It’s a rare woman who can smile while her heart is breaking. Sob while her feet are aching. And do all that other stuff that made-for-TV actresses have to do to grab viewers by the throat, make us weep and laugh, keep our hands off the channel changer, and tune in tomorrow for Part 2.Valerie Bertinelli may be the reigning queen in the kingdom of Nielsen, but there are others in her court we’ve come to look for when we want a good story about a hooker/missionary/marine biologist who is also a mother/abused wife/incest survivor. Here’s the scorecard.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 7 movies; 2 miniseries
Specialty: S-e-r-i-o-u-s roles.
Most Memorable: The Burning Bed (1984). A battered wife gets revenge.
Most Forgettable: The Red Light Sting (1984). A hooker teams with the government for a bust.
Sex Factor: Subdued.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 13 movies
Specialty: Plucky heroines.
Most Memorable: Choices of the Heart (1983), about El Salvador missionary Jean Donovan.
Most Forgettable: Remake of Splendor in the Grass (1981); she’s no Natalie Wood.
Sex Factor: Needs a steamy breakthrough.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 11 movies; 3 miniseries
Specialty: Outside, tough as shellac; inside, soft as angora.
Most Memorable: Kentucky Woman (1983). She fights prejudice to become a mine worker.
Most Forgettable: Changes (1991). TV newswoman wants marriage and motherhood.
Sex Factor: She’s hard to get.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 8 movies; 1 miniseries
Specialty: Not just another pretty face.
Most Memorable: The Burden of Proof (1992). Manages to make Hector Elizondo seem hot.
Most Forgettable: Not Just Another Affair (1982). Marine biologist as cold fish.
Sex Factor: Doesn’t flaunt it.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 15 movies; 11 miniseries
Specialty: Looks terrific in period costumes.
Most Memorable: The Haunting Passion (1983). While her husband’s away, she busies herself with a handsome ghost.
Most Forgettable: Are You Lonesome Tonight (1992). Wife discovers hubby likes phone sex.
Sex Factor: Euro-eleganza.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 21 movies; 6 miniseries
Specialty: Strong (and, by the way, gorgeous) women.
Most Memorable: Rage of Angels (1983). Lawyer must choose between politician and mobster.
Most Forgettable: The Rape of Dr. Willis (1991). A surgeon operates on her rapist. When he dies, she’s accused of murder.
Sex Factor: American elegance.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 22 movies; 5 miniseries
Specialty: Overcoming adversity that would knock a mortal woman out.
Most Memorable: Scruples (1980). She makes us forget it’s from a novel by Judith Krantz.
Most Forgettable: From the Dead of Night (1989). Squares off against the netherworld.
Sex Factor: A tad indomitable.
TV Movies & Miniseries: 24 movies; 1 miniseries
Specialty: Complex, knockout performances; thoughtful subject matter.
Most Memorable: Amber Waves (1980). Coming-of-age with an assist from Kurt Russell.
Most Forgettable: She doesn’t have one.
Sex Factor: Plain ‘n’ earthy, leaning toward pale ‘n’ tired.