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, businesswoman
Net worth Increase $420 million (self-made) (Forbes 2015)[1]
Height 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Spouse(s) Greg Olsen (m. 1988)
Children 3[2]
Website www.kathyireland.com

Kathleen Marie "Kathy" Ireland (born March 20, 1963) is an American model and actress, turned author and entrepreneur.[3][4][5] 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.[4][6][7]

As a result of her career as a businesswoman, she had made a $420 million personal fortune by 2015 (Forbes).[8] The annual revenue of her company's retail sales was $2 billion in 2012.[9]

Early life[edit]

Kathy Ireland was born in Glendale, California, the daughter of John and Barbara Ireland.[10]


She has appeared on covers for Vogue, Cosmopolitan,[11] Forbes,[4] and Mademoiselle.[12]

External images
Ireland's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover from February 7, 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.[13] 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.[14][15] 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.[15]

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."[16]

During SI Swimsuit's 50th Anniversary event, Ireland's 1989 cover was awarded "The Greatest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Of All Time" by its publisher.[17]

Business ventures[edit]

kathy ireland Worldwide[edit]

The retailer subsequently gave Ireland her own clothing line including swimwear, active wear, accessories, sweaters and more.[18][19]

She then founded kathy ireland Worldwide, initially a brand marketing firm, which she and her related trusts own in its entirety.[20] The company concentrated on building its business in home products in 2003, after it cut its exclusive ties to Kmart.[19]

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.[21] By 2004, kathy ireland Worldwide was marketing products from 16 manufacturers, including those of Nourison[22] and Pacific Coast Lighting.[3][18] Between 2005 and 2012, Ireland's company grew to about $2 billion in annual sales and became a leader in its industry.[3][4][23] In a May 2012 British Vogue article, Ireland was called the world's richest model.[24][25]

Kathy Ireland, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates at the 2015 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting

Ireland's billionaire friend and Berkshire Hathaway's Warren Buffett advised her to enter into the home furnishings business. "Fashion and apparel is consistently changing, but in home it's more consistent," Buffett said.[26] Buffet opens each Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting with Ireland and Bill Gates.

kathy ireland Worldwide ranked #31 on License! Global magazine's Top 150 Global Licensors.[27]

Wedding dresses and gowns[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.[28]

Sterling/Winters Company[edit]

Sterling/Winters Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Kathy Ireland Worldwide, which is the management company for multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Janet Jackson.[29]

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.[30]
American Legend launched a Kathy Ireland collection consisting of 30 styles, which was featured at Macy's beginning in Fall 2011.[19]
Ireland is chief designer for Royal Footwear & Accessories (The RFA Group).[31] She has established a relationship with manufacturer Gorham designing dinnerware, glassware and flatware.[32]

Ireland designed a collection of jewelry inspired by Elizabeth Taylor.[33]

Other activities[edit]

Public speaking[edit]

Ireland has delivered numerous keynote speeches at corporate events, industry conventions, expos, entrepreneurial events, social media conferences[34] and pro-life events.[35][36]
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.[37]

Ireland gave a keynote at the Googleplex, the corporate headquarters for Google on July 12, 2012.[38] She delivered the keynote at Licensing International Expo 2012 in Las Vegas.[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's sister, Cynthia, has a child with Down syndrome. Ireland wrote an article about her niece and the need for an increase in research.[43][44] 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."[45]

Ireland has lent her estates to charitable organizations such as the Marine Corps' Toys For Tots to generate funds for charity.[46] 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.[47]

She received the WithIt 2013 Legacy Award on January 27, 2013 at World Market Center - Las Vegas.[48]

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.[49]

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.[50]

In an effort to encourage equality in women's athletics, Ireland has hosted several LPGA Golf Tournaments, including the Kathy Ireland Championship from 1999 to 2001[51][52] and the Kathy Ireland Greens.com LPGA Classic in 2000.[53]

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.[54]

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.[55] Jason Schadewalt, Jorge Rodriguez and Robin Coalson were selected as the 2013 Dream Camp winners.[56]

Ireland has been a long time supporter of Project Inform, an American advocacy group dedicated to improving the health of and empowering people with HIV.[57]


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,[58] 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.[59]

She received the Messenger of Peace Award at the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life Gala in 2012.[60]

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.”[61]


Forbes named Ireland one of the 20 most successful, self-made women in California,[62] and named Ireland one of Forbes top 50 most successful women as measured by their net worth.[63]

In her Today Show interview with Matt Lauer, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model Hannah Davis stated that she strives to emulate Kathy Ireland.[64]

In her Today Show interview, Kate Upton stated that her career was inspired by Kathy Ireland. [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.[19]

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.

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]