The King of Romance Novel Covers: Fabio

From the late ‘80s and throughout the ‘90s, it was almost impossible to avoid Fabio Lanzoni. With his long, flowing hair, blue eyes, and the jawline of a comic-book hero, he was the ideal man. He graced the cover of almost every romance novel and transformed into the man every woman fantasized about.

Fabio Lanzoni / Fabio Lanzoni / Fabio Lanzoni / Fabio Lanzoni.
Source: Getty Images

Fabio was already an established model for the top fashion brands when he found out a few of his photographs were being used for book covers. From that point on, Fabio Lanzoni became simply Fabio. The hunky Italian model took the world by storm, but there is probably a lot you don’t know about him.

A Luxurious Childhood

Born in Milan, Italy, on March 15, 1959, Fabio Lanzoni was destined for great things. He was the second child of Flora and Sauro Lanzoni, a mechanical engineer and owner of a conveyor-belt company. His parents gave him everything he and his siblings could have wanted, but that didn’t stop him from causing trouble.

Fabio poses for a studio portrait.
Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

When Fabio started school, he turned into a rebel. Instead of listening to lessons, he would pick on the girl next to him. His family was Catholic, so his parents made him serve as an altar boy. He would put whoopee cushions on the priest’s chair, and the priest didn’t like him.

Fitness Led Him to Modeling

Fabio started working out at a young age, which led him to his first modeling job. While at the gym one day, a photographer approached him looking for a young male model for a teen clothing line. This gig launched his career and continued part-time throughout his school years.

A modeling portrait of Fabio by the beach.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

Although modeling was his side job, Fabio’s primary focus was sports. He was a local ski racing champion until he broke his leg at 16. He started lifting weights as part of his rehab, which led him to enter a bodybuilding contest. He won many of them, but it hurt his modeling career.

From Milan to New York

When Fabio graduated from high school, his father wanted him to study engineering and join the family business. However, his then-girlfriend persuaded him to move to the US for modeling. He was too muscular to model for Italian brands, so he thought it would be a good career move.

A dated portrait of Fabio.
Source: Copyright: All American Television

Within a few days of moving to New York, Fabio got his first American modeling gig at 19. He became the face of Gap and signed with the Ford Agency. He made $150,000 from the campaign and also landed TV spots for Nintendo. However, his big break came a few years later, in 1987.

The Book Cover Guy

In the summer of 1987, Fabio was dancing in a Miami nightclub when three women approached him. They said he looked just like the guy on their books. He thought it was a good pickup line but he had no idea what they were referring to. Fabio then remembered the pictures he had posed for.

A photo of Fabio modeling during a photoshoot.
Photo by Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images

He had taken a few photos that would become book covers but hadn’t seen them yet. The women left and returned with the books in hand, and Fabio exclaimed, “Oh my God, that’s me.” It was the first time he saw himself on a book cover, and it certainly wasn’t the last.

A Secret Weapon

At an industry party, the head of a big publishing company approached Fabio. She was a bit tipsy and told him that anytime she put him on a cover, the book’s sales went through the roof. It didn’t take long for other publishers to catch on to his potential.

A picture of Fabio attending an event.
Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

His books were doing better than expected. Fabio would pose for as many as 16 covers in a single day. Fabio’s books did so well because his body made people want to reach out and see if it was real.

The “It” Man of the ‘90s

No one ruled the ‘90s quite like Fabio. He became a pop culture curiosity because people recognized him but didn’t know where from. He was the guy rearing high on the backs of stallions, brandishing swords and ripping bodices open. It was easy for readers to fantasize about him.

Fabio poses for a portrait.
Photo by Steve Eichner/WireImage/Getty Images

One of his most iconic book cover looks was wearing an open, puffy-sleeved, white shirt. It became his signature style. He appeared on no less than 500 books, hair always blowing, muscles always popping, and usually half-naked.

The One That Got Away

In the early days of his modeling career, Fabio met the only woman he ever loved. He was 23, and she was 19 and working for L’Oréal. Her name was Jennifer, and he had real feelings for her. However, he was too young and wild at the time.

Fabio attends an event.
Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage/Getty Images

They dated for six years, but they called it quits. Fabio realized he had made a mistake and tried to track Jennifer down years later. Unfortunately, she had changed her number and moved on with her life. Fabio’s mom convinced him to let her go.

