Back in the day, one of my favorite pastimes was to lock myself in my room, put on good music, and fill up composition books with cut-out pictures of celebrities I liked, lovingly curated from the pages of People, Entertainment Weekly, or whatever magazines found their way into my stash. Sometimes it was the latest issue of TigerBeat I pilfered from my older sister’s bedroom, or even mail-order movie catalogs–basically anything likely to contain pictures of hot actors to give me nice daydreams. I’d accompany the clippings with handwritten notes, doodles, movie quotes, or whatever silly thoughts were in my head at the time.
I wanted to re-capture a little bit of that experience when I put this list together, so here’s my Top 10 Movie Crushes of the 80s as they might have looked had I torn them from the pages of my “crush” book!
#10 – Marc Singer
This one shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who listened to the latest episode of Cult Film Club, in which we gush about 1982’s The Beastmaster. In the episode, I profess my undying love for this cult classic, as well as the Beastmaster himself, Marc Singer, who was in his prime when this movie was made. When I first saw it at an early age, I couldn’t tear my eyes from that chiseled, half-naked body and those golden He-Man locks. Add to that his penchant for saving beautiful damsels in distress and cuddling with cute ferrets, and it’s enough to make a young, inexperienced girl feel awfully funny “down there.”
#9 – Noah Hathaway
Speaking of kids getting “funny feelings” from movies, The Neverending Story is one that introduced many young boys to female anatomy, thanks to that pair of Tit Sphinxes at the Riddle Gate (well what would you call them?). I, on the other hand, had my own reasons to stay glued to the screen–well, just one, really: Noah Hathaway. He plays Atreyu, the hero chosen to save Fantasia, which means he spends most of the movie riding around on his horse or dragon, bare-chested, shaggy hair billowing in the wind. [Insert dreamy sigh here.] After Neverending Story, Hathaway went on to star in 1986’s Troll, a movie I would not at all be surprised to see on Cult Film Club one of these days, even though he’s my only reason for liking it. And while I’m on the subject, I’m ever so thankful I had this excuse to search Google for Troll-related pictures or I’d have never found that glorious photo of Noah Hathaway working out in hot pink nut-huggers.
#8 – Cary Elwes
What’s not to love about a farm boy turned pirate turned dashing hero who saves the day? The Princess Bride (1987) is one of my favorite movies of all time, and the one that introduced me to Cary Elwes. He’s an actor I continued to obsess over well into the 90’s when he did Robin Hood: Men in Tights and The Crush, in which we get to see his sweet, sweet, bare naked ass. Well, okay, it was probably a body double, but shut up, I can dream. Oh yes, I can dream. Classic good looks aside, Cary Elwes comes off as witty and charming in most of his roles, but there’s also a dark, almost scary edginess lurking just beneath the surface. I mean, he did go on to play a murderous lunatic in Kiss the Girls… It’s a clash of personalities I find incredibly attractive for some reason. (Not to mention I have a huge thing for British guys.)
#7 – George Newbern
Every girl wants a boyfriend like Dan Lynch in Adventures in Babysitting. He’s handsome, educated, clearly well off, drives a nice Jeep, defends the reputation of a girl he just met AND loans her $50, tells her she’s beautiful, and even goes out of his way to return a roller skate to a little girl he doesn’t know, all in the same night. Jesus, guy, what else ya got? Are you gonna rescue some puppies while you’re at it? My panties can’t drop any lower. That George Newbern, he’s so pretty, too. I really love his combination of dark hair and light eyes. You could call it my “type,” if I had one. He is perfect. I guess it’s no surprise he went on to play Bryan Mackenzie, a.k.a. Mr. Right, in those Father of the Bride movies from the 90s. But to me he’ll always be Dan Lynch, the boyfriend I always wanted and never got.
#6 – Lee Montgomery
Babyfaced good looks, nice body, and to top it all off, the boy can dance! It’s a shame Lee Montgomery never did more stuff. He plays Jeff in Girls Just Want to Have Fun, the free-spirited, motorcycle riding “bad boy” that Janie (Sarah Jessica Parker) gets paired up with for the big D-TV dance contest. He tries to play it cool, but underneath he’s kind and sensitive, and has a smile that can charm a Catholic school girl right out of her uniform. After Girls Just Want to Have Fun (which is where you’ve most likely seen him) and a couple of made-for-TV movies, he kind of disappeared from acting. (By the way, if anyone knows what he’s up to these days, I’d love to hear about it.)
