• Gladys Portugues is a former bodybuilder, fitness model, actress, and author
• She is well-known for being the wife of Jean-Claude Van Damme
• She is a professional bodybuilder, fitness model and has appeared in several films
• She has published two books and has a successful Instagram account
• Her net worth is estimated to be around $5 million


Gladys Portugues is a former bodybuilder, fitness model, actress, and author. She is also well-known for being the wife of Jean-Claude Van Damme, a famous actor in action movies.

Early life, educational background, source of career, interests

Gladys Portugues was born on 30 September 1957, in Manhattan, New York City USA. Her name may sound that she is Portuguese, but she holds American nationality since she was born and raised in the US. Details about her childhood and early education haven’t been revealed.

On the other hand, after she finished secondary school, she continued her education at Marymount Manhattan College and studied English. It was during her college days when she began to appreciate bodybuilding, as she had watched Rachel McLish on television winning the female’s bodybuilding competition title, Ms. Olympia. Portugues was moved by McLish, leading her to participate in bodybuilding and weight training.


Bodybuilding and Modelling Career

After finishing college, she pursued her passion for bodybuilding and became a professional. and won several competitions in bodybuilding. She also became part of Ms. Olympia, twice placing her in the top ten contestants, and as a result, she became a fitness model too.

During the the1980s, Portugues was one of the most noticeable models in female aptness. She adorned the covers of numerous bodybuilding magazines, such as “Strength Training for Beauty,” “Flex,” “Muscle & Fitness,” and “Muscle Training”, and has also been in fashion and beauty magazines.

Acting career

Gladys Portugues appeared in a 1985 documentary film “Pumping Iron II”, in which herself was highly featured, and Rachel McLish whom she adored had special participation in it.

The next year, Portugues had the role of a bodybuilder in “The Morning After”, and then in 1987 she appeared as a waitress in “It’s Alive III: Island of the Alive”. In the 1993 film with an action-comedy genre, “Last Action Hero”, she had a cameo role as herself in a first showing of a movie along with Van Damme. After those appearances, she hasn’t involved herself in other films.

Writing Career

Gladys is also an author, and published her first book, “Hard Bodies” in 1986, with co-author Joyce L. Vedral. The two collaborated again in 1988 as they published another book entitled “Hard Bodies Express”, which details fitness routines for women-on-the-go.

Personal life, husband actor Jean-Claude Van Damme

Gladys Portugues and Jean-Claude Van Damme met at a photoshoot, and looked good together like match made in heaven.

Gladys Portugues

Van Damme was a stunning action star, while Portugues was the known actress and a pretty face bodybuilder. The two have many things in common, and in 1987 they decided to tie the knot, and welcomed their eldest child, Kristopher Julien van Varenberg in that year also. A day before Jean-Claude Van Damme thirtieth birthday in 1990, Portugues gave birth to their daughter they named Bianca Brigitte van Varenberg.

However, in 1992 their relationship became unstable which resulted in the parting of ways. Later on, Van Damme married again, to Darcy LaPier, but eventually, the same story happened, and the relationships didn’t last long, divorcing in 1997. He then found his way back to Gladys Portugues, and they re-wed on 25 June 1999. Their marriage is not perfect though, and in fact on 18 March 2015, it was reported that Gladys had filed for divorce a second time.

Two months later they reunited, and Gladys cancelled what she had filed, and their union has apparently  remained strong up to the present.

Who is Jean-Claude Van Damme?

It was on 18 October 1960, when Jean-Claude Camille François Van Varenberg was born in Berchem-Sainte-Agathe, Brussels, Belgium. His parents are Ms. Eliana, an accountant and Mr. Eugene Van Varenberg, a florist; he has a sister, Veronique.

Van Damme had his first Shotokan karate lesson at an early age of eleven, and he was also focused on training in weightlifting. Not only that, he took a ballet lessons with strict routines. Van Damme bagged the prize in several competitions he joined, such as the middleweight battle of EPKA during his teenage years. He was also hailed as “Mr. Belgium”, in which he exhibited his perfectly built body.

