Myth: After Brooke Shields ‘87 applied to Princeton–and before the admissions decisions were made–The Princeton Tiger, against the advice of its graduate board, published an issue called the “Brooke Book” that contained a series of articles spoofing the famous actress. Brooke’s mother, Teri Shields, saw a copy of the book and threatened to sue both the Tiger and Princeton. The university burned all the copies of the “Brooke Book,” and two Tiger editors were asked to absent a year away from Princeton thinking about why the future Mrs. André Agassi was not a source of amusement. (The issue wouldn’t have been in doubt if they’d seen her sitcom, Suddenly Susan…) After Princeton’s dean of admission visited the Shields household with two admissions letters–and left without the one that said yes–nobody ever heard about the lawsuit again.

Fact: For their December issues in 1982, the student editors of the Tiger planned on running a “Brooke Book,” an issue they described as “the most distasteful, risqué, and malicious” in the magazine’s history. After editor-in-chief Rich Herschlag ‘84 got the final proofs back from the printer, however, he showed a copy to Tiger trustee Henry Martin ‘48, who advised Herschlag to show the issue to a lawyer. On the lawyer’s advice, the Tiger canceled the issue. Three months later, the Tiger published another issue that had Brooke on the cover with a “censored” label obscuring her face. The issue also contained a staff editorial that was unkind to Brooke and her other, and an article with crass suggestions on how to date a famous actress named “Brook Shell” entitled “The Princeton Man’s Guide to Impressing and Sleeping with Brook If and When She Gets Here.”

What happened next is still unclear. Although Herschlag says that the Tiger’s board had approved 98 percent of the issue, he and publisher Wendell Long ‘85 were immediately removed from the editorial staff. “It seems like the graduate board was under some kind of pressure,” Herschlag says. Then the Press Club’s UPI stringer wrote an article about both the magazine and the firings that was picked up by newspapers across the country. Long was interviewed by Diane Sawyer, and Herschlag appeared on NBC. “The story had everything,” Herschlag says, “Brooke Shields, Princeton, and the smell of censorship.” The National Lampoon even tried to buy some of the unused material from the “Brooke Book.”

Long and Herschlag heard rumors that the university might suspend them, but nothing ever happened. Still, Herschlag says, “We were pretty bitter. We felt like we’d been hung out to dry.” During graduation in 1985, the pair rented a plane (Long was a licensed pilot) and dropped 4,000 leaflets over the ceremony in front of Nassau Hall. The leaflets said: “Princeton sucks–have a nice day.” Herschlag says, “We wanted to see if we could top Animal House. We were just angry. To this say I wish I knew why I was kicked off the Tiger for a typical sophomoric, college-humor article.” Sixteen years after the incident, Herschlag is a published author and part-time engineer who lives with his wife and two kids in Pennsylvania. The last Herschlag heard, Long, who never graduated from Princeton, was a pit boss at a casino in Atlantic City.

As for Brooke, the decision to admit her was made by James W. Wickenden ‘61, the dean of admission at the time, once she had assured him that she was committed to completing four years at Princeton and participating fully in campus life. Wickenden says that he had no doubts that she had the academic, extracurricular, and personal credentials for admission. To prevent leaks to the media, he kept his staffers in the dark about the decision and told them to print three letters to her–admit, deny, waitlist. He left with the three letters for a brief vacation in Florida, and there, the day after all the other admission letters had been mailed from Princeotn, he slipped Brooke’s fat envelope into a mailbox.


This was originally published in the April 21, 1999 issue of PAW.