By Stacy Jenel Smith
Box turtles often live 50 years. We all know that to figure out a dog's age, we multiply every year by seven. An adult butterfly's life span is often less than a week. But how does one measure the career life span of a Hot Entertainment Name?Unless show business personalities evolve out of their initial jolt of fame into something more substantial, their moment in the sun really won't be much more than a moment.
For example, the fame of reality show winners usually dwindles in a year, while losers on reality shows return to anonymity (except among the reality show geek subculture) in a matter of days or weeks after a series ends its run.
Pop pinups have a way of being ephemeral.
The Spice Girls? Hanson? They're around, but let's face it, if any member of those two 90s monster groups had a big success now, it would be hailed as a comeback.
It's not just pop stars, either. Scott Wolf, Michelle Williams and James Van Der Beek could tell you how fast an in-demand young actor can go from hot to not. The fires of fame must be kept constantly stoked or they die fast.
Even though Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have spent their nearly 18-year-long lives working and building up their credit lists, they might as well be new to the entertainment scene - because they're now young women. The cute kid stuff is history, and doesn't play into your careers any more. Ask Shirley Temple Black. The lifespan for child stardom is, of course, birth to puberty.
The lifespan of a model is puberty to twenties, unless one hits it very big or crosses over into an acting career.
Kate Moss started modeling when she was 14, as did Elizabeth Jagger.
Milla Jovovich started modeling at age 10. When she was 11, she was photographed by Richard Avedon as one of Revlon's "Most Unforgettable Women in the World". At 14 she was modeling for magazines all over the world, including Vogue. "It looks glamorous, but modeling can be hard work," she said at the time. "I have to act like an adult when I'm working.
"Time is expensive, so I can't start behaving like a child. People used to be shocked when they found out how old I was."
Actresses, and actors as well, routinely lie about their ages.
Vanity issues aside, it's a matter of professional survival.
Read Hollywood's casting notices for one or two days. If you have any doubt that Hollywood has little room on camera for women over 35, this will convince you. Men do have it better, but those who want to become leading men had better make sure their names are recognizable while they're still young. Otherwise, it's sidekicks, colorful characters and villains.
Botox, derm-abrasion, mini-facelifts and full-on plastic surgery are all de rigueur around these parts, and that goes for guys as well as gals. Many items on the veritable Chinese menu of rejuvenating treatments were offered by elite Beverly Hills salons at Oscar time.
Still, "There's a huge difference between the roles available for men or women," Hylda Queally, an agent at the William Morris Agency who represents Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Hilary Swank, among others, told the Washington Post Service. "If you don't want to play the stereotypical wife, girlfriend, lover - a corpse, basically - it's hard. You see a lot of actresses gravitating to period movies, which are better written and have fully-fledged characters."
A recent study of Oscar winners bears out what we already know - that there is a double standard when it comes to aging in Hollywood - showing that older men and younger women most frequently get the Academy Award nods. The study, conducted by Pace University psychology professor Terence Hines and statistics student Michael Gilberg, showed a five-year difference separating the best actor and actress winners. The average age of nominees showed a seven-year age gap.
Typically, actresses - even the best-known movie star names - experience a sharp dropoff in offers after they hit 35.
So, Mary-Kate and Ashley, soon to turn 18, enjoy it while it lasts. Even if you achieve the pinnacle of movie stardom, you are already more than half-way through your lives in Hollywood years.