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10 Aug


Sex appeal is an extremely subjective matter.  What makes a woman
sexy?  In Japan it may be a small foot.  In India, the perfect belly.

A dazzling smile. A great pair of legs. Seductive eyes. Thick, lustrous
hair. A sultry voice.

To many American men it’s as simple as a great rack.

Tastes have changed over the years, to be sure.  In the early part of
the twentieth century, women were shorter and rounder and, in fact, the “ideal”
figure was that of an hourglass. The “flapper” ushered in a nearly
non-existent  bosom which blossomed again during the depression, a time
when appearing gaunt was possibly considered less than fashionable.

During WWII, woman may have been patriotic enough to give up their hose, but
not enough to forfeit the sensual appeal of a seamed stocking. With a ruler,
eyebrow pencil, and some ingenuity, they managed to suggest the illusion of a
seam. (After all, isn’t sex appeal often only about illusion)?

In the fifties there were a sufficient number of “blonde bombshells” to
combat the “June Cleaver” type but it was the sixties that left an indelible
mark. Model Twiggy’s “little boy” look had a major effect upon how women would
view their sexual appeal for years to come. For the first time, they did not
desire the sophisticated look of French knots and ample cleavage. Instead, they
aspired to look young and “waifish” even if it took anorexia and/or bulimia to
achieve those goals. There’s a scene on the beach in the movie, Gidget where
Gidget’s well endowed friends scoff at Gidget’s petite, boyish figure. Nowadays
it’s likely that Gidget would be laughing at her friends, viewing them as

I’ve compiled a list of  20 actresses who might be considered to be the
sexiest for the times in which they lived. (I say “might” because, as
mentioned, tastes are subjective).

These women stand out for having maintained their sexuality, either by
creating their own styles or by bucking the trends of the times.

I intentionally omitted beauties such as: Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert,
Lauren Becall, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Goldie Hawn, Demi
Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Aniston, who, while they might be
elegant, cute, or “girl-next-doorish” don’t necessarily exude sex. (Not to say
that many men wouldn’t find them sexy or that women wouldn’t want to look like
them. Audrey Hepburn is my personal favorite).


1.   1930’s – JEAN HARLOW (34-25-36) Star of Hell’s Angels;
original “Blonde Bombshell”.


2.   1940’s – RITA HAYWORTH (32-25-34) Glamorous star of “Gilda”;
Married to Orson Welles and also to Prince Aly Khan.


3.   1940’s – BETTY GRABLE (34-24-36) Known for her “great gams”;
#1 pinup girl of WW II, married to trumpet player, Harry James.

.4.  1950’s – MARILYN MONROE (37-23-36) Sexy and vulnerable; famous
(amongst other things) for the dress that flew up around her waist in “The
Seven Year Itch


5.   1950’s – JANE MANSFIELD (42-21-35) Very intelligent, despite
her “poor man’s Marilyn Monroe” image. Mother of actress Mariska Harigtay,
another beauty.


6.   1950’s – AVA GARDNER (36-23-37) Star of “The Barefoot
”; had an earthy femininity; steamy marriage to Frank Sinatra.


7.   1960’s – ELIZABETH TAYLOR (36-21-36) Violet eyes set off her
exquisite beauty; stormy relationship with Richard Burton; apparently not a fan
of casual dating, she was married eight times.


8.   1960’s – ANN MARGRET (35-23-35) Ended up being considered the
star of “Bye Bye Birdie” (an honor intended for veteran actress and
co-star, Janet Leigh); Swedish “sex kitten” with a wholesome appeal; acted and
had an affair with Elvis.


9.   1960’s – RAQUEL WELCH (37-22-35) Star of “One Million
Years B.C.
”, which popularized the “fur bikini”.


10.  1960’s – SOPHIA LOREN (38-24-38) Smoldering Italian actress;
starred in “Two Women”; turned down Cary Grant to marry director, Carlo
Ponti, still sizzling in her seventies.


11.  1960’s – BRIDGET BARDOT (35-19-35) French, exotic, sexy. 
American men adored her. (Check out that waistline ‚¬Â¦did these women wear


12.  1970’s – FARRAH FAWCETT (35-24-35) Star of “Charlie’s Angels”)
How many girls came of age with “Farrah haircuts”?  How many boys came of
age with that famed

“Farrah poster?”


13.  1980’s – MADONNA (CICCONE) (34-23-33) Pop singer with a talent for
re-inventing herself often, each persona sexier than the next; popularized
“trashy lingerie”.


14.  1990’s – SHARON STONE (36-25-35) Interrogation scene from “Basic
” – enough said.


15.  1990’s – PAM ANDERSON (36-22-34) Star of “Bay Watch”; hot
relationship with rocker, Tommy Lee; epitomized the California “beach babe
look” (or at least what men living outside California fantasize them to look


16.  2000’s – BEYONCE KNOWLES (34-26-40) Hip Hop star. The moves, the
body, the voice.


