Since PEOPLE began publishing five years ago this week, we have sold 465,400,000 copies conveying our judgment on which personalities around the world were most interesting and newsworthy. For our fifth anniversary, we decided to ask PEOPLE readers (some of them shown below) about their own preferences and prejudices. A word about those readers: They are young (two-thirds under 35), well-educated (44 percent attended college), 58 percent women, 42 percent men. They are also, as you will see, outspoken.
Winners in the beauty contest and a Jackie No
Who is the best-looking man in America?
The spun-brass hair, those Wedgwood eyes, that special mole—the winner was the Sundance Kid, Robert Redford, 41, voted so by both men and women readers. Burt Reynolds was a close second, especially with males and all readers under 25.
Nearly three times as many women as men voted for Paul Newman, and his looks are especially favored by his own 45-to-54 age group. Kids under 18 rallied behind John Travolta; those slightly older supported Clint Eastwood. The big losers: Frank Sinatra and (surprise) hunky Nick Nolte.
Would you like to be Jackie Onassis?
Once upon a time, the women of America aped her pillbox hat and envied her life in Camelot. In the early ’60s she topped Gallup’s poll of Most Admired Women three years in a row. But today 88 percent of PEOPLE’s female readers emphatically don’t want to be Ms. Onassis, 49. “She has too many problems,” one woman summed up. Those problems, others noted, are “too much publicity,” “not enough privacy,” and “too many tragedies.” All that money, a number of women allowed, was “too much responsibility.” “Money can’t buy happiness,” they piously observed, adding, “I know she’s not happy.” Not all readers were gentle—”She’s selfish and her life has no focus,” snapped one. But Jackie has her female fans—most, remarkably, 12 to 17—too young to remember her as First Lady. Quite honestly, said an older woman, “I’d like her money, her looks and her shape.” What another reader did not want was her rambunctious, 21-year-old daughter. “I wouldn’t like to be Jackie,” she replied, “because that means I’d be Caroline’s mother.”
Would you like to marry Jackie Onassis?
If women were unflattering toward Jackie, men were downright harsh. The 78 percent who said no ranged from simply uninterested to plain insulting. “She won’t be satisfied until she marries Fort Knox,” one barked. “An old, used toy,” catted another. From reader after reader came a catalogue of surprisingly hostile adjectives—”shallow,” “selfish,” “self-centered,” “unstable,” “domineering.”
Although 24 percent of the men in her own age range of 45 to 54 said they’d like to marry her, most added ungallantly it would only be for the money. What’s to be made of this? Are men such romantics they have never forgiven Mrs. Kennedy for surrendering her widow’s weeds to marry a rich and homely Greek? Many seemed unaware of her life today. Only one respondent mentioned Jackie’s job, and he thought she worked at Time Inc. Shape up, gang—it’s Doubleday.
Who is the best-looking woman in America?
Gentlemen preferred blondes, and the blonde they preferred was Cheryl Tiegs. But women’s votes elbowed her aside and put Angel Jaclyn Smith, 32, in first place above the world’s highest-paid model. Among men, Smith, Cheryl Ladd and Farrah Fawcett-Majors were tied for second. On the down side of the scale, Suzanne Somers came out only slightly better-looking than Rosalynn Carter. Readers over 55 played ball in another court altogether: They made Elizabeth Taylor No. 1, a triumph of nostalgia over eyesight. Curiously, glamorous Catherine Deneuve was nobody’s toast, French or otherwise. Perky Goldie Hawn scored even lower.
Heroes and has-beens on the tube
Who is your favorite TV actor?
He’s charming, he’s wry, he’s boyishly good-looking, all of which made Alan Alda, 42, M*A*S*H’s Hawkeye, the most-liked man on television. Adored by women, Alda got even more votes from men. His rating wasn’t hurt by the two movies he did in 1978—Same Time, Next Year and California Suite—or his public support of ERA. After only six months on the air, Robin (Mork) Williams scored an astounding second in the tube sweepstakes. Other actors had little pockets of admirers: Women and senior citizens flip over Michael Landon of Little House on the Prairie, placing him third. With the 12-to-24 crowd Mork was first and John Belushi second—why aren’t those kids in bed at that hour on Saturday night?—right behind Landon overall. For a guy who’s not ready for prime time, Belushi’s fourth was a surprise. Ed Asner was a very close fifth, largely because of his popularity with the thinning-hair crowd. It peaks between 35 and 44.
Who is your favorite TV actress?
It’s the Year of the Dingbat! Jean Stapleton, 56, the lovable, long-suffering Edith Bunker from All in the Family, was the winner. The older the readers, the more they liked her—although she did well among under-30s, possibly because of her increasing resistance to Archie’s Cro-Magnon sexism. Not far behind Stapleton was Family’s universal sweetie-pie, Kristy McNichol, 16, greatly beloved by the sub-deb set, but with nearly as many fans over 55. Overall, men cast slightly more votes for Jaclyn Smith than Stapleton on this one and put Gilda Radner in second place, although they also said they disapproved of hairdos like Gilda’s frizz (page 30). Among all readers, Smith and Radner were third and fourth.
