Top Ten Day: My favorite crushes
1. Daisy Duke (Catherine Bach), 1979-80. I watched The Dukes of Hazzard for most of its time on television, but that first year was dynamite, especially when Daisy showed up. Dang, she was a hottie. My eight-year-old brain couldn't quite process it. I wasn't terribly interested in girls until much later in my life, because I was still a rough-and-tumble boy, but Daisy showed me that when I became interested, there would be something nice to look forward to!
2. Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers), c. 1980. Loni Anderson was the sexpot on WKRP in Cincinnati, but come on - Bailey was super-sexy. She was smart, sarcastic, and funny. Yes, Jennifer (Loni Anderson) was smarter than most of the people at the station, but her character always felt a bit fake, whereas you could easily imagine knowing someone like Bailey. And whenever she took those glasses off - hubba-hubba! Like Daisy Duke, she was one of those women who made me realize there was a lot more going on with girls than I suspected, even though it would be years before I explored that. I read on this site that Smithers was in a pretty serious car accident last September. That sucks. I haven't read anything about her recovery, except that as of December, she had a lot of broken bones and still couldn't walk. Send good thoughts her way!
(This is a pretty cool picture. Smithers was, oddly enough, on the cover of Newsweek in 1966, when she was 17. What a weird thing.)
3. Sarah Purcell, early 1980s. Ms. Purcell is someone that is probably far-from-crushworthy, but I don't care! I loved watching Real People back in the early Eighties, as it was funny, featured interesting people, and had very funny hosts, including Fred Willard. But Sarah was the hottie on the show. Considering she's only five years younger than my mother, maybe I had some Oedipal issues I was working out back then. Many were the nights when I wished I had Sarah Purcell and Fred Willard as my parents! And Peter Billingsley could be my cool older brother (he's almost exactly a month older than I am), with Byron Allen the non-Caucasian uncle from one of my grandfather's many dalliances! Oh, the joy! (Oh, I'm kidding. My parents are awesome. But I did have a big crush on Sarah Purcell. About that I will not kid!) (And no, I couldn't find a better picture of her. She's just pimpin' fine early Eighties products!)
4. Phoebe Cates, 1982. Any straight male under the age of 30 (at the time) who saw Fast Times at Ridgemont High knows why:
Dang. You know we're all about high-brow entertainment around here! I still liked her in the two Gremlins movies (especially the second one), but this moment is iconic.
5. Jennifer Jason Leigh, 1982-1994. I absolutely adore Jennifer Jason Leigh, and think it's a tragedy of epic proportions that she hasn't won an Academy Award yet (and Big Lips, among others, has). Leigh, of course, burst onto the scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, where she played the innocent Stacy to Phoebe Cates' more worldly Linda, and she quickly put together an amazing résumé: Flesh + Blood, The Hitcher, Miami Blues, Backdraft (well, I liked it, and she was damned sexy in it), Rush, Short Cuts, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. I like that movie, but that was about the time my crush started to fade. I still love her as an actress, and she's very good in Dolores Claiborne and eXistenZ, but she faded out of view for a while in the new century, and I was depressed that she didn't have a bigger role in Road to Perdition. And, of course, I don't see many movies these days. She seems to be working a bit more recently, so maybe someone will give her a role that will finally win her an Oscar.
6. Keanu Reeves, 1989-1999. I'm not sure why people denigrate Keanu so much. I'm the first to admit that he's not the greatest actor, but he chooses smart roles and never embarrasses himself. I first started getting a man-crush on him when I saw Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which is still a comedic classic. I eventually watched his seminal film role in River's Edge, which is an absolutely brilliant movie. He followed Bill and Ted's with Parenthood, in which he's fantastic, and I Love You to Death, which is an underrated comedy, and after Point Break and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey (neither of which is all that great, although the sequel is mostly fun), he was astounding in My Own Private Idaho, showing how good he could be. He shows up in movies by great directors (not necessarily great movies, but by great directors), and he even showed he could do action well in Speed (after doing it poorly in Point Break). Of course, he had a small career renaissance in 1999 with The Matrix, and he did a pretty good job in Constantine. Keanu is a far better actor than he gets credit for, and he's one of my two man-crushes on this list.
