Eleanor Nancy Macpherson is an Australian model, businesswoman, television host and actress. She is known for her record five cover appearances for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue beginning in the 1980s, leading to her nickname “The Body,” coined by Time Magazine in 1989. Take a look below for 30 more fun and interesting facts about Elle Macpherson.
1. Macpherson was born Eleanor Nancy Gow in Killara, New South Wales in 1964, the daughter of entrepreneur and sound engineer Peter Gow, a former president of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, a Sydney rugby league team, and Frances Gow, a nurse.
2. Macpherson’s parents divorced when she was 10 years old, and she moved with her mother and two siblings.
3. Her mother later remarried, and a clerical mistake in registering at her new school meant that her surname was changed from Gow to Macpherson (her stepfather’s surname).
4. Macpherson grew up in East Lindfield, a suburb in the Sydney’s North Shore, and attended Killara High School, completing her Higher School Certificate in 1981.
5. She briefly studied law for one year at the University of Sydney.
6. Her sister is a businesswoman and environmentalist Mimi Macpherson, born Miriam Frances Gow.
7. Macpherson enrolled to study law at Sydney University. Before beginning her university studies, she visited the United States to spend one year doing modelling work to earn money to pay for her law books.
8. She traveled to New York City, where she initially signed up with Click Model Management.
9. Her modelling career began in 1982 with a television commercial for Tab which established her as a “girl next door” figure in Australia.
10. She cemented her high-profile image through frequent appearances in Elle; she was featured on numerous covers and appeared in every issue for six straight years. During that time, at the age of 21, she married Gilles Bensimon, the creative director of Elle.
11. In 1985, Macpherson became the longtime face of luxury French skin care company Biotherm.
12. Eventually she garnered more exposure through Sports Illustrated magazine’s annual Swimsuit Issue.
13. After appearing nude in the 1994 film Sirens, Macpherson learned that the media had begun searching for nude photos of her, including contacting her ex-boyfriends. To address this, Macpherson appeared in a nude pictorial in the May 1994 issue of Playboy magazine, shot by Herb Ritts, to produce nude photos “on her own terms”.
14. In 1999, the twin island nation of Antigua and Barbuda honored Macpherson by using her face on a series of postage stamps, the first model to appear on legal tender.
15. Macpherson appeared among other Australian icons during the 2000 Summer Olympics closing ceremony, her elaborate float resembling a camera lens and featuring a runway.
16. Along with Naomi Campbell, she co-hosted the Miss Universe 2001 pageant.
17. Her popularity had reached such a level that Australian government offered her a position on its tourist commission as an unofficial ambassador.
18. Macpherson has received a number of awards recognizing her business acumen and the success of Elle Macpherson Intimates. In 2005, she was named Glamour Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year; in 2007, she received an Everywoman Ambassador Award recognizing her success as a businesswoman; in 2008, the Underfashion Club’s Femmy Awards crowned her Lingerie Designer of the Year; in 2009, she received a World Career Award from the Women’s World Awards.
19. Macpherson made her film debut playing an artist’s model in the 1994 film Sirens, which starred Hugh Grant, Sam Neill, and Tara FitzGerald.
20. In 1999, Macpherson appeared in five episodes of the American TV series Friends as Joey Tribbiani’s roommate and eventual girlfriend, Janine Lecroix.
21. In July 2010, Macpherson became the new host of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model, taking over from Lisa Snowdon. She also serves as executive producer on the show.
22. Macpherson hosts and executive produces NBC’s reality competition series Fashion Star.
23. According to a police statement reproduced online, between 11 and 22 July 1997 William Ryan Holt and Michael Mischler broke into Macpherson’s Los Angeles home while she was away on business in Chicago. They stole an estimated $100,000 worth of jewellery, $6,000 in cash, and several photographs.
24. The two were arrested on 4 August 1997. Mischler, 29, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion and one count of burglary. He received a six-year and eight-month prison sentence. Holt, 26, a former US Air Force enlisted man and a military-justice convict out on parole, pleaded guilty to one count of extortion, and was sentenced to a year in prison.
25. Macpherson is a European Ambassador for RED, an initiative set up by Bono and Bobby Shriver to raise money and awareness for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and to help eradicate AIDS for women and children in Africa.
26. In Australia, she is an ambassador for the Smile Foundation, which helps the families of children with rare diseases and organises government research grants.
27. Macpherson dated Billy Joel during the early 1980s. Joel has said that the songs “This Night” and “And So It Goes” were written about his relationship with Macpherson.
28. Macpherson began a relationship with financier Arpad Busson in 1996. They have two sons. The family lived together in London until their separation in July 2005.
29. Macpherson subsequently began dating Miami, Florida-based hotel heir and billionaire Jeffrey Soffer, son of Donald Soffer, in early 2009. They broke up in March 2012, but reconciled following his injury in a helicopter accident in November 2012.
30. They became engaged in March 2013, and married in July 2013 at the Laucala Resort in Fiji.