Guest blogger Miss Andie Gottfried writes:
My parents were both movie lovers, so growing up, they always took us kids to the movies. And at home, UHF television stations were great babysitters. And when you’ve got movies, you know what that means…movie stars!
When I was around 10, I had what I realized years later was my first movie star crush…on Dick Powell (article). Not the film noir, tough guy Powell of Murder. My Sweet, but the squeaky clean, singing and dancing Powell of numerous musicals from the ‘30s. In such Busby Berkeley classics as Footlight Parade, 42nd Street and Gold Diggers of 1935, Powell crooned and swooned his way into my heart. There was something so earnest about the guy, I couldn’t help but fall for him. To this day I can still hear him singing “I Only Have Eyes for You.” At that age, it was an innocent crush, which thankfully also set a musical standard that still holds to this day.
So what criteria do I need to qualify as a celebrity crush? I guess it’s just who makes me feel all warm and cozy inside, or light-headed and bubbly inside, or hot and bothered inside (more on this one at a later date…). What it comes down to for me is who I would watch in anything, and I mean anything…no matter how bad or stupid or end-of-career pathetic it is. Also, would I or do I own a picture of this person. Guilty!
As I got older, I continued to watch classic black-and-white “oldies,” and I’m proud to say that I think my crushes became more handsome, sophisticated men. My next three crushes continue to thrive to this day. First, there is and always will be Errol Flynn. Hello, gorgeous! From his chiseled features and mischievous smile, to his toned physique and swashbuckling prowess, no one compares to Flynn (and no one wears tights better.)
I was about 13 when I first saw The Adventures of Robin Hood, and it was love at first sight. Flynn’s the perfect combination of manly and pretty. I watched as many of his films as I could. And after seeing Captain Blood, The Charge of the Light Brigade and They Died with Their Boots On, I wanted to be Olivia de Havilland…it didn’t seem like there was anything better than being romanced or saved by Flynn. The adventurous, swashbuckling characters he played defined him to generations of people. Flynn also played “real” characters in such little-seen gems as Four’s A Crowd, a screwball comedy with de Havilland and Rosalind Russell, and one of my personal favorites, Cry Wolf, a neat little thriller that co-stars Barbara Stanwyck (more on her later).
After Flynn came “ooper, dooper” Gary Cooper (yes, the Gary Cooper who’s dead.) I think the first film I saw him in was Howard Hawks’ classic screwball comedy Ball of Fire, also with Stanwyck. Cooper is cute, handsome, innocent, sweet and sexy, all at the same time. Yum yum. This film also started my “crush” on Stanwyck (Female crushes to follow at a later date. What? A woman can’t have an innocent crush on another woman? Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I give you Sharon Stone as exhibit A.).
Most people probably remember an older Cooper as stoic Marshal Will Kane in High Noon, but I prefer him in other varied roles – the pixilated titular character in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, a retiring Lou Gehrig in The Pride of the Yankees, the “everyman” in Meet John Doe, and a cowboy in The Westerner. My dad and I used to talk about films and actors all the time. We could talk about anyone objectively. Except Gary Cooper. He used to say that Cooper was the only actor who never “acted,” he was just being himself. I, of course, argued against this, very subjectively. It was ongoing. I don’t know if he really felt that way or he was just teasing me. Either way, it’s a treasured memory.
Next is Cary Grant (article). Oh, my. As far as I’m concerned, Grant can do no wrong. Whether playing in comedy, drama, action, suspense, true-life or war films, he’s amazing. I think he’s my all-around favorite actor OF ALL TIME. While looking over a list of his films, it’s hard to pick just a few favorites, but I’ll do my best.
For me, and I’m sure for others too, the classic comedies must include three co-starring Katharine Hepburn: Holiday, Bringing up Baby and The Philadelphia Story (C.K. Dexter Haven! Oh, C.K. Dexter Haven!). Throw in His Girl Friday with a fast-talking Rosalind Russell, The Awful Truth and My Favorite Wife, both with Irene Dunne (article), and Arsenic and Old Lace with Priscilla Lane, and I think that’s a good argument for some of the funniest films EVER made. Grant displays an amazing range in these films. By turns silly, goofy, clever, witty, deadpan, charming and playful, he just can’t be beat.
