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People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- July 31, 2000
- Vol. 54
- No. 5
10 Wonder Women
They've Got Something to Shout About. In Their 30s—and Beyond—These Fair Ladies Are Centered, Serene and Sensational
Sarah Jessica Parker
She didn't always define sex for the single girl. The star of Sex and the City "grew up playing the ugly duckling," says her friend, director David Frankel. "For many years she was always surprised whenever she or a character she played was considered sexy." At 35, the former Broadway Annie, who got her TV break as a nerd on the 1982 sitcom Square Pegs, is savoring her moment. "Oh, all the attention has been really great," she told Allure this month. As stiletto-heeled Carrie Bradshaw, the risqué relationship columnist at the center of the HBO hit, the 5'4" Parker has become a fashion icon—and a Miss Lonelyhearts. "People say very personal things to me now, like details of their life they think Carrie would be interested in," she said. And while Parker, who credits Pilates workouts and facials for her good looks, is not single (she has been married since 1997 to actor Matthew Broderick, 38), being Carrie isn't all an act. "As Sarah gets older, she gets better," says Andrew Bergman, who directed Parker in 1992's Honeymoon in Vegas. "And it's as much about what's between her ears as what's below the neck."
In the past year, Michelle Pfeiffer has romped in the woods with Kevin Kline (A Midsummer Night's Dream) and made love on a kitchen table with Bruce Willis (The Story of Us). In this month's thriller What Lies Beneath, she casts a seductive spell over Harrison Ford, who says that Pfeiffer is "every bit as beautiful without any artifice as when she's lit and carefully photographed." Not bad for a 42-year-old mother of two. Pfeiffer wasn't at all bothered being shadowed by 26-year-old lookalike Amber Valletta in What Lies Beneath. "Michelle's very confident," says the film's costumer Susie DeSanto. "So having Amber around didn't undermine her the way it might have undermined other actresses her age." It helps, of course, that the 5'6" Pfeiffer has what her favorite designer Giorgio Armani calls a "natural radiance," enhanced by daily treadmill workouts and weight training. "My assistant was amazed that there's not a bit of cellulite on her!" says Story of Us costumer Shay Cunliffe. Married for six years to Ally McBeal creator David E. Kelley, 44, Pfeiffer recently announced that she's taking a respite from acting to spend more time with her family. No one doubts that her return will be seamless. "Being sexy is something a woman just has," says rap star Coolio, who made a music video with Pfeiffer for her film Dangerous Minds. "She's got it."
She wears maturity and motherhood as easily as the bustiers she slithered into during her Boy Toy days. "I feel physically better now than I did when I was 20," Madonna, 41, said in January. "I've grown up to a certain extent, gone through my rebelliousness. But I don't think having a child has made me unsexy." The mother of Lourdes, 3 (with ex-boyfriend Carlos Leon, 34), Madonna expects her second child (with British filmmaker Guy Ritchie, 31) in September. Her secret weapon is her "titanic confidence," says her friend Trudie Styler, an environmental activist and wife of rock star Sting. One thing she believes in is change. Madonna the Musclebound auctioned off her gym equipment two years ago and has resculpted her 5'4" body with yoga. "I feel flexible and strong—I'm not a fat slob, I'm happy about that," she said, adding that she still indulges her sweet tooth with toffee pudding in London, where she's living in a rented four-story townhouse about a mile from boyfriend Ritchie's home. "They say if you do yoga every day, you'll maintain the body of a teenager." But more important, she says, is keeping the mind of one: "Happiness, a curiosity for life and a hunger for knowledge—all the things you have when you're young. Having and maintaining those things is what keeps you young, ultimately."
Her keys to ageless beauty include long walks, massage, a mantra of "No meat, no wheat" and what a British friend calls "that fabulous jawline—which will not sag—and a face full of light." Indeed, the 53-year-old wife of actor Sir Michael, 67 (knighted just last month), beams serene, sultry cool. Yet Caine, who was raised in Guyana by Kashmiri parents, says that her radiance comes not from creams, lifts or gym-rat gyrations but positive values. "Beautiful people can grow into something ugly," says the 5'7" former model, who moved to London after she was voted second runner-up in the 1967 Miss World pageant. "Your character has to shine through." It does, says the couple's only child, Natasha, 27: "Mom's caring, secure, not vain." Caine, who has a line of costume jewelry and a new "Shakira" perfume, believes that sexiness is about what a woman knows, not what she shows. "Clothes don't have to cling to your body or be slashed to the thigh to make an effect," she says. "The unknown is always more sexy." The man whose knight life she shares isn't complaining. "I don't sit at home wishing I was on the set with someone beautiful," says Michael, who tracked "Shak" down in 1971 after seeing her in a TV ad and married her in 1973. "My wife looks like a dream, and, as a person, is a dream."
At 62, Jane Fonda finds age liberating. "Less important things are less important," she says. "Like being thin and being hit on." Maybe so, but when she appeared at the Oscars in March, ashimmer in Vera Wang gold lamé, the heat that she has generated for four decades was very much on the front burner. "I look better at this age than I envisioned I would," says the 57" Fonda. Although she separated from her third husband, CNN founder Ted Turner, 61, in January after eight years of marriage, the media tycoon is still taken with her charms. "Jane will be beautiful and sexy forever," he says. "She inherited great natural beauty and she takes tremendous care of herself." Since splitting with Turner, Fonda has been bunking in Atlanta with her daughter, single mom Vanessa Vadim, 31, and 14-month-old grandson Malcolm, while a new loft that she bought close by nears completion. She stays active by promoting arts programs in schools and campaigning for the prevention of teen pregnancy. And while she has abandoned two decades of aerobics, she has embraced yoga, which she describes as "a coming together of inner mind, soul and outer body." As for the body, Fonda says, "I don't know what others think, but I think I'm still very sexy."
