Paulina Porizkova, born April 9, 1965, is a Czech model and actress.
Born in Prostejov, Czechoslovakia, she was still a toddler when her father and mother left Czechoslovakia, fleeing the Warsaw Pact invasion in 1968, and moved to Lund in southern Sweden. They left Paulina under the care of her grandmother, believing that their daughter could be brought out later.
However, the Czechoslovakian authorities would not allow this, and the ensuing battle for Porizkova was widely publicized in the Swedish press, making her a cause célèbre. After a failed rescue attempt, in which her mother was detained by the national police, international political pressure led by Olof Palme caused the communist government to allow the Pořízek family to be reunited after seven years. The reunion was soon ended when the husband left, and the couple filed for divorce. Father and daughter have been estranged since.
This left Porizkova’s mother to fund her own medical education and Porizkova and her brother Jachym Porizek (who was born in Czechoslovakia during her mother’s house arrest) to look after themselves, including having to steal bread to have something to eat.
An aspiring photographer friend took pictures of Porizkova and sent them to the Elite modeling agency in 1980, hoping they would notice her own photography skills. However, instead of taking the photographer on board, Elite head John Casablancas noticed Porizkova’s attractiveness and potential, and offered her a ticket to Paris. At 5 feet 10 1/2 inches, she was the perfect height for a fashion model – it was a tempting offer for a teenager who was eager to get out of Sweden and to support herself.
She quickly rose to become a top model in Paris during the early 1980s, and her fame spread to the United States when she posed in swimwear for Sports Illustrated. She appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue in 1984 and again in 1985. (Her first appearance as a model in the magazine was in 1983.)
Porzikova appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in August 1987 to preview her new (non-nude) swimsuit calendar. Both of her calendars in 1988 and 1989 by photographer Marco Glaviano sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
Porizkova was chosen twice by People as one of the Fifty Most Beautiful People in the world, in 1990 and 1992. Harper’s Bazaar named her one of its ten most beautiful women in 1992. American Photo in its first issue declared her to be the model of the 1980s. She appeared on the covers of numerous magazines around the world during the 1980s and 1990s, including appearances on Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Self, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour. She featured in advertising for Diet Sprite. Porizkova was the cover model for the 20th Anniversary issue of Cosmopolitan magazine in November 1985.
In 1988, Porizkova won what was then the highest-paying modeling contract: a six million dollar contract with Estee Lauder cosmetics, replacing the model Willow Bay. Estée Lauder’s strategy in the late 1980s was to move away from an older generation of women and target younger urbanite professional women. The black-and-white television and print advertising campaign won praise from critics. The Estée Lauder makeover transformed Porizkova’s public image from a swimsuit model to that of European sophisticate and she remained the company’s face until 1995.
Porizkova has appeared in the books Models and Sirens, by Marco Glaviano, and in Fashion Photography by Patrick Demarchelier. The latter includes some of the noted LIFE magazine swimsuit pictures from several years ago. She was in Women by Herb Ritts.
After having her first baby in 1993, Porizkova devoted less time to modeling, and she moved into acting in independent films. She soon got a new contract as the lead model for Escada. In early 2001, she was the hostess for a television show on the E! network’s Style Channel. In 2005, she made her first appearance in the noted Victoria’s Secret catalogue.
Although she had a career as a model, Porizkova was known to make disparaging remarks about the fashion and beauty industry.
She was part of the panel of judges on America’s Next Top Model, starting on Cycle 10 replacing the fashion icon, Twiggy. Porizkova continued to conduct regular weekly evaluations of Top Model participants on the show until she announced she’d been fired from Top Model during a May 12, 2009 appearance on the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS.
Porizkova was a participant on the Spring 2007 series Dancing with the Stars, but she was voted off on the first results show which aired March 27, 2007.
Pořízková’s film debut was in the 1983 modeling mockumentary, Portfolio. Still only seventeen, she managed to look more mature and intelligent than the other more-established models, and she became the “covergirl” for the film.
Porizkova appeared in the 1987 film Anna (which starred Sally Kirkland), receiving good reviews from her patrons at Vogue magazine. It was in 1989 that she had her largest, and best-known role to date, co-starring with Tom Selleck (who was rumored to not get along with her at all) in the film Her Alibi. However, she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for worst actress for her appearance in the film.
She was rumored in a 1989 issue of the Italian magazine “Moda” to be starring along with Robert De Niro in a planned film by Sergio Leone about the siege of Leningrad during World War II, halted by the director’s death. Later, she appeared in Emir Kusturica’s film Arizona Dream, with Johnny Depp and Jerry Lewis in a minor role as Lewis’s young Polish fiancee. She appeared in the film Thursday.
Pořízková wrote and directed the 2001 film, Roommates. In 2004, she starred in the romantic comedy, Knots, but turned down an opportunity to be a Bond Girl in the 1995 film GoldenEye because of better earnings available to her in modeling at the time, as well as not wishing to take time away from her family.
Her recent television work includes an April 18, 2007 appearance on The Colbert Report after remarks that she found Colbert “extremely attractive.” She most recently appeared on the Starz comedy series Head Case, which aired on April 24, 2009.
She has finished her debut novel, A Model Summer. It is about a 15-year-old Swedish girl chosen by a modeling agent to spend a summer working in Paris.
In September 1992, her children’s book The Adventures of Ralphie the Roach, co-authored by Joanne Russell and illustrated by stepson Adam Ocasek, was published.
On August 23, 1989, Porizkova married Ric Ocasek lead singer for the rock band The Cars. They had first met in 1984 during the filming of The Cars’ music video, “Drive”, which was directed by Tomothy Hutton. Porizkova was only 19 and Ocasek was already married at that time. The couple have two children.
Later, Porizkova was the subject of the song ”Friends of P” by The Rentals on their 1995 album Return of the Rentals, written by lead singer Matt Sharp, also a former member of the Ocasek-produced Weezer and the song ”Paulina” on No Doubt’s first album.
Paulina became a naturalized U.S. citizen under the name Pavlína Pořízková-Ocasek.