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Cybill Shepherd | Source: Getty Images
Cybill Shepherd | Source: Getty Images

What Happened to 80s Star Cybill Shepherd after Her Romance Ruined Her Reputation?

Milla Sigaba
Jun 13, 2024
10:10 A.M.
  • Cybill Shepherd, a celebrated actress, rose to fame with her standout roles in "The Last Picture Show" and "Moonlighting."
  • However, rumors branding her as a home wrecker harmed the actress's career and reputation.
  • Now in her 70s, Cybill Shepherd's life has taken significant turns over the years — from health battles to a renewed faith.
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Cybill Shepherd in New York, circa 1971. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd in New York, circa 1971. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd was once a radiant star of the silver screen who saw her reputation tarnished once it came to light that she was seeing a married director, leading to the end of his marriage.

Now 74, Shepherd's journey has been marked by dramatic twists and turns, including serious health battles, a near-death experience, and a heartfelt return to her Christian faith.

Cybill Shepherd in New York, circa 1972. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd in New York, circa 1972. | Source: Getty Images

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From Memphis Beginnings to Hollywood Stardom

Shepherd was born in Memphis, Tennessee to a homemaker and a father who owned a small business. Named in honor of her grandfather Cy and her father Bill, Shepherd's journey to fame began early.

She first got the public's attention by winning the "Miss Teenage Memphis" contest in 1966. She followed that by winning the "Model of the Year" title in 1968.

Cybill Shepherd after winning the Model of the Year Pageant on September 14, 1968. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd after winning the Model of the Year Pageant on September 14, 1968. | Source: Getty Images

These accolades paved the way for Shepherd, making her a sought-after fashion icon. She graced the covers of major magazines and became the face of L'Oreal.

In 1968, at 18, Shepherd made her first appearance on a talk show, gracing "The Tonight Show." At the time, she was a radiant young woman from Memphis, newly crowned as Model of the Year.

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Cybill Shepherd, circa 1968. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd, circa 1968. | Source: Getty Images

Reflecting on this experience, Shepherd later remarked, "I could barely say a word. All I could do was say 'Yes' and look terrified." This early exposure to the public eye marked the start of her journey.

Shepherd's striking looks and charisma soon led her to Hollywood. She made her acting debut in the acclaimed film "The Last Picture Show" in 1971. The actress's performance earned her a Most Promising Newcomer nomination.

Cybill Shepherd while filming "The Last Picture Show," circa 1971. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd while filming "The Last Picture Show," circa 1971. | Source: Getty Images

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It set the stage for a successful film career. The actress continued to shine in influential roles, starring in "The Heartbreak Kid" in 1972 and the iconic "Taxi Driver" in 1976.

Her career soared as people celebrated her for her talent and beauty. However, just as she reached the pinnacle of success, an unexpected scandal threatened to derail her promising trajectory.

Cybill Shepherd at the 12th Annual People's Choice Awards on March 11, 1986, in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at the 12th Annual People's Choice Awards on March 11, 1986, in Santa Monica, California. | Source: Getty Images

The Home Wrecker Label

Just as Shepherd was becoming a star, it was revealed that she was having an affair. It was with Peter Bogdanovich, her director on "The Last Picture Show." The affair led to the end of his marriage and branded Shepherd as a home wrecker.

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Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd photographed in May, 1974. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shepherd photographed in May, 1974. | Source: Getty Images

Bogdanovich and Shepherd first met when the director plucked the southern belle from the modeling world. He then made her an overnight sensation with her turn in his classic "The Last Picture Show."The former couple began dating, before parting ways in the late '70s.

Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shephard at the premiere of "Paper Moon" on April 9, 1973, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Peter Bogdanovich and Cybill Shephard at the premiere of "Paper Moon" on April 9, 1973, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Shepherd opened up about her love life in the years following the scandal. She revealed intimate details about her relationships. In a 2019 interview, the actress admitted to dating Elvis Presley, adding a layer of intrigue to her romantic history.

Further revelations came in 2023 when Shepherd disclosed that Robert De Niro had asked her out while they were working on "Taxi Driver." Additionally, the actress confessed to a passionate encounter with Jeff Bridges.

Cybill Shepherd and Robert De Niro filming "Taxi Driver" on June 17, 1975, in New York. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd and Robert De Niro filming "Taxi Driver" on June 17, 1975, in New York. | Source: Getty Images

Shepherd later married her first husband, David Ford, and they welcomed a daughter, Clementine. The actress welcomed twins, Ariel and Cyrus, during her second marriage to Bruce Oppenheim.

Bruce Oppenheim and Cybill Shepherd at the 27th Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 17, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Bruce Oppenheim and Cybill Shepherd at the 27th Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 17, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Shepherd's children are now grown and have children of their own. However, the actress admitted to having mixed feelings when she first became an empty nester.

"I was in such denial at first. I said, ‘Empty nest? No problem. I just won't go home. But when it did hit me, oh my God. It was just that howling-at-the-moon time," she said.

Cybill Shepherd and David Ford with their daughter Clementine Ford in Los Angeles, California, circa 1979. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd and David Ford with their daughter Clementine Ford in Los Angeles, California, circa 1979. | Source: Getty Images

A Retreat from the Spotlight

After a brief hiatus to welcome her first child, Shepherd made a triumphant return to Hollywood. In 1983, she appeared in an episode of "Fantasy Island." Her television career soared when she starred alongside Bruce Willis in the critically acclaimed series "Moonlighting" in 1985. The role earned the actress two Golden Globe Awards.

