Gladys Portugues Biography

(American Former Professional Female Bodybuilder)

Birthday: September 30, 1957 (Libra)

Born In: Manhattan, New York, United States

Gladys Portugues is an American bodybuilder, fitness model, actress, and author. She is married to Belgian actor, martial artist, and filmmaker Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg, who is professionally known as Jean-Claude Van Damme. A native of New York, she became interested in bodybuilding and weight lifting after watching Rachel McLish on the television, winning the Ms. Olympia title. She was a college student then. Subsequently, she became a popular bodybuilder herself and even appeared on the cover of several bodybuilding magazines. In 1985, she was featured in the documentary ‘Pumping Iron II: The Women’. Portugues made her acting debut in the 1986 mystery romance ‘The Morning After’. She married Van Damme in 1987 and had two children with him. While they divorced in 1992, after Van Damme had an affair, they remarried in 1999. She sought separation once more in 2015 but cancelled the divorce filling a few days later. Portugues is also known by her nickname, ‘The Tigress’.
Quick Facts

Age: 66 Years, 66 Year Old Females


Spouse/Ex-: Jean-Claude Van Damme

children: Bianca Bree, Kristopher Van Varenberg

Bodybuilders American Women

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Females

Ancestry: Puerto Rican American

Notable Alumni: Marymount Manhattan College

U.S. State: New Yorkers

More Facts

education: Marymount Manhattan College

Early Life & Career
Gladys Portugues was born on September 30, 1957, in Manhattan, New York City, New York. Little is known about her childhood and early schooling. However, after finishing high school, she enrolled at the Marymount Manhattan College in New York to study English. One day, she watched Rachel McLish, one of the pioneers of female bodybuilding in the US, on television winning the Ms. Olympia title. It changed her life completely. Inspired by McLish, she took up bodybuilding and weight training.
After leaving college, she became a professional bodybuilder and fitness model. She participated in several bodybuilding and fitness competitions, winning quite a few of them. Portugues was also featured in several Ms. Olympia contests and finished twice among the top ten participants.
In the 1980s, Portugues was one of the most prominent figures in female fitness. She graced the covers of numerous bodybuilding magazines, including ‘Strength Training for Beauty,’ ‘Flex,’ ‘Muscle & Fitness,’ and ‘Muscle Training.’ Besides fitness and bodybuilding magazines, she has also been featured on the covers of beauty and fashion magazines.
Portugues was featured prominently in the 1985 documentary ‘Pumping Iron II: The Women’, in which her idol, Rachel McLish, also made an appearance. In the 1993 action comedy ‘Last Action Hero’, she starred as herself attending the premiere of a film alongside her husband.
The 1986 film ‘The Morning After’ was her first outing as an actor. She played a bodybuilder in the mystery-romance that also starred Jane Fonda and Jeff Bridges. In her next film, the 1987 horror ‘It's Alive III: Island of the Alive’, she portrayed a waitress. She has not appeared in any films since.
She co-authored the 1986 fitness book ‘Hard Bodies’ with Joyce L. Vedral. In 1988, they published ‘Hard Bodies Express Workout’, a book about fitness regime for busy women.
Portugues has been able to maintain the same strenuous personal ethic concerning bodybuilding and fitness since her 20s. Despite giving birth to two children and the natural limitations imposed by age, she still works out side by side with her husband and children.
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Relationship with Jean-Claude Van Damme
The Belgian-born action star of the 1980s and 1990s, Van Damme was one of the most bankable actors of his time. He starred in classics such as ‘Bloodsport’ (1988), ‘Kickboxer’ (1989), the ‘Universal Soldier’ film series, ‘Timecop’ (1994), and ‘The Expendables 2’. Portugues met him sometime in the mid-1980s. Van Damme had been previously married two times. From 1980 to 1984, he was married to Venezuelan born Maria Rodriguez. They split after he moved to the US. He then married Cynthia Derderian in 1985 after meeting her in her father’s carpet store, where he worked. Following their divorce a year later, he started a relationship with Portugues. The couple married on January 3, 1987, and had their first child, a son whom they named Kristopher, on 20 May. Their daughter, Bianca, was born on October 17, 1990.
Van Damme began a relationship with actress and model Darcy LaPier while he was still married to Portugues. After she found out, she filed for divorce, which was finalised in 1992. Van Damme later married LaPier and they had a child together, a son named Nicholas who was born on October 10, 1995. They divorced in 1997.
Portugues remarried her former husband on June 25, 1999. On March 18, 2015, she filed for divorce a second time. They eventually reconciled and she cancelled the divorce proceeding in May 2015.
Portugues was part of the main cast of ITV4’s short-lived British reality show ‘Jean Claude Van Damme: Behind Closed Doors’.
Portugues auditioned for the role of Athena in the 1990 post-apocalyptic science fiction film ‘Robot Jox’. Although she had the physical appearance of a genetically-engineered super soldier, she did not get the role, which later went to Anne-Marie Johnson.

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