Brigitte Nielsen Is 'Happy' and Pregnant at 54: Inside Her Life's Wild Ups and Downs

Brigitte Nielsen’s pregnancy announcement at 54 is just the latest surprise in the star’s rollercoaster life.

The Danish-Italian actress is expecting her fifth child with 39-year-old Italian husband Mattia Dessi. The two have been been married since July 2006 when they tied the knot in Malta, Italy after first having an unofficial ceremony in February 2005.

Nielsen has been married five times and is a mom to four sons: Raoul Meyer Jr., 23, Douglas Meyer, 25, Killian Gastineau, 28, and Julian Winding, 34.

The former model, who stands over six feet tall, first burst onto the American pop culture scene with 1985’s loincloth epic Red Sonja. Her career took off further after a short lived, scandalous marriage to Sylvester Stallone. Nielsen, 21 at the time, introduced herself to the Rocky star by reportedly sending a provocative photograph of herself to his hotel room, along with a request to meet.

She was married to Danish musician Kasper Winding at the time, with whom she had her son, Julian. Stallone, meanwhile, was married to Sasha Czack, the mother of his first two children. After divorcing their respective spouses, the duo wed in Dec. 1985. The marriage, which was marred by rumors of infidelity on Nielsen’s part, lasted just 19 months.

Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen in 1986.
Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen in 1986.

After the highly-publicized split, Nielsen starred in Beverly Cops II alongside Eddie Murphy before her career began to take a turn. She moved to Rome two years later, earning some attention from the Italian press, but over the next decade, she appeared in nearly a dozen B movies, like 976-Evil 2 and Snowboard Academy. She also released three Euro-dance albums during that time.

In the late ’80s, Nielsen began a relationship with NFL star Mark Gastineau of the New York Jets, who left his wife to be the actress. The duo, who were engaged for a short time and had a son Killian, sparked controversy when Gastineau announced his abrupt retirement from football, claiming Nielsen was ill (she told the New York Times she had “cancer of the uterus”). His ex-wife Lisa weighed in to debunk Gastineau’s story at the time, telling reporters, “She’s not gravely ill.” “He’s using it as an excuse—it’s typical of Mark to exaggerate things,” she claimed. The once beloved football player’s career never recovered.

After splitting with Gastineau, she was married to director and photographer Sebastian Copeland, who’s a cousin to Orlando Bloon, from 1990 – 1992. She then had two sons with her fourth husband Raoul Meyer, Douglas Arron (born in 1993) and Raoul Jr. (born in 1995).

In 2004, Nielsen appeared on VH1’s The Surreal Life, where she met rapper Flavor Flav. Their romance was documented on the spinoff reality show, Strange Love.

The actress has also admitted to having several alleged affairs with famous men, including director Tony Scott, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sean Penn.

Brigitte Nielsen and Flavor Flav in 2004.
Brigitte Nielsen and Flavor Flav in 2004.

Nielsen entered rehab for alcohol abuse in 2007, telling PEOPLE after her treatment, “I feel like a new-born person. I just came out of rehab. I made a choice about a new life. It’s not been easy but it was definitely time.”

She made her first post-rehab appearance on the Comedy Central roast of Flavor Flav, revealing it was the first time she’d been sober on television in three years. She also joined VH1’s Celebrity Rehab in 2008.

Later that same year, Nielsen starred in the German reality show Aus alt mach neu, which documented the head-to-toe plastic surgery she underwent for nearly three weeks. “A lot of women say, ‘I look good thanks to magic creams,’ but that’s a joke,” she told PEOPLE, explaining why she went public with the surgeries. She later appeared on the cover of Playboy for the first time since 1987.

In August 2008, she opened up to Hello! magazine about wanting a baby with husband Mattia Dessi, whom she married in 2006. “The children have kept me going. After I do Playboy, we want to try IVF,” she said at the time, when she was 45-years-old. “It’s asking a lot, but if it’s possible, it would make our package complete.”

happy time ?? positive vibes #happyness #positivevibes

A post shared by Brigitte Nielsen (@realbrigittenielsen) on May 30, 2018 at 10:07am PDT

The Beverly Hills Cop II actress also opened up at the time about her years-long battle with alcohol addiction and consequent rehab stay, including how it has affected her parenting.

“I’ve been a bad mum at times – when you take the bottle over your kids, you’re a bad mum,” she said. “But I love them and there has always been a close bond.”

Added Nielsen, “I’ve been affectionate, caring. It’s unfortunate they’ve seen me in a bad way. But kids are great, they’re the most unconditional, forgiving people.”

The Danish-Italian model announced her fifth pregnancy on Instagram and Twitter Monday, showing her baby bump in a curve-hugging gray dress.

“Family getting larger #me #family #brigittenielsen #babybump,” Nielsen, who wed 39-year-old Dessi in 2006, captioned her photo.

Also on Wednesday, she shared another bump picture, writing, “Happy time positive vibes.”