17.  2000’s – SCARLETT JOHANSSON (37-26-37) Starred in numerous Woody
Allen films. Voluptuous in a surprisingly old fashioned way.


18.  2000’s – HALLE BERRY (36-22-37) Starred as Catwoman in “Batman
and the costume fit to perfection, emphasizing her great body and terrific


19.  2000’s – SALMA HAYAK (36-25-37) Gorgeous Mexican born actress;
star of

Frida”.  Recognized for having a spectacular, non-enhanced


20.  2000’s – ANGELINA JOLIE (36-27-36) Known for her altruism, large
family, and husband, Brad Pitt; considered to be one of the sexiest woman of
her time; her bee-stung lips (emulated unsuccessfully by many women who don’t
own mirrors) alone would qualify her for this distinction.

I apologize to anyone who might feel this posting to have been a touch
politically incorrect but then I’m often a touch politically incorrect myself.

Have a great week. Vivian



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26 Jul


Alfred Hitchcock is probably my
all time favorite director, followed
closely by Billy Wilder.  I have enjoyed Hitchcock films my entire
life, both as a kid and later as a cinema student, when I learned more
about the man and his maverick techniques.

                      Hitchcock’s style was unique and
easily recognizable, so much so
that Mel Brooks tenderly paid homage to it in his film High Anxiety.
Hitch (as he was known to colleagues) pioneered numerous innovative
shooting and editorial techniques to create suspense. When asked how
he created suspense Hitchcock once said that seeing a bomb, for
then watching it explode did little in the way of creating
suspense. Instead,
one creates suspense by cutting between the bomb set to go off, a
and, say, the fearful eyes of the intended victim.He was able to do this byfirst, meticulously creating a storyboard depicting his shots,
scene by scene.

                       Also, by allowing our eyes to be
that of the camera and by moving slowly
around his subjects, he engaged us in a form of voyeurism. 
We felt the
actors’ fear, their anxiety. And let me assure you, his characters
had much about which to feel fearful.

    A common thread running through his films was that of a man
accused of a crime (ie. The Thirty-Nine
, Saboteur, The Wrong Man,
North by Northwest, and Strangers on a Train) and Hitchcock’s
experiences as a child came into play here.

He apparently had a lonely, isolated
childhood, made worse by his
obesity. Lots of time for his imagination to grow and fester, I would imagine.
When he was a child his father “punished” him by sending him to
the local
police station with a note asking that he be “locked up for ten
minutes for his ”infraction”. This was undoubtedly done as a way to teach a lesson that wouldn’t be easily forgotten. If that was the case, it worked. It developed in Hitchcock a lifelong fear of being locked up and a distrust of the
police in general.
His Jesuit upbringing influenced him as well and many of his films
dealt with
religious, or at least morally ethical dilemmas (Vertigo, I

addition to his “man-on-the-run-having-been-wrongly-accused” themes,
Hitchcock’s films shared other similarities. Most of them starred “icy
blondes” such as Eva Marie Saint, Vera Miles, Doris Day, Grace Kelly
and Tippi Hedren, with Grace Kelly probably having been his personal
favorite. His daughter, Patricia, appeared in bit parts and his wife,
Alma, was the editor of most of his films. Another element common to his
pictures was the use of well known places of interest such as The
Statue of
Liberty in Saboteur, Mt. Rushmore
in North by Northwest, Royal Albert
Hall in The Man Who Knew Too
and the Forrest Hills Tennis Stadium
in Strangers on a Train.
(Incidentally, Robert Walker’s
performance as socio
path, Bruno Antony in this film, is chilling).

                Hitchcock also
introduced what came to be known as the “MacGuffin”, vague,
unimportant devices whose sole purpose was to move the story
forward.  These
might come in many forms ranging from a formula whispered by a
diplomat (Foreign
Correspondent) to
hidden microfilm (North by Northwest),
to a bottle of wine containing uranium (Notorious).

               It’s difficult to state my favorite Hitchcock film, I’ve
enjoyed so many. If pressed,
I would probably have to say that The Lady Vanishes, Shadow of
a Doubt
, The
Man Who
Knew Too Much
(the second version starring Jimmy Stewart and
Doris Day), and North by
are amongst my favorites. Hitchcock’s
unique blend of psychological suspense, sexual undercurrents, and ironic

humor are what made him an icon. (Though he never achieved an
Oscar for a

particular movie, he did ultimately receive a Lifetime Achievement

    Hitchcock’s “signature” was the cameo appearances he made in all
films. See if you can “find Hitch” by ithmatching the film below with the
in which he turned up.

1.THE LADY VANISHES                     A.
Being pushed in a wheelchair at an airport

TRAIN               B. In the center of a crowd wearing a “bowler”

MUCH C. Walking down the street carrying a trumpet                                                                       case.

