Living: Big-League Stunner or Nice Kid?

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The heartbreaking beauty who from Vogue's cover projects an ancient soul can act eight years old in her mother's presence. "Mommy, I have a toothache," she will whine "Oh, Mommy, my nail." Teri plays her part smotheringly: "Use that fork for your cake." "Say hello." "Say please." It is reasonable to wonder when and how Brooke might break loose.

There are few signs of restiveness. Indeed, this singular young woman is hard to fault. She keeps up an easy, loving relationship with her father, from whom, presumably, she gets both her amiability and her height (Frank Shields is about 6 ft.

7 in.; his late father Francis X. Shields, a remarkably handsome tennis star of the '30s, is the accepted source of Brooke's beauty). She often travels with her stepsister and childhood playmate Diana Auchincloss, 17. She moves easily among other teenagers, never seems to play the queen, and signs autographs with a shy smile while nibbling on a candy bar.

Can she act? After eight films, it is still not possible to say more than that there is no reason to think she cannot. Some of her movies have sunk out of sight, and one, Peter Fonda's Wanda Nevada, was never released. Director Malle guided her brilliantly through Pretty Baby, a film opulent of flesh but lacking the bone structure that might have made it great. She mugged cheerfully in a not very successful George Burns comedy, Just You and Me, Kid. (She says she wants to do comedy, but her mother, less sure, would prefer she stay with pretty pictures.) She was ridiculous in the idiotic desert island saga Blue Lagoon, possibly because she felt ridiculous; she did a lot of her acting while walking in a trench cut in the sand so that Co-Star Chris Atkins, 18, could appear to be taller than she.

Endless Love, the Zeffirelli film scheduled for release this GARRY GROSS summer, should answer some of the questions about her acting. She and Actor Martin Hewitt, 19, carry most of the dramatic burden as teen-agers caught in an obsessive love. The director is in ecstasy; he wants to start another film with Brooke (paying her $1 million and a percentage of the profit) as soon as he can. In the meantime, for Brooke, what delights does life hold? "Studies," says Teri firmly. At this point a reporter, digging deep for a question, asks whether there will be a Brooke doll, as there was a Farrah Fawcett doll. "Yeah," says the enchanted child, sounding for the moment like any put-upon teenager. "Wind it up and it goes to school." —By John Skow.

Reported by Martha Smilgis/Rome

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