Which model-turned-actor has the most theatrical ability?

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated November 13, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Lauren Bacall: Everett Collection

Which model-turned-actor has the most theatrical ability?

Milla Jovovich’s role in Resident Evil: Apocalypse has me wondering: Which model-turned-actor, past or present, do you think has shown the most theatrical ability? — Joel Ramsey
You know who did pretty well for herself? That born-and-bred New York City girl Betty Joan Perske, who, at the age of 18, appeared on a 1943 cover of Harper’s Bazaar, where she caught the eye of film producer Howard Hawks, who signed her to a movie contract beginning with To Have and Have Not, where she met and fell in love with Humphrey Bogart. And became Lauren Bacall. For an eyeful of Bacall and others who, like her, represented the era’s ideal of lithe, athletic, modern American womanhood, leaf through Louise Dahl-Wolfe (published by Abrams), a handsome collection of the photographer’s influential work.

Is there a movie you love that depreciates in value the more times you watch it? — Mike Swenk
Mike, there’s a whole school of movies I love that, I have learned through bitter experience, result in rashes, headaches, and fatigue upon too many repeat viewings. I call it the screwed-up-teens-in-need-of-shrinks genre, with a subspecialty in American psychoanalysis, a late-20th-century psychiatric/cinematic tradition exemplified by David and Lisa (1962), I Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1977), and Ordinary People (1980). I adore them — but too much exposure to Dr. Phil has messed with my receptivity to Howard Da Silva, Bibi Andersson, and Judd Hirsch, respectively, as therapists.

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