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Brigitte Nielsen

For the Swedish dramatic soprano, see Birgit Nilsson.
Brigitte Nielsen
File:Brigitte Nielsen.jpg
Brigitte Nielsen at London Fashion Week in September 2010
Born Gitte Nielsen
(1963-07-15) 15 July 1963 (age 52)
Rødovre, Copenhagen, Denmark
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s) Kasper Winding (1983–1984)
Sylvester Stallone (1985–1987)
Sebastian Copeland (1990–1992)
Raoul Meyer (1993–2005)
Mattia Dessi (2006–present)
Partner(s) Mark Gastineau (1988–1990)
Flavor Flav (2005)
Children 4

Brigitte Nielsen (born Gitte Nielsen; 15 July 1963) is a Danish actress, model, singer, and reality television personality who began her career modelling for Greg Gorman and Helmut Newton and several years later acted in the 1985 films Red Sonja and Rocky IV. She is also known for her marriage to Sylvester Stallone, with whom she starred in the 1986 film Cobra. She played Karla Fry in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), co-starring Eddie Murphy, and played the Black Witch in the Italian film series Fantaghiro between 1992–1996.

Nielsen's exploits were well-covered in the entertainment media in the 1980s, and the world press started referring to her as an "Amazon"[1][2][3] because of her tall stature. She later built a career starring in B-movies and hosting TV shows, and in the 2000s, for appearing on reality shows. In 2008, she appeared on the reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which depicted her and several other celebrities dealing with recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Nielsen released several albums between 1987–2002 (Every Body Tells a Story, I'm the One... Nobody Else and more singles). She appeared also in Michael Jackson's "Liberian Girl" and other music videos.

Early life

Nielsen was born Gitte Nielsen in Rødovre, a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark, as the daughter of Hanne, a librarian, and Svend Nielsen, an engineer.[4] She is also the ex-sister-in-law of Drive director, Nicolas Winding Refn.



At the beginning of the 1980s, Nielsen did some modeling work, and was photographed by Greg Gorman[5] and Helmut Newton.[6] Nielsen posed for Playboy magazine multiple times, garnering the cover in December 1987.[7][8] In the late 1980s, Marvel Comics approached Nielsen to pose for photographs dressed as the comic book character She-Hulk.[9]


In 1985, Nielsen began her acting career in the fantasy film Red Sonja alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. That same year, she met and married Sylvester Stallone; the couple acted in two movies together (Rocky IV and Cobra) before divorcing in 1987. Their marriage and divorce were both highly publicized by the tabloid press.[10][11][12] In 1987, Nielsen played Karla Fry in the movie Beverly Hills Cop II (1987), alongside Eddie Murphy. Subsequently, she starred in 976-Evil II, The Double 0 Kid (1992), Chained Heat II (1993), Galaxis (1995), and Snowboard Academy (1996). She starred as the villainess of the Italian TV fantasy film Fantaghirò 2[13][14] and its sequels (1992–1996).

In 2011, Nielsen voice acted for the Danish animated comedy film Ronal the Barbarian.[15] She played in horror movie Eldorado (2012), co-starred Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and Kerry Washington. In 2013, she has featured in the short art film The Key alongside Ray Stevenson. In 2014, she starred in the science-fiction film Exodus,[16] in the TV series Raising Hope, and in the action film Mercenaries (2014), alongside Cynthia Rothrock, Vivica A. Fox, and Kristanna Loken.

Music and writing

Nielsen started a music career in 1987. She released her debut album Every Body Tells a Story in that year and recorded a duet with Austrian pop star Falco, Giorgio Moroder's penned "Body Next to Body" which went to #22 in Germany and #6 in Austria.[17] She released a follow-up album, I'm the One... Nobody Else, in 1991. In 2000, she recorded the dance track "No More Turning Back" under the pseudonym of Gitta and reached #1 in Spain and topped several other European dance charts. Other tracks recorded as Gitta were 2001's "Tic Toc" and 2002's "You're No Lady", a collaboration with Ru Paul.

Nielsen appeared in Michael Jackson's Liberian Girl music video in 1989 and in metal band Korn's music video for the single Make Me Bad in 2000. In 2008, German record label Edel Music re-released her 1991 album I'm the One... Nobody Else and the 1987 Every Body Tells a Story under the title Brigitte Nielsen.[18] In 2012, she performed (as Gitte Nielsen) on the song "Misery" with Spleen United, from the album School of Euphoria.

