Wednesday, August 5, 2015

No Country for the Formerly Cute

The actor, John Larroquette, four-time emmy winner, who rose to fame in the TV sitcom Night Court (1984-1992), once said that there were four stages in an actor’s career. 

Stage 1:  Who’s John Larroquette?
Stage 2:  Get me John Larroquette.
Stage 3:  Get me A John Larroquette.
Stage 4:  Who’s John Larroquette?

Happily, despite the inevitable career peaks and valleys, at 68, John Larroquette is still working.  With a bit of luck, male actors can and do successfully battle Hollywood’s obsession with youth and beauty.  But…can the same be said of the no-longer young actress? 

It’s no secret that the French film industry is kinder to its aging actresses, who are said to be aging gracefully without resorting to cosmetic procedures.  If you believe that, I have a bridge in Paris I’d like to sell you.  Some of the most beautiful French faces have been nipped, tucked, plumped and generally freshened up a bit; but, for the most part, the work has been done with a deft, subtle hand that leaves these ladies looking like themselves, only a little better. 

Cookie-cutter perfection has never been a French obsession.  In fact, if we get too close to it, we usually take a step or two back from the brink.  Life is much more interesting that way, and so are people. 

Catherine Deneuve, née 1943

The flawless beauty of Catherine Deneuve has clearly been freshened up, particularly around the mouth where the evidence of a lifetime of smoking takes a heavy toll.  She’s still a great beauty, and, to be honest, I find her face even more interesting now with a bit of the patina of age. 

Nathalie Baye, née 1948

Nathalie Baye has always been one of my favorite French actresses.  The camera loves her face, and so do I.  She is one of a handful of actresses whose movies I will go to see just to see her.  I can watch Vénus Beauté over and over again and never tire of it.  So, has she or hasn’t she?  Qui sait!  If you have to ask, then the results are so natural it hardly matters, n’est-ce pas? 

Isabelle Huppert, née 1953

A Frenchman once told me I reminded him of Isabelle Huppert.  Of course, we don’t really look anything alike, apart from the fact that we are both diminutive, have red hair and are a year apart in age (I’m the older), but I was flattered by the comparison.  She’s also one of my favorite French actresses.  Her performance in the 1977 film La Dentellière, a French twist on the classic Pygmalion story, left an indelible impression on me.  Has she or hasn’t she?  Again, qui sait!  All I can say is that she clearly has no fear of a few wrinkles, and for that I say chapeau! 

We do have a few Hollywood actresses still going strong into late middle age and beyond -- Meryl Streep (66), Glenn Close (68), Diane Keaton (69) and Ellen Burstyn (82) spring to mind, but, sadly, these are the exceptions. 

And so, at about 35, the Hollywood actress, who probably already had a few minor procedures along the way to get where she is, gets some Botox injections to smooth things out a bit, maybe some laser treatments, and before you know it, she’s on that slippery surgical slope to unrecognizable. 

The other day, I was sitting in the easy chair in my office while my husband was using my computer.  Suddenly, he looked up from the screen and said, “Oh my God, is that Meg Ryan?  What did she do to herself?” 

Meg Ryan, née 1961

A picture of Meg Ryan from Paris Fashion Week had popped up, and he was shocked at her transformation.  When it comes to the subject of female attractiveness, men tend to be more direct and much more critical than we women.  I’m forever saying some woman is nice looking, only to be greeted by that familiar roll of the eyes from my husband.  

I still think Meg Ryan is lovely, but aging gracefully is much harder for the actress whose persona is based on cute, quirky and childlike. 

Let’s face it, she was sooo adorable, especially with that choppy short hair and unsteady gait.  She walked right into our hearts with that awkward, little walk.  

Like the child star who hits puberty and can no longer take cute to the bank, Meg Ryan’s cute woman-child didn’t transition well into grown-up women’s roles.  In the 1990’s, she turned in some excellent, serious performances in When a Man Loves a Woman and City of Angels (which I think was underrated), among others, and I thought she would defy the odds; but, in the end, I don’t think Hollywood knew quite what to do with her, which was a real pity.  

Or…maybe it was the ill-advised plastic surgery that worked against her.  In any case, I know that Hollywood is no country for the formerly cute.  


  1. What hasn't Meg Ryan done to her once beautiful face. Her big blue eyes now are blue slits because of all the face lifts. Too much done to the face can look aging. Nicole Kidman has been going down that road - but somewhere I read that she is easing up. I can't remember the last movie I saw Ms. Ryan in.

    As far as the French actresses, they seem to go for a lighter, more natural look with their plastic surgery. The exception being Isabelle Adjani.

    Recently, while out to lunch with a group of women, a few of them admired my eye-makeup, While I was explaining what brand I used (Laura Mercier) & the correct application, a woman piped in and said "my husband prefers the natural look". There was total silence BECAUSE we all knew she had quite a few face-lifts, and many other procedures. There was dead silence.

