Years ago, if a gal wanted a springboard to fame and fortune, she'd dream of being in the Miss America Pageant. Then came the enlightenment of feminism, a more politically correct competition, and much lower ratings. Today, if a gal wants a springboard to fame and fortune, she might well have visions of becoming a Victoria's Secret model lounging around in her head. We've come a long way, baby - 360 degrees.
It's certainly not easy making it into Vicky's world-renowned catalogs but once you're in, the opportunities are endless. Though some models are still walking the runway, others have moved on full steam ahead. So check out who has made it big by being seen in their underwear - some may even surprise you!
Most people recognize Rebecca Romijn from her marriage to "Full House's" John Stamos, but it wasn't so long ago that the blonde beauty was turning heads while people were turning pages. After appearing in the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issue and the coveted Victoria's Secret catalogs, it's no surprise that she caught the attention of Hollywood producers. She went on to nab roles in "X-Men," alongside Hugh Jackman, and "Rollerball," and she's soon to have her own television show, "Dennis Peppers." And let's not forget, she's also dating the hunky Jerry O'Connell. Can we say, "Thank you Victoria?"
No one has more to be thankful for, though, than the six-foot Geena Davis, who had a short-lived modeling career in the early 80's. According to the Bravo show, "Inside the Actors Studio," Davis worked as a model for the Victoria's Secret catalog where she was spotted by director Sydney Pollack, who ended up casting her in "Tootsie." She went on to star in movies such as "Thelma & Louise," "Beetle Juice," "A League of Their Own," and "The Accidental Tourist," which won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. Besides now knowing what Mr. Pollack likes to read in his spare time, it's funny to imagine Davis in her underwear, considering her new role as the President of the United States on the ABC drama "Commander-in-Chief."
Another prime-timer to get her start with the famous company is the Kentucky-born Molly Sims, who gave up law school at Vanderbilt University to pursue modeling. After appearing in ads for Victoria's Secret and "Sports Illustrated," it wasn't long before MTV's "House of Style" came knocking on her door, asking her to host. Sims was immediately bitten by the acting bug and after several years of acting classes, she hit the mother lode with a full-time gig on NBC's "Las Vegas." Bet she's not missing law school now!
It's no secret that supermodels Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson sported a pair of Victoria's Secret's angel wings before trying their luck in Hollywood, but most don't realize it's also the starting ground for actress Estella Warren. After appearing in the company's print ads, she soon caught the eye of director Peter Berg and the two have been dating ever since. Can you blame the guy? She was offered parts in Sylvester Stallone's "Driven" and Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes." Her next movie, "Nomad: The Two Worlds," has her starring alongside fellow Victoria's Secret model Heidi Klum.
Though many of the former models have fully transitioned into successful working actresses, there are plenty of beautiful girls still strutting their stuff on the runway - angel wings and all. Those in particular are the five models - Gisele Bundchen, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, and Alessandra Ambrosio - who set out across America in 2004 for Victoria's Secret's first ever nationwide tour. (You can only imagine the delight most men felt while passing by the tour bus, which was covered with life-size pictures of the scantily clad models). Thanks to these girls, Victoria's Secret continues to be in a league of its own.
Not only does Banks still wow audiences with her curvaceous figure by appearing in Victoria's Secret commercials and print ads, but she's used her exposure to help launch a new career in entertainment. She continues to churn out the ultra popular "America's Next Top Model" and this Fall she'll be hosting her own TV talk show. Oh, the benefits that stem from posing in a bra!
Following in Tyra's footsteps is Klum, who has gone on to create the Emmy-nominated reality show "Project Runway," but she'll always be thought of as an angel. Her lingerie pics certainly didn't hurt when it came to nabbing one of music's most sultry singers, Seal. What? You say he loves her for her brain? Of course.
But no Victoria's Secret model has scored bigger than Bundchen, whose beauty caught the eye of Hollywood hunk Leonardo DiCaprio. Having been labeled by Rolling Stone magazine as "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," Bundchen has Hollywood knocking on her door. She most recently starred in the movie "Taxi" with Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah.
Other models to have graced us with pictures of their perfect bodies include Helena Christensen, Petra Nemcova (now known for suffering the loss of her boyfriend and suffering a broken pelvis and other injuries in the 2004 tsunami), "Battlestar Galactica's" Tricia Helfer, and Jill Goodacre, who was the first model to become a celebrity simply by appearing in the famous underwear catalog. (She was also the lucky girl who married crooner, piano man and actor Harry Connick Jr.).
So there's nothing secret about shedding one's clothes for the camera - if it's for Victoria's Secret. No matter where they go in life, these girls will forever be a part of the select few chosen to sport the world's most famous underwear. Go angels!
Syndicated Columnists--Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith are featured in over 100 print publications and other media outlets with cutting edge celebrity news and insider scoop. Have a burning showbiz question? Ask those in-the-know, Marilyn and Stacy, and get the real skinny daily in their "Ask BeckSmith" column on CompuServe and Netscape.