TODAY   |  October 21, 2013

Christie Brinkley on 50 years of S.I’s swimsuit edition

The 59-year old model talks to TODAY’s Matt Lauer on her famous cover photo shoots for Sports Illustrated and the new book “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit: 50 years of Beautiful.”

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> tradition enjoyed by 70 million readers every year. it's editors are celebrating a milestone with the release of sports illustrated swimsuit, 50 years of beautiful. christie brinkley is one of the iconic models that graced the magazine's cover.

>> good morning.

>> three times in a row you graced the cover which is a record that still stands. do you remember the first time?

>> yes. i started doing the issue in 75 but it was in 79, my cover from the most gorgeous place in the world.

>> you were living in paris at the time. modeling wasn't even your full time job.

>> well, when i did my first issue i was still living in paris and i did a picture from the side in a thong which was so racy at the time. i still think that thongs are racy. it's like one thread but i was only posing from the side.

>> yeah.

>> okay. don't look anybody.

>> too late.

>> the magazine came out in america and everybody started calling me you're in a magazine. you're practically naked and i was like you're kidding me.

>> instantly changes your life when you're on the cover or pages of that magazine.

>> instantly. even a little picture like that changed my life and then the cover, well, forget about it. that was day and night .

>> did you ever have a picture in the magazine that you didn't like? that you thought was not flattering. did you ever look at one and go, i wish they hadn't used that?

>> well, actually, my very first picture. i mean, the very first pose i ever did for sports illustrated i was in cancun. my orders for the day were go out and get a sun tan and i woke up and the president of mexico's private home. nothing else was built at the time with a knock at the door saying would you like us to go fishing for your breakfast or would you like us to pick some fruit from the trees and i said oh, a little of both. i'll be working on my tan.

>> nice work if you can get it.

>> exactly. and then about 5:00 in the afternoon, julie campbell came and said christie we want you to do a shot and she handed me a tiny little pink thing on the bottom and a little shawl that she knotted hard that compressed the girls down.

>> is that what you call them.

>> or your yays. so, then and to top it off, i was living in paris and the in hair do was a perm and they had permed my hair -- i get to mexico, we did not have hairdressers and make up artists back in the day when i started so there i am burnt to a crisp. i'm as pink as the pink thing. it's pushing me down. i have the harpo marks hair and they keep running that picture.

>> over and over again.

>> before i let you go, we're talking about the history of the magazine, you're about to turn 60s. how does it feel?

>> i'm like, gosh, you guys are making such a big deal about turning 50. come talk to me when you turn 60, okay.