvester Stallone, both in 1985. This period of her career would begin a long series of romantic liaisons, happily covered by the tabloid press. In his recent memoir, Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story, Schwarzenegger admitted to an affair with Nielsen during the filming of Red Sonja.
She has also appeared in several B movies and reality television programs in international markets, including her native Denmark, Germany, Sweden, England, Italy and Mexico. Two of the more popular U.S.-based reality shows she participated in were Strange Love, with her boyfriend at the time, rapper Flavor Flav, which became one of cable network VH1's most popular shows, and Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which dealt with her alcoholism.
Nielsen also pursued her interest in music, releasing a series of dance tracks in the late 1980s and 1990s. Her debut album, Every Body Tells a Story, was released in 1987 and was a hit in Europe. In 1989, she appeared in Michael Jackson's Liberian Girl music video. Nielsen signed a book deal for her autobiography, Gitte Nielsen: You Only Have One Life—This Is How I Found Myself Again, which reached the top five on Denmark’s best-seller list.
Nielsen has been married five times and has four sons: Julian, born in 1984; Killian, born in 1989; Douglas, born in 1993; and Raoul, born in 1995. Her five husbands include Kasper Winding, from whom she was divorced in 1984; most famously, Sylvester Stallone (divorced 1985); Sebastian Copeland (divorced 1992); Raoul Meyer (divorced 2005); and current spouse Mattia Dessi. She was also romantically involved with American footballer Mark Gastineau.
In addition to Danish, Nielsen speaks fluent English and Italian and has a working knowledge of French and German.
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