4.LIFEBOAT                                       D.
Missing a bus during the opening credits

5.TO CATCH A THIEF                         E. Winding a clock in a
songwriter’s apartment

6.SHADOW OF A DOUBT                  F.
In a crowded Victoria Station, smoking a          

7.THE BIRDS                                     G.
At “a hunt”, walking a horse across the screen

8. DIAL M FOR MURDER                   H. In
a Moroccan market place watching acrobats

9.NOTORIOUS                                   I. In before and after pictures in a newspaper
ad *

10.REAR WINDOW                           J.
Coming out of an elevator

11.PSYCHO                                      K.
In silhouette, behind a door marked 

                                                                    "Registrar of Births
and Deaths”

12. TOPAZ                                        L. Seen through a window wearing a cowboy

13. FRENZY                                     M. Boarding a train carrying a bass fiddle

14. TORN CURTAIN                           N. Seated in a hotel lobby holding a small

15. FAMILY PLOTO                           O. In a class reunion photo

16. NORTH BY NORTHWEST            P. On a train playing cards

17. VERTIGO                                    Q. Seated on a bus beside Cary

18. REBECCA                                  R. Posting a letter at a mail box

19. SUSPICION                                S. At a big party sipping champagne

20. SPELLBOUND                            T. Leaving a pet store with two white

*Note of trivia: The ad in question was for Reduco Obesity Slayer.


1F; 2M; 3H; 4I; 5Q; 6P; 7T; 8O; 9S; 10E; 11L; 12A; 13B; 14N; 15K;
16D; 17C; 18G; 19R; 20J

If you’d like to learn more about Alfred Hitchcock, I would
recommend reading “The Dark Side of Genius” by Donald Spoto. It’s the most comprehensive
book on Hitchcock I’ve read to date.

Thanks for reading, feel free to follow me


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22 Jun

A Bit About Me

It occurred to me recently that though I’ve just begun blogging and writing movie reviews for Coffey Talk, most of you know very little about me so I thought I’d share a little of my background with you.

I’ve worn many hats throughout my life: wife, mother, daughter, sister,
friend, tutor, teacher, production assistant.  I bartended one night
(Quit when the owner informed me that due to his ‘broken arm’ I’d be
expected to assist him in buttoning and unbuttoning his fly for the next
few weeks) I helped costume a movie, and I was a game show contestant
(three times, winning big on Name That Tune.)

In my lifetime, however, there is one hat I’ve
always worn: that of a writer. I’ve been writing as far back as I can
remember; I even wrote class plays back in elementary school. I’ve
written for the soaps (As the World Turns, General Hospital,) for one
sitcom back in the eighties, (It was called ‘You Again’ and it starred
John Stamos and Jack Klugman; when asked about it I like to say that if
you sneezed, it was off the air,) and I’ve been published in the Op-Ed
section of the L.A. Times.
I also collaborated with my late husband,
Rick, a brilliant and prolific TV and Film composer who won five Emmy
Awards in his lifetime (I was nominated twice but didn’t win. What they
say about its being just as much of an honor to have been nominated?
Not so much, although one time I lost out to Kenny Loggins ‚¬Â¦I thought
that was pretty impressive). In addition to songs, Rick and I worked
together on a musical entitled UG the Caveman Musical, written by TV
writer/producer, Jim Geoghan. It debuted here in L.A. in 2007 and did
fairly well; UG is performed throughout the country and hopefully it
will play locally again some time soon.

When Rick succumbed to brain cancer in 2005
my world went dark and remained so for quite some time. It took me a
year before I could read a book, and almost two years before I could listen
to music again (I still can’t listen to his.)

With the encouragement of my daughter, Allie, I eventually found my way back to writing. I made my first book, Groomed for Murder available as an ebook, I began a blog called Rhodes Less Traveled,  I joined a writers’ group, and I sold my first screenplay (it aired as a Lifetime movie, Stolen from the Womb, a year ago this month.  Presently I’m hard at work revising my new novel, a psychological thriller.

I hope you’ll keep reading my blogs and reviews.  A big thank you to Lissa for providing me with this platform.



PS  If you’d like to check out Stolen from the Womb go to



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19 Jun



There have been many noteworthy Hollywood love affairs throughout
the years, but few as memorable nor as tragic as that of Clark Gable and Carole

Gable, “The King”, was an indisputable heartthrob in 1936,
the year he met Lombard at a Hollywood party. 
At 35, he was married to his second wife when he became smitten with the
striking Lombard, who was seven years his junior and divorced from actor
William Powell.  The chemistry between
the two was mutual and grew even stronger once Gable was divorced.

