Shakespeare warned of the fury of a woman scorned -- and he'd never even met beautiful supermodel Christie Brinkley after her husband cheated on her.
Behind that fetching smile, Brinkley displayed the heart of a lioness protecting her cubs during testimony today in the custody phase of her divorce trial from her fourth husband, Peter Cook.
Wearing a tan sweater over a powder blue sundress, she described blacking out her husband Peter Cook's face in a wedding photo and screaming at him behind closed doors. She also claimed that Cook had been arrested for dealing drugs at a "gay truck stop" in Long Island, N.Y., accused him of insulting her mother in an e-mail and repeatedly mentioned Cook's self-professed habit of masturbating via Web cam.
Cook's attorney Norman Sheresky stirred up some of the anger behind that beautiful smile as Brinkley parried his questions with cool sarcasm. At one point when Sheresky cited an e-mail in which she wrote Cook to berate him for making "bad choices over and over," Brinkley interjected, "You missed an 'over.'"
At another point, she corrected Sheresky's mention of his client's name, "It's 'Cook.' I thought you said 'Crook.'"
Brinkley admitted defacing one picture, saying that she took a wedding photo of the couple and blacked out his face so that there was "just his outfit remaining standing next to me like an empty wedding outfit" in the first few days after finding out about Cook's affair with 18-year-old Diana Bianchi. She explained her behavior by saying she felt like Cook, "the person I knew and loved," was an "invisible man."
When Brinkley was asked whether she once told their son to ask Cook about "his whores," she denied the incident and shot back that she once overheard a conversation in which Cook bragged about his conquest of Bianchi, telling the kids that he was the hero, "trying to do something really nice for that girl in Southampton." One of the kids then asked Cook, "How is that something good, sleeping with that lady?" according to Brinkley.
Blanking on Any Positive Comments
Brinkley drew a blank for a few minutes when asked about the last nice thing she had said about her husband to the children, eventually claiming that she asked them to make a Father's Day card for him and telling her son, Jack, 13, how "nice" it was that he went wakeboarding with Cook.
Brinkley rejected court-appointed psychiatrist Stephen Herman's finding that Cook did not pose a danger to the children, adding that her husband "is trying to play the victim." She recited a litany of behaviors that she claimed epitomized his risk-taking personality. ranging from sex addiction and "masturbating on the Internet" to his "decision to sell drugs" and his "choice to have sex with a teenage girl."
Brinkley claimed that Cook lied to her when he confessed the week before their 1996 marriage to his youthful arrest for selling cocaine, explaining that he was set up by a bartender jealous of Cook who asked him to bring a package to New York City. Only later, Brinkley claims, did she find out that Cook was described as a "well-known drug dealer" who was arrested at a "gay truck stop" in Long Island.
As for her own anger issues, Brinkley was defiant, saying "This is a portrait of a mother trying to give some sense of normalcy to some children whose world has been destroyed by this man's greed and lust."
Herman, the court-appointed psychiatrist, today blamed the sexcapades of Brinkley's philandering husband on "colossally bad judgment fueled by narcissism," but said both the randy husband and Brinkley need therapy. He recommended that Brinkley get sole custody of the children, Jack and sister Sailor Lee, 10.
Brinkley dismissed Herman's suggestion that she seek psychiatric counseling. "I'm not sure I'm a huge fan of psychotherapy," she testified. "There are lots and lots of ways to deal with various issues but I will do whatever it takes."
During her testimony, Cook, a professional architect, sat at the defense desk, drawing a detailed architectural rendering of a massive house.
When Brinkley was asked about her own marital history and that she married twice in the two years after separating from second husband Billy Joel, she emphasized how amicable her split with the singer was, saying "there was no sex scandal… no contentious situation created by lies, cheating, fabrication. It can't be compared to this situation."
And her own claims that Cook was prone to speeding were upturned by revelations that she herself had been in at least three car accidents in recent years, which she referred to as "fender-benders," and once drove away after her son and his friend slipped out of the car to go play at Maidstone Golf Course.
As she left court, Brinkley expressed support for Alex Rodriguez's wife, Cynthia, who just filed for divorce from the slugger, advising her to "Hire Bob" -- a reference to her lawyer, Robert Stephan Cohen.
She said she doesn't regret marrying Cook because "I have [daughter] Sailor as a result of that union." Jack is Brinkley's son with third husband Richard Taubman.
