I sometimes hear guys talking about how mystified they are by choices women make when it comes to a hetero partner. Frankly, even as a broad, I can offer little insight into what goes on in the minds of women myself. I just know that girls start a hell of alot earlier than you may have been led to believe when it comes to creating a sexual inner life. Add to that mix the fact that most boys find girls icky until they are almost thirteen and you've got yourself the first giant chasm in the gender gap.
As early as the age of four back in the late sixties/early seventies my preoccupation with and crushes on celebrities were a mental tsunami drowning the village of my own potential. Worse was the fact that my crushes were on personalities so incredibly unsexy to other young girls who dreamt about the classic version of Prince Charming that I could not even share during girltalk, leaving me left out of that whole female bonding thing. The endurance of each of my manias made Wuthering Heights look like a Peanuts cartoon. Meanwhile other girls flipped their crushes as quickly as they thumbed through the latest Tiger Beat. Similarly when other little girls collected 45s, I sat transfixed with my LPs stacked on the return arm of the stereo.
For the sake of some (any) logic, I've lumped my pre-teen loves into three different categories. Mind you, some of the celebrities are literally shoe-horned into these groups but I'm trying make things easier for you people. Anyhoo, there are "The Nice Jewish Boys", "The Pan-Sexuals" and "The Feel Funnys".
In the first category, I give you Barry Gordon From A Thousand Clowns, one of the more influential films for me as a kid. I guess I related to Barry's geekiness. He plays Larry David's Rabbi now on Curb Your Enthusiasm. Then there's Wes Stern. You might remember him from Getting Together with that douchey Bobby Sherman, and also The Mary Tyler Moore Show, where he played Lou Grant's nephew who wanted to lose his virginity to Mary. Later I think he grew up, changed character and did it with Brenda Morgenstern on Rhoda. Scott Jacoby was the Nice Jewish Boy who played Bad Ronald, one of the greatest '70s TV-movies ever. There's quite a bit of Scott up on youtube and I still think he was pretty hot back then.
Inevitably, we come to Gene Wilder in this first group. When I finally did get a friend by the sixth grade, she and I fought over who was going to marry him first. I really resented her for this. Can I just say a million dorky girls like me were really really happy when he married Gilda Radner because we actually could relate to her just a little bit more than say, Farrah Fawcett-Majors?
What could qualify a crush to be in "The Pan-Sexuals" would either be by a particular role they played or just the suspicion that they may not be all that into chicks specifically. Take Roddy McDowall. Mr. McDowall was probably my most intense and lasting crush for reasons that can only have to do with some sort of deep psychic wound or possible childhood head trauma I couldn't recall. Perhaps a fascination with the anthropomorhic and Roddy's role as the empathetic and ticky Cornelius in Planet of The Apes? When Roddy as Acres the waiter in The Poseidon Adventure dies by falling deep into a shaft (*cough*) the movie pretty much ended for me back in 1972. I was crestfallen. Other rather distracted-seeming loves included Richard Chamberlain in Dr. Kildare and The Thornbirds and Leonard Frey in Fiddler On the Roof although he also obviously qualifies as a "Nice Jewish Boy".
Dog Day Afternoon was a revelation for me in 1975. I must have been on some bender that day. It was my first R-rated film, and I completely obsessed on everything about it including the first song I heard on the car radio afterwards, The Four Seasons "Oh, What A Night (December 1963)". There they were, three movie stars with different characteristics, seemingly unrelated but all a source of fascination that kept me going for quite a few years there. Al Pacino gets shoe-horned into "Nice Jewish Boys" although I'm guessing he was probably Catholic, Chris Sarandon was brilliant and fascinating as Leon (definitely Pan-Sexual) but a new, strange entry to my oeuvre, thereby becoming a charter member of "The Feel Funnys", was the late John Cazale as Sal. He was big and quiet and couldn't really relate to anyone although he didn't scare me or make me cry hysterically in impassioned empathy like Karloff as Frankenstein's Monster or Charles Laughton as The Hunchback of Notre Dame. This particular category had what I'd describe as a revolving door of character actors who struck my fancy but appeared once every few years. Udo Kier (who I'd only seen a picture of in a still for Warhol's Flesh for Frankenstein improbably appearing in the back pages of a teen zine when I was nine) and Frank Langella both played Dracula in the movies and both were most definitely "Feel Funnys".
Apparently all of this fetishism and fixation dictated preferences in my adulthood but I must admit I never found myself actually romantically involved with anyone who specifically fit any of these naive categorizations. I'm also happy to report that every once in awhile I excitedly stumble across a new entry. I'll certainly keep you posted when I start having my mid-life crisis.