Strict Health Habits

Fabio has always been known for his physique, and he has to work hard to maintain it. His diet is somewhere between healthy and obsessive. His secret has always been avoiding carbs, which must be hard for an Italian. Fabio’s parents said he was a picky eater.

A picture of Fabio during an interview.
Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images

As a child, his parents would nag him about his plain diet. Fabio shared that he was 14 before he had pasta and tomato sauce. His dad would take him to the best restaurants in Italy, and all he would eat was rice with olive oil.

Not Just a Model

He might be known for modeling, but Fabio has also been in many movies and TV shows. His first acting job was an uncredited role in 1990’s The Exorcist III. He also appeared in Death Becomes Her and The Hard Way before getting a credited part.

A movie still of Fabio in The Exorcist III.
Source: YouTube

His first credited role was as Claudio, the hotel owner, in the 1993 TV series Acapulco H.E.A.T.. Although Fabio only had a few acting lessons, he was not nervous while filming. However, most of his acting parts after that were cameos as himself.

A Bloody Mess

By the end of the ‘90s, Fabio was popping up everywhere. He had many fans, so places paid him for appearances to bring in extra business. In 1999, he was at Busch Gardens as a PR stunt for the opening of their new ride, Apollo’s Chariot.

A photo of Fabio at Busch Gardens’ incident.
Source: Reddit

Fabio sat in the front row for the first ride, but it wasn’t as pleasant as he thought it would be. Midway through the ride, a goose collided with Fabio and died. As the rollercoaster pulled back into the station, he was covered in blood.

Getting in on the Action

When his career as a romance novel cover model took off, Fabio realized how profitable he was within the industry. He typically posed for other people’s books but decided to get in on the action and become a romance novelist himself.

A dated promotional portrait of Fabio riding a horse.
Source: Pinterest

As English isn’t his first language, Fabio enlisted the help of a ghostwriter for his novels. Many people are uncomfortable with authors using ghostwriters and not giving them credit, but Fabio was open about it. He said, “In America, everyone has a ghostwriter.” At least he’s honest.

Everyone Wanted Him

After seeing his image on billboards and the covers of steamy romance novels, women threw themselves at Fabio. He never had trouble getting the ladies, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t selective about the women he spent time with. Fabio always went for the good girls.

A portrait of Fabio at home.
Photo by Maureen Donaldson/Getty Images

He might look like someone who would be a womanizer, but Fabio said he was only interested in women who had something more than looks. He couldn’t stand ditsy girls and always looked for women who could carry a conversation.

He’s a Hero

He might have played a cult leader in Bubble Boy, but Fabio is against that lifestyle. He once rescued his friend, Hoyt Richards, from a cult. The screenwriter got sucked into a group that believed the world was ending and aliens existed.

Fabio poses for the press.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

Richards got rid of all his possessions and gave his money to the cult. After several efforts to leave, Richards confided in Fabio, who came to his friend’s aid and let Richards live with him for over a year.

Victim of a Robbery

Sometimes being a celebrity is not all it’s cracked up to be. In Fabio’s case, it hasn’t always been fun. He became the victim of a burglary. His West Valley home was broken into, and thieves stole over $200,000 worth of items.

A picture of Fabio walking the street.
Photo by gotpap/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

They took a safe that had many watches and a collection of gold coins. Fabio was one of many celebrities to be robbed in Los Angeles. The police believed the robbers were the same people who stole from Emmy Rossum, Jaime Pressley, and Nicki Minaj.

A Humble Guy

It might seem that a guy like Fabio would have an inflated ego because of his work, but that is far from the truth. Fabio has stayed humble about his career and time in the spotlight. He thinks celebrities take themselves too seriously.

A television still of Fabio.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

Fabio said that people in Hollywood need to loosen up and have a little more fun with life. He thinks many celebrities are neurotic and should enjoy the fame and fortune. What is there to be unfriendly and angry about when you have it all?

He Can’t Believe It

Fabio might not be earning awards for his acting performances, but that hasn’t slowed his career down. He found his niche as a small screen spokesperson. Since 1994, Fabio has been the face of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. His ads were a huge hit.

