SHE was the men’s magazine beauty who stole George Clooney’s heart.
In Part 2 of our Women of the Nineties series, we look at how Lisa Snowdon went from teen model to TV stardom to her latest role as an activist – and of course, those relationships.
What is George Clooney in bed? This question is still being asked by some to Lisa Snowdon.
“I never say,” says the TV and radio host, who met the Ocean’s Eleven actor on the set of a Martini commercial in 2000.
She adds: “Sometimes I think my tombstone will say: ‘George Clooney once dated Lisa Snowdon.’
Long before their five-year relationship, Lisa, now 50, had already established herself as one of our most popular targets.
Inspired by dancers from such West End shows as Cats and Les Misérables, she enrolled at the renowned Italia Conti performing arts school.
Naomi Campbell was there at the same time, though Lisa says their “paths never crossed”.
Then, at the age of 19, she was spotted pole dancing at a London rave club, and after changing her last name from Snowdon, she soon began appearing in fashion magazines such as Vogue and Marie Claire.
But at a time when “heroin chic” was admired, the 5-foot-10 Lisa was considered too voluptuous for the catwalk.
“Matt Damon came to my birthday party”
Once in Paris, a designer, whose name she did not name, hit her on the chest, saying that she was too big, and in Milan she was stripped and told to lose weight.
But men’s magazines adored her. Between 1996 and 2007, she appeared on FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women list every year except 1998.
Big brands also liked the image of Lisa as the girl next door, and she appeared in advertisements for Triumph underwear and Dove soap.
Kellogg’s Special K campaign sparked a flurry of messages from women thanking her for being a woman with “real curves.”
Ironically, she was bullied at school for being skinny.
She said: “As soon as I got on my first magazine covers, I thought, ‘So who is this skinny weakling now?’
At the height of her career, she is said to have earned £100,000 per shoot.
It was a far cry from her roots in Welwyn Garden City, Herts, where she lived with her parents Nigel and Lydia, who both worked in insurance and separated when Lisa was 17, and younger sisters Lesley Ann and Jo.
In the nineties, she was known to appear as the “Lynx elevator girl” who gets hot and steamy with a nerdy guy, mistaking him for the source of the intoxicating smell.
The hottie spraying deodorant in the elevator was model Paul Scalfor, who dated Friends star Jennifer Aniston in the early 2000s.
Lisa and Paul ended up in a relationship themselves and were pictured holding hands at the premiere of the 1997 action movie The Saint.
Other notable flings included former CSI actor Gary Dourdan and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams.
As soon as I got my first magazine covers, I thought: “So who is this skinny weakling now?”
But it was her relationship with Clooney that really made headlines.
In the ad they appeared in together, Lisa hosted a glamorous party that opens the door for the ER star.
Seeing that he has come empty-handed, she tells him “No martinis, no party” and closes the door on him.
Lisa said: “George was a charming, really nice person, a fun person and we had a great time. It was pretty wild.”
Although she lost touch with the actor, who is now the father of five-year-old twins with lawyer wife Amal, the relationship has allowed Lisa to become best friends with George’s girlfriend Michelle Merkin, a former model and TV presenter who is now married to American billionaire Ted Waitt.
She is also still friends with George Ocean’s Eleven co-star Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso, with whom she stayed in the US last year.
Lisa mentioned Matt on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity in 2016, telling her classmates, “He came to my birthday party. He’s really cute.”
Despite her fantastic figure and modeling experience, Lisa later admitted that she was embarrassed to take a shower in the jungle, where women are filmed in bikinis under a waterfall.
She said: “There was quite a lot of pressure – you feel very exposed. We definitely put it off for as long as we could until we really started to stink.”
Her television career really took off in 2006 when she starred in Sky Living’s Next Top Model, which she hosted and judged until 2009.
Lisa also performed in the series “Lorraine”, “This Morning” and “Free Women”.
In 2008, she placed third on Dancing with the Stars, partnering with professional dancer Brendan Cole.
That same year, she began hosting a breakfast show on London’s Capital Radio, first with former Big Breakfast host Johnny Vaughan and later with Dave Berry.
George was a charming, really nice person, he had a lot of fun and we had a great time. It was pretty wild.
Announcing her departure in 2015, she said, “After seven and a half years of getting up at 4:30 am, I hope people will agree that I deserve to lie around.”
More recently, Lisa has become a wellness guru with her Care Sunday Instagram series and the Get Lifted podcast, in which she discusses mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health. Self-care has become important to her as she navigates her way through menopause, and she has become one of the many high-profile campaigners on the subject.
“I WAS A LITTLE BROKEN WHEN NOTHING WAS SUITABLE FOR ME”
She joined fellow TV presenters Davina McCall and Mariella Frostrup in the House of Commons last week to give MPs their menopause mandate for better support and advice.
And she is regularly approached by women who want to talk to her about what she has learned since experiencing perimenopausal symptoms in her 40s without realizing what they were at the time. Suffering from anxiety, low mood and insomnia, Lisa sought help and briefly took antidepressants before switching to HRT.
She said: “I long for women to get their lives back. I remember past generations when we didn’t have this information and I’m so angry.”
For a man who has always remained fit, it was mentally difficult to gain about three stone.
Lisa recalled: “I was a little broken when nothing in my wardrobe suited me – it’s really hard for us girls. I remember sitting on the floor and just crying.”
Now she focuses more on diet and exercise, with more protein, vegetables and strength training.
I long for women to get their lives back. I remember past generations when we didn’t have this information and we were so angry.
But she will not give up her favorite chocolate, chips, wine and beer. She said, “I don’t see it as a bad pleasure – it’s just a pleasure.”
To relieve stress, Lisa uses crystals, aromatherapy, candles and incense.
And life got better thanks to her fiancé, 42, George Smart, whom she first met 20 years ago while hosting MTV, where he ran events.
She said: “We are a really good team. He is very kind and loving.
“We were together a long time ago and it was not the right time. Then we were reunited and the stars aligned.”
When they got back together in 2015, Lisa’s hormones made her “roll over” at the party, and white wine made her “cuckoo”.
She said: “For several days I couldn’t get out of bed due to debilitating bleeding during my monthly cycle, but George just held me and told me everything would be all right.”
Now Lisa observes her drinking and they can joke about how “nightmare” she was at times.
She admitted that she was “devastated” by the prospect of not having children for several years, so she and George discussed the options available to them when they got serious.
But he told her that he just wanted them to be together forever.
George, who runs a marketing and advertising agency, told Kristen Bell Tattoos: “Do I feel like I’m missing something? Absolutely not.
“I’m 100% happy it’s just me and Lisa.”
For her 50th birthday in January, George took her to Iceland and Lisa isn’t worried about reaching that milestone. She said: “I think if you feel good, then turning 50 shouldn’t be a concern, and I definitely feel good.
“I’m pretty confident in myself. I think you get to the stage where you have a sense of acceptance that you don’t have when you’re 27, 28, 30.”
She and George, who live in Lawton, Essex, have been engaged since 2016.
As far as the prospect of wedding bells goes, Lisa won’t make much of a difference.
She said: “If and when we get married, it will probably be quite small.
“I really don’t want to spend a lot of money on a wedding. I just prefer it to be very intimate.”