The topic of my essay today is "Tell us about a celebrity crush you once had." Well, I did that a couple of years ago (right around this time, in fact), but I came up with what might be an interesting angle on it.
In that particular post, I talked about my teenage crush, namely Marcia Brady, played by the delightful Maureen McCormick, and mentioned that there were those who found Jan Brady, played by the equally delightful Eve Plumb, even more attractive, thus setting up one of those eternal questions, "Marcia, or Jan?" Which called to mind the burning question, "Ginger, or Mary Ann?" i.e. whether, on Gilligan’s Island, Ginger Grant (played by the sultry Tina Louise) or Mary Ann Summers (played by the wholesome Dawn Wells) was more attractive. A third question that could be asked in the mid- to late-’60’s was "Betty, or Veronica?"
When we were kids and would get sick to where we would end up having to stay home, Mom would stop at the drug store on the way home from work and buy us comic books, and at least one of the comics would feature Archie, the redheaded teen who’s been around since the early 1940’s (when Mom herself was a youngster). We would be like "thanks, Mom," and proceed to argue over who would be able to read the Superman comic first. I, being the oldest, usually ended up losing, meaning I would have the pleasure of spending the afternoon catching up with Archie, Jughead, Reggie, Moose, Dilton, and of course, Betty and Veronica. And I didn’t complain, because I was in the early stages of puberty, and let’s face it, Betty and Veronica were hot.
The stories were not what you’d call particularly challenging, mostly about Archie and Reggie arguing about who would take Veronica to the dance, the loser getting to take Betty (who was one hell of a consolation prize), Jughead eating everything and not gaining any weight (probably due to running from Big Ethel), Dilton inventing something disastrous, Moose flattening any guy who says hello to his girlfriend Midge, etc. etc. Take all that away and you have quite a fashion show, with the raven-haired Veronica and the blonde, blue-eyed Betty (and other Riverdale lovelies) modeling tight jeans, short skirts, close-fitting sweaters, babydoll nighties, and all manner of swimwear. Some of the magazines came complete with pinups of the lovely ladies. You had to hand it to the artists: they marketed to the girls and the boys.
The Archie comics have gone through a metamorphosis, in part thanks to the TV show Riverdale, which takes the town and everyone in it, updates the story and fleshes out the characters, to make them less innocent and more realistic. There is much more racial diversity and even a gay character or two. The artwork in the comics has changed as well, with the characters drawn to more realistic dimensions. Times have changed, and the magazines have changed with them. I haven’t read one of the magazines in over 50 years, nor have I seen the show aside from a few clips on YouTube. Still, it was a big part of my growing up, and I’m happy to see it continue in some form.
So, Betty, or Veronica? Who can choose?