A portrait of Fabio for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter ad.
Source: YouTube

One of his most beloved campaigns for the brand involved Fabio breaking out of a butter sculpture of himself. He took a break from working with the brand but returned in 2016. He is a health nut, so working with the butter alternative brand was a good fit.


Unlike most celebrities, Fabio is not interested in likes from anonymous people on the internet. You won’t find him on social media promoting himself. He said, “I really don’t care about Instagram because I have a life. I don’t want people to know where I am or what I’m doing.”

Fabio arrives at an event.
Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

He might be shading the millions of users on Instagram, but Fabio simply enjoys his privacy. He commends models for using social media to make a business for themselves, but Fabio prefers to connect with people the old-fashioned way.

A Great Loss

Fabio has had a fairly blessed life, but in 2013 he went through one of the most difficult times in his life. His sister Christina lost her long battle with ovarian cancer at age 48. Fabio was heartbroken that his younger sister was taken too soon.

Fabio speaks to the media.
Photo by Michael Schwartz/WireImage/Getty Images

On top of his grief, Fabio also faced critics throughout his sister’s battle. Christina was treated at the controversial Burzynski Clinic, which uses treatments that aren’t approved by the FDA. Fabio claimed his sister went from a bed to a treadmill in weeks from the treatments.

His Signature Locks

One of the things that makes Fabio instantly recognizable is his luscious hair. He had much shorter hair in his early modeling campaigns for Gap but has let it grow over the years. Fabio once thought about cutting it, but his hair became part of his signature look.

Fabio poses for a portrait.
Source: YouTube

He has maintained his hair since the ‘90s, and it still looks just as nice. With women of all ages still swooning over him, it’s no wonder Fabio chose to keep his style. It would be freaky to see him with a more modern, short haircut.

Leading Lady

Fabio is the king of romance novels, but he didn’t do it all by himself. His covers generally needed a female companion to show the intense passion of its characters. Most of the time, he posed with Lianna Loggins. She was his most frequent partner.

A promotional portrait of Fabio and his co-stars.
Source: Copyright: All American Television

They appeared together on hundreds of covers playing the perfect couple that wants to rip each other’s clothes off. After gaining some recognition, Loggins also became an actress, appearing in Witches of East End and Lord of the Vampires.

Becoming a Citizen

Because Fabio was born in Italy, he was not a citizen when he moved to the United States at 19. He had a work and permanent resident visa for years. He has always loved America and became an official citizen on March 16, 2016.

A picture of Fabio during an event.
Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

He took his oath with 6,000 other people from 140 countries. Fabio said, “I remember my first love when I was 14 was the United States, and yesterday I married my first love.” He claimed he would go to war for the US but not Italy.

The Best Birthday Present

For Fabio, becoming a citizen was like marrying the US. The ceremony was the day after his 57th birthday, and he said it was the best birthday present he had ever received in his life. The first time he visited America was when he was a teenager.

A photo of Fabio dressed in a Christmas outfit.
Source: Copyright: Viacom Media Networks

Although his father hoped Fabio would stay in Italy and follow in his footsteps, Fabio was always drawn to the United States. He still calls his dad every day, but he senses some bitterness from his dad. However, he is happy his son became a success.

Next in Office

Since he has become an American citizen, Fabio has set his sights on running for a public office. He once told Page Six, “I am a people person. I love people. I would definitely go for the people.” Fabio has taught himself about the nature of politics in the country.

Fabio rides a horse into Times Square.
Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Although he is for the people, Fabio understands that it doesn’t always get you that far. He believes he can one day join Arnold Schwarzenegger as a European-born former model who holds public office.

Not a Fan of This Model

Throughout his career, Fabio has encountered many famous names in the industry. However, that doesn’t mean he has liked everyone he has met. Fabio shared his opinions about two famous women in an interview, and he didn’t hold back his words.

A dated image of Naomi Campbell walking the runway of a fashion show.
Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

When Fabio was asked about Naomi Campbell, he had nothing nice to say. To put it lightly, he called her a b**ch. He did have good things to say about Andie MacDowell, though. Fabio shared that a friend tried to set them up, but he declined, saying she is beautiful but not his type.