In 2009, she published her first auto-biography in Scandinavia titled "Gitte Nielsen – Du har kun ét liv – sådan fandt jeg tilbage til mig selv" ("You only have one life – this is how I found myself again").[19] The book reached the Top5 of Denmark's bestseller list[20] and was released in the United Kingdom under the title You Only Get One Life in 2011.[21]


Nielsen has worked for Italian television, hosting shows such as: Festival (1987), the 1992 edition of the Sanremo Music Festival, Retromarsh! (1996–1997), and sai l'ultima? (1999). In 1997, she hosted a talk show series Gittes venner for a Danish TV network and some TV shows for RTSI, the Swiss television in the Italian language.[22] She guest starred for an episode of the German TV series SOKO: Stuttgart, aired by ZDF on 28 March 2011,[23] guest-hosted the British chat show Loose Women on 7 December 2010. In April 2011, she attended the British variety/talent show Sing If You Can, which aired on ITV.[24]

Nielsen appeared on the first season of the Italian production of The Mole (2004) and on the third season of the VH1 reality show The Surreal Life (2004). Nielsen also appeared with Flav on VH1's Big in '04 Awards.[25] In 2006, she guest-starred on Flav's other reality show, Flavor of Love. In 2003, Nielsen appeared in the Danish Big Brother VIP. In January 2005, she was a contestant in Britain's Celebrity Big Brother, along with her former mother-in-law, Jackie Stallone, coming third in the final public vote. In 2006, she appeared in another reality TV series, VH1's The Surreal Life: Fame Games. In 2007, she starred in a new British mockumentary Killing Brigitte Nielsen, which aired on Sky Travel.[26] She also appeared in the first season of Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, which chronicled her struggle to overcome her alcoholism at the Pasadena Recovery Center in Pasadena, California.[27]

In May 2008, Nielsen revealed on German television that she would "renew" her body by having six plastic surgeries, which would cost €66,000 altogether. She was filmed during those surgeries by RTL and she had her own television show Aus alt mach neu – Brigitte Nielsen in der Promi-Beauty-Klinik. The same show was broadcast twice in Italy: at first under the title Celebrity Makeover: Brigitte Nielsen on SKY Italia in 2008 and secondly in 2009 on Italia 1.[28] In 2009, Nielsen appeared as a panel speaker to a new group of addicts at the Pasadena Recovery Center, anticipating the two-year mark of her sobriety that coming July. Her appearance was aired in the third season episode "Triggers", which aired in February 2010.[29]

In 2010, Nielsen appeared as one of the celebrity contestants of TF1 reality show La Ferme Célébrités, the French version of the TV series The Farm. She was eliminated after one week, mainly due to her lack of fluency in French and subsequent difficulties to interact with the other contestants.[30][31] Nielsen was one of the celebrity contestants of 2010's Let's Dance, the German version of Dancing with the Stars.[32] That same year, she also took part of Celebrity Come Dine With Me in Denmark (Til middag hos... ),[33] and in Germany (Das Perfekte Promi Dinner).[34] From 13 January 2012 Nielsen was one of the celebrity contestants and winner of Ich bin ein Star – Holt mich hier raus!, the German version of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!, broadcast by RTL Television.[35] On 28 January 2012 she won the show as the "Jungle Queen". Bildzeitung revealed on 30 January 2012 that Nielsen had received the most calls from TV viewers throughout the entire show, ranking No.1 with 30 – 50% of all call-ins.[36]

In October 2012, Nielsen was featured in the Danish version of Maestro broadcast on DR1 in which celebrities competed for the chance to conduct a classical orchestra. In September 2013, she joined the cast of the German TV show Promi-Hochzeitsplanern (Celebrity Wedding planners) for Sat.1. The following year she joined the panel of the German TV show Promi Shopping Queen for VOX.

Personal life

Besides her native Danish, Nielsen is fluent in Swedish, Norwegian, English, German and Italian,[37] and has some understanding of French.[31]

Family and relationships

Nielsen has been married five times and has four sons. She has a son, Julian Winding (born in 1984), with her first husband, Kasper Winding, to whom she was married from 1983–84.[38] Nielsen married actor Sylvester Stallone, on 15 December 1985 at the Beverly Hills, California home of producer Irwin Winkler.[39] Stallone and Nielsen's marriage lasted 19 months, with their divorce finalized July 1987.[40] Her second child, Killian Marcus Nielsen (born in 1989), she had with ex-fiance Mark Gastineau.

Between 1990 and 1992, she was married to director and photographer Sebastian Copeland (Orlando Bloom's cousin). Nielsen has two sons with fourth husband Raoul Meyer, Douglas Aaron (born in 1993) and Raoul, Jr. (born in 1995).[41] Her current husband, Mattia Dessi, lived with her in Italy as shown on Strange Love, which was filmed prior to their marriage. As of 2010, they live in Palm Springs, USA.[42]

In 1987, Nielsen confessed to an affair with Tony Scott.[10][12][43] In 2005, she had a highly publicized relationship with rapper Flavor Flav. In the aftermath of Arnold Schwarzenegger's infidelity scandal, Nielsen confessed that she also had an affair with him while he was in a relationship with Maria Shriver.[44][44] In January 2012, during an interview on the German Reality TV-Show Ich bin ein Star – Holt mich hier raus!, she confessed once having a one-night stand with Sean Penn in Cannes.[45]