7. Sherilyn Fenn, 1990-93. Man, Sherilyn Fenn should have been a classic movie star. She's not the best actress, but she's not the worst, either, and she has such classic movie star looks. It's like she was born about 50 years too late - if she had been an actress in the 1940s or '50s, she would have been huge. I never watched Twin Peaks (I know, shocking), but she was a pin-up icon for a while in the early Nineties, and I actually bought the issue of Playboy in which she posed. I still have not seen Two Moon Junction (Krys has, weirdly enough), but I have seen Meridian, which is a truly awful movie. I saw Boxing Helena, but by that time I had moved on in my crushes. She's still working relatively steadily, and she has a MySpace page (if it's really hers), so if you too had a crush on Sherilyn Fenn, go check her out! And really, who could forget her in Just One of the Guys? What a classic that was!
8. Emma Thompson, c. 1991-1994. I still love Emma Thompson as an actress (she was quite good in Stranger Than Fiction, and I have actually watched good swaths of Nanny McPhee because she's in it), but my crush phase lasted only briefly, from the time I first saw her in Dead Again (I later saw Henry V, but not when it was first released, so it doesn't count), which is an extremely underrated murder mystery, until her brilliant turn in In the Name of the Father, one of the few movies that makes me cry. In that same year she made Much Ado About Nothing, in which she is absolutely gorgeous. In the late Nineties she was under the radar a bit, but she seems to be coming back strong recently. My crush will not return, but I'm always happy to see her working.
9. Michelle Yeoh, 1993-2000. I first saw Michelle Yeoh in the Jackie Chan vehicle Supercop, which came out here in 1993 (and stars another actress I had a crush on, Maggie Cheung) and is a real blast. Yeoh is excellent, fighting and flirting (a bit) with Chan and almost stealing the movie. She was the best part of Tomorrow Never Dies, which is a fairly decent addition to the Bond legacy, and of course, she was brilliant in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which is an excellent movie. She's worked since then, but I've been missing her movies, as I rarely see movies anymore, so my ardor for her has cooled. I still think she's awesome, though, and probably will be the only reason to see the third Mummy movie.
10. Brad Pitt, 1995-2001. Ah, my second man-crush. I first saw Pitt in Thelma & Louise, but he didn't really do it for me. Luckily, my first time seeing him was NOT Cool World, because that movie is, well, awful. Then, I saw (unfortunately), Interview With the Vampire, but I still didn't have much interest in him (and I still haven't seen A River Runs Through It). If I had seen Legends of the Fall in the theater (instead of a few years later), that might have done it, but my crush really started with Seven. He was excellent in that, and then, a few months later, he was hilariously disturbing in 12 Monkeys. That was it: I had a crush. Of course, it reached its peak in 1999, when Fight Club came out. It's one of my favorite movies, and everyone in it is brilliant. I also would love to have Pitt's wardrobe from the movie, although I'm not cool enough to pull it off. After that, he was very funny in Snatch, the best thing about The Mexican, very good in Spy Game, and hysterical in that episode of Friends. Then, of course, he was in Ocean's Eleven, where once again I would love his wardrobe but couldn't pull it off. Plus, he got to say, "I had never been to Belize" (trust me, it's a funny line). Since then, I have seen fewer movies, he got involved with Big Lips, and his movies haven't been as excellent (although he's quite good in Babel). I've heard his turn as Jesse James is pretty good, and I still like seeing his movies, but I think my crush is over. So sad!
Well, those are my ten favorite crushes. I've had others (I mentioned Maggie Cheung, for instance), but they've either been fleeting or not as intense. One retroactive one I've had is on Daniela Bianchi, because she was a Bond girl before I was born, so I can't really count her. But it gives me an excuse to post a picture of her. Yowza!
What about my vast readership? Any celebrity crushes you care to share with us?