Joint Custody 'Out of the Question'
Herman opened the fourth day of the down-and-dirty divorce trial by telling the court that Cook's narcissistic behavior "did irreparable damage" to their kids and that Brinkley should get sole custody of their two children.
Joint custody, Herman said, was "out of the question" due to the tense relationship between their parents.
Herman didn't completely exonerate Brinkley in his scathing review of the parents, but his assessment of Cook was brutal.
The trial has featured a string of steamy revelations about Cook's sex life, including a fling with an 18-year-old office assistant, a $3,000-a-month tab for online porn, and the fact that he masturbated in front of his home computer cam.
The sordid details continued to spill out of the courtroom today as Herman, appointed by the court to help settle the competing child custody claims, said that Cook had confided that he has had 35 sex partners in his life.
Herman said that Cook's affair with 18-year-old Diana Bianchi reflected "colossally bad judgment fueled by narcissism."
According to Herman's report, Cook "needs constant reassurance that he is a terrific guy -- handsome, accomplished, etc. While some people need some feeding of the ego, Mr. Cook has an insatiable appetite." Cook also lacks "insight into his own personality and how that impacts on others."
In the report, Herman wrote that Cook's "selfishness, narcissism and childishness has caused great harm to his children."
While it's "normal" for men to look at computer pornography, it's "outside of the bell curve for men to show themselves and engage in certain direct sexual behavior over the Internet," Herman wrote.
While stating that Cook's behavior was "terribly destructive," Herman also pointed fingers at Brinkley, saying that "someone could raise questions about the mothers' four marriages and say she is not a good role model either."
Wearing a tan sweater over a powder-blue dress, Brinkley sat quietly in court. She took notes, dabbed her eyes with a tissue and then ran out of the courtroom to answer a call on her cell phone. Cook sat passively at the table with his lawyers, at one point showing them a message he'd received on his iPhone.
Herman shot down Cook's attorney's argument last week that Brinkley was blinkered with rage by saying, "It is completely understandable that she would be both appalled by her husband's behavior and concerned for the safety of the children."
When Cook's lawyer Norman Sheresky pressed the point of Brinkley's fury, the psychiatrist conceded that it was "not a great idea" for Brinkley to push to have the divorce case in open court, but he repeated his view that her anger was understandable.
In the end, Herman concluded in his report that everyone needed therapy, including Brinkley, finding it "important that she let go of this fear and. ... It is helpful for Christie to be in her own psychotherapy. She can learn how to accept that despite what has happened, the children love their father."
He added, "She needs an outlet for her anger and feeling of betrayal ... and work on deeper issues relating to her parenting and her choice of male figures with whom she gets involved."
The shrink also said his major concern with awarding Brinkley sole custody is that she "will see this as carte blanche for leaving Peter out of the lives of their children," and he strongly advised that the couple stick to a visitation schedule.
Saying that both Christie and Peter have done a "superb job of being parents" and that the kids feel "equally bound to both of them," he added that Brinkley is doing the children a "disservice, compounding the problem, by cutting them off" from their father.
The tell-all trial has been grueling for Brinkley, the infomercial queen and former wife of "Piano Man" Billy Joel. She broke down crying during her turn on the stand Monday while recounting how devastated she was when she found out about her husband's affair and love of porn.
Brinkley's lawyer, Robert S. Cohen, said the testimony was extremely emotional.
"Anyone who saw her testimony yesterday would be brought to tears," he said on "Good Morning America" today. "It was a very difficult day. She described going from a life that was virtually nirvana ... but Cook's relationship with Internet porn burst that bubble."
On Monday, Brinkley went from a sunny smile as she entered the Long Island courthouse to sobs while on the witness stand explaining the collapse of her marriage.
"I was devastated, and I was in this emotional tug of war where I was discovering more and more every day. ... It was a nightmare," Brinkley said through tears. "I had to deal with his Internet porn life. Anyone who would chase a teenager, a young girl, I mean, where is his judgment?"
She went on to recount how she attempted to explain the situation to the couple's two young children, whose custody could be determined by the hearing.
"I told them, 'I think Daddy has fallen out of love with me. When that happens, people move apart, but that doesn't mean Mommy and Daddy don't love you,'" Brinkley said.
Cook has been linked to three different women since separating with Brinkley, while the supermodel says that she has not gone on a single date.
"I haven't even thought about dating or anything like that. I've been completely focused getting the kids over this painful event," she said.