Let’s not forget the films he made with Alfred Hitchcock: Suspicion with Joan Fontaine; To Catch a Thief, with Grace Kelly (There’s gold in them there hills!); Notorious, with Ingrid Bergman (a true Grant classic – suspense, nasty mother-in-law, Claude Rains, lost-love-found again, plutonium and Nazis! Who could ask for anything more!) and North by Northwest, with James Mason and Eva Marie Saint. These films highlight Grant’s suave, romantic, mischievous and sometimes dangerous nature.
Then there’s one of the most romantic films of all time – An Affair to Remember, with Deborah Kerr. If you haven’t seen it, you still know the story. Grant and Kerr meet on a cruise ship. They’re both attached to different people. They’ll meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. If they both show up, they were meant to be together. If not…I can’t give away all the details, people! Just make sure you’ve got plenty of Kleenex on hand. The end’s a real weeper. I give it five out of five hankies.
I would also add these next three to my list of Grant favorites. The little-known movie In Name Only, with Carole Lombard and Kay Francis, is a soap opera romance with Grant falling for widow Lombard, but unable to get out of his loveless marriage to Francis. I happen to own a VHS copy, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it. It has Grant at his very best, with bits of comedy, romance, drama and melodrama. It too is a good, old-fashioned weepy. Gunga Din is a swift action picture co-starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (who I once met! BLUEST EYES EVER!) and Victor McLaglen. The three play British soldiers in 19th-century India trying to stop an uprising. Though historically inaccurate, it’s a fun film nonetheless. My Dad always called me when this was on television. We were often able to watch it together, even though we were on different coasts. Then there’s Charade, with Audrey Hepburn and Walter Matthau. I think Cary Grant sets the bar for the definition of suave in the movies. Even today, an actor would do well by following his example and this is the movie, along with To Catch a Thief, that sets the bar. As Hepburn and Grant, (and Kelly and Grant) roam around Paris, you can see how and why the women are drawn to Grant. They might not know what he’s up to all the time, might not trust him, but stay in his orbit anyway. I would, too.
Last, but not least, there’s The Talk of the Town, co-starring Jean Arthur (who I love! Not in that way. Get your mind out of the gutter!) and Ronald Colman (whom I also love. You figure out which way.) This George Stevens-helmed romance has real, serious philosophical debate thrown into the mix. It’s an usual gem of a film. Grant made so many different types of really good films, you wonder if he had a great agent or just a good eye when it came to reading scripts. One thing I know for sure — I still watch and enjoy these films, years after I discovered them. And Cary Grant is the reason why. He’s my all-around, go to guy. There’s plenty more films of his that I could name. I just couldn’t list them all. Look them up. You won’t regret it. George Clooney may come (a little) close, but he’s no Cary Grant. No one is.
These early crushes of mine have turned into a lifelong love and appreciation for the stars and for film. In an apartment full of framed movie posters, I have a photographic print of Gary Cooper over my fireplace and an artist’s rendering of the stairwell fight from The Adventures of Robin Hood in my living room (thanks, John T.!) Some things and feelings never fade away.
It wasn’t until I got older that I started appreciating actors and actresses of my generation. In 1985, I saw the new Rob Reiner romantic comedy starring John Cusack (poll) and Daphne Zuniga that would change my life forever. In a small role is a quirky, gangly actor named Tim Robbins, as one half of a show tunes-loving couple who picks up the hitchhiking leads. He plays “Gary Cooper…but not the Gary Cooper who’s dead!” And as any of my friends or family will tell you, an obsession was born…
Born in Philadelphia and raised on afternoon TV movie programs (where she once won a crock pot by calling in and identifying a photo of Hobart Cavanaugh), Miss Andie Gottfried worked for Movies Unlimited for 16 years as a clerk, store manager, and ultimately retail operations manager. Now living in Las Vegas, Gottfried tries to find enough hours in a day to watch all the classic films and current TV shows she enjoys.