From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
Carrottops James Cagney and Spencer Tracy made it big in black and white, but Technicolor wasn't always kind to NYPD Blue's David Caruso. "Red hair stigmatizes you," says the 38-year-old actor, who won acclaim for small roles in An Officer and a Gentleman and Mad Dog and Glory. "You end up playing the oddball." These days that blazing bean—along with a New Yawk attitude—has made Det. John Kelly prime time's most-wanted cop: a sensitive stud who bares his soul as well as his buns. The Ladies' Home Journal said, "He's made the art of decency sexy," while Sherry Stringfield (who plays Kelly's ex-wife) glows of her Golden Globe-winning costar, "His looks are so unique to TV. He's not your basic L.A. fare."

For his part, Caruso, the son of a former Newsweek editor and a library administrator, is proud of his arresting edge. "My visibility may have gotten Hollywood to redefine what's attractive," he says. Maintaining that definition with daily workouts and low-fat food, Caruso shares his spacious West L.A. home with girlfriend Paris Papiro, 30, a former masseuse, and weekends with daughter Greta, 9 (by second wife, actress Rachel Ticotin). Set to star on the big screen in the remake of the 1947 thriller Kiss of Death, Caruso isn't getting a big head. The only difference now, he quipped, is that "women are not totally nauseous after seeing me." But they do get dizzy, David.