Alcohol problems

On 9 July 2007, Nielsen checked herself into the Cri-Help rehabilitation facility in North Hollywood following what some reports claim was a family intervention.[46] Her manager, Steven Tempone, confirmed on 19 July 2007 that she had checked into rehabilitation and told the Associated Press, "All I know is it's something she did of her own free will and we're proud of her and wish her very well... When she gets out we'll have a big birthday party, and Coca-Cola only."[47] As of 22 July 2007, Nielsen was out of rehabilitation to attend the Comedy Central roast of Flavor Flav. She told People that she felt "like a new-born person ... I made a choice about a new life. It's not been easy but it was definitely time." While People does not report the date that Nielsen checked into rehabilitation, it states she "had been in treatment for a few weeks."[48]

On 10 January 2008, VH1 began airing the reality TV series, Celebrity Rehab. Nielsen appeared on the show for alcoholism.[49] In a January 2010 TV Guide story on her success with sobriety, Celebrity Rehab producer John Irwin stated, "She's sober, and she quit smoking. She's doing crazy good."[42]

Plastic surgery

In mid-2008, Nielsen starred in the reality show Aus alt mach neu, broadcast by the German TV-station RTL. The theme of the show was Nielsen's attempt to look "as young as her husband" by undergoing plastic surgery. The show was aired in Italy as well, on SKY Italia during December 2008[50] and the following summer on Italia 1.[51]



Year Title Role Notes
1985 Red Sonja Red Sonja
1985 Rocky IV Ludmilla Vobet Drago
1986 Cobra Ingrid Knudsen
1987 Beverly Hills Cop II Karla Fry
1988 Bye Bye Baby Lisa
1988 Domino Domino
1989 Murder by Moonlight Maggie Bartok
1992 976-Evil II Agnes
1992 Double 0 Kid, TheThe Double 0 Kid Rhonda
1992 Mission of Justice Dr. Rachel K. Larkin
1992 Fantaghirò 2 Black Witch
1993 Fantaghirò 3 Black Witch
1993 Chained Heat II Magda Kassar
1994 Fantaghirò 4 Black Witch
1995 Compelling Evidence Michelle Stone
1995 Body Count Sybil
1995 Galaxis Ladera
1996 Fantaghirò 5 Black Witch
1996 Snowboard Academy Mimi
1998 Paparazzi Gitte
1999 She's Too Tall Veronica Lamar
2000 Hostile Environment Minna
2000 Doomsdayer Elizabeth Gast
2008 Hustle, TheThe Hustle Rich lady
2009 Fish, TheThe Fish Herself
2010 Big Money Rustlas Wife
2011 Ronal the Barbarian Amazon Queen Voice
2012 Eldorado Angel
2013 The Key Short film
2014 Mercenaries Ulrika
2015 Exodus[16] Mother


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Counterstrike Monica Steile Episode: "Bastille Day Terror"
2000 Un posto al sole Gitte 2 episodes
2009 Nite Tales: The Series Mona Episode: "Black Widow"
2011 SOKO 5113 Gina Wartenberg Episode: "Stuttgart ist sexy"
2014 Raising Hope Svetlana Episode: "Road to the Natesville"
2015 Portlandia[52] Herself Episode: "Healthcare"




  • "Body Next to Body" – Falco meets Brigitte Nielsen; 1987; (#6 Austria, #22 Germany, #1 Japan)
  • "Every Body Tells a Story"; 1987; (#38 Italy; #15 Germany)
  • "Maybe"; 1988
  • "Siento"; 1988 (South America only)
  • "It's a Strange Love"; 1988
  • "Rockin' Like a Radio"; 1990
  • "My Girl (My Guy)"; 1991
  • "How Could You Let Me Go?"; 1992
  • "Work That Body"; 1993
  • "No More Turning Back" (as Gitta); 2000; released by Jive; (#1 Spain, #1 Eurodance chart; #64 Netherlands, #54 UK)
  • "Everybody's Turning Back" (as Gitta vs. Rozalla)
  • "Tic Toc" (as Gitta); 2001; released by Blanco y Negro
  • "You're No Lady" (as Gitta with Ru Paul); 2002; released by Do It Yourself; (#1 Spain)
  • "Misery" (as Gitte Nielsen with Spleen United); 2012


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  2. ^ "What’s good for the Danish goose, but not for the Maltese gander?". 2006-07-09. Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  3. ^ "Brigitte Nielsen Gets Hitched, Again—with a Typically Bizarre Hitch: She May Still Be Wed to No. 4". 2005-03-21. Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
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  39. ^ "A Rocky Marriage". Entertainment Weekly. December 12, 1997. Retrieved 2011-12-24. 
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  47. ^ [2][dead link]
  48. ^ Rodriguez, Brenda (2007-07-23). "Brigitte Nielsen: I Feel Reborn After Rehab – Brigitte Nielsen". Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  49. ^ "Celebrity Rehab 5 | Show Cast, Episodes, Guides, Trailers, Web Exclusives, Previews". Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  50. ^ "Article appeared on on 10 December 2009". Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  51. ^ "Article appeared on on 23 July 2009". 2011-04-20. Retrieved 2011-06-18. 
  52. ^ [3]

External links

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