20th Anniversary Poll: 1974-1994

updated 03/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/07/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

FOR 240 MOONS, PEOPLE HAS SEEN THE WAXING AND WANING OF MANY STARS. WHO HAS STOOD THE TEST OF TIME? WHO HAS SUFFERED YOUR WRATH AND SCORN? AN INCREDIBLE 51,000 READERS RESPONDED TO OUR 20TH ANNIVERSARY PQLL*-BY PRIORITY MAIL AND FEDERAL EXPRESS, FROM FRANCE AND MEXICO. MISSING THE NOV. 12 DEADLINE, SEVEN HOSPITAL WORKERS FROM SPOKANE, WASH., SENT BALLOTS NONETHELESS, EXPLAINING, "WE HAVE IMPORTANT THINGS TO SAY!" WE'RE LISTENING.

SEXIEST WOMAN
CINDY CRAWFORD

It's a model love affair: Cindy Crawford can strike the pose anytime for 18 percent of readers, Christie Brinkley for another 12 percent. Raquel Welch scored third with 11 percent. In last place, Claudia Schiffer, with 2 percent.

UNHEALTHY CHOICE
SUNBATHING

In Woody Allen's Sleeper, scientists of the future discover that hot fudge, fat and smoking are actually good for you. If readers could bend reality, 52 percent would make sunbathing healthy, the rest would sink their teeth into red meat.

TOP TV SHOW
CHEERS

Hooray for Cheers! said 22 percent of you, who voted the long-running sitcom your favorite prime-time show since 1974. Alex Haley's Roots came in first too—in a different category. Twenty-two percent chose it as your favorite book.

TOP GUN
NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF

You admire a man in uniform: Half our readers voted Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf their favorite military hero. His boss, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, was No. 2, said 40 percent.

LET'S DO LUNCH
OPRAH WINFREY

No, you really mean it—especially if the person across the table is Oprah Winfrey. A hefty 29 percent of readers, chose the "warm and brainy" talk show queen as the celebrity they'd most like to lunch with, while Hillary Rodham Clinton came in a distant second with 10 percent. And if Joan Rivers asked, "Can we talk?" 8 percent would say yes.

FAVORITE FILM
E.T.

Selecting from the most popular movies of each of the last 20 years, 18 percent of you pointed the finger at 1982's E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, while Ghost (1990) hovered at second place with 13 percent. E.T. also won our cutest character competition, trouncing Big Bird and Barney.

SXIEST MAN
MEL GIBSON

The blue eyes have it: Mel Gibson's were the lethal weapon for 19 percent of readers, while 14 percent lusted after Paul Newman, who gets "better as he gets older." John F. Kennedy Jr. muscled in with 12 percent.

DO YOU BELIEVE HER?
ANITA HILL

She told the truth, said 60 percent of PEOPLE readers, who believed Hill's charges of sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas. (In our separate national poll, believers accounted for only 43 percent.)

GREATEST PERFORMER
ELVIS

Paying tribute to the King, 39 percent of readers named Elvis most memorable, while Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra were neck and neck, each claiming 22 percent of the vote.

'96 CANDIDATE
BILL CLINTON

Whom do you want to see in the Oval Office in 1996? Nineteen percent of our readers want a second term for Clinton, 14 percent want Colin Powell and 13 percent would like to see Hillary nudge her hubby out. (In our national poll, 20 percent stood behind Ross Perot.)

ROMANTIC COUPLE
NEWMAN & WOODWARD

The Mr. and Mrs. bridging our generations of readers are Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, named by a whopping 62 percent. Only 5 percent voted for the Clintons.

ADMIRABLE ATHLETE
ARTHUR ASHE

For his grace—on the tennis court and off—Arthur Ashe was the most admired of all sportsmen, according to 20 percent of our readers.

WORST MUSIC
RAP

You spoke up loud and clear: 44 percent of readers want "violent and hate-mongering" rap music banned from the radio, and another 43 percent want to clear the airwaves of "hostility-inducing" heavy metal.

SURPRISING TALENT
CHER

Revamping herself in readers' eyes—"from so-so singer to great actress"—Cher is the entertainer who has proved herself a bigger talent than first given credit for, according to 28 percent of respondents. "Evolving" child actress turned Academy Award winner-cum-movie director Jodie Foster came in next with 18 percent. Also echoing the belief of readers that "most child stars go bad, but this one became a talented director" is the third-place winner—Ron Howard, with 12 percent.

GIVE UP THE GADGET
MICROWAVE

Better to be a couch potato than cook a potato? Apparently. If forced to choose, 60 percent would rather lose your microwave oven than your VCR.

FALLEN STAR
BURT REYNOLDS

A full 27 percent declared Burt Reynolds's personal conduct most disappointing. Summed up one reader: "He's not the good ol' boy he pretends to be." Madonna's "total sleaze" got 18 percent of your votes.

ADMIRED FIRST LADY
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

You like them no-nonsense and no-frills—but then you part ways. While 39 percent chose "assertive, independent" Hillary Rodham Clinton, 32 percent picked Barbara Bush because she was "always a lady and knew her place."

SCARIEST MOVIE
JAWS

Humongous, nasty, flesh-eating mandibles have the maximum fright value. Half of you chose 1975's Jaws, and 36 percent selected Alien (1979).

GREATEST LOSS
LUCILLE BALL

Absence has only made hearts grow fonder of Lucille Ball: 24 percent of our readers said they miss this funny lady more than any other star we have lost in the past 20 years.

FAVORITE SONG
"THE WAY WE WERE"

Barbra Streisand's 1974 hit brought back memories for a quarter of our readers, while 19 percent embraced Whitney Houston's 1993 smash "I Will Always Love You."

WOMEN'S CHAMPION
GLORIA STEINEM

Gloria in excelsis Gloria! Asked who has done the most to advance the cause of women, 35 percent gave glory to Steinem. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was second with 26 percent.

DON'T WORRY, YOU'RE HAPPY

Citing "high crime, the destruction of the environment and the loss of family values," 72 percent of you are less optimistic about America's future now than 20 years ago. But personally speaking, 67 percent are happier today than in '74.

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