Saturday, April 6, 2019

The Celebrity Crush Championship Belt

I was a big fan of Bill Simmons back when he wrote great articles for ESPN (Grantland was fantastic..I've lost interest in The Ringer.) One of the topics I particularly enjoyed was the Championship Belt series. If you're not familiar with it, you can see examples here and here. Basically, the premise is: you're the champ until someone beats you. 

I thought it would be a fun exercise to try this using my favorite female celebrities over the years. Who was my favorite and when, and what led to them losing their title? Let's start with the first year I had any interest in the opposite sex... 

Champion: Jennie Garth
Reign: 1991-1992

Beverly Hills 90210 was a few years above my age group, but that didn't stop the girls in my fifth-grade class from obsessing over Jason Priestly or Luke Perry may he rest in peace. My sister-in-law is related to one of the supporting actors on 90210 (Joe E. Tata), and between her family ties, the "water-cooler" talk at school, and Jennie Garth being all blonde and gorgeous, I was enjoying the teen soap opera as much any female fan.

I can't recall anything specific about Jennie's character but I do remember buying a couple packs of 90210 cards and searching stores for a Jennie Garth poster (don't think I found any..they only had Priestly, Perry, and Shannen Doherty) I even wrote a TTM letter to Jennie and got back some fan club gibberish on reddish pink paper..but no autographed photo.

Thanks to the Summer Olympics and Sports Illustrated For Kids I spent the next year obsessed over world champion gymnast Kim Zmeskal. (For purposes of this post I'll call her a "sports crush" and skip over her.) It was around this time that I was also sneaking around my mom to watch Married...With Children. Soon I had turned my attention to another blonde Kelly..

Champion: Christina Applegate
Reign: 1992-1994

Once my mom finally allowed me to watch sister bought me a VHS copy of the Christmas special as a gift, and at one point I taped notebook paper over all of the cast(and Buck) except for Christina so that I'd only see her. I also stopped saving my allowance money for a Joe Montana rookie card when I saw an autographed Applegate 8 x 10 hanging up in a comic book store.

Even though I was still a hardcore fan of the Bundys in 1994 (and beyond) Christina lost her Crush crown to an unlikely contender..

 Champion: Winona Ryder
Reign: 1994

Nothing made sense in 1994. The Rangers were Stanley Cup champions. The World Series wasn't happening, and I was crushing on an ingenue actress with a pixie 'do. Winona Ryder was indie-cool, but she was also critically acclaimed for her on-screen performances. I binge-watched the entire Winona Ryder filmography in the summer of '94, after a video store clerk chose her as "Star of the Week." 

It had been years since I'd seen her in anything anywhere, until my wife and I started watching Stranger Things. Winona forever!

Well, maybe not forever.. Ryder's short reign at the top of my crush chart ended when Pulp Fiction was released and my best friend John and I both drooled over..

Champion: Uma Thurman
Reign: 1994-1995

Uma was destructively gorgeous, she was almost too hot to handle when she wasn't wearing that Mia Wallace wig. My best friend and I collected cutout pictures of her like baseball cards (he even stole a copy of Details from his school library.) I watched some of Uma's early work like Jennifer 8 with John, and Dangerous Liasons with my real-life crush Jessica, who was obsessed with Keanu Reeves at the time.

In my freshman year of high school I started crushing on a six-foot tall senior girl named Liz because she resembled Uma Thurman. I also started drifting towards another blonde celeb..

Champion: Jewel
Reign: 1995-1997

It sounds strange to me now, but I was a huge fan of a frickin' folk singer. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) Jewel had a unique and captivating voice - and her videos were sexy as hell. I did have a poster of her on my wall and I did drool over her obvious physical gifts but! I also played my Pieces of You CD regularly and I saw her perform at the Oakdale Theater in Connecticut with my girl friend Gretchen (who at least one guy assumed was my girlfriend.) 

In the late 1990s there were a few contenders like Mira Sorvino, Renee Zellweger, and Jenna Elfman that I really liked, but none that rose to the level of a top-tier celebrity crush. Until the teen soap opera wave returned with Dawson's Creek..

 Champion: Michelle Williams
Reign: 1998-1999, 2002

Where have you gone, Jen Lindley? I was all about blondes back in the day, and Michelle Williams was exactly my type. Her bad-girl Dawson's Creek character was not a fan favorite, and it's a sharp contrast to the characters she plays today. I'm pleasantly surprised that Michelle emerged out of the collective of WB-era hotties and became an Academy-award-winning actress...but I do miss her Maxim days.

I think I still have a copy of this mag in my closet

Champion: Katie Holmes
Reign: 1999-2001, 2003

I'm not going to get too specific here. Throughout the Dawson's Creek years I alternated between the sexy siren and the girl next door. Katie Holmes didn't strike my fancy at first; she sort of grew on me over the years. Speaking of the Girl Next Door...

