Southern Dreamboats For Every Generation

Find out which celebrity heartthrob have made generations of Southern women swoon.

Valerie Fraser Luesse
Elvis Presley performing
Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

Remember that long-ago Big Love from yesteryear? The first time a movie star or teen dream made your heart go all thumpety? Maybe you kept his framed 8x10 glossy by your bed or pinned a gigantic poster on your wall. You and your girlfriends would spend hours getting ready to see him in concert (even though your seats were in Row 200 and there was little chance of eye contact).

Reminiscing about our own heartthrobs made us wonder: Who was Mama’s crush? And so we asked—in a random, unscientific, but truly entertaining poll. Herewith, our findings:

Never Underestimate The King of Rock ’N Roll.
Elvis got more votes than anybody—and had the most crossover appeal. Whether you were a 50s teeny-bopper or a Windsong-spritzing child of the 70s, there was just something about Mr. Presley. Said one respondent: “Mother’s crush was Robert Taylor, I think, but she ALWAYS watched any Elvis movies or TV specials with me—and she would have the most mischievous grin . . . wonder why?”

Robert Redford
Art Zelin/Contributor/Getty Images

Mama Loves, Baby Loves
Also scoring cross-generational points were Paul Newman (those eyes!!!), Robert Redford (The Way We Were kills us every time), Tom Selleck (“My mom had a poster of him in the laundry room,” said one reader), and Sam Elliott (because there will always be a place in this world for a ruggedly handsome cowboy).

We also love the classics: Gregory Peck, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart . . . And crooners like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Nat King Cole. Some of us have a soft spot for rebels like James Dean and Clint Eastwood. One Georgia reader reported that her brother was nicknamed “Rowdy” because her mom was such a fan of Eastwood and his Rowdy Yates character on Rawhide.

Donny Osmond Performing at the London Palladium
PL Gould/Images Press/Getty Images

Donny Ruled the 70s
Back when we wore maxi dresses, minis, and platform shoes, we had our moments with David and Shaun Cassidy, Davy Jones, and Bobby Sherman, but Donny Osmond was IT—maybe because he and his brothers channeled Elvis in those white jumpsuits, and some of the E Magic rubbed off on them. We just melted over that cry in Donny’s voice when he sang “Puppy Love.” (Someone, help me!)

Rick Springfield or Orlando Bloom, Anyone?
If you came along in the 80s or 90s, there’s a good chance your heart went pitter-pat for Rick Springfield, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Orlando Bloom, Pierce Brosnan, or musicians like John Taylor from Duran Duran.

Remember Englebert Humperdink?
Some of the ladies’ picks took us down memory lane—Englebert Humperdink, Tom Jones, Mac Davis, and Mark Lindsay of the 60s band Paul Revere & the Raiders, to name a few.

Quotable Quotes
Speaking of memories, the best part of this little exercise is that it gave Southern women a chance to share few—memories of their crushes and memories of their mothers. Here are some of our favorites:

Mama went to high school with Warren Beatty in Virginia. She always thought he was so dreamy and loved any movie he appeared in. And she said he was just as charismatic as a teen as he was on camera.

My crushes went from Dennis Wilson (of the Beach Boys) to Billy Idol (still is my crush) and Robert Duvall, pro golfer Rickie Fowler, and former Pittsburgh Steelers Coach Bill Cowher. Must like the rugged type.

I don’t know about when she was REALLY young, but my mama loved her some Joe Namath. She still gets a little starry-eyed when you mention his name.

Marty Robbins—great singer but also a racecar driver.

I remember my mom luuuuuuving Barry Gibb. I’m a Sam Elliott gal.

The earliest crush I can remember (maybe fifth grade?) was Javier Lopez of the Atlanta Braves. What a dreamboat!

Brad Pitt—in Legends of the Fall, Tristan’s hat tip near the beginning of the film made me swoon.

When I was in college, I discovered James Dean—if you can have a crush on someone who is no longer in the world.

I liked Robert Wagner (aka DiNozzo Sr.)

Now I have a bit of a crush on Idris Elba . . .

My mother loved Anthony Perkins (Psycho) when she was younger and Ronny Cox (Deliverance) as an adult. Not sure what their movie affiliations say about her, but she always went for the tall skinny guys.