Celebrity crushes are everyone's silly little secret

May 28, 1998|By Teri Johnson

"Oooooooh, just look at him," the lovestruck teen sighed, hugging the magazine as she stood at the supermarket counter.

Another Leonardo DiCaprio fan, I thought, expecting to see her drooling over the blond-haired "Titanic" dreamboat.

But no! She wasn't looking at a photo of Leo, or Matt Damon, or even Ethan Hawke.

It was John Travolta.

The same John Travolta I had a huge crush on 20 years ago, who still makes my heart beat fast.

It did my heart good to see a new generation showing such good taste, and it happened the same week I heard about this summer's Teen Idols Tour featuring Bobby Sherman, Peter Noone and Davy Jones.

Davy Jones once caused a fistfight on my elementary school playground, because my smart-aleck classmate Chet said Jones sang like a girl. Hey, hey, we gals weren't going to let anyone mess with our favorite Monkee, and we pinned poor Chet to the monkey bars until he took it back.


Celebrity crushes are strange animals, and they're tough to explain.

How can you fall head over heels for a total stranger, when you stand a better chance of scooping up a Powerball jackpot than even meeting that person, let alone winning his or her love?

The star I wanted to marry was Tony DeFranco, whose song "Heartbeat (It's a Lovebeat)" would turn me and my friends into a pack of giggling fools. He was my adolescent answer to Donny Osmond, and I would write him fan letters I never had the guts to send. I had a pillow with his picture on it, and when I'd wake up each morning his face would be smiling down from the ceiling, because I taped his picture there.

I'd wait breathlessly for every issue of Tiger Beat to arrive, and I'd immediately rip out any photos of Tony. Those soulful brown eyes peered at me from every corner of my bedroom.

I knew his favorite color, food and ice cream flavor. I wanted to have dinner at his house, and I knew enough about the other members of The DeFranco Family -Benito, Marisa, Nino and Merlina - to hold up my end of the conversation.

I knew I could make him love me, if only we were given the chance. I'd worry about telling my parents later.

Then a show called "Welcome Back, Kotter" came along, and my loyalties changed. I caught my first glimpse of Vinnie Barbarino, also known as John Travolta. By the time "Saturday Night Fever" was released, the love bug had bitten big time.

I made the mistake of leaking that fact to my husband, and he teases me mercilessly at every opportunity - the same way my younger brother did years ago when I brought home Travolta's album.

I know there's nothing wrong with admiring a big star.

They're perfect, and they're safe. You know you'll never have to pick their clothes up off the floor or listen to them whine about a splitting headache.

When "Grease" was on TV again recently and I had to cancel my plans for the evening so I could watch, I was wondering why Travolta keeps staying alive in my heart.

I'm not saying he's the best actor out there, or the best looking. It's his attitude, his charisma, his style - the chameleon-like ability to adapt to any situation and make me love him or hate him.

Still daydreaming, I stashed my groceries in the car and headed for the mall.

In the bookstore, I saw two 60-something ladies tittering in front of the magazine stand.

"Wouldn't you just die for a chance to run your fingers through that blond hair?" said one.

Aha, I thought smugly. I've pegged this one right - they're talking about Robert Redford in "The Horse Whisperer," or maybe Brad Pitt.

I turned around and saw them sighing over Leonardo DiCaprio.

I just smiled, because I understood completely.

There are worse things than feeling like you're 13 again.

Teri Johnson is a staff writer for Lifestyle.

What celebrity left you starry-eyed?

If you had a crush on a star as a teenager, we'd like you to tell us about it.

What made him or her so special? Did you join a fan club, and did you ever have the chance to meet the object of your affections?

Contact Teri Johnson in one of the following ways:

  • Write to Teen Crush, Lifestyle, The Herald-Mail Co., P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, Md. 21741.
  • fax to 301-714-0245.
  • e-mail at

Include your name, age, town of residence and a daytime phone number.

We'll publish some of your responses in Lifestyle.

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