Childhood TV Crushes: Where Are They Now?

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Writer: Tim Surette
Crush: Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks)
Why the crush? Sherilyn Fenn was the first woman I saw tie a cherry stem into a knot with her tongue, and if that isn't love at first sight, I don't know what is. She was a perfect fit for a David Lynch television program, as Lynch loves to work against the grain and Sherilyn was atypical of her era. She seemed plucked from a perfume ad from the 1950s; buxom, with a brunette bob, and oh my, those eyebrows. The way she played her sex appeal was personal; you're not going to believe this, but her coy act was done just for me (I like to think). Then Audrey blew up in an explosion. Saddest. Day. Ever.
Where is she now? After Twin Peaks, Sherilyn went on to star in some less-than-stellar films and largely appeared in it roles on various programs. She's stepped back from acting and has taken a recent interest in directing and being a mom to her two kids, neither of which are mine no matter how hard I wish. She's also deeply into Kundalini yoga and blogs about whatever it is yoga-practicing moms blog about.

Writer: Stefanie Lee
Crush: Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Home Improvement)
Why the crush? I don't know if it was the awesome acronym (JTT), the slightly-wavy hair, the sparkling white smile, the insanely dry wit, or the steel-blue eyes, but it didn't matter. Jonathan Taylor Thomas was my first love. I watched The Lion King just to hear his voice. I bought Man of the House on VHS with my pittance of piggy bank change. I envied Rachel Leigh Cook, JTT's love interest in Tom and Huck. And I could always be found parked in front of the TV if Home Improvement was on. Yes, I pined after the Tiger Beat poster-boy for years, but it was totally legit because he got hotter with age.
Where is he now? After ending his run on Home Improvement in 1998, Thomas dropped off the radar and has only returned to acting a handful of times since. He's opted for bit parts in shows like Veronica Mars and Smallville, and controversial roles in indie films like Speedway Junky and Common Ground. Oh yeah, and he also attended Harvard for a little while.

Writer: Ilana Diamond
Crush: Jared Leto (My So-Called Life)
Why the crush? While not the brightest bulb in the bunch, Jordan certainly had the tortured-soul, I’m-a-rebel-in-a-band shtick down pat, which as far as my loner-girl high school heart was concerned made him totally crush-worthy material. His moodiness and awkward silences spoke volumes about the poetic depths of his soul. His long-ish golden-brown hair, the flannels he wore just a little bit too big (I always imagined they smelled like that perfect combination of dryer sheets and boy), the silver ring which he clearly wore for sentimental reasons, the coffee he took black with 3 or 4 sugars, and his ability to not just write but sing and play formulaic love songs about his red Plymouth all added up to the man, the mystery, the oft-disappointing Jordan Catalano. I will always think fondly of the times he and I shared, (me with my Angela Chase wannabe haircut watching him on the screen with his totally vapid and doe-eyed adorable face) whenever anyone mentions the words "boiler room."
Where is he now? Well, post Requiem for a Dream, in which he played an off-the-deep-end junkie who winds up with a stump for an arm, Leto now fronts a weird Evanescence-y band (30 Seconds to Mars) and occasionally collaborates with Kanye West. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that Jared and I, well, we’ve grown apart. In retrospect, I was better off crushing on Brian Krakow. He was the real deal. He could read, was totally reliable, loved foreign films and he was in love with me, er, I mean Angela, the whole time! If only I knew then what I know now...

