Celebrity crushes: we’ve all had them. But can whose image graced your bedroom walls or locker as a child/teen reveal anything about what you are attracted to as an adult? I was curious, so I decided it might be fun to take a look back at my own maverick list. There’s no Backstreet Boys, no members of Duran Duran, or Kirk Cameron anywhere on this list, by the way. Just the honest-to-goodness guys who floated my boat, cranked my tank, and rocked my world during my formative years. At the risk of embarrassment, here were my faves:
My age at the time: 5
Yes, I started young. But how could I help it? Every day after kindergarten (and then, eventually, first grade) I’d watch The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries series. Even though Wikipedia tell me this was a prime time show, I’m pretty sure I watched them shortly after getting home from school. And there was Shaun – the much cuter Cassidy brother (sorry, David fans) with his luminescent hair, eyes, and smile, solving mysteries with Parker Stevenson – whom you may recall, later became Kirstie Alley’s first husband. One of my sisters tried to deflate my first puppy love by telling me that Shaun had pimples, and that Stevenson was the better looking Hardy boy. But she made up for it by buying me a plastic toy guitar with Shaun’s picture emblazoned across it for my 6th birthday.
What Ended the Crush:
Don’t know. I remember when Shaun performed a TV concert and serenaded a very lucky young lady in the audience with “They Do Run Run Run.” Maybe I got jealous. And so, after having enough of young guys for a while, I soon became infatuated with…
My age at the time: 9 or 10
Here is where I will admit things took a turn for the creepy. Looking at this scary cover of People magazine now, I don’t know what I saw in the plastic face of Davidson, who was a co-host of an interesting program called “That’s Incredible.” This show was sort of like the first original television sideshow, featuring scientific and medical oddities and people who had unusual talents. One of the other co-hosts, by the way, was Peter Billingsley, star of “A Christmas Story.” Davidson was very TV anchorman-like in looks (with hair that would make John Edwards jealous.) He also hosted his own talk show and starred in cheesy movies with equally cheesy titles like “Coffee, Tea, or Me.”
What Ended the Crush: I honestly don’t remember. Maybe it was when “That’s Incredible” was canceled, or maybe I came to my senses and realized things would never work out between us given the enormous age difference. Or maybe it was this guy…
My age at the time: 10
Years before he became known as the father on “Seventh Heaven” Stephen Collins starred in an early 80s ABC series called “Tales of the Gold Monkey.” The adventurous series was heavily influenced by the recent success of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and centered around a leather jacket-wearing hero named Jack – played by Collins, who, along with his one-eyed Jack Russell terrier, Jake, and his sidekick, Corky, fought the bad guys in a pre-World War 2 South Pacific. As Jack, Collins was the cute, romantic, and charming all-American boy next door, and I was smitten.
What Ended the Crush: The show was cancelled, the many of first favorites of mine through the years on ABC. Fortunately, NBC had a program about to debut about a talking futuristic Trans Am and his driver, a former cop, who solves crimes who was played by…
My age at the time: 11-12
I said it before and I’ll say it again: way before he was mopping hamburgers off the floor in a drunken stupor, Hasselhoff was a gorgeous knight – as in Michael Knight – in shining armor. Tall and strapping with chest hair and tight pants, Knight was the perfect companion to his equally sexy partner in crime solving, KITT, the indestructible Firebird who could do anything. I remember getting hooked on “Knight Rider” from the very first episode and watching it faithfully every Friday night.
What Ended the Crush: After watching “Knight Rider” for a few weeks on a local retro network, I think I was reminded of why I eventually lost interest in the show: you can only take so much camp for an extended time. The show is most effective in small doses as a guilty pleasure. Besides, it was time for some humor, which is why I was slowly developing an interest in…
My age at the time: 13
I know what you're thinking, but a girl’s gotta have someone who can make her laugh. I think it was “Ghostbusters” that did it for me (and, well, there was a romantic storyline in that movie between him and Sigourney Weaver), because after that I’d stay up late to catch Murray on old episodes of “Saturday Night Live.”