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Cybill Shepherd at The 43rd Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 24, 1986,  in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at The 43rd Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 24, 1986, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images

However, reports of turmoil behind the scenes spread. It was allegedly caused by unmanageable fighting between Shepherd and Willis. The fighting thus contributed to the end of the show.

Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's 27th Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 17, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd at the Hollywood Radio & Television Society's 27th Annual International Broadcasting Awards on March 17, 1987, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Despite her successful comeback, Shepherd later revealed in a 2013 interview, "I've been struggling the past decade. I'm not saying I'm poor, but it's been a struggle to find something interesting to do."

Tweets like "Cybill Shepherd, what happened to her after Moonlighting?" reflected the public's curiosity about the actress's career trajectory. Despite the difficulties, she remains an admired figure in Hollywood.

Public sentiment, as seen in tweets like "Cybill Shepherd used to be a hottie," underscore the actress's lasting impact and appeal. Shepherd attributed her lasting presence in entertainment to her "stubbornness and intelligence."

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Battling Health Challenges

Shepherd's career has not only been marked by professional highs and personal scandals but also by significant health challenges. In 2002, alarming reports suggested that Shepherd was fighting a severe form of skin cancer.

The rumors were untrue, as Shepherd's spokeswoman clarified, "She had a harmless growth removed from her back." In 2007, Shepherd recounted a harrowing near-death experience that occurred three years prior. "Three years ago, I almost died. It was a 911 situation," the actress said.

Cybill Shepherd at the premiere of "The Cat's Meow" on April 10, 2002, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at the premiere of "The Cat's Meow" on April 10, 2002, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

The actress had to undergo a colon resection. Emergency responders arrived quickly. But, she was in such intense pain that she couldn't stand. It forced her to crawl headfirst down the stairs. In the ambulance, she wondered if she would survive the ordeal.

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Cybill Shepherd at the world premiere of "Runnin' Down A Dream" on October 2, 2007, in Burbank, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at the world premiere of "Runnin' Down A Dream" on October 2, 2007, in Burbank, California. | Source: Getty Images

By 2019, Shepherd revealed another layer to her ongoing health struggles. She revealed that she had four emergency abdominal surgeries. These medical emergencies not only affected her personal life but also impacted her professional commitments, forcing the actress to withdraw from a film project she had eagerly anticipated.

Cybill Shepherd at Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood on January 25, 2019, in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at Hallmark's "Home & Family" at Universal Studios Hollywood on January 25, 2019, in Universal City, California. | Source: Getty Images

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A Return to Faith and a Step Back into the Spotlight

In 2015, Shepherd was cast in the Christian film "Do You Believe?" This role marked a significant turning point in her personal life, as she publicly revealed her return to faith.

At a cast panel for the film, Shepherd opened up about her spiritual journey, explaining how Christianity had been a cornerstone during her childhood. "I was born a Christian, [and] sang in the choir. Then I lost touch with my savior Jesus Christ," she told the audience.

Cybill Shepherd at the "Do You Believe?" premiere on March 16, 2015, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at the "Do You Believe?" premiere on March 16, 2015, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Getty Images

Shepherd mentioned that she had stopped talking to Jesus and praying, but when she began to reconnect with Him, she started to feel "really good."The actress then received the offer to do the film.

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Shepherd hinted that her reconnection with faith and the opportunity to star in the movie was more than mere coincidence, suggesting a divine influence on her renewed spiritual path. Shepherd's return to faith also coincided with a period of personal reflection and change.

Cybill Shepherd at SiriusXM Studios on March 19, 2015, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at SiriusXM Studios on March 19, 2015, in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

In 2000, she released a cheeky memoir titled "Cybill Disobedience: How I Survived Beauty Pageants, Elvis, Sex, Bruce Willis, Lies, Marriage, Motherhood, Hollywood, and the Irrepressible Urge to Say What I Think."

The memoir captured her rebellious spirit and candid nature. However, by 2015, Shepherd acknowledged in an interview that she had matured significantly since her rebellious days. "I was a rebel girl. I was a bad girl for a long time. I'm a good girl now, though!" she stated.

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Cybill Shepherd photographed on March 16, 2015, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd photographed on March 16, 2015, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

This personal growth and newfound perspective were evident in her public appearances a few years later. At the 94th Academy Awards in 2022, Shepherd looked radiant on the red carpet, donning an elegant black dress with lace detailing on the sleeves.

Her blonde hair was styled in soft waves, complementing her timeless beauty. With a serene smile and a confident presence, Shepherd captivated onlookers, showcasing her enduring grace and poise in the spotlight.

Cybill Shepherd at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at the 94th Academy Awards on March 27, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Later in July 2022, Shepherd was also photographed at Project Angel Food's Lead with Love 3 fundraising event. At this event, she appeared in a more casual yet stylish ensemble, wearing a dark blue blouse paired with black pants.

She accessorized with a colorful, patterned scarf draped around her neck, adding a touch of vibrancy to her outfit. Shepherd also held a red cane, a practical yet chic accessory that complemented her look.

Cybill Shepherd at the Project Angel Food's Lead with Love 3 Fundraising Special on July 23, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Cybill Shepherd at the Project Angel Food's Lead with Love 3 Fundraising Special on July 23, 2022, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Throughout the years, despite ups and downs, Cybill Shepherd has shown resilience and a strong spirit. Her journey from scandal to faith, combined with her health battles and professional challenges, paints a portrait of a woman who continues to inspire and persevere.

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