Nena von Schlebrügge

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Mexico City, Mexico
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Birthday
Birthplace
Mexico City, Mexico

Nena von Schlebrügge is the Managing Director of Menla Mountain Retreat. She is a Mexican-American former high-fashion model and psychotherapist. This well-known model from the 1950s and 1960s is better known to today’s age as the mother of Uma Thurman, a well-known American actress, and model. In her early teens, she was found by photographer Norman Parkinson of Vogue, who introduced her to the world of high-fashion modeling. She first moved to London, where she quickly rose to fame, and then went on to become one of the top models in the United States. She worked for magazines such as ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ and ‘Vogue,’ posing for some of the top fashion photographers of the day. She married Robert Thurman after her first marriage with Timothy Leary ended in divorce, and she finally gave up her modeling career to devote more time to her family. Her acting credits include roles in films such as ‘Ciao! Manhattan and ‘Julian Po,’ as well as the television series ‘Arena.’ With time, she became a vocal proponent of Buddhism in the United States. She has worked as the Managing Director of Tibet House US and the Program Director of the New York Open Center and is now the Managing Director of Menla Mountain Retreat.

Table of Contents

Childhood and Adolescence

Nena von Schlebrügge was born Birgitte Caroline von Schlebrügge to Colonel Baron Friedrich Karl Johannes von Schlebrügge and Birgit Holmquist on January 8, 1941, in Mexico City, Mexico.

Her father was a cavalry officer in the German monarchist army during World War I. During the 1920s and 1930s, he started a business in Berlin. During WWII, he was imprisoned by the National Socialists for refusing to rejoin the military forces and for shielding Jewish companions and friends.

Her mother, who is of Swedish descent, married her father while he was incarcerated. Birgit then used her Swedish nationality to get her husband out of jail, and the two moved to Mexico, where their children Nena and Björn were born.

Birgit was the model for Axel Ebbe’s iconic ‘Famntaget’ (‘The Embrace’) monument from the 1930s. It’s a naked woman statue facing Smygehuk’s harbor in Sweden.

She has an elder half-sister on her father’s side, who also happens to be the paternal grandmother of German-Swedish football player Max von Schlebrügge.

The Career of Nena

Norman Parkinson, a well-known English fashion and portrait photographer, first discovered her in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1955 while on tour.

Nena moved to London a few years later, in 1957, when Parkinson arranged for her to model for ‘Vogue,’ where he was working as a fashion and portrait photographer. She gradually established herself in the world of high-fashion modeling in the United Kingdom.

She then accepted Eileen Ford’s invitation to move to New York City to advance her modeling career, as co-founder and executive of the American international modeling agency ‘Ford Modeling Agency’ (now ‘Ford Models’).

During the March 1958 snowstorm, she boarded the ocean liner Queen Mary, which is now retired, to travel to New York City. She worked for ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ and ‘Vogue’ there, prospering to become one of the top models.

Parkinson photographed her for the British fashion house ‘Jaeger’ in 1960. She also posed for Bert Stern, William Klein, Richard Avedon, and Gleb Derujinsky, all of whom were well-known fashion photographers at the time.

Nena, who rose to prominence as a model, dabbled in acting but did not pursue it frequently.
In 1967, she starred in the critically praised American film ‘Ciao! Manhattan.’

This 1972 film starring Edie Sedgwick had many alterations, including the elimination of many scenes shot originally. Nena’s deleted sequences were also included in the deleted scenes, which were later released in the DVD version.

From 1987 to 1989, she was the Program Director of the ‘New York Open Center,’ an adult education institution.

Nena got increasingly interested in popularizing Buddhism in the United States, a project she most likely began in response to her husband Robert Thurman, an American Buddhist writer, scholar, ex-monk, and academician.

Thurman, musician Philip Glass, and famed actor Richard Gere, among others, co-founded Tibet House the US in 1987, and she became the Managing Director in 1991. She was in charge of the role until 2002.

She played Sarah’s mother in the American comedy-drama film ‘Julian Po,’ which was released on September 5, 1997.

In 2001, she was appointed Managing Director of ‘Menla Mountain Retreat,’ a post she still holds. She was in charge of both the construction of the Tibetan medicinal spa and the business in Catskill, New York.

She made an appearance as herself in one of the episodes of the TV show ‘Arena’ in 2013.

Personal History and Legacy

In 1963, she met eccentric doctor Timothy Leary through Salvador Dali, and the following year, on December 12, she married him in Millbrook, at William Hitchcock’s estate.

Donn Pennebaker documented the wedding in the documentary film ‘You’re Nobody Til Somebody Loves You.’ She did, however, divorce Leary in 1965.

In 1967, she married again, this time to Robert Thurman, an American Buddhist writer, scholar, ex-monk, and academician.

Ganden, the eldest son, was born in 1967; Uma, the daughter, was born in 1970; Dechen, the second son, was born in 1973; and Mipam, the youngest son, was born in 1978. The pair also has seven grandchildren.

Estimated Net worth

Nena von Schlebrügge is a Model who has a net worth of $45 Million.