Often described as devilishly handsome (in the 1938 film, Broadway Melody, a 14 year old Judy
Garland memorably crooned the song, You
Made Me Love You
to a framed photo of Gable,) he was the man every woman
wanted to be with and every man wanted to be. 
He was a man’s man.  For her part,
Lombard, blonde and leggy, starred in numerous screwball comedies and had that
unique combination of sexiness and a wicked sense of humor.  It’s been said that she swore like a sailor
and was known to play practical jokes whenever she had the opportunity.  By all accounts she was adored by film crews.

In January 1942, while returning from a tour to sell war
bonds, the TWA DC-3 in which Lombard had been flying, crashed into Mt.
Potosi, Nevada.  She and Gable had not
yet been married three years when her plane went down. 

When Clark Gable arrived on the scene, he had to be
physically restrained from climbing the snowcapped mountain in an attempt to rescue
his wife.  His efforts would have been
fruitless since all twenty-two passengers abroad, including Lombard’s mother, had
died in the crash.

Gable sat on a stool at the nearby Pioneer Saloon, in
Goodsprings, drinking whiskey and smoking cigar after cigar as he waited to
hear the fate of his wife.  On a recent
trip to Las Vegas, I visited the saloon, which was built in 1913, and is the
oldest in So. Nevada. I looked at photos on display as I walked through a “memory
room” that has been created to honor Gable and Lombard.

Friends claimed that Clark Gable was never the same after
suffering this loss and in fact, when he died of a heart attack in 1961, his
fifth wife had him buried in Los Angeles’ Forest Lawn, next to Carole Lombard,
the love of his life.

Some love affairs are based in myth and some become the
prototype to which others aspire.  Gable
and Lombard’s love affair was the latter.

Ready to take a short quiz? 
Can you correctly match up the famous relationships below?  Scroll all the way down for the answers when you’re done.


THE MEN                                                   THE WOMEN

1.      Bogart                                                a.  Woodward

2.      Reynolds                                            b.  Tandy

3.      Wayne                                                 c.  McGraw

4.      Russell                                                d. Gardner

5.      Cronyn                                                 e.

6.      Pitt                                                        f.

7.      Smith                                                   g.

8.      Arnaz                                                    h.

9.      Sinatra                                                  i.  Taylor

10.  McQueen                                               j.  Davis

11.  Tracy                                                      k. Russell

12.  Newman                                                 l.  Hawn

13.  Merrill                                                     m.Pinkett

14.  Wilder                                                     n. Field

15.  Burton                                                     o. Ball



everyone enjoys a great weekend. (I’ll be editing the second draft of my newest
thriller.)  Whatever you do, have fun and
stay safe.










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04 Jun


Just hearing the opening theme on Sunday night gave me, and
millions of other viewers of Mad Men a
tremendous feeling of satisfaction.  For
7 seasons (it premiered on AMC in July 2007 and had its final episode in May
2015) we followed the trials and tribulations of Peggy, Roger, Pete, Joan,
Betty, and of course, Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm. 

The music evoked an era as did the visuals. Matthew Weiner,
the creator, admits to having been greatly influenced by Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, in terms of production

Don, the fictional creative director of Sterling Cooper (the
original agency before it was transformed by partnerships, take-overs, etc.)
was the quintessential, uber advertising executive of the 1960’s – at least on
paper.  An extraordinarily handsome womanizer,
he was a genius in wooing both clients and a multitude of woman with charm and
something intangible, possibly mystique. And Don was mysterious.  In fact, the basis of his character was the
idea that for years no one knew much about the man with a secretive past and
Don liked it that way.  

Don was classy and true to himself (it is interesting to note
that while other male characters adapted to fashion trends throughout the run
of the series, Don never changed his style) and even when we hated what he was
doing, we found ourselves rooting for him. 
Besides, his relationship with his daughter, Sally, always seemed to
redeem him in our eyes.

Because of the superb writing and excellent acting, none of
the characters were portrayed as cardboard figures.  They were flawed.  We loved them one week and hated them the
next, or vice versa.  Peggy could be naïve,
but stubborn.  Joan could use her
sexiness to her advantage, but also lament being labeled as such.  Pete could be callous but also
sensitive.  Betty, Don’s first wife, was
cold at times, but the audience was usually made to see things from her
perspective. My personal favorite was Roger (John Slattery) whose delivery of
lines hit the mark, week after week.

Aside from the characters themselves, viewers enjoyed having
a mirror set up, reflecting the era of the sixties.  For those of us who lived through the Kennedy
assassination, the bee hive hairdos, the turmoil of the Civil Rights and Women’s’
movements, it was a chance to remember all of these in context.  For those too young to recall any of it, it
was a fascinating history lesson.  This
was particularly so when examining a period when people smoked like chimneys,
drank like fish, and said things that were outrageously “un-P.C.”

Mad Men was a unique series and its
storylines took us on unexpected, thrilling journeys.  I will miss it.

Thank you Matthew Weiner for a wonderful ride.

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