Kathy Ireland

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Kathy Ireland
Kathy Ireland (cropped).jpg
Ireland at GooglePlex, 2012
Born Kathleen Marie Ireland
(1963-03-20) March 20, 1963 (age 52)
Glendale, California, U.S.
Residence Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
Occupation Model, actress, entrepreneur
Spouse(s) Greg Olsen (m. 1988)
Children 3[1]
Modeling information
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Hair color Auburn
Eye color Blue

Kathleen Marie "Kathy" Ireland (born March 20, 1963) is an American model, actress, author and entrepreneur.[2][3][4] Ireland was a supermodel in the 1980s and 1990s, best known for appearing in 13 consecutive Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues. In 1993, she founded a brand marketing company, "kathy ireland Worldwide" (kiWW), which has made her one of the wealthiest former models in the world.[3][5][6]

Early life[edit]

Kathy Ireland was born in Glendale, California, the daughter of John Ireland, a labor union organizer, and Barbara Ireland, who worked in charity.[7] Her first job was a paper route when she was 11. Her father showed her an ad for it which read “Are you the boy for the job?”, to which she responded with a letter to the newspaper, "No, I'm not the boy for the job, I'm the girl for the job, and I can do it just as well as any boy. I think that I deserve a chance." They gave it to her.[8]


At age 16, Ireland was discovered by an agent for the Elite Model Management company.

She has appeared on covers for Vogue, Cosmopolitan,[9] Forbes,[3] Mademoiselle,[10] Glamour, Teen and Seventeen.

External images
Ireland's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from February 07, 1989
Ireland's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from March 9, 1992
Ireland's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from February 14, 1994

Starting in 1984, Ireland was featured in the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue for 13 consecutive years, with her final appearance in 1996.[11] She appeared on the cover of the annual issue three times, a feat tied by Christie Brinkley and Cheryl Tiegs, and surpassed only by Elle Macpherson (with five appearances). Ireland was the cover model for the first time on the 25th Anniversary Swimsuit Edition, which became SI 's best selling swimsuit issue to date.[12][13] She returned to the cover in 1992 and in 1994. In her third appearance, she was accompanied by Rachel Hunter and Elle Macpherson, who were both pregnant at the time.[13]

As a teenager, Ireland reported that a photographer once "crossed the line" with her and wanted her to pose topless. She did not feel comfortable and he did not respect her "no." He reportedly pushed her and got physical and she "decked him." [14]

During SI Swimsuit's 50th Anniversary event, Ireland's 1989 cover was awarded "The Greatest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Of All Time." [15]

Business ventures[edit]

kathy ireland Worldwide[edit]

In 1993, Ireland put her name on a line of socks for Kmart, which became a bestseller.

The retailer subsequently gave Ireland her own clothing line including swimwear, active wear, accessories, sweaters and more.[16][17]

She then founded kathy ireland Worldwide, initially a brand marketing firm, which she and her related trusts own in its entirety.[18] The company concentrated on building its business in home products in 2003, after it cut its exclusive ties to Kmart.[17]

In 2004, Ireland's annual take was thought to be around $10 million. Forbes described Ireland as a "prototype for model-turned-mogul" in a 2006 article about the trend of modelpreneurs.[19] By 2004, kathy ireland Worldwide was marketing products from 16 manufacturers, including those of Nourison[20] and Pacific Coast Lighting.[2][16] Between 2005-2012, Ireland's company grew to about $2 billion in annual sales and became a leader in its industry.[2][3][21] In a May 2012 British Vogue article, Ireland was called the world's richest model.[22][23]

Weddings and Resorts[edit]

Ireland designs wedding dresses and social occasion gowns. She launched her line of wedding gowns by presenting a runway fashion show at the Festival of Brides held in Disneyland Resort. Ireland's emphasis was "...a return to glamor and a return to elegance..."[24][25]

Ireland operates luxury destinations for exotic weddings, special occasions and corporate events, in both the United States and abroad. Among her holdings are Villa Elizabeth, former Hawaiian beach home of Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Beachfront, former home of John Travolta and Kelly Preston.[26]