Moreover, he opened a gym in his hometown, after he had some modeling offers.

However, he was fascinated in becoming a big star, and wanted to be in the film industry. To pursued this dream he went to Hong Kong and China, attempting to have a shot at the martial-arts movie trade. In 1982 Van Damme continued his passion and dream, and transferred to Los Angeles, California, to reach Hollywood.

Van Damme’s career, personal life, achievements

Van Damme started small before he reached his stardom, having several small roles in films such as a waiter, cab driver, aerobics instructor, and a club bouncer. Before he got adopted the name Van Damme, he was called “Frank Cujo”. He got a big break in the 1988 movie “Bloodsport”, in which he showed his skills in karate, especially with his unique jumping helicopter kick. The movie became a blockbuster and earned around $35 million. In the following year, the name Jean-Claude Van Damme really became known as he starred in the movie entitled “Kickboxer”, which also become a big hit.

Movies which Van Damme starred in filled the big screen, such action flicks as “Double Impact” in 1991, “Universal Soldier” in 1992, “Time Cop” in 1994 “Sudden Death” in 1995 and “Maximum Risk” in 1996, overpowering his restricted acting ability with his flexible kicks and original gymnastic splits. In 1996, Van Damme ventured to directing a movie, entitled “The Quest” and it was a success. He continued with another two movies but which failed  to interest the audience.

On the other hand, in 1990 Van Damme’s name became involved in controversies while at the height of his fame. He was reported to be using cocaine and sleeping pills, to which he became addicted. Also, he was arrested for Driving Under the Influence in 1999. Moreover, Van Damme was found to have a bipolar disorder, but under medication he put his personal life into order, and his mental health improved too.

Van Damme re-emerged in 2008 as a better version of himself in the film “JCVD”, which caught the attention of viewers with his performance and earned positive feedbacks. This caused the revival of Van Damme’s stardom, which lead him to a role in 2010’s “Universal Soldier: Regeneration” and in 2011, he was cast in “Kung Fu Panda 2”, voicing over the Master Croc character. The next year 2012, he went back to his original genre in an action film, as a member of the kick-ass group in “The Expendables 2”.

In the mid last quarter of 2012 in Brussels, a bronze statue of Van Damme depicting a fighting pose was unveiled.

Talking about relationships, Van Damme has five marriages with four women, and became the father of three. His first wife was Maria Rodriguez, but their union only lasted for four years from 1980 to 1984. Then, Van Damme married Cynthia Derderian in 1985, but they separated after only a year.

His marriages to Gladys Portugues and Darcy LaPier have been covered already.

Van Damme has three children, two with Gladys, and the other, son Nicolas with LaPier.

Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts

Gladys Portugues loves to bring her fans up-to-date through her Instagram account, with over 35,000 followers. There, she posts wonderful pictures together with her family, selfies, modeling photoshoots, and endorsed brands.

Moreover, to maintain her body, she still manages to go to the gym regularly, following some intensive workouts. Along with that, she also eats a balanced diet to stay in a good shape.

Also, Portugues falls under the astrological sign of Libra which accordingly makes her diplomatic, idealistic, energetic, and social.

Appearance and clothing style

Gladys has luscious a voluminous black hair and enchanting black eyes. She is 5ft 5ins (1.65m) tall, weighs 120lbs (55kgs), and her vital statistics are 35-25-38. As to her clothing style, Gladys prefers simple yet elegant looks, often wearing coats and tank tops. Not to mention her beautiful face, mesomorph body, and outstanding personality are some unique features that play vital roles in completing her appearance.

Net Worth, Income, and Lifestyle

As of early 2021, Gladys’ net worth is estimated to be around $5 million, while her husband reputedly sits on wealth of $40 million. Gladys hasn’t shared valid details about vehicles, house and other property, and current income,. Looking at her social media appearances, one can easily say that she is currently living luxuriously with her beloved ones.

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