Kathy Ireland Biography

Actor, Model (1963–)
Model Kathy Ireland graced the covers of many magazines, including Sports Illustrated, in the 1980s. Today she runs her own successful business Kathy Ireland Worldwide.


Born in 1963, Kathy Ireland started working as a model in the early 1980s. Ireland soon became one of the most popular models of the era, especially for her work in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. In the early 1990s, Ireland launched her first product line. This initial success led to the creation of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, her very successful company. In 2009, Ireland competed on Dancing With the Stars.

Early Life and Career

Born in 1963, Kathy Ireland has found fame and success as a model and a businessperson. Her entrepreneurial instincts emerged early on while growing up in Santa Barbara, California. Ireland sold hand-painted rocks around her neighborhood before landing her first paper route at the age of 11. One of her customers gave her some grief about doing what he considered to be "a boy's job," but that criticism only encouraged her to stick with it. "To this day, I'm grateful to him, because there were several days when I wanted to quit, and I wouldn't give him the satisfaction," Ireland told Success magazine.

While in high school, Ireland moved on to a new career. Her striking green eyes, warm smile and impressive curves caught the attention of a modeling agent. She signed with the Elite Modeling Agency and her life as a model soon started to take off.

Model and Actress

Ireland had a career breakthrough in 1984 when she landed her first Sports Illustrated cover. This image proved to be the first of three times she would appear as the cover model for the magazine's famous swimsuit issue. She was also featured in the interior photo spread for the swimsuit issue more than ten times. Ireland became a household name, much like the other supermodels of the 1980s and 1990s, including Christie Brinkley and Cindy Crawford.

Outside of modeling, Ireland also appeared in films and television. Her first film, Alien from L.A. (1988), proved to be a commercial and critical disappointment. She went on to work in such comedies as Unnecessary Roughness (1991) and Loaded Weapon 1 with Emilio Estevez and Samuel L. Jackson. In 1994, Ireland landed a recurring role on the popular prime time soap opera Melrose Place. She has continued to make sporadic television appearance since then, including a 2009 appearance as a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.

Leading Businesswoman

In 1993, Ireland started developing what would become her business empire. She took out $50,000 in 1993 to help launch her own line of socks. Over time, she grew this business to become Kathy Ireland Worldwide, which brings in more than $1 billion in sales annually. The company now markets more than 15,000 products, including furniture, baby items, and jewelry. In 2012, Ireland was featured on a very different type of magazine cover. Forbes magazine nicknamed her "Supermogul" for her tremendous success as a designer and entrepreneur.

Personal Life

Ireland is married Gregory Olsen, an emergency room doctor. The couple lives in Santa Barbara, California, and they have three children together, Erik, Lily and Chloe. She is an active supporter of several charities, including the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Ireland has authored six books, including Real Solutions for Busy Moms: Your Guide to Success and Sanity.

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