Champion: Elisha Cuthbert
Reign: 2004

Yeah, so...funny story. I was in Chicago with the aforementioned bestie and his brother (also a lifelong friend of mine) when I saw a stand-up promo for this film - and Elisha - for the first time. You know that old cliche about a gorgeous woman having the ability to stop traffic? Well, when I saw this/her I literally tripped and dropped my wallet. It was kind of embarrassing, but it physically forced me to see the film in question (which was pretty good) along with other things Elisha was in, such as 24. Sssh! Don't tell anyone I started watching that because of Kim Bauer.

My Cuthbert "crush" wasn't like most of the others on this list. There was very little substance behind the surface-level hotness (and she dated Sean Avery ffs.) I wouldn't say she was champion by default, but it wasn't All That difficult for a teenager to take her title...

Champion: Amanda Bynes
Reign: 2004-2007

Ooomph. This one hurts. Like, it physically hurts to be reminded of just how funny and talented and girl next-door gorgeous Amanda Bynes was. It hurts to remember the days when her contemporaries were getting wasted and Amanda insisted that she'd never end up as tabloid fodder like them. It hurts to remember how much I enjoyed her movies and TV shows, especially What I Like About You..which also starred my first celebrity crush, Jennie Garth.

It hurts to know that she just turned 33 (still younger than the Current Crush Champion) and that she's spent the past decade as a cautionary tale. Damn. Let's move on.

 Champion: Kristen Bell
Reign: 2007-2009, 2018

Who doesn't love Kristen Bell, am I right? Looking back, it's fascinating to me that she became such a big star and that I became such a fan. The first time I saw her, Veronica Mars had just started on the WB or CW or whatever and she was on Conan talking about hockey. That's about all the incentive I needed to check out her show. 

Of course I became a fan of it, and her. But unlike the other blonde puck bunny on this list Kristen stuck around because she's good in everything, she's always an entertaining interview guest, and as the kids say, her and Dax Shepard are #relationshipgoals. The Good Place was a big reason why Kristen reclaimed her spot as my favorite actress after losing her crown nearly a decade earlier.
I honestly can't remember if I had any celebrity crushes in 2010 and 2011. I liked Olivia Wilde, Zooey Deschanel, and a couple others but not enough to award anyone the Championship Belt. So until something jogs my memory let's say that it was vacated for a while.

Champion: Jennifer Lawrence
Reign: 2012-2017

What can I say about Jennifer Lawrence that I haven't already said on this blog? Well for starters, I probably wouldn't have seen her in X-Men:First Class if it wasn't for the sub-plot about the Cuban Missile Crisis. She looked so different in that it's as if it was filmed five years before The Hunger Games. It's kind of strange to think she was "cute" once. 

The other thing I can say is that I didn't get tired of her "act" as some people have. I don't agree with everything she says or does, but it bothered me how quickly the wave of public opinion turned from "She's unrefined and relatable. I love her!" to "She's immature and overrated. I hate her!" It's true what they say, they build you up just to tear you down.

J-Law has taken some blows (some self-inflicted) but she's got more staying power than anyone on this list - with the possible exception of Kristen Bell. I'm amazed that she's only in her twenties; there's still so much ahead for her.

That said, she did lose a bit of zip off her fastball by 2017, just enough for the Crush crown to be claimed by..

Champion: Taryn Southern
Reign: 2017

I'll admit, I was about eight years late to the party with Taryn. I spent all of '17 catching up, only to find out she's not fun anymore. It's probably for the best. She's too damn stunning to be that funny and chill. 

Before I get to the current champion here's a Southern song that sort of fits the occasion:

I say "sort of" because I'm not the stalker type. Also, the irony of this track is delicious.

Anyway...this post has been long enough, yes? Let's get to current events here. In 2018 I wasn't as focused on any one in particular as I was in '17. Kristen Bell held off Katherine McNamara and Melissa Benoist mostly on reputation and personality -- which went a long way toward awarding the Championship belt to..

Champion: Anna Kendrick
Reign: 2019-

I've mentioned this before, but I like Anna for a lot of the same reasons I like Kristen. There have been times when the belt was awarded to a smoldering, statuesque blonde but overall it often stays with a woman who has talent, personality, and an approachable attractiveness. Could Kendrick hold on to the belt into 2020 and beyond? Sure. Then again, maybe Kristen or Jen will reclaim the crown. Maybe Brie Larson wrestles it away from AK. Maybe I will outgrow this whole charade altogether. Lol..not likely :)

If any of you read this incredibly long post, I hope you enjoyed it. My next post won't be for a few days but it will be a contest! Anyone who comments on this one will automatically be entered, as a reward for reading all the way to the end. So share your thoughts and stories about your favorite celebrities for a chance to win some free cards!

Hope you're all having a great weekend!



