Feast your eyes on this glorious Youtube and wonder no more at whether or not Bob married above himself: oh, he did, baby, he did! This is a clip of a classic catfight showdown of the very iciest type in good olde timey Hollywood style; duck and cover, boys! We blondes have to stick together, but just this once I’m calling it for the brunette; Suzanne Pleshette really knew how to take it up a life-threatening, eyebrow-arching notch. The men in this case are as incidental and interchangeable as chess piece Disney Princes, those vacuous, photogenic losers.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, inspired, I suppose or no, I actually know for a fact, by VF’s piece on Angie Dickinson, and today by the sad death of the original MILF, Suzanne Pleshette (okay, maybe second to Anne Bancroft’s Mrs Robinson, but there can’t be many straight Gen-X males who didn’t have a thing for the divinely sensible and sexy Emily Hartley).
Now, I’m a chick. Been one for years, actually. So I’m used to it. But there’s more to it than meets the eye: when you think about it, women as diverse as Princess Diana and Paris Hilton have managed to become some kind of arche- or at least stereotype. And it pays to type well, not fast or you can get stuck as your 7-year-old self’s idea of a cool chick, which explains the whole Madonna wannabe situation. So when you’re a little girl and you want to grow up to be a woman, what, exactly, do you have in mind? Britney Spears? Madonna? Marie Curie? Isabel Allende? Amanda Lepore? You’ve got to choose your icons carefully, if you don’t want to end up dated by nothing more than your accessories and identified by nothing more than the labels your mother sewed into your underwear.
I picked Pepper.
It wasn’t until the seventies… that Dickinson met her pop-culture destiny, playing Sargeant Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson on Police Woman. Pepper was a lot of firsts: the first woman to have men report to her, the first unmarried female officer, the first to display self-doubt and, occasionally, a weakness for Jack Daniels. While she was doing all that, she also carved out a new look for the powerful woman—briskly beautiful in minimal makeup, blond hair permanently tousled from running down perps, her white Bianca Jagger–esque pantsuit adding to her unconscious swagger. Take that, Sydney Bristow.
She was also the first officially-sanctioned over-forty hottie, Dickinson being a young slip of 43 at the series’ start. I’m 44 now, and when I realized that my idol Pepper Anderson was my age, bells rang, the clouds parted, and angels sang the greatest hits of Burt Bacharach.
But only the ones Angie likes.
“It’s a pleasure to meet a lady who’s a gentleman.”
Unlisted but indelibly a part of this pantheon are Catherine Deneuve and the fictional, yet nonetheless iconic, Catwoman and Emma Peel, about whom I’ve written elsewhere and will link up once I find it.
Am I forgetting anyone?