Christie Brinkley on doing 'The Masked Singer' at 68 and being told she'd be 'over-the-hill and done-for' by age 30

Christie Brinkley in 2020. (Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
Christie Brinkley in 2020. (Photo: Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

Legendary supermodel Christie Brinkley has rocked some amazing fashions during the course of her nearly 50-year career, but probably none like furry suit she wore this week on The Masked Singer. “I have never worn a lemur outfit, so I couldn't resist,” she chucklingly tells Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume the morning after her big reveal.

“I thought, ‘I just gotta do it!’ They actually offered me two different characters, and one was more glamorous and fierce and body-con, and I thought, “No way. I'm going to be sucking in my stomach the whole time I'm in that outfit. So, I'm gonna go with that baggy one over there that looks cozy and comfortable.’”

Little did Brinkley know that her “challenging outfit’s” tail was the biggest in Masked Singer history (“Imagine strapping a telephone pole to your back”), with “sheggings” – leggings with high-heeled, hard-soled shoes attached – that had her feet “screaming” and quickly going numb. Then, when she hit the stage to sing “I Feel the Earth Move,” she attempted to sassily shimmy her gigantic appendage, and “within one shake, my tail hit my head and rotated it. So, my hat band was now covering my eyes, and I was blinded!”

Combine all these wardrobe malfunctions with a case of food poisoning from the night before that left Brinkley feeling “exhausted” before she even sang, and she was unable to perform at the level she did during her runs on Broadway and in London’s West End playing Roxie Hart in Chicago. “I heard myself,” Brinkley laughs, “and I was like, ‘Oh gosh, Carole King. I am so sorry! I'm massacring your song!’”

Brinkley better showcased her vocal chops in Chicago, a job she never expected to get (“I think there's been a mistake here,” she said when the offer came in), and one that she took very seriously — taking vocal lessons and “studying so hard” because she couldn’t pass up “such an opportunity to work with these legendary Broadway people.” (In a full-circle moment, the choreographer she worked with, Gary Chryst, had been a dancer in Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” music video, which famously starred Brinkley.)

Brinkley was 57 when she made her Broadway debut, and now, at age 68, she’s still taking chances and saying yes to new adventures (like dressing up as the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Lemur on The Masked Singer, for instance). Not too shabby for a woman who once was told that her career would be over before her 30th birthday.

“The first thing that they said to me [when I started modeling in 1973, at age 19] was, ‘Get it while you can, because they'll chew you up and spit you out by 30. You'll be over-the-hill and done-for,’” Brinkley recalls. “I was like, ‘Whoa, OK!’ And they're like, ‘No, seriously — it's like an athlete. There's a certain amount of years that you can do it, and then after that, you're just no good.’ And I was, ‘Whoa, that's harsh. I think we've got to change that.’”

Brinkley’s modeling career peaked relatively late by fashion industry standards – she was 29 when she iconically appeared in “Uptown Girl” and made her film debut in National Lampoon's Vacation – and despite that self-deprecating remark about “sucking in” her stomach, she’s since become a role model for healthy, graceful aging.

“A 60-year-old today doesn't look like a 60-year-old from the ‘50s,” Brinkley says. “[My generation is] saying, ‘Oh no, you're not going tell me I'm not supposed to do that at my age, that I'm not supposed to have hair past my shoulders, or that I'm not supposed to have a hemline at a certain length, or I'm not supposed to switch gears and do a completely new job starting right now.’ This generation has thrown all of that out the window and said, ‘Don't boss me around!’ … This is the generation that is literally reshaping the numbers. Instead of those numbers shaping us and dictating to us, we're redefining those numbers.”

While Brinkley focuses on wellness and fitness (she has a skincare line and a Bellissima Prosecco line of vegan, sugar-free wines), she stresses that aging well “has a lot to do with the mindset too. I mean, it has everythingto do with the mindset.” And it’s her ageless, adventuresome attitude that made her say yes to The Masked Singer — and why she has no regrets, even if her short stint on the show didn’t quite go according to plan.

“I think a lot of people focus on aging as, like, counting wrinkles and counting numbers. And it's not about that at all,” Brinkley muses. “It's counting adventures and memories and smiles, really. So, I welcome every adventure, and I'm so happy and thrilled that the producers of The Masked Singer invited me to do this. I’m very grateful. And I think gratitude also plays a huge part in staying young at heart, because when you can find something to be grateful about — no matter where you are, no matter what the situation — it puts a smile on your face. And let's face it: A smile is the best thing you can put on your face.”

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The above interview is taken from Christie Brinkley's appearance on the SiriusXM show “Volume West.” Full audio of that conversation is available via the SiriusXM app.