Other ventures[edit]

Ireland has branded products in many classifications including the Home, Fashion Apparel, Wedding, Fine Jewelry, Baby, Children's Toys and books, Publishing, Pet Care, Crafts and Gift markets.[27]
American Legend launched a Kathy Ireland collection consisting of 30 styles, which was featured at Macy's beginning in Fall 2011.[17]
Ireland is chief designer for Royal Footwear & Accessories (The RFA Group).[28] She has established a relationship with manufacturer Gorham designing dinnerware, glassware and flatware.[29]

Ireland designed a collection of jewelry inspired by Elizabeth Taylor.[30]

Other activities[edit]

Public speaking[edit]

Ireland has delivered numerous keynote speeches at corporate events, industry conventions, expos, entrepreneurial events, social media conferences[31] and pro-life events.[32][33]
She spoke at the fourth Youth Assembly at the United Nations Headquarters on August 13, 2007 encouraging young people to engage in activities aimed at ending poverty.[34]

Ireland gave a keynote at the Googleplex, the corporate headquarters for Google on July 12, 2012.[35] She delivered the keynote at Licensing International Expo 2012 in Las Vegas.[36]

Ireland has also delivered keynotes for Ernst and Young, the National Association of Women Business Owners, the Office Depot Success Strategies for Women Conference,[37] The Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors (ICMAD) Young Designer event,[38] and traveled the world speaking for Forbes magazine's conference division, following the success of her cover story.[39]


Ireland has written six books, including three for children. Her debut effort (with Laura Morton), Powerful Inspirations: Eight Lessons that Will Change Your Life, was published in 2002.[40] Real Solutions for Busy Moms: Your Guide to Success and Sanity and Real Solutions: 52 God Inspired Messages from My Heart were published in 2009. Her children's books, Mona's Favorite Words, What Do Mommies Do? and An Angel Called Hope, were released in November 2005.[41]


Since 1994, Ireland has published several fitness videos that led to her design of athletic apparel and launched her brand licensing of fitness equipment.[42]

Several of these were VSDA Award winning, including Total Fitness Workout, Core Workout, Absolutely Fit, Advanced Sports Fitness, Reach and Health and Body Specifics, which was awarded Fitness Video Of The Year.[42]


Ireland became the first Ambassador of YWCA Greater Los Angeles. YWCA Greater Los Angeles President and CEO Faye Washington commented in announcing the appointment, "Kathy Ireland, one of the world's greatest examples of self-made success in both business achievement and social activism, is the very symbol of the power of preparing to and daring to succeed. She dominates the world of lifestyle design and is one of the most powerful brands in the world, having done so without the benefit of college education, and yet is a leading advocate for education as the true path to success, especially for the disadvantaged young people we serve. Kathy is a hero, and now she is our ambassador."[43]

Ireland served as featured speaker at the 2014 Five Star Conference in Dallas. She introduced President and Mrs. George Bush, and their daughters Barbara and Jenna during the Military Warriors Support Foundation home donation presentation.[44][45][46]

Ireland's sister, Cynthia, has a child with Down syndrome. Ireland wrote an article about her niece and the need for an increase in research.[47][48] Other Ireland-supported causes include Big Brothers Big Sisters, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, the Alliance for Global Education, the Alliance for Christian Education and the Make-a-Wish Foundation.[citation needed]

Ireland was presented with an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2012 by the California State University System, which said she "generously uses her power and influence to benefit others, supporting social causes including empowering women, supporting young girls through mentoring, and providing opportunities for girls and women at risk." [49]

Ireland has lent her estates to charitable organizations such as the Marine Corps' Toys For Tots to generate funds for charity.[50] According to Maj. Bill Grein, USMC (Ret), Ireland’s company and her book business partner Bendon Publishing International, the world’s largest publisher of children's books, donated $10 million to supplement the 2013 annual Toys For Tots gathering and distribution of Christmas gifts for millions of at-risk children and youths.[51]

She received the WithIt 2013 Legacy Award on January 27, 2013 at World Market Center - Las Vegas.[52]

