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Brooke Shields calls 1981 Barbara Walters interview 'practically criminal'

Shields, then 15, starred in a 1980 Calvin Klein ad that included the famous slogan “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”
Image: Brooke Shields in New York City on Nov. 12, 2019.
Brooke Shields in New York City on Nov. 12, 2019.Craig Barritt / Getty Images for MoMA file

Brooke Shields slammed Barbara Walters over a 1981 interview she did about her famous Calvin Klein ad, describing Walters' questions about her sexual history as "practically criminal."

In 1980, Shields, who was then 15, starred in a Calvin Klein TV commercial that featured the famous slogan “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.”

The commercial sparked a public and media outcry, prompting Shields to address the controversy in a series of interviews — most of which were characterized by invasive questions about her personal life.

On Monday's episode of Dax Shepard's podcast Armchair Expert, Shields said the interviewers she spoke to in the wake of the Calvin Klein ad "never wanted my answer — they just wanted their point of view."

Shepard said the 1981 interview with Walters after the release of the Calvin Klein commercial was particularly "maddening."

Shields agreed, saying: "It's practically criminal. It's not journalism."

Walters asked Shields about her measurements, whether she wanted to be like her mother and whether she kept any secrets from her.

Shields, who appeared to be visibly uncomfortable, defended her mother throughout the interview and said she was still growing up as a teen.

It isn't the first time Shields has addressed the outcry.

In a video for Vogue in October, Shields, 56, said she didn't realize the ad was overtly sexual at the time.

“They take the one commercial, which is a rhetorical question. I was naive. I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think it had to do with underwear. I didn’t think it was sexual in nature," she said in the Vogue video. "I would say it about my sister: ‘Nobody can come between me and my sister.’”

Brooke Shields around 1980. Archive Photos / Getty Images file

Shields added that the backlash "backfired," saying the campaign made the brand a household name.

“The campaign was extremely successful. And then, I think, the underwear sort of overtook the jeans, and they understood what sells and how to push the envelope," she told Vogue.

“There’s an appeal to it that is so undeniable, and they tapped right into it,” she said. “They knew exactly what they were doing, and I think it did set the tone for decades.”