    I am all for doing what you have to do to look the best you can. I have no objection to Botox, Restalyne, face lifts, whatever. But, I have seen quite a few faces (famous & not famous) who have ruined their once good looks with procedures gone overboard. I am sure Helen Mirren has had a bit of this and that. She looks fabulous because its not extreme - its still Ms. Mirren. Talking about Ms. Mirren, recently saw her as Queen Elizabeth in "The Audience". Beyond fantastic.

    1. What a great story about your friend at lunch. The irony was not lost on me. I have never had any "work" done on my face. With my fair skin, I was always vigilant about not exposing it to the sun, which meant foregoing that healthy, sun-tanned look; but, it paid off in the end. Also, I have always taken good care of my skin, which also pays off in the end. That said, like you, I have nothing against it and would do so in a heartbeat if my living depended on my appearance.

      Laura Mercier is my go-to make-up for eyes and face, although I use a much less expensive mascara, which works just as well for me.

      I absolutely agree w/you about Isabelle Adjani and Nicole Kidman. Sadly, it seems that Sandra Bullock has been going down that slippery slope, as well. I've been noticing it for some time now. Let's hope she does not go too far.

      I adore Helen Mirren. She was never a great beauty, but has incredible presence and what a fabulous actress. I'll make a note to see "The Audience,"

      As always, I look forward to your wonderful comments.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Indeed, the way you are born is the very best for continuing by living a healthy life. One can almost always detect that 'artificial' barbie doll look that one gets from cosmetic surgery.
    Isabelle Huppert has very artificial looking eye brows, like half of them is way too high.
    Always best is to touch up your natural features.
    Meg Ryan has really ruined here mouth and eyes and she looks so bony, that also takes away from her total looks.
    Indeed, men are often a lot more natural and manage to age well, being themselves!
    Sending you hugs,

    1. I couldn't agree more, ma chère Mariette. Natural is always better, w/just a little help from our friends at the skin care and makeup counters.

      I, too, noticed something odd about Huppert's eyebrows. I believe she must have had a brow lift, which gives her that "arched" look.

      It's such a pity about Meg Ryan. What a lovely thing she was! I'm sure she did all that to herself hoping that Hollywood would not cast her aside, but they have.

      Big bisous, M-T

  3. I loved that you started off with John Larroquette! Handsome & witty!

    It does seem that France applies a more "natural" touch to anti-aging. It looks so much better than the overdone faces you see here. Perhaps that's why Meg (and Rene Z for that matter) are not seen on the big screen these days. Their appearance is just too altered. This is really a shame because they are both talented actress.

    Btw - My favorite French Actress is Juliette Binoche. Love her!

    Thanks for an insightful article M-T. Always a pleasure to read your work. Cheers!

    1. I love Larroquette's rumpled, lived-in face. So charming! Thought it was about time to feature a man "d'un certain âge." Renée Z is also a sad case and, unfortunately, I see the lovely Sandra Bullock following in her footsteps. Hope she stops before it's too late.

      Ah oui!! Juliette Binoche -- fabulous actress and great beauty, who appears to be aging quite gracefully. Love her, too. Thanks for stopping by, as always, Cheri.

      Cheers, M-T

  4. This comment was sent by my friend, fellow blogger, PR consultant and Publicist, Linda LaRoche:

    :\"Cosmetic surgery is a phenomenon we currently live with and unfortunately aging has become less tolerable when in fact it’s a natural progression. Nathalie looks refreshed and healthy because of her naturalness whereas Catherine Deneueve has gotten heavy handed with makeup- to me, that is 'aging' along with putting on the pounds. However, she’s still beautiful. There’s a Buddhist saying, “what you think, you become.” As women let’s embrace that philosophy, and find pleasure in clarity and wisdom since that too will show its’ imprint on our face."

    Linda's Blog is "Do Write" (

    1. Love that Buddhist saying. It reminds me of one of Coco Chanel's famous quotes: "Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.” Life does have a way of imprinting itself on your face and no cosmetic surgeon's hand can fully erase that. I think that's a good thing, don't you?

      As always, love your comments, Linda.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. Yes, the way we live makes a difference. I know of a mother/daughter who lived together when they were older. The mother, in her 80s, just beautiful, and the daughter, bitter and angry looking. I saw pictures of them when they were younger -- the mother was quite homely, and the daughter had worked as a runway model!! Their attitudes changed their faces over the years. I should do a blog post about this!

    1. What a great observation, Deborah. You should definitely do a post about that. I'm so glad I sparked that idea. I look forward to reading about it.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  6. I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of
    your post's to be exactly what I'm looking for.

    Does one offer guest writers to write content to suit your needs?

    I wouldn't mind producing a post or elaborating on many of
    the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome site!

  7. Regards for this howling post, I am glad I found this internet site on yahoo.


My dear Readers, I do so love reading your comments and appreciate the time you take to make them. To make it easier to leave your comments, I have disabled that annoying "Word Verification" setting, which Blogger (in its infinite wisdom) enabled without my consent.

If you have a problem posting your comment, just send it to me at

I will be happy to post it for you and link back to you. I look forward to hearing from you.

You Might Also Like

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...