A Reason to Stay Sober

As a child, Fabio was quite the handful for his parents. He would get into all kinds of trouble and was constantly being kicked out of school. Although he was difficult, Fabio never got into trouble for using drugs or alcohol.

A picture of Fabio preparing pizza.
Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images

After one of his best friends in school overdosed, it shook him to the core. Fabio decided he would never touch drugs, and he has also stayed away from alcohol. He might be the only Italian who doesn’t drink wine and eat pasta.

Clooney Feud

George Clooney might not be on the cover of romance novels, but he has always found his way into women’s hearts. It has caused tension between him and Fabio, which led to a fight. In 2007, Fabio and Clooney had to be separated at a Beverly Hills restaurant.

Clooney speaks to the media.
Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images

Clooney was dining with his girlfriend and thought someone at Fabio’s nearby table was taking photos of them, so he flipped off the camera. Fabio explained that it was a misunderstanding, and no pictures were taken of Clooney. He said he could teach Clooney some manners.

His Geeky Side

Don’t be fooled by his looks because Fabio has a bit of a geeky side. While he definitely wasn’t in the A/V club in high school, Fabio has become a tech junkie. When it comes to his home entertainment system, he is not joking around.

Fabio arrives at an event.
Photo by Debra L Rothenberg/FilmMagic/Getty Images

He has a massive 15-foot screen with an HD projector and a unique setup of expensive sound equipment. He did not spare any expense to make his entertainment center top of the line. Fabio also collects laserdiscs and Apple products.

He Shared His Diet Secrets

If anyone is interested in having a bulging chest like Fabio, he has shared his strict diet plan. It’s easy for Fabio to stick with his lean protein regimen because he has hated sweets since he was a baby. Instead, he starts his day with oatmeal and an egg-white omelet.

A portrait of Fabio during an interview.
Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage/Getty Images

His omelet always has spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, or mushrooms. For lunch, he has fish and vegetables. And for his last meal, he will choose another fish to pair with vegetables. It seems pretty boring, but we are sure he has some cheat days.

A Unique Hobby

Most of the time, you will probably find Fabio working out at the gym because he does three 90-minute training sessions a week. However, when he is not in the gym, Fabio is an avid dirt biker. He says it is an amazing workout.

A picture of Fabio attending an event.
Photo by Robin Platzer/FilmMagic/Getty Images

He has gotten into Motorcross biking because he said it burns a lot of calories in just a few hours. Fabio relies on his physique because it is part of his brand. He is obsessed with keeping himself in tip-top shape at all times.

He’s a Businessman

He might have grown up with all kinds of luxuries, but that hasn’t stopped Fabio from working hard for his money. In 2003, he launched a clothing line at the Sam’s Club division of Walmart. The line included casual wear for women.

Fabio appears in a sticker from a Healthy Planet Nutrition product.
Photo by Michael Schwartz/WireImage/Getty Images

Before his clothing line, Fabio wrote a fitness book and created a workout video called Fabio Fitness. It has been a passion of his, so he wanted to share his secrets with the world. In 2008, he also launched Healthy Planet Vitamins, selling protein and workout supplements.

Retiring From Modeling

In the late ‘90s, Fabio decided to retire from modeling, but he didn’t give up his public persona. He continued to make cameos in films and TV shows well into the 2000s. He most recently appeared in the fifth installment of Sharknado and shockingly played a character instead of himself.

A dated portrait of Fabio during an event.
Photo by Ron Galella/Ltd.Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images

While he hasn’t modeled in many years, he still keeps up with his looks. In 2021, he announced that he was ready to retire from everything, including acting because he wants to settle down and start a family. He has waited long enough to do so.

Passing the Torch

As we have already said, Fabio dominated the covers of romance novels. But when he decided to retire, he wanted to help someone else get into the industry. In 2005, he hosted the reality show Mr. Romance, featuring male models competing for the title of Mr. Romance.

A picture of Fabio in a restaurant.
Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

The winner not only received the title, but they also got to appear on the cover of a romance novel. Fabio mentored the contestants as they competed in romance-related challenges. In the end, they crowned a truck driver from New Jersey as the winner.

