People Staff
January 08, 1990 12:00 PM

Let us not call it a kinder, gentler time. Please. But the early word on 1990 shows a benign spirit blowing through the nation, an embrace of old-time values, a laid-back, live-and-let-live, eat-meat loaf sort of atmosphere. For this, our 11th annual poll, Audits & Surveys Inc. contacted 1,000 PEOPLE readers to take the national pulse at the start of the no-glitz decade. The result: You plan to get some exercise, you’re eating oat bran, and-given limited options-you’d vote for Gerald Ford again. A quarter of you have received messages from God, which, curiously, is slightly more than the number who believe Brooke Shields will have another hit movie. But don’t read our lips. Forge on.

If you had one more hour each day, which one of the following ways would you spend it? (Choices given)

“Improving my body and mind,” panted 33 percent of you, whose mothers no doubt would be very, very proud. Remarkably, “sleeping,” “making love” and “doing good” finished in a three-way tie, with 17 percent apiece overall. “Making money” was last with 14 percent (a result perhaps more laudable than sincere). Most intriguing result, by gender: Men, as a group, ranked “making love” second (28%), while women placed it last (11%). Most intriguing result, by age: 18-to 24-year-olds rated “sleeping” first (25%), “making love” second (24%) and “doing good” a very dead last (6%).

Who is having more fun, Fergie or Di?

Even with the censorious British press breathing down her back, even with her nation’s affections currently withdrawn, even pregnant, the rambunctious Duchess of York, also known as Fergie the Fumbling, quite obviously has more fun than Di, said 73 percent of you.

If you were Princess Di, would you take a lover?

The four houses, the $1.5 million jewelry collection, the yacht, the free theater tickets and the $1 million-plus wardrobe ought to be enough, said 58 percent of our readers. She ought to stick with her vows and stand by her man. The randy souls between 18 and 24 gave her a resounding (59%) go-ahead, and 49 percent of men endorsed the notion of a bit of extracurricular slap-and-tickle. Maybe they just meant to volunteer.

If you were Prince Charles, would you take a mistress?

The double standard is alive and backward in America! In a sentiment that swept across all barriers of age, sex, education and region, 70 percent of you said the 41-year-old prince should not stray from the tall, blond, elegant mother of his children.

Which of the following celebrities—Vanna White, Sylvester Stallone, Madonna, Bo Derek or Rob Lowe—do you think would be most likely to be able to fill out his or her 1040 tax form correctly?

If she can do vowels, Vanna can do numbers too, figured 37 percent of our readers. Sylvester Stallone, who we know can run a production company and pick up girls successfully, came in second. Screen and video star Rob Lowe, you said, is the one who would find the task most taxing. But hey, at least he can pick up girls!

If you had to pick Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford or Richard Nixon again, which would you choose?

The biggest vote of confidence—38 percent—went to good ol’ Jerry Ford, a gentleman especially beloved by women. Jimmy Carter came in a close second, and 20 percent voted for the Republican phoenix, Richard Nixon.

If you were Barbara Bush, would you dye your hair?

If they stood in the First Lady’s shoes, 77 percent of the readers wouldn’t give up being the Silver Fox to go back to blah brown.

Who is Mildred Kerr Bush? (Choices given)

Fie upon the 38 percent of you who cast aspersions on the President’s lineage by suggesting Mildred Kerr Bush is “George’s mother.” Nor is Mildred “a former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.” (5%) or “one of the Golden Girls” (4%). Congrats to the 15 percent of you who correctly identified M.K.B. as Millie, the Bush family’s 3-year-old Springer spaniel.

Who is your favorite male movie star?

With only eight movies to his name, the latest of Which was An Innocent Man, Tom Selleck stood alone in first place. Last year the Dimpled One tied with Clint Eastwood, who this time shared second place with Mel Gibson. Paul Newman (first in the hearts of those over 55) was next, a shade ahead of his Color of Money co-star, Tom Cruise. Fun fact to know and tell: Men preferred Eastwood to Selleck by almost 3 to 1, but a strong vote from women put Tom over the top.

Who is your favorite female movie star?

Even though her most notable public appearance last year, other than the film She-Devil, came during Senate hearings about pesticides, Meryl Streep still leads the list of screen lovelies by a long shot. Cher and Glenn Close tied for second, with less than half Streep’s count, while Bar-bra Streisand, Kathleen Turner and the late Bette Davis held down third place. Statistical anomaly: Readers under 25 voted Michelle Pfeiffer the clear No. 2.

Which TV journalist do you trust the most?

Given a choice among the Big Three, 34 percent of readers would Rather. But not all the news is good for CBS: College grads prefer Peter Jennings, then Tom Brokaw, to Cronkite’s heir. Courage, Dan.