Ireland and NFL wide receiver Tim Brown are ambassadors for 9-1-1 For Kids, a non-profit organization that specializes in making educational materials to assist emergency dispatchers in teaching children the proper use of 9-1-1 and other general emergency preparedness tips.[53]

Ireland received the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles Phenomenal Woman of the Year award. On November 8, 2013, Ireland presented Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey with the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles’ Silver Achievement Award to honor Lacey’s work with abused and abandoned children. The award was presented at the 2013 Rhapsody Ball, held at the Beverly Hills Hotel.[54]

In an effort to encourage equality in women's athletics, Ireland has hosted several LPGA Golf Tournaments, including the Kathy Ireland Championship from 1999-2001[55][56] and the Kathy Ireland Greens.com LPGA Classic in 2000.[57]

Ireland and Jaclyn Smith served as co-chairs of the Kmart Kids Race Against Drugs kick-off event. They joined other notable supporters that included Paul Newman, Michael Andretti, Christian Fittipaldi, Bill Goldberg, Richard Marx, Eddie George, Robert Carradine, Bryton, Beverley Mitchell and Michelle Trachtenburg. Kids Race Against Drugs toured 90 cities visiting 667 stores, raising money for local nonprofit drug and alcohol prevention organizations.[58]

Ireland partnered with American Family Insurance to hold the 2013 Dream Camp Contest. The prize package included a trip to Madison, Wisconsin in March to attend the Dream Camp mentoring event at American Family’s DreamBank store, and the three winners received $10,000 each toward fulfilling their proposed dreams. [59] Jason Schadewalt, Jorge Rodriguez and Robin Coalson were selected as the 2013 Dream Camp winners.[60]


Ireland has been outspoken in her support for Israel. On October 15, 2009, she became an international ambassador for the Friends of Sheba Medical Center,[61] traveling back to the country in 2010 to film a documentary entitled Holy Land Heroes highlighting its work for wounded soldiers and terror victims.

On June 23, 2011, Ireland was honored by the Anti-Defamation League with the American Heritage Award, presented by the National Home Furnishings Industry.[62]

She received the Messenger of Peace Award at the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Gala in 2012.[63]

Ireland spoke at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference along with US President Barack Obama, US Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Ireland spoke about going to Israel and remarked that Americans and the world owed Israel “an unpayable debt.”[64]


Ireland is godmother of Carnival Cruise Lines' 110,000-ton Carnival Freedom. She attended the ship's naming ceremony in Venice, Italy. Bob Dickinson, Carnival president and CEO said, "Kathy Ireland is an excellent choice for the godmother of this magnificent new ship. Not only is she extremely successful as both a model and businesswoman, but she lends her support to a wide variety of charitable causes and philanthropic organizations. We are proud and honored that Kathy will forever be associated with this spectacular SuperLiner."[65]

Personal life[edit]

Ireland is a Christian. She is a pro-life advocate.[66] She married physician Greg Olsen in 1988, and they have three children; Erik, Lily and Chloe.[17]

Ireland appeared on Larry King Live in 2009 to discuss her weight gain and women's health. She had gained a pound a year for 25 years and the cumulative effect had become obvious to her in a candid photograph her son had taken.[67]

Ireland received an honorary master's of fine arts degree from the for-profit American Intercontinental University's School of Design.[68]

Friendship with Elizabeth Taylor[edit]

Elizabeth Taylor and Ireland had a close friendship and attended public events together. After Ireland received outspoken criticism for her uneven performance as an on-air host of ABC's 2010 pre-Oscar special, Taylor publicly defended Ireland; "I have never seen anyone epitomize glamour and grace and professionalism like she did."[69][70]

Ireland publicly credits Taylor as her mentor and for part of her success in life, business, design and philanthropy.[71] Taylor bequeathed her Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Oscar to Ireland.[72]


Ireland has appeared in a number of television and movie roles. Her first movie, 1988's Alien from L.A., was later skewered during the fifth season of Mystery Science Theater 3000.[73] Ireland's other appearances include Melrose Place, Boy Meets World, The Larry Sanders Show, Muppets Tonight, Side Out, Mr. Destiny, Necessary Roughness, Mom and Dad Save the World, National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1 (as Miss. Destiny Demeanor), Once Upon A Christmas, and its sequel Twice Upon A Christmas. She also appeared in the ninth season of Dancing with the Stars, where Ireland and her partner Tony Dovolani were the third couple eliminated in the second week of competition.