PEOPLE people are clearly not Nielsen people. Suzanne Somers, star of the top-rated Three’s Company, rated a poor 11th here, while Laverne and Shirley came in seventh and eighth. At least they’re together.
Is there too much sex & violence on TV today?
Violence, yes; sex, no. (Considered separately, however, women readers disagreed about the sex.) The overall finding jibes with network studies on what the traffic will bear—bloodshed has been phasing out of prime time, while the bedroom has been phasing in. Most readers felt it would be okay for televised language and libidos to loosen up a bit after the kids are in bed. In dubious triumph, Starsky & Hutch was judged TV’s most violent show, while its sexiest was a tie—with men voting for Charlie’s Angels and women for Soap. All three shows were proclaimed the pits by the National PTA this month. Three’s Company, the runner-up in sexiness, escaped the PTA’s lash.
If there is really bad news which newscaster do you want to hear it from?
Walter Cronkite, 62, our readers overwhelmingly replied. David Brinkley was a distant second. Barbara Walters placed a respect-What is the most them women, now like her.
Who is the most boring man on TV? The most boring woman?
The unfavorite man—need it be said?—was Howard Cosell, an easy winner over Jack Lord of Hawaii Five-O, who would have put up a better fight if so many over-55s didn’t think the grim-faced detective was swell. Johnny Carson was in a virtual tie for second. The woman who got in our readers’ hair the worst was Farrah Fawcett-Majors—was it her defection from Angels or simple overexposure?—with Valerie (Rhoda) Harper the clear also-ran.
What is the most exciting sport on TV? The most boring?
Give us an F! The most exciting was football by far, an opinion held by male readers of all ages. Basketball and baseball were second and third, and, curiously, both turn women on more than men. Other gleanings: Teenagers almost never watch bowling, ditto for wrestling, and readers in their early 20s and practically nobody over 45 tunes in soccer. Golf is the worst bore in TV sports, readers agreed, and hockey comes next. Women as a bloc, though, found football the second-biggest yawn. That’s semi-tough, Terry Bradshaw.
The uptight, permissive, frizzy—and certainly self-critical—society
What fashion fads drive you up the wall?
Parents have always called it “cheap” and, sure enough, heavy makeup was the Number One fashion irritant. (See related opinion on Kiss, page 35.) The most insistent antiwar-paint crowd is the antiwar crowd, former flower children now 25 to 34. The second-most-awful fad: purses for men, with men protesting more than women, who know how practical they are. The braless look separated the sexes; men liked it, women didn’t. Frizzy hair was only slightly more popular: Men apparently think steel wool belongs in the basement, and women agree with about the same vehemence. As for spike heels, men liked them (on women) better than women did. Disco get-ups sparked only mild disapproval. The clothes everybody loved? Jeans and jogging shoes.
Is jogging beginning to bore you?
Not quite yet, sighed a weary 34 percent, one stride below enthusiasm but not ready to throw in the damp towel. Women and men are equally for and against. Jogging’s greatest fans are between 12 and 24; everybody else is, well, in the middle of the road.
Is religion important in American life?
A hefty 95 percent thought it was, one half becoming positively evangelistic on the subject. Women tended to stress the belief more than men, but religion’s most ardent supporters were between 35 and 44—the folks with school-age kids.
Are athletes paid too much?
Y-E-S, a spanking 65 percent spelled out with their flash cards, with men more put off than women by jocks’ greed. The over-55s are most scornful, and only the 12-to-17 crowd disagrees—there might be a Pete Rose among them.
Are psychiatrists helpful to American life? Would you go to one?
Those rebellious teenagers (yes) and over-55ers (no) clashed, but other age groups—and more than half of all readers—thought psychiatry had benefited the country. Would they go to a shrink? A total of 64 percent said yes, with the high school gang leading the way to the couch.
Are you tired of people telling you to “Have a nice day”?
Why, of course not, said three-fifths of the readers, with chuckles and guffaws. Still, a heartening 40 percent of wise older citizens said enough already.
Do Americans take their jobs as seriously as they used to?
No, they don’t, said the pollees: The work ethic may be alive but is not well. The older readers were the gloomiest on the subject. Women and those between 12 and 24 aren’t so sure—they’re the newest entries in the work force.
Is it all right for unmarried couples to live together?
Sixty percent of the readers said yes, with men liking the idea better than women, illustrating every mother’s warning about why-buy-the-cow. Most enthusiastic were the products of the postwar baby boom, now 25 to 34. After 35 opinion reversed dramatically, and more than half were opposed to the idea. Teenagers were more positive than anybody else in their yeses and nos, but they showed a relatively puritanical streak. One-third vetoed cohabitation. Could this mean the end of unmarried bliss as we know it?
