By Stacy Jenel Smith
Fellows, if you're feeling a tad demoralized by all the lists, the pictures, the hype, the female attention toward television's sexiest actors, don't take it too hard. These studly stars don't necessarily stride onto the scene fully-formed. Sometimes, like a nice Cabernet that needs time to breathe in order to reach its full flavor and bouquet, they need to be out for awhile to attain maximum hunkiness.
Consider Patrick Dempsey, a.k.a. Dr. McDreamy of "Grey's Anatomy," who was known as a scrawny teen movie guy when he first started in Hollywood. He starred in the feature "Can't Buy Me Love" in which he played a convincingly good geek, one so desperate he actually pays a girl to help make him popular. In his personal life, Dempsey was a junior champion juggler at the age of 16 and aspired to go to clown school so it doesn't appear girls were tops on his list of priorities.
Dempsey's predecessor in the dreamy doc business, considered by many to be the all-time sexiest man on television though you don't see him on the tube any more, is, of course, "ER" alumnus George Clooney. But he wasn't at the top of the list of TV actors capable of inducing sighs when seen as the pouffy-haired handyman surrounded by tween girls on "Facts of Life" in the mid-'80s. And he wore some downright cringe-worthy clothing, too.
Speaking of doctors, TV Guide has labeled Hugh Laurie of "House" as "TV's Sexiest Man" - and his mean, bitingly funny character definitely has a kind of dangerous appeal. But Laurie as a sexy star on American TV happened only after he put in 20 years of mostly comedic acting work back in the U.K., in roles ranging from the empty-headed British gentleman Bertie Wooster in "Jeeves and Wooster" - to an unfortunate cockney dognapper ordered around by Cruella DeVil (Glenn Close) in "101 Dalmatians."
Anthony Michael Hall shocked fans when he went from the lanky, nerdy kid with braces in "Sixteen Candles" and "The Breakfast Club" to a buffed up jock in "Johnny Be Good." Now he's got all kinds of female fans as he's settled quite nicely into his body and is starring on "The Dead Zone."
James Denton, who played smiling psychopath Mr. Lyle on "The Pretender," has expressed surprise himself that he's turned into a stud muffin on "Desperate Housewives." A veteran stage and television actor whose roles ranged from a judge to a secret agent when the hit prime time serial came along, he'd previously tried to get his own series off the ground, in which he would have been seen as a mild-mannered veterinarian.
Gary Dourdan was seen as earnest student activist/author Shazza Zulu on "A Different World" long before ripening into sexy investigator Warrick Brown on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation."
John Stamos and Mario Lopez each started out as cutie pie teen heartthrobs, Stamos on "General Hospital" as Blackie Parrish, and Mario as A.C. Slater on "Saved by the Bell," respectively. Stamos went on to play Uncle Jesse on the beloved series "Full House," of course, and now, as troubled paramedic Tony Gates on "ER," he's never been sexier.
Lopez' career got a jolt thanks to his super sexy performances on "Dancing With the Stars," and now he's going to host this year's Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. It'll be on Country Music Television January 29th. Broadway, film and other TV offers await, he tells us.
If you look at early pictures of Anderson Cooper, he's kind of an average-looking, lanky guy. Once he settled into his gray hair and became one of the leading broadcast news reporters, all of a sudden he's being considered one of America's sexiest men.
David Krumholtz, who stands 5' 61/2", was once best known as "The Santa Clause's" tights-wearing head elf, Bernard. But thanks to the magic of TV, as in CBS's "Numb3rs" series on which he plays a mathematics genius, he's become the rock god of math teachers throughout the land.
"It's pretty hilarious - something I never could have expected would happen to me," he told us. Krumholtz's following has gone so far as to set up a web site called Slobbering David Krumholtz Groupies, among other things. He recalled, "At one convention in Denver, a couple of the math teachers - you know, regular Mrs. Crabtree types - they gave me their phone numbers and asked me out. And when I went back to the hotel, they were waiting for me and asked me for a drink." Did he go? "I politely declined and ran up to my hotel room and locked the door," he recounts. "Along with their admiration eventually there would have come some sort of quiz, I'm sure, and I'm actually no good at math."