In early 2015, MMP (USA) announced an agreement with Ireland to produce television programming. Production of the series Worldwide Business with kathy ireland began in January 2015 in Los Angeles, California.[74]

Film and Television
Year Title Role Notes
1985 Charles in Charge Woman in Line Episode:"Snowed In"
1988 Alien from L.A. Wanda Saknussemm Motion Picture
1989 Journey to the Center of the Earth Wanda Saknussemm Motion Picture
1989 Worth Winning Uncredited Motion Picture
1990 Grand Sheila Episode: "Carnegie Hall"
1990 Side Out Marie Motion Picture
1990 Mr. Destiny Gina Motion Picture
1991 Necessary Roughness Lucy Draper Motion Picture
1992 Tales from the Crypt Joyce Episode:"Beauty Rest"
1992 Mom and Dad Save the World Semage, Raff's Daughter Motion Picture
1992 Danger Island Laura TV Movie
1993 Loaded Weapon 1 Destiny Demeanor Motion Picture
1993 Down the Shore Rachel Episode:"Computer Date"
1993 The Larry Sanders Show Herself Episode:"The Breakdown: Part 1"
1993 Amore! Taylor Christopher Motion Picture
1993 A Perry Mason Mystery: The Case of the Wicked Wives Dee Morrison TV Movie
1994 Boy Meets World Alexis Episode: "Model Family"
1994 Bandit: Beauty and the Bandit Crystal TV Movie
1994 Melrose Place Brittany Maddocks Episodes: "Grand Delusions", "In-Laws and Outlaws", "It's a Bad World After All" and "I am Curious, Melrose"
1995 Backfire! Jessica Luvintryst Motion Picture
1995 The Watcher Pilot TV Series
1995 Deadly Games Amber Episodes: "The Camp Counselor: Parts 1 & 2"
1996 Gridlock Michele Conner TV Movie
1995–1996 The Fantastic Four Crystal (Voice) Episodes: "Doomsday", "The Sentry Sinister", "Inhumans Saga: Part 3: Beware the Hidden Land" and "Inhumans Saga: Part 2: The Inhumans Among Us"
1996 Miami Hustle Marsha Thomas TV Movie
1997 Sabrina, the Teenage Witch Shelley Episode: "Trial by Fury"
1997 Suddenly Susan Terri Episodes: "Love and Divorce American Style: Part 2" and "Love and Divorce American Style: Part 3"
1997 Duckman: Private Dick/Family Man Susan/Susie Episodes: "Vuuck, as in Duck" and "Aged Heat 2: Women in Heat"
1996–1997 The Incredible Hulk Ogress (Voice) Episodes: "Fashion Warriors", "Down Memory Lane" and "Fantastic Fortitude"
1998 The Lionhearts Survive (Voice) TV Series
1998 King of the Hill Sylvia Episode: "Peggy's Pageant Fever"
1999 Cosby Kara Episode: "He Who Hesitates is Lucas"
1999 Pensacola: Wings of Gold Sarah Episode: "Tip of the Spear"
1999 Touched by an Angel Karla Episode: "The Last Day of the Rest of Your Life"
2000 Once Upon a Christmas Kristen Claus TV Movie
2001 Twice Upon a Christmas Kristen Claus TV Movie
2002 Strong Medicine Amber Hutton Episode: "Trauma"
2002 For Your Love Rhonda Episode: "The Helpless Hand"
2002 Totally Spies! Julia Hastings Episode: "A Spy is Born: Part 1"
2009 Family Guy Cardboard Cut-out Episode: "Family Goy"


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External links[edit]