If I'm honest, I'd need to admit that my noticing cute ladies on TV goes back all the way to the Go-Gos and their video for "Our Lips Are Sealed" (hey, robyn_ma! Cute ladies cavorting in water!), around age 8. (I didn't really start to notice cute ladies in my life until a year or so later: hi, Heather from next door in Virginia Beach...) So yeah, reminder to myself: I was heterosexual well before puberty, and before I even knew what sexuality was. I wonder how many people forget that. (Oh, yeah: all of the HOMOSEXUALITY IS A CHOICE screamers.) But I'll limit this to TV crushes, because including film actresses, singers, models, and whatever would make this unwieldy and huge.
Anyway, here's a grab-bag of some of the ladies I've made a special effort to tune into over the years on television, in roughly chronological order:
Amanda Pays (Max Headroom) -- Probably my first "accent crush." I saw her in both the British TV movie and the American TV series, which I watched religiously. (The second-to-last U.S. episode, with Max having to save Edison Carter from the effects of that brain stimulator while the Japanese company attempts the hostile takeover of Network 23, successfully knocked me out; damn, that was a good episode, and it messed with my head.) I wish I could've gotten into The Flash, because she was still hot, but the first couple of episodes were (to me) almost painfully inept and I gave up on it. (That werewolf-or-something episode that was the second one aired: arrrrgh!)
Pirie Jones (E!, ca. 1989) -- I can't find photos of her online, but I know she existed! She was a host on E! Entertainment Television circa 1989, back when much of their programming was comprised of movie trailers. She hosted, smilingly; hers was a soothing presence. And she was cute, with long darkish hair, but I'm not remembering enough to conjure her via words. Just take my word for it, OK?
The Twin Peaks trio of Madchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn, and Lara Flynn Boyle -- Remember the Rolling Stone "Babes in the Woods" cover? I had that tacked above my bed in our Oakton, Va. home, next to the other full-page photos from that article as well as three ads from Premiere magazine advertising The Silence of the Lambs. Ms. Boyle then, as now, could stand to gain some pounds, so she wasn't quite as prominent in my affections as Ms. Fenn and Ms. Amick. Speaking of Amick, when I brought a film press kit to lunch one day at high school, I showed a still from Stephen King's Sleepwalkers to my friend Mike Keegan. He looked at Amick and said "Three words: Queen of Babes." (Note: Sheryl Lee, while hot, isn't included here because I feel really, really weird and wrong about having the hots for someone who played a corpse.)
Michele Greene -- Her character Abby Perkins on L.A. Law started out oh so mousy, and was painfully mistreated by certain characters (like her abusive soon-to-be-ex-husband on that show), but by the time I started to watch L.A. Law regularly in the second season, she was allowed to blossom. Cliched phrasing, but true: Abby started her own practice for a time, learned how to use guns, survived a deranged client's attack, then rejoined the law firm. Still, there were glimmers of how Abby could've been given more to do that the show's producers, as good as they were, never properly used. (Here's an example. In real life Greene is Irish-Hispanic, and this was used in a single second-season episode when she finds that Douglas Brackman's unscrupulous half-brother Errol Farrell is trying to scam Latin American immigrants. She finds him set up in her firm's offices one weekend; she asks some of the people waiting what's going on, then she confronts him and starts passing out her business card to the people waiting to see him. "Hey, what are you telling them?" he asks. "That you're a crook," she says. A woman comes forward and speaks to her. Abby turns to Errol and says "You said your brother OWNS the INS?" Priceless.) I even taped a Country Music Awards one year because Greene, a country fan, presented an award to The Judds. Hey, now I'm looking her up online, and finding out she's a writer and a singer-songwriter, under her full name Michele Dominguez Greene. I also admired her for being active in Amigos de las Americas, which she described as "a mini-Peace Corps" working in Latin America.
Amanda Donohoe -- Ah, yes, another accent crush. I first saw Donohoe on L.A. Law (there's that name again) as C.J. Lamb, and had been vaguely aware of her due to being in Ken Russell's Lair of the White Worm, which I was aware of but hadn't seen yet (I'd seen her short profile in Premiere magazine). She had an impressive first season on L.A. Law, where she was given a lot to do and did it well. I can still quote a fair number of her lines from that season. Of course, Donohoe and the aforementioned Michele Greene helped make television history with the "kiss" episode, but smartly, that was in the middle of a run of three episodes that showed several different sides of Lamb -- her sillier side and her more serious side as well as her sexuality side -- so it wasn't just about her character being ZOMG Teh Girl-Kisser. (Trivia: when planning her character, David E. Kelley and the other producers wanted C.J. to be gay, but the network was uncomfortable with having no chance of her getting involved with men, since it was a soap opera, so Kelley and Co. decided she'd be bisexual -- apparently the first bisexual regular character on American prime time television.) Her second season on L.A. Law, she frankly wasn't used as well, and Donohoe went on to other work.
Sharyl Atkisson -- CNN, afternoons Eastern Time, early 1990s. I'd hope I'd get home from high school in time to see her. She went on to a PBS health show and a CBS News correspondance job.
Michelle Forbes -- I got introduced to Forbes on Star Trek: The Next Generation as the show's first Bajoran character; she went on to one of my favorite shows of the '90s, Homicide: Life on the Street. I never saw her on 24, though I've seen only one full episode and bits and pieces of other episodes of that show...so that's maybe an hour and 42 minutes of that show's total elapsed time.
Laurie Hibberd -- I started watching Her Fetchingness on F/X Breakfast Time, which was on while I was in college, and where her co-hosts were Tom Bergeron and a puppet (I am not making that up); she moved to the short-lived re-imagined version of Breakfast Time called Fox After Breakfast, then went to ABC's Good Morning America and later to CBS's The Early Show. She's also married to Gellman, the producer who Regis Philbin often calls by name on Live with Regis and Kelly; in a Halloween episode of Regis and Kelly Hibberd appeared as the Statue of Liberty.
Daria Morgendorffer and Jane Lane of Daria -- yes, I'm including animated characters. Jane is really my type, and I knew at least one woman in college who practically was Daria. Deadpan Sarcasm Is Love. ;-) (And hey, they inspired articles like this Slate piece I found via Google.)
Paula Marshall of Cupid -- Seriously, as I've said before, I remember thinking she could be another Madeline Kahn in the comedic-acting category. Someone other than Cupid and Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas has to believe this, too...
Adamari Lopez -- Seriously, a telenovela star. I got rid of my cable in 1999 because I realized I was watching so much TV, I was starting to recognize Lopez as she moved from one show to another (I even remember her in a music video that played on Univision).
I'll also give honorable mention (but not take the time to dig out links) to some others: Debra Messing of Will and Grace (such a good slow-burn), Jennifer Garner of Alias, and Christa Miller of The Drew Carey Show and Scrubs.
Currently, as I've mentioned on these cyber-pages before, I have soft spots for TV personages Pauley Perrette (Abby the Goth forensics expert on NCIS), Sandra Oh on Grey's Anatomy (I even like how she seems to flatten her voice for that role), Kari Byron (the sculptor and "builder" from Mythbusters), and -- who I don't think I've mentioned -- Claudia Black, once of Farscape and now of Stargate SG-1. (And I'm sure there's room in my affections for the distaff cast of Firefly...)