Writer: Matt Jaffe
Crush: Mary Tyler Moore (The Dick Van Dyke Show)
Why the crush: While the other guys debated the merits of Ginger vs. Mary Ann or Marcia Brady vs. Laurie Partridge, as an addicted fan of reruns of the original Dick Van Dyke Show, I remained fixated on Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie. Her Mad Men-era incarnation certainly made a mad boy of me. I defy you, go on YouTube and type in Laura Petrie. Click on the first clip that comes up and watch Mary shimmy and shake in her Capri pants and flats as she sings and dances some number about Cleopatra—with a pre-Hogan Bob Crane as lascivious neighbor “Hanglip” Harry Rogers on conga. Then try and tell me that there wasn’t truly something about Mary. Granted, back then I also formed crushes on teachers (though not Mrs. Grayson, who had a voice like Barry White). But even though the latter-day Mary Richards had her own attributes, she couldn’t compare to the Van Dyke-era Mary Tyler Moore. Talk about turning the world on with just a smile. And those hips didn’t hurt either.
Where are they now: Boy, it’s almost 50 years down the line from the original show. Last time I saw Mary Tyler Moore, she was playing Ben Stiller’s mom in Flirting With Disaster. Mary, believe it or not, is 73 now and lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Diagnosed with diabetes when she was 33, she is the international chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and is also active in animal rights issues. In 2009, she wrote a memoir, Growing Up Again: Life, Loves, and Oh Yeah, Diabetes. Just last week, Season 6 of The Mary Tyler Moore Show was released on DVD.

Writer: Claire Zulkey
Crush: George Clooney (Sisters)
Why the crush? My adolescent TV crush was just some guy who you've probably never heard of: George Clooney. When I was young, I enjoyed me some Friday night TV on NBC, especially on nights when I was babysitting and the kids had gone to bed. I lived for the soap Sisters, and never moreso than when Sela Ward's character Teddy Reed started dating the handsome, dark and brooding Detective James Falconer, known to everyone, including Teddy, as "Falconer." Falconer was tough but sensitive, but moreover I loved his face. And his hair. Before he cut it off for some medical drama, Clooney had one of those awesome full '90's loafs of hair. I loved it. Sadly, the Cloonester was only on Sisters from 1993-1994, before he moved on to ER. Maybe it was because the hair was gone, or maybe because he played a cockier character, or maybe I just didn't like Julianna Margulies as much as I did Sela Ward, but I never crushed on Clooney as much as I did when he played Falconer.
Where is he now? What's Clooney up to now? Beats me. Obviously he fell off the radar once his television career was finished.

Writer: Dale Conour
Crushes: Valerie Bertinelli & Mackenzie Phillips (One Day at a Time)
Why the crushes? They were the One Day at a Time sisters, making a go of it with their single mom Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin). They were right around my age, my mom was divorced too, and the show featured plenty of teenage drama and angst. Mackenzie was the older, rebellious Julie Cooper, an alternative chick before there were alternative chicks; Valerie was the—what did we call them then?—oh yeah, a fox. She was the younger, but more level-headed, Barbara Cooper. I would have run away to Indianapolis for either of them.
Where are they now? I lost Valerie to rock star Eddie Van Halen; she divorced him after a long, troubled marriage. (Okay, Valerie, you know, I'm just sayin'.) After a long career on TV, including joining the cast of Touched By An Angel, she's become a "weight-loss activist," posing on the cover of People in a bikini. Mackenzie I lost to drugs and alcohol, and not too long ago she came out on Oprah with some really dark stuff about incest with her dad John Phillips (of The Mammas & the Papas fame). It turns out she's been a total train wreck since the age of 10. Sigh. Look Mackenzie, just try taking it one day at a…

Writer: Jen Trolio
Crush: David Schwimmer (Friends)
Why the crush? When it comes down to it, I love cute nerds. That's pretty much it. I fell for Schwimmer early in Friends' run, while he—as the dorky, lovable paleontologist Ross—was still pining over Rachel from afar. I just couldn't get enough of his goofy admiration for her. Season 2's "The One with the Prom Video" reserved a permanent spot for Schwimmer in my teenage heart; I use the phrase "he's her lobster!" to this day.
Where is he now? Schwimmer pretty much dropped off my radar after Friends; I think he may have filmed a rom-com or two. These days, he's wearing green mascot outfits for guest spots on 30 Rock, voicing the animated Madagascar franchise, directing British movies, that sort of thing.

Happy Valentine's Day! Who's your childhood TV crush?

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