Nena von Schlebrügge is not just known as the mother of acclaimed actress Uma Thurman, but also as a former fashion model and an aristocratic figure with an extraordinary family history. Her father, Baron Friedrich Karl Johann von Schlebrügge, was a colonel during World War I and later became a dissident during the Nazi regime. His marriage to Swedish national Birgit Holmquist was a lifesaver that allowed him to leave Germany and move to Mexico, where Nena was born.
In 1955, at the young age of 14, Nena met renowned Vogue photographer Norman Parkinson, who persuaded her to consider a modeling career. She moved to London two years later, where she worked with various photographers and artists, even posing for Salvador Dalí.
Dalí introduced her to writer Timothy Leary, whom she married but eventually left due to his heavy psychedelic drug use. Later, Nena met Robert Thurman—introduced as the first American ordained as a monk by the Dalai Lama. Despite his having lost an eye, Robert had other compelling qualities, and their marriage gave the world their daughter Uma Karuna Thurman—named after the Hindu goddess Uma, meaning "giver of bliss."
By the time their fourth child was 10 years old, Robert had abandoned monastic life but continued his studies in Buddhism, eventually becoming a professor at Columbia University. Meanwhile, their daughter Uma had already begun her acting career. Robert and Nena remain happily married to this day.
Their story is a fascinating blend of history, culture, and individual journey, making Nena von Schlebrügge a compelling figure in her own right, as well as the matriarch of a family that continues to capture public attention.