No More Reality-TV

But other than Mr. Romance, Fabio is not interested in being on a reality show. He has been approached to be on Dancing With the Stars, but he doesn’t want to do it. Fabio said, “Usually, when people put themselves in that position, they do it because they are desperate for money.”

Fabio speaks during a televised interview.
Source: YouTube

While many people would watch a reality show about Fabio, that will never happen. Fabio claimed that there isn’t enough money in the world to make him do something degrading like reality TV. What sad news for Fabio fans!

He’s Ready to Settle Down

Fabio hopes to find a wife and start a family in the near future. He is looking for a strong woman who is beautiful inside and out. He also wants someone who is smart and deep because looks fade. Fabio wants to find genuine love.

A dated portrait of Fabio.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

He has waited many years to settle down. Although many women have thrown themselves at him, he still hasn’t found a woman he loves as much as his ex-girlfriend, Jennifer. We hope Fabio finds all the love and happiness he deserves.

Mr. Big Bucks

As someone who modeled for two decades, has had several businesses and worked as a spokesperson for several years, Fabio has raked in a lot of money. His net worth is between $15-18 million. He has been working since he was 14 and saved his money well.

A photo of Fabio at home.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

Fabio was also in a Super Bowl commercial and did a campaign for Old Spice. Just because he is retired doesn’t mean he stops earning money. He is set for the rest of his life and won’t have to worry about his future if he doesn’t want to work.

Unique Sleeping Arrangements

At 62, Fabio is all about staying young and reversing the aging process. One of his secrets to remaining youthful is sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber. The hyperbaric chamber allows you to breathe the purest form of oxygen in a pressurized environment.

A portrait of Fabio pouring coffee.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

It has been used to treat issues like severe anemia, carbon monoxide poisoning, decompression sickness, burns, and more. He usually stays in there for two hours. However, it is not proven to reverse the aging process, and it can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

Controversial Opinions

As someone who wants to run for public office, Fabio has made some controversial statements in the past. He is an advocate for the second amendment, which has caused people to question his views. During an interview, Fabio said something that upset people.

Fabio speaks during an interview.
Photo by Jemal Countess/WireImage/Getty Images

He compared what happened in Germany during World War II to what could happen if people’s guns were taken away in America. Fabio said that politicians will “take everything away from you.” It rubbed people the wrong way, but everyone has their own opinions.

He Doesn’t Use Conditioner

On a lighter note, Fabio has also shared his hair care secrets, and they are not what you might think. Many people would kill to have hair like his, and it might be easier to get than people think. For one, he says eating a lot of proteins and minerals helps.

Fabio poses for a studio photo.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

Fabio said he uses natural shampoos without chemicals. Interestingly, he also avoids using conditioner, meaning his hair has a natural shine. Lastly, Fabio stays away from blow dryers and lets his hair air dry. He basically has naturally beautiful hair.

Launching a Hair Care Line

Clearly, Fabio is passionate about his hair, so he decided to launch a hair and skincare line. He teamed up with two Australian friends to bring Aston James + Fabio to the market. The line includes a menthol shampoo and conditioner, brightening facial mist, day cream, and night serum.

Fabio attends an event.
Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images

Fabio’s goal was to create something that embodied everything he is about – class, style, and sophistication. His line is already on the market, and we can imagine that Fabio also uses luxurious products because he loves the line he made.

He’s Old-Fashioned

Coming from a traditional Italian family, Fabio has an old-fashioned mindset. He thinks a lot of American women have lost their morals because “they never marry for love.” Fabio has always looked for like-minded people who value family over everything.

Fabio meets and greets fans.
Photo by Larry Marano/Getty Images

Fabio might love America, but he thinks people are only searching for what others can do for them. He might be biased because he is in a vapid industry, where people care more about their looks than what kind of person they are on the inside.

He Laughs at Himself

One thing that makes Fabio so real is that he has learned to laugh at himself. He doesn’t take anything too seriously and knows the nature of his career is something people can joke about. Fabio knows the books he modeled for weren’t winning Pulitzer prizes.

A dated portrait of Fabio.
Source: Instagram /@thefabiolanzoni

He doesn’t mind that his persona is something that people joke about. He is secure in himself and brushes everything off. Fabio finds happiness in most things he does and tries to be carefree. It seems we can all learn something from the king of romance.