#5 – Jonathan Brandis
I’m cheating a little bit on this one, because Jonathan Brandis was more of a 90’s teen movie star, but he did a crapload of television work in the 80’s, including Kate & Allie, Who’s the Boss, and Full House, which is how I was first introduced to him, so I’m making it count. In 1990 he starred in the made-for-TV mini-series Stephen King’s It, then went on to do a couple of teen films like Ladybugs and Sidekicks (two of my personal favorite forgotten gems) before landing the role of teenage computer genius Lucas on seaQuest DSV, which is probably the role he’s most famous for…or something. Do people today even know who Jonathan Brandis was? I remember a time when his face was plastered throughout every issue of TigerBeat, Bop, and Teen-whatever-the-fuck magazine. He didn’t seem to have as much success in his later career, which may be part of the reason why he committed suicide in 2003. I loved Jonathan fiercely in my young life, and I still can’t believe he’s gone.
#4 – Judd Nelson
Though Judd Nelson is a great actor and I’m sure he’s a lovely person, I’m limiting the scope of my crush to his role as John Bender in The Breakfast Club. For some reason I’m just not as attracted to him in other roles (though his con-artist-disguised-as-a-prep-school-student in Making the Grade comes close. Such an underrated movie, by the way–worth watching for the break dancing scene alone). As John Bender, he’s the ultimate “bad boy” that every girl fantasizes about: hot, funny, rebellious, yet highly intelligent, which is what separates him from common school bullies and puts him more in the category of, say, J.D. from Heathers. There’s just something about a guy who acts all tough on the surface, but deep down is just a scared, hurt little boy dealing with daddy issues. Angst is hot.
#3 – Corey Feldman
Every young girl in the 1980s had an important choice to make: Corey Haim or Corey Feldman? It was important to know where you stood, if only to avoid wasting an additional 45 cents per minute when calling the Corey & Corey Hotline. As for me, I was always Team Feldman. His combination of geekiness, sharp wit, and unconventional good looks are what draw me in–and of course, that unmistakable voice (which still makes me think of Donatello whenever I hear it). He’s the reason why Mouth is my favorite Goonie. From cute little boy next door in The Gremlins, Feldman has gone on to play a range of interesting characters, including a physically and emotionally scarred adolescent in Stand By Me, a vampire hunter in The Lost Boys, suspicious neighbor in The Burbs, a swoon-worthy bad ass in Rock and Roll High School Forever, among others. I always enjoy a good movie with Corey Feldman in it. (I can even forgive his weird Michael Jackson phase.)
*Dream a Little Dream 2 does not count as a good movie.
#2 – River Phoenix
Do I even really need to explain the appeal here? For most girls, River Phoenix was THE teen heartthrob of the 80s. But he wasn’t just a pretty face–the boy had serious acting chops and an attitude to match. He’s another actor who always took on interesting roles, like his tough-kid-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks in Stand By Me and gay street hustler in My Own Private Idaho, which earned him an Oscar nod. As a person, he was unsuperficial, intensely deep, and more than a little mysterious, which only added to his appeal. Despite his meteoric rise to fame, he remained staunchly anti-Hollywood and struggled with both his public image and drug addiction, which tragically took his life in 1993. His life and career ended far too soon, and I always wonder what amazing films he would have gone on to star in.
#1 – Ralph Macchio
According to my parents, I used to watch The Karate Kid and kiss Ralph Macchio on the TV screen. Of course, I was only four or five the first time I saw that movie, so I have no memory of this, but it sounds par for the course considering how much I loved Daniel Larusso–the earliest film crush I can remember. In the mid-eighties, my bedroom walls were covered in Ralph Macchio posters and I wore out my VHS tapes of Karate Kid I and II, which I watched incessantly just to get a glimpse of my “boyfriend.” Though I also love Ralph Macchio in The Outsiders and Crossroads, it’s his Karate Kid charisma that’s like drum technique on my heart.
I’d love to hear some feedback from the ladies! Are there any actors on my list that you used to crush on back in the 80s (or still crush on)? Who would have decorated the pages of your crush book? And fellas, feel free to admit your man crushes, too. You know you want to.