What Ended the Crush: My best friend at the time told me that Murray was on drugs, and that I should “go back to Hasselhoff.” But that ship had sailed. Fortunately, there was a tall, blonde troubadour waiting in the wings to sweep me off my feet, and his name was…
My age at the time: 13-14
I wish I could remember the first Hall and Oates video that “did it in a minute” for me, but they were all over the music video channels in those days. I do remember I loved how Daryl looked in the “Out of Touch” video, wearing a leopard print jacket and shimmying about the set. My family had vastly different opinions, and, perhaps worried about this rock and roll influence, (if you can call Hall and Oates’ music hard core rock and roll) tried to undermine the crush by being…well, plain old meanies. My sisters gave me hell and said that Hall and Oates were gay. My mother pointed to one of the Neanderthal characters in a clip from the movie “Clan of the Cave Bear” and said he looked like Hall. None of which mattered to me. I thought “Method of Modern Love” had possibly been written – not for Sara Allen, Hall’s long-time girlfriend – but for me.
Hall and Oates also became a source of comfort when I came down with an illness in the seventh grade. An obscure virus settled in my neck, paralyzing it with great pain for three weeks, and I was essentially bedridden and on antibiotics for that time, missing school. Listening to their music via cassette tape and Sony Walkman helped pass the time while I recuperated.
What Ended the Crush: I lost that loving felling all because of hair – a VERY important physical feature of the opposite sex when you’re 14. Hall grew his straight, cleanly cut blonde locks into a badly permed, very long mullet. He debuted this new look during a live concert on cable that my friends and I watched during a sleepover party. This bad hair day (which eventually stretched into years for Hall – not a good look for him) bothered me so much that I ran straight into the waiting arms of…
My age at the time: 14-15
Miami may be a hot city, but Johnson was even hotter as Sonny Crockett on NBC’s “Miami Vice.” The thought of the greasy, foul mouthed Colin Farrell reprising the Sonny Crockett role in the recent movie gives me food poisoning, because Johnson forever owns that role. It didn’t matter that most of the plots were over my head; that wasn’t the reason I watched the show. I loved the series so much that for my 15th birthday, I had a “Miami Vice” themed party, and requested that my friends come sockless (even though my birthday is in January and I live in New England.) Most of them happily obliged, and we watched the pilot movie – on VHS.
Also, and I say this with all seriousness, but of all of the male TV actors who recorded albums during the 80s, I think Johnson had the best voice. Remember his hit “Heartbeat”?
What Ended the Crush: The show went off the air in 1988 or so, and I was looking for a replacement. Happily, that would have been…
My age at the time: 16
If I had my choice of any of these men today, the handsome Strauss is the one I’d pick, and yet very few people recognize his name. He gained notoriety in the 1976 miniseries “Rich Man Poor Man” costarring alongside Nick Nolte, and was referred to as the “King of the Miniseries” for a while during the 80s. But the role that did it for me was when he played a Polish hotel baron in the television miniseries “Kane and Abel.” As a Polish American, there were so few roles that portrayed my ethnic background, let alone those that portrayed someone of importance, and I couldn’t resist the Eastern European accent that Strauss tried on for the role. He also played Peter Gunn in an updated TV movie of the original series, and appeared nearly naked in one of the scenes, holding nothing but a towel over his private parts, surprisingly risqué for 1980s prime time television. Yes, THAT is a scene that I’ve never gotten out of my head…as if I would want to.
What Ended the Crush: Actually, I don’t think my fondness for Strauss ever ended.
So, looking back, is there anything that I learned from this trip down memory crush lane? I’ve learned that unlike most of my peers, I didn’t (and still don’t) crush (most of the time) on the typical eye candy that everyone else seems to be drooling over, and in general I go for men, not boys. Overall, I think I have good taste.