05/08/1995 at 01:00 AM EDT
HER BEAUTY DIDN'T ALWAYS lead to popularity: "When I was little, I used to have to force the boys to kiss me. I had to get my toughest friends to hold them down." And in high school, she adds, "girls were always threatening to beat me up because they thought I flipped my hair too much."
But in the adult world, belligerence was replaced by awe. Even as an infant, Yasmine Bleeth had a career—as a baby model. By kindergarten she was taping TV commercials, and at 16 she started her soap career, playing Ryan Fenelli on Ryan's Hope. Now 26 and Baywatch's newest lifeguard, she brings a flirty vulnerability to the show. "She's no beach bunny," sums up costar Jaason Simmons. "She's exotic and classy. Her eyes are outstanding—a brilliant pale blue. They're filled with energy and mischief."
In the past those eyes hypnotized boyfriends Luke Perry and Grant Show, but Bleeth finally met her match in well-toned actor Ricky (Another World) Paull Goldin, 29; they became engaged in January. "He says he can spend the rest of his life looking at this face," Bleeth says with a sigh.
Most people wouldn't turn away from her 5'5", 117-lb. hourglass figure either, but Bleeth would rather be 5'11". "Tall, skinny women can get breast implants, and they become perfect," she says teasingly. "But women who are small and curvy can't get leg extensions. That isn't fair."