Cybill Shepherd: Your Young 'Taxi Driver' Crush, Then And Now
Left: Cybill Shepherd in 'Daisy Miller,' 1974. Right: In 'The Heartbreak Kid,' 1972. Source: IMDB
Cybill Shepherd is the rare model-turned-actress who has thrived in both worlds. From her early career on the covers of Seventeen and Glamour to films including The Last Picture Show and Taxi Driver to TV work on Moonlighting and Cybill, she's earned accolades while constantly challenging herself to do even better.
Cybill Shepherd, with a name so recognizable it even rings a bell for Millennials, came from Memphis, Tennessee. Even as a youth, Cybill Shepherd's jaw-dropping beauty made waves. Carrying a name combined from grandfather Cy and father Bill, she took beauty contests and pageants by storm. She competed in the 1966 Miss Teenage America and won Miss Congeniality. She won 1968 Model of the Year in Tennessee, and almost immediately began appearing in national advertisements and on covers of major magazines -- she was rapidly becoming a fashion icon, while barely out of high school.
Her ocean deep blue eyes and picturesque look would quickly propel Shepherd from fashion darling to silver screen vixen. In her very first film, The Last Picture Show starring Jeff Bridges, Shepherd earned a Golden Globe nomination.
Modeling In The Big Leagues
While many people may remember Cybill Shepherd from Moonlighting with Bruce Willis, her modeling career can’t be overlooked. In the late ‘60s, you couldn’t pick up a fashion magazine without seeing Cybill’s smiling face. Standing 5 '9 and 130 pounds, Cybill’s all-American look differentiated herself from other models at the time, many who weighed as much as a gallon of milk. Shepherd, a regular on the cover of Seventeen, and Cheryl Tiegs would wage a two-woman war for supremacy of teen magazines. That battle would continue when they graduated to Glamour magazine.
Spotted In The Check-Out Aisle
For two years Shepherd kicked butt and took names, staking her claim as one of the country’s top models. Rumor has it director Peter Bogdanovich saw her dazzling face on the cover of a magazine while in line at the grocery store, and he knew immediately that face looking back at him needed to be in his next movie. That movie just so happened to be the aforementioned The Last Picture Show (1971) -- which she almost turned down.
She Was Jacy
Initially, Shepherd didn’t want people to confuse her and her character, “I didn’t want to play Jacy because I thought that’s what people would have thought that I was like my whole life, the heartbreaker who destroys all the men.” Eventually, she realized that “I was like that … the only difference was that I enjoyed sex more than my character, that was the only difference between Jacy and me.” As fast Shepherd went from pageant contestant to fashion icon, her star-making performance in The Last Picture Show turned her from an iconic model to Hollywood darling even faster.
She continued to model after The Last Picture Show, although she preferred acting. Modeling was good money, though -- $500 a day, she told The New York Times -- which she used to pay for classes at New York University, where she was pursuing her bachelor's degree.
The Young Star Hits A Slump
After The Last Picture Show, Shepherd found more success with The Heartbreak Kid (1972) alongside Charles Grodin. Unfortunately, after The Heartbreak Kid, the yellow brick road got a little rocky for her. At this point, she was romantically involved with Bogdanovich and they made Daisy Miller (1974) and At Long Last Love (1975) together. Both movies received horrendous reviews and her relationship with Bogdanovich became strained. Their relationship also hampered her career as the couple earned a sour reputation within Hollywood circles.
Don't Call It A Comeback
In 1976, an up-and-coming director named Martin Scorsese wanted a “Cybill Shepherd type” for his next movie, Taxi Driver. When Shepherd's agent passed along that message, she responded: “How about the real thing?” Appearing in one of the iconic movies of all time alongside Robert De Niro, Shepherd got her luster back.
Then along came the TV show Shepherd is most famous for, Moonlighting. Shepherd and her co-star Bruce Willis enjoyed critical and popular success. During the show’s run, she won two Golden Globes as well as an Emmy nomination. There is some discrepancy over whether Willis and Shepherd detested each other or had such fantastic chemistry a romance almost started.
After Moonlighting, Shepherd seemed to have found her place -- television. She headlined her own series Cybill from 1995-98, and has played recurring characters on various shows, including The L Word, Eastwick, and Psych. Shepherd won another Best Actress Golden Globe for her work on Cybill.
Moonlighting, by the way, wasn't her first go as a regular on a TV show -- she had co-starred with Sam Elliott in The Yellow Rose in 1982-83.
Quite The Woman
Over her career, Cybill Shepherd dated Elvis, and became close friends with Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, Cary Grant, Jean Renoir, and François Truffaut. She also posed as the most iconic Kodak girl ever. According to her autobiography, she turned down both Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson at their peaks, but savored a tryst with Don Johnson. She has fought for Gay and Abortion rights for years, earning her two National Ally for Equality awards.
Tags: Bruce Willis | Cybill Shepherd | Ladies | Models | Moonlighting | Taxi Driver | The Last Picture Show
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