The Girls Next Door!
updated 05/11/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 05/11/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT
This 29-year-old Friend is the object of just about everyone's affection. "She's beautiful, but there's something very attainable about her," says her Picture Perfect director Glenn Gordon Caron. "She seems like a girl who may have lived on your block."
She made it as an actress and R&B singer before graduating from high school, but the Moesha star, 19, isn't letting fame lure her astray. "Brandy has the face of an angel," says her Cinderella prince, Paolo Montalban. "And she is an angel. She doesn't even like to show her belly button."
Though playing Tammy and Gidget pigeonholed her as a '60s teen queen, Dee, now 56, insists that her virtuous image still inspires kindness in others. "If I'm trying to get on the freeway, I just have to point my finger, and they let me in," she says. "I think that's damn nice."
A shrewd negotiator offscreen (she helped found United Artists), the silent film star, who died in 1979, was dubbed by the press America's Sweetheart. Says her third husband, actor/bandleader Buddy Rogers: "Mary wanted to play grown-up parts, but the public wanted her to stay the same. As a child or a tomboy, Mary was someone they could relate to."
Mary Tyler Moore
Playing Laura Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s, she slept in a twin bed across from her hubby's. But when she got her own sitcom in 1970, Moore implied that nice girls did. (One episode hinted that happily single Mary Richards was on the pill.) "There's a sweetness that becomes sex appeal—in a wholesome way," says Mary Tyler Moore Show costar Valerie Harper, who's developing a new series with Moore, now 61. "It had nothing to do with availability or bra size."
Although she sang of her adoration for "The Boy Next Door" in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, Garland, who died of an accidental drug overdose in 1969 at age 47, once said that studio execs trying to make her into a girl next door "couldn't find the right house or the right door." Fans didn't like her any less. Garland, says her friend and frequent costar Mickey Rooney, communicated "love, intelligence and harmony."
Of course we liked her. We spent the '60s giggling over her antics as TV's Gidget and watching her sail through adversity as the Flying Nun. But as she matured, the Oscar-and Emmy-winner, who recently directed a segment of HBO's miniseries From the Earth to the Moon, refused to be typecast or trod upon. "I am really nice," says Field, 51. "But I can get really angry. That's what you don't know about me."
She never got the sexy roles, but the original Tammy never seemed to mind. "All of us were typed," says Reynolds, 66. "I was put under contract because i was the cute little girl next door that could sing and dance and be perky. The advantage was that the women all liked me because I wasn't a threat."
No teen could wish for a better pal Joey. And Holmes's heart-tugging performance as the lovesick tomboy by that name on the WB drama Dawson's Creek has made the 19-year-old Toledo native the newest inductee into the Girl Next Door pantheon. "She's very sweet and unassuming," says costar James Van Der Beek. "I don't think she knows how beautiful she is."
Williams Nine years on TV's Family Matters haven't made her a glamor-puss. "People always joke that I get ready like a man," says Williams, 22. "I shower, and five minutes later I walk out the door." Of course, that naturalness is what her fans love. "People can't believe I'm so regular-looking," she says.
Though it has been 35 years since she played Mary Stone on The Donna Reed Show, "I run into people all the time who say, 'You were my first crush' or wanted to be like you, says Fabares, 54, who later starred as Christine Armstrong on Coach. "Other parts are flashier, but they don't afford that abiding appreciation from fans."
From Mouseketeer to beach bunny in all those early 1960s movies with Frankie Avalon, Funicello seemed unaware of her considerable physical assets and won female fans as well as male admirers. "You knew she was very attractive, very pretty and voluptuous, but Annette never flaunted it," says Avalon. "She underplayed everything. She never tried to be sexy. People said to themselves, 'I could date that girl if I ever met her.' She wasn't untouchable."
Her film roles (Beth in Little Women, Juliet in William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet) tend toward the tragic, and her cult series, ABC's My So-Called Life, was no laugh-riot either. But those onscreen problems only add to the 19-year-old's contemporary allure, "it's hard to be threatened by someone who's vulnerable," says Life executive producer Marshall Herskovitz. "You want to reach out and protect her."
Playing bubbly, innocent ingenues in romantic comedies like Pillow Talk and That Touch of Mink made her the No. 1 box office star of the early '60s. "If Doris had tried to be a sexpot glamour girl, it wouldn't have worked," says Tony Randall, who costarred with Day, now 74, in Talk. "Her genuineness came through."
"You can almost hear your mother saying, 'Oh, she's a nice girl, says film critic Leonard Maltin of the 33-year-old star who woke up audiences in While You Were Sleeping. Well, only if Mom doesn't hear some of her jokes. "There's nothing about her that's really wholesome," Griffin Dunne, director of this fall's Practical Magic, says jokingly. "She has a very down sense of humor, wacky. She does not blush at anyone's crudity."
Getting out from under the shadow of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia was tough on sitcom sister Jan. And it hasn't been easy for the actress who played Marcia, either. Now 41, McCormick only recently reignited her acting career. Still, she views her Brady image fondly. "The neatest thing is that even strangers react warmly to me," she says. "They say I bring up positive feelings from their childhood."