Which of the following celebrities—Molly Ringwald, James Caan, Brooke Shields, Christopher Reeve or Ryan O’Neal—is most likely to emerge from his or her career slump with another hit movie?

Surely pouty, pretty-in-pink-or-anything-else Molly Ringwald will hit it big again, surmised a third of the readers. Twenty percent believed Caan can, followed closely by Brooke and Reeve. Ryan O’Neal, readers assessed, faces the toughest rebound.

Who would you rather see on the Today show, Jane Pauley or Deborah Norville?

With a hefty 67 percent of the vote, Jane, ’twas plain, was far from on the wane. NBC was correct, however, in guessing that a younger crowd would go with a younger blond. Norville achieved her highest popularity rating among 18-to 24-year-olds.

Who is the sexiest gentleman over 50? (Choices given)

Isn’t it funny how 50 doesn’t seem quite so old anymore? How did that happen anyway? Okay, the envelope, please…the muy macho Clint Eastwood easily takes top honors for over-the-hill hunk, crossing sex and age lines to do it. Not far behind is Sean Connery (confounding PEOPLE’S editors, who named him 1989’s Sexiest Man Alive, even without a rug). Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Dudley Moore, in that order, are somewhere in their dust.

Please rate the following men’s fashion trends as “sexy” or “sissy”: ponytails, earrings, bow ties, hair mousse.

Nearly half those surveyed—open-minded readers all—answered with a resounding “neither” in each category. Beyond that, those surveyed were generally evenly divided on these important questions. Some stats worth noting: Thirty-one percent of women approved of mousse on men, and women were strongly divided on the bow-tie issue (30% of women said adorable, 31% said dweeb). And earrings played best in the West.

Counting all her diets, how many pounds has Elizabeth Taylor lost? (Estimated ranges suggested)

A hefty issue. Forty-three percent of readers guesstimated that Liz had shed about 300 lbs.—that’s one NFL linebacker to you and me. Twenty-six percent put Taylor’s total at 500 lbs., 12 percent plumped for 750, and 13 percent voted for the very round figure of half a ton.

Which of the following groups is too old to rock and roll? (Choices given)

The Beach Boys (average age: 46), 15 percent of you firmly declared, are getting a tad long in the tooth to serve as credible Homers for an adolescent surf subculture. Eight percent would shelve the Rolling Stones, 5 percent Paul McCartney and 2 percent The Who. But that’s chicken feed; the most surprising stat was that a whopping 68 percent of readers agreed with the statement “There’s no such thing as too old to rock and roll.” Can rockers in rockers be far off?

Did you like Oprah Winfrey better fat?

Nope (69%). Yep (20%). Huh? (11%).

What’s the most irritating advertising trend right now? (Choices given)

Junk mail disguised to resemble important correspondence, growled 77 percent of readers, stuffing their waste-baskets with papers that look like checks, wedding invitations and bank statements. Commercials before in-flight movies and on videos were way, way behind.

Who is your favorite male vocalist?

Shedding his wife for a woman he met at work certainly didn’t do Boss Bruce Springsteen any good in the popularity wars. He was firmly nudged out of first place by Kenny Rogers, who got oodles of votes from women. The second-place tie is between Sinatra, Michael Jackson and Randy Travis—which, if nothing else, is unassailable testimony to the diversity of readers’ tastes.

Who is your favorite female vocalist?

Barbra Streisand, breaking from movies and having scored a hit with a greatest-hits LP, replaced previous winner Whitney Houston and received double the votes of the second-place finisher, country chanteuse Reba McEntire. Houston dropped to third place, sharing it with two women with one name, Cher and Madonna.

Which of the following celebrities—Zsa Zsa Gabor, Morton Downey Jr., Sean Penn, Joan Rivers or Donald Trump—would you least like to be trapped in an elevator with?

This one’s always such fun. The title this time goes to come-out-swinging-and-keep-on-whining Zsa Zsa Gabor. Morton Downey Jr., who claimed to be shorn and swastikaed by skinheads in a men’s room last year, logged a close second. Then came Penn, Rivers and Trump.

Who is your favorite male TV star?

Smiling, affable TV presence Bill Cosby stomped the competition into jelly, with nearly triple the vote of No. 2 Tom Selleck—who is only on the air in reruns, for heaven’s sake. Ted Danson was a close third, followed by Ken Wahl.

Who is your favorite female TV star?

A couple of poll newcomers, Roseanne Barr and Candice Bergen, finished first and second, respectively (although the gap was broader than…well, never mind). Oprah Winfrey and the perennials—who sound like a doo-wop group but are, in fact, Angela Lansbury and Phylicia Rashad—tied for third place.

Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda are getting divorced. Should he get half of their joint property or not?

Though workhorse Jane has earned bigger bucks by far during their 16-year marriage, 58 percent of you thought that Tom was entitled to half the spoils. Sixty-six percent of the men were especially firm on this point.

Which one of our national allies do you trust the least? (Choices given)

And the winners—or losers—are, in order: Japan (44%), West Germany (29%), France (18%) and Great Britain (5%).

Who’s smarter, Dan Quayle or Marilyn Quayle?

Fifty-one percent thought the nation’s Second Lady, a lawyer and Indiana U. law school graduate, is clearly the brains in the outfit. The veep garnered only 30 percent of the vote, including that of golfers impressed by his handicap. Nineteen percent had no opinion.

What would you most likely do if you found out your best friend was a casual cocaine user? (Choices given)

“Politely suggest that he or she stop,” answered a well-bred 71 percent. Those most likely to “make a scene and insist that he or she stop”—13 percent—included a high proportion of Southerners and readers between the ages of 18 and 24. Seven percent would ignore the problem, and another 7 percent would “go to the law”—the response favored by a no-nonsense 15 percent of readers 45 to 54.

What would you do if you found out your spouse had cheated on you? (Choices given)

If you want forgiveness, your chances are better-slightly!—with a man. Exactly half the men—vs. 36 percent of the women—say they would forgive and forget. Thirty-five percent of women—vs. 26 percent of men—say they would sue for divorce. Sixteen percent of women and 11 percent of men say they would stay married but “make my spouse’s life a living hell.” Overall, 6 percent of you would choose to “get even on Oprah.”

Have you ever been sexually harassed at work?

One out of every four women and one out of every 10 men said yes. Polices 25 to 44 are most likely to have felt the pinch, and being married made not one whit of difference.

Are there any oat-bran products in your kitchen at this moment?

A fiber-conscious 77 percent of you said you could feel your oats, or something like them, at a moment’s notice.

Have you ever received a personal message from God?

Even leaving the method of communication completely open, a full 25 percent of readers believed they have had direct word from above. Those between 45 and 54 and Southerners were most likely to have been contacted.

Do you own a VCR? Can you program it to tape a show without reading the instructions?

Eighty percent of you own a VCR now, but only 47 percent of you have memorized how to make the taping function work. The ability to do this drops like an apple off a skyscraper after age 44.

What is fugu? (Choices given)

Sorry to the 6 percent who thought it was “something that grows between bathroom tiles.” Ditto to 15 percent who identified fugu as “an insult in French-Canadian slang” and the 18 percent who were sure it was “a position in Sumo wrestling.” Three cheers and a bottle of teriyaki sauce to the 36 percent of savvy readers who knew it was a deadly poisonous Japanese fish that—after it has been very carefully prepared—is the delight of adventurous gourmets.

Which of the following names—Dweezil, Chastity, Arsenio or Danforth—would you be least likely to give a child?

Sixty-nine percent of readers zapped Dweezil, as in Zappa. Chastity—Cher’s daughter’s moniker—was next. Relatively speaking, Arsenio and Danforth were embraced by the population.

Would you rather know how to become invisible or how to fly?

Wow—tough decision. By slight margins, women want to become invisible (58%) and men want to fly (51%). You figure it out.

Which of the following would you most like to do in the ’90s? (Choices given)

Overall, 41 percent of you hope to “make more money.” 33 percent want to “spend more time with family,” 21 percent aim to “get healthier,” 2 percent would like to “spend more time without family” and 1 percent anticipate that they will “have plastic surgery.” Over-55s scrambled the order of the first three finishers, picking health (40%) and time with family (33%) over cold, hard cash (21%).

Which of the following celebrities—Madonna, Roseanne Ban, Kevin Costner, George Burns or Elvis Presley—is most likely to have a flourishing career in the year 2000?

Roseanne, said 37 percent, will still be big at the turn of the millennium. So will Costner (30%), trailed, at quite a distance, by Madonna (16%) and Burns (6%). Alas, only 3 percent of readers—those few, those happy few—thought Elvis would be packing them in at the Las Vegas Hilton for the New Year’s Eve show in 1999.

Which of the following phrases do you, or would you, find most frightening? (Choices given)

We offered a terrifying array of heart stoppers, but the one that caused the most panic was “This is the IRS calling,” which rattled 43 percent of you. “Ladies and Gentlemen, President Quayle” was next (26%), followed by “License and registration, please” (15%). In last place, at 6 percent, was a tie between “I’ll fax it to you” and the equal number of you who consider the two most terrifying words in the English language “Next, Donahue!”

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