  1. This was a fun read and I crushed on a lot of the same girls you mentioned earlier on as I think we are around the same age. After Cuthbert though we headed in different directions. Lol!

    You may be pleased to know that a few of these lovely ladies will actually be appearing in my Save Second Base Event I run each year.

    1. Yeah I did take a turn off the beaten path after Elisha, didn't I? :)

      I can't wait to see who your SSB subjects are this year. Its always great to see you raise awareness(and money?) for a great cause.

    2. I linked to this blast from the past today for my post.

  2. Some very nice choices! A few personal ones I'll add are Rachael Leigh Cook, Isla Fisher, Shiri Appleby, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Jessica Alba, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Brittany Snow :D

    1. Yes to pretty much all of those, especially Shiri and Jessica Alba. I had a Dark Angel poster on my wall for a while, and I was definitely into Roswell thanks in no small part to Shiri and Katherine Heigl. Man, the early aughts were loaded!

  3. Part of me wants to start on my version of this post right away, but a smaller part is leary that since my list starts in the late 70's that still crushing on 20 somethings is a little awkward for a guy my age....
    Wholeheartedly agree with Elisha for sure, and none of these are bad picks.

    1. No judgment here..go for it! I'd like to know which 20-somethings you had in mind.

  4. Yes to Jennifer Lawrence, from the time I saw Silver Linings Playbook until now. As a kid, I was really into Miss Elizabeth on WWF wrestling. I really liked Cameron Diaz for a few years. Can't think of anyone else I was all that crazy about in between. I don't even know all the people on your list. Whenever my youngest co-worker mentions her favorite current "celebrities," I never even know who they are. I guess I'm just old. And I'm OK with that.

    1. I'm not really up-to-date on the current crop of celebs, either. Most of them come from reality shows or YouTube anyway-and I was way behind on the only (female) YouTuber I found interesting.

  5. You certainly have a type. Nothing wrong with that! Maybe I'm showing my age a bit but I've never been able to see why so many people find Jennifer Lawrence attractive. Doesn't do it for me at all. Maybe because like GCA I'm getting too old to see girls that young as anything but kids.

    1. I think with J-Law it was just nice to see someone in Hollywood who isn't a size 0. She's got some great features (smoky eyes, for example) but I can see why some would say she isn't exceptionally beautiful. Also, I think she looks mature for her age, but there are other actresses under 30 that I hesitate to crush on, for the reason you stated.

  6. Anna Kendrick is definitely on my list of crushes.

    I don't know if I could actually go back and put together a list like you. My early crushes would include Lea Thompson, Susanna Hoffs and Gabriela Sabatini.

    1. Susanna Hoffs was a goddess. I liked Lea Thompson, too. But I was too young to have crushes in the '80s.

  7. Tiffani Amber Thiessen may have made my list. Nice trip down memory lane.

    1. Right on! Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for reading!

  8. I'm not a big TV or movie person so while I have heard all of the names you mentioned, I would not have been able to put a face to most of them. My list would be more music based. Shakira would have held the top spot for a while.

    1. My lists are lacking musicians for sure. I want to like Taylor Swift but she makes it difficult. Who else would be on your list?

  9. Nice touch listing the reign of each belt holder, heheh. This post reminds me that a former co-worker and I did something similar with professional tennis players. She had her "tennis husbands" (Marat Safin and then Roger Federer) and I had my "tennis wives" (Mary Pierce and then Ana Ivanovic).

    1. That's really cool. I had a thing for Maria Sharapova for a while, and I'm kind of surprised I haven't noticed any specific tennis stars since.

  10. Wow, you and I have very different tastes! I have a "crushes" post that's been rattling around in the back of my mind for a while now, seeing something like this makes me want to try and focus on it a little more.

    1. I hope you do, I'd be interested to see how our "champions" compare and contrast.

  11. Fun post. Lots of attractive ladies here. Although none of yours made it into my own personal 9-card "Pretty Girls" custom set from a couple years ago, there are a few that could have easily made the cut. Maybe I should do a 2nd series sometime.

    1. I definitely think you should expand the series of Pretty Girls cards. Can't wait to see who would make the checklist.

  12. World class beauties👍 I’ve crushed in a few of them myself. A contender to consider might be Anna Faris. Cute, sexy and funny 😄

  13. Very cool post. Started out with a common interest. I was a big Jennie Garth fan... but the rest of these people aren't really my type... or I have no idea who they are. Well... okay... I did go through a Katie Holmes phase too. But it was brief.

    1. Very few of my favorites over the years have been the mainstream choices one might expect.

  14. This was a fun read! Hard to argue with any of your "Champions". I think my first was Kathy Ireland...

    1. Right on..I bought my friend a Kathy Ireland calendar as a birthday gift one year-either '93 or '94 I think. She was definitely a favorite out of all those great supermodels.

  15. Alicia Silverstone has always been one of my celebrity crushes, but you put up a solid list.