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Models on film

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Fashion plates Elle Macpherson, Anna Nicole Smith, and Veronica Webb are making the big leap to acting. No telling how they’ll do, but they might learn from the ups and downs of other models who tried to be more than just a pretty face.

Candice Bergen
High point: After years of playing beautiful but rarely funny women on film, the former cover girl (on Vogue, Glamour, and Mademoiselle) gets to be both on TV’s Murphy Brown. Low point: Her unconvincing portrayal of a nymphomaniac in 1967’s The Day the Fish Came Out. The last word: Bergen’s Emmy-winning career is proof that there are second acts in show business.

Christie Brinkley
High point: At the height of her Sports Illustrated swimsuit popularity, Brinkley appeared in National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) with Chevy Chase, spoofing the very same middle-age-male fantasies that made her a star in the first place. Low point: Her attempt to follow Cindy Crawford’s House of Style lead by hosting Living in the ’90s on CNN was a major flop. The last word: Although she doesn’t seem eager to get back on the set, Brinkley remains in the public eye with her high-profile marriage to piano man Billy Joel (she painted the cover for his latest album, River of Dreams).

Ted Danson
High point: The elegant Aramis cologne model of the 1980s dominated television as the libidinous but lovable bartender Sam Malone on Cheers. Low point: Danson never lived up to the promise of his early film roles in The Onion Field (1979) and Body Heat (1981). The last word: Despite some less-than-stellar films (can anyone remember 1986’s A Fine Mess or 1989’s Dad?), the ex-model is still a major star. Next up: Getting Even With Dad, opposite Macaulay Culkin.

Jane Fonda
High points: She gives vibrant performances in 1969’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? and her two Oscar winners, 1971’s Klute and 1978’s Coming Home. Low point: Playing a love-crazy coed in her 1960 debut, Tall Story. Badly. The last word: She did it all: cover girl (Esquire, Vogue, Glamour), ingenue, serious actress, activist, and fitness queen. Now she’ll produce Pigs in Heaven for hubby Ted’s Turner Pictures.

Lauren Hutton
High point: While Hutton has graced the cover of nearly every fashion magazine since she began modeling in the ’60s, she’s remembered on screen for her sizzling performance as the lonely wife of a senator in the mediocre American Gigolo (1980). Low points: Hutton has more than her share of skeletons in her movie closet (Paternity, ’81; Once Bitten, ’85; Forbidden Sun, ’89), but there are two words that cut the deepest: Viva Knievel! (1977). The last word: She recently became Cher’s replacement as a spokeswoman for the sugar substitute Equal.

Ali MacGraw
High points: Yes, there really was a time when the much-maligned MacGraw (who once made the covers of Mademoiselle, Paris Match, and Harper’s Bazaar) got respect for her acting. She charmed critics in 1969’s Goodbye, Columbus and earned an Oscar nomination for 1970’s Love Story. Low points: It’s a toss-up between 1972’s The Getaway (in which her moll came off as a thrill-seeking deb), 1978’s Convoy (remember her poodle cut?), and her 1985 stint on Dynasty. The last word: Since Dynasty, she has devoted creative time to a 1991 memoir, Moving Pictures; Victoria Jackson infomercials; and various TV movies.

Isabella Rossellini
High point: The chip-toothed supermodel (Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Mirabella) credibly portrayed the victim of a gas-sniffing maniac in David Lynch’s 1986 film Blue Velvet. Low point: Costarred with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gregory Hines in her first Hollywood film, the dance-for- freedom dud White Nights (1985). The last word: As the daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Italian director Roberto Rossellini, she seems to have film stardom in her genetic cards.

Tom Selleck
High point: The onetime Pepsi and Salem cigarette man scored big as TV’s Magnum, P.I., but his film career has fizzled except for 1987’s Three Men and a Baby and its sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady. Low point: He hasn’t appeared in a movie since he struck out in 1992’s Mr. Baseball, Christopher Columbus: The Discovery, and Folks! The last word: He could be the next Bert Parks if a hot TV show or movie doesn’t come along. Soon.

Cybill Shepherd
High point: Spotted on the cover of Glamour, Shepherd made a stunning debut in 1971’s The Last Picture Show and later delighted audiences in TV’s Moonlighting, but was trashed for almost everything else. Low point: 1975’s At Long Last Love, which tarnished the careers of Shepherd and director boyfriend Peter Bogdanovich. The last word: Her post-Moonlighting movies have flopped, but she has been good in a steady stream of TV movies and has a sitcom debuting in the fall.

Brooke Shields
High point: After a childhood of ads (Ivory Snow, Breck shampoo, Calvin Klein jeans) and years spent as a teenage sex symbol, Shields had the good sense to temporarily put aside her film career to attend Princeton. Low points: Any number of painful-to-watch films, including 1983’s ”adventure” Sahara and 1992’s Brenda Starr. The last word: Other than a small part in last year’s offbeat comedy Freaked, Shields is doing us all a favor by spending her time with Andre Agassi rather than on screen.

Twiggy
High point: The skinny ’60s icon (Elle, Paris Match, Vogue) won raves and a respectable run in the 1983 Broadway musical comedy My One and Only. Low point: Her TV series Princesses (1991), which could have established her with U.S. audiences, vanished after a few episodes. The last word: Despite a strong debut in The Boy Friend (1971) and her Broadway triumph, her promise has gone unfulfilled in small parts in a few films, including The Blues Brothers (1980), Madame Sousatzka (1988), and John Carpenter Presents Body Bags (1993).

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