It has been more than three decades since she giggled her way to stardom on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, but at 54, Goldie Hawn could still fit into the bikini she wore on the show. "Her body simply hasn't changed," says Hawn's stylist Jane Ross. "I've seen her naked, so I know." How does this hardworking actress, producer and mom hold middle age at bay? "I don't have a regimen," she said last year. "Sometimes I have 15 minutes to spare and sometimes I have two hours. I'll use my time accordingly." The 5'6" Hawn keeps her curves in control with an ever-changing mix of yoga, walking, in-line skating and weight training. And she keeps her spirits high by hanging out at home in Pacific Palisades, Calif., with her kids—son Wyatt, 14, with actor Kurt Russell, 49, her companion of 17 years; actors Oliver and Kate Hudson, 23 and 21, with ex-husband Bill Hudson; and Russell's son Boston, 20, with ex-wife Season Hubley. "Goldie is fantastically timeless in her look and energy," comedian Martin Short, a longtime friend, said in 1999. "But she has the wisdom of her years."
Is it possible? Vanessa Williams a mother of four? In May, Shaft's 37-year-old leading lady and her new husband, L.A. Laker Rick Fox, 31, welcomed daughter Sasha—who joins Melanie, 13, Jillian, 11, and Devin, 7, from Williams's first marriage to ex-manager Ramon Hervey. The pregnancies have been a challenge for the 5'6" actress, who put on 40 lbs. each time. Although she has always dropped the weight thanks to Pilates and salsa dancing, "it takes more time and effort than it used to," she admits. The results are worth it to Fox, who says that he is also attracted to "her selflessness and how she constantly looks forward." It was Williams's positive attitude that helped her overcome scandal in 1984, when she lost her Miss America crown after nude pictures were published in Penthouse. Instead of knuckling under, she bounced back with a successful singing and acting career. "The secret," says Williams, "is being open to whatever is being bestowed upon you and not being afraid to act on it." Her future looks rosy. "This past year I got married to a man who loves me, who's younger than me, and we have a beautiful baby," she says. "Everything I've ever dreamed about has come true."
Although she brings cartoon temptress Natasha to life in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, there's nothing two-dimensional about Rene Russo. When she went topless in last year's The Thomas Crown Affair at age 45, moviegoers were as awed by her bravado as by her body. "When people made a big deal out of it," says Russo, "I realized how limited our culture is in the way we look at women." The 5'8" former model has been pushing those limits since she made her acting break-through opposite Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon 3 at age 38. "It's amazing how little effort she puts into being as beautiful as she is," says Bullwinkle costar Jason Alexander. "It's something she doesn't really care about." Instead of trendy workouts, Russo, who spent four traumatic years in a body cast to combat childhood scoliosis, favors the Feldenkrais Method, an exercise program that improves posture and alleviates pain. She attributes her adult-onset self-confidence to a renewed interest in Christianity. "I get up every day and remind myself, 'I'm a child of God,' " she says. She also credits her husband of eight years, screenwriter Dan Gilroy, 41, and their daughter Rose, who turns 7 in August. "I'm happiest," Russo says, "when I'm swinging in my hammock watching her."
Angela Bassett's sculpted cheekbones usually go without makeup; all it takes to keep her skin flawless is regular facials. But when it comes to keeping in shape, Bassett doesn't rely on Mother Nature. "As you get older, it takes a lot more work," says the 41-year-old actress. "I'm constantly looking at that scale." To maintain the midriff that helped her snag decade-younger Taye Diggs in the 1998 film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, the 5'4" Bassett has forsaken sweets—"I am truly an eat-dessert-first kind of person," she confesses—and does an hour on the treadmill and an hour of weights daily. (She usually exercises in her L.A. home while watching "those judge shows" to make the time pass faster.) Yet Bassett's seductiveness is more than muscle-deep, as those who know her will attest. "She's sexy because of her complete ease with who she is," says her husband, actor Courtney B. Vance, 40, whom she wed in 1997. Adds Wes Craven, Bassett's director for last year's Music of the Heart: "It's her beauty and regal bearing—plus those abs and arms. The combination does something to your subconscious."
Sela Ward does things at her own pace. She married venture capitalist Howard Sherman at 35, had her first child, Austin, at 37, and her second, Anabella, when she was 41. So it's no wonder that the 44-year-old actress has a relaxed attitude about growing older. "My 40s," she says, "just seem to be the magic time for me." Her late-blooming happiness makes for steamy magic on TV. As Lily Manning, a separated mother of two who rediscovers her sensuality on ABC's Once and Again, Ward has become a role model for fortysomething women everywhere. "Sela is uninhibited, emotionally and physically," says Ed Zwick, the show's executive producer. "People respond to that." Along with his wife's physical charms, Sherman is enamored with "what she leaves in her wake—the way people are touched, the way people look at her." To stay ogle-worthy, the 5'7" Ward hits the StairMaster three times a week at her L.A. home and has low-fat meals delivered to her at work. The actress's one indulgence: "I love Krispy Kreme doughnuts. As long as I'm exercising, that's fine." Ward admits that cosmetic surgery isn't out of the question for the future, but, she says, "I wouldn't want to turn the clock back for anything. I'm happier and more confident now than I've ever been."
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