Do schools discipline students enough?
All across America, people said no, and the older they were, the more firmly they believed it. Teenagers (i.e., potential targets) had a near-even split between yeas and nays, but the over-55 crowd could almost be heard taking a deep breath and announcing: “When / was your age, Buster…”
Should people have the right to smoke marijuana if they want to?
Touchy, touchy! Twenty-nine percent said no, 28 percent said yes, with lots of hemming and hawing in between. The only readers in favor were between 18 and 34. Younger kids said no; so did their parents.
Do you agree with Anita Bryant on gays?
Sorry, dear, one third of the readers definitely didn’t, and the rest were scattered in their opinions. The most vocal Bryant foes were 25-to-34-year-olds, and the teenagers came next. There’s a case to be made for Anita, though. At age 45, people started getting more sympathetic.
Kennedy and King are choices, but it’s yes and no for Carter
Which political figure do you trust the most? The least?
First the good news for the White House. Jimmy Carter was rated the nation’s most trusted politician by a landslide. The bad news was that 56 percent of our readers did not think he deserved to be reelected. The one exception to the trend was among 12-to-17-year-olds, who may be sympathetic but are also disenfranchised. Next to Carter in terms of public confidence (but not very close) was Ted Kennedy. He was trusted by more than twice as many men as women, whose memories of Chappaquiddick and his turbulent marriage are perhaps more vividly retained. Women preferred the old-shoe comfort of Jerry Ford, who came in third. Overall, people trusted such diverse political animals as Walter Mondale, Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan about the same, and they tied for fourth. Mondale appealed to teenagers, Brown to the war-baby generation and Reagan to an irregular cross section. The least trusted by far of America’s political professionals was—no surprise—Richard Nixon. And the second-least-trusted? Jimmy Carter. That’s democracy.
Whom would you most like to see as President?
Ted Kennedy was the choice of the single largest group of readers (38 percent), indicating perhaps that a President needn’t be a man everybody trusts (opposite page). Eighteen-to-24-year-olds were strongest for Ted (and had fewer memories of his scandal-marked early years). Next among the 10 Americans considered presidential material was Jerry Ford, and Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown wound up in a tie for third, with Brown strongest among teenagers. Hanging out with Linda Ronstadt is okay by them. Walter Mon-dale was fifth, Howard Baker sixth.
Would readers vote for a qualified Jew for President? Ninety-two percent said yes. A black? Sure, 91 percent answered. A woman? Only 80 percent were affirmative, most of them men. Are these answers honest? Pollsters believe respondents are afraid a vote against a Jew or a black will sound bigoted, while many, among females at least, aren’t bothered by saying no to a woman. So? Gloria Steinem, the only female on the list of 10 candidates, tied for last place—with Richard Nixon.
How do you rate women’s leaders?
Clearly, the PEOPLE poll shows, the women’s movement can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Coretta King, the soft-spoken widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was judged most effective among women’s leaders—although (sic transit) many teenagers had never heard of her. Second was Betty, the beloved Ford. More outspoken than radical, more honest than outrageous, she talked openly about women’s problems—rearing kids in sexually liberated and drug-ridden times and dealing with the pressures of political life—without ever blaming her husband. Gloria Steinem was third, the intelligent and beautiful feminist, whom men greatly admire. Up to this point in the list of 10 candidates male and female readers cooed amicably over their choices. For fourth, men picked Billie Jean King, the pro tennis pioneer, while women favored Mario Thomas, another beauty with lots of TV exposure. Further down, men liked Jane Fonda better than women did. The least effective women’s leader overall was also the least known: Marabel (The Total Woman) Morgan. Second place in both these categories went to anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schlafly, whom women disliked more than men did. Bella Abzug was in a class by herself. As well as being the third-least effective overall, she was also described as Most Annoying, a sentiment forecast by Most Trusted Politician Jimmy Carter when he fired her as co-chairperson of his National Advisory Committee on Women in January. Bella has a goodly number of fans among young women, but few among men: They put her at the bottom of their effectiveness list—even below Marabel Morgan.
Do you think the next generation is going to be better off than this one?
The pessimists (45 percent) carried the day, but only by a sigh. “The world seems to be getting worse,” they groaned. “Inflation is out of hand.” “There will always be war, crime, inflation, pollution, depression or something else to keep things from changing for the better.” Worriers among PEOPLE readers also fretted about taxes, the breakdown of the family, abortion, homosexuality, moral laxity, drugs, alcohol, living in sin and ear-damaging music. The optimists (42 percent) thought the wonders of modern science would make life easier, and that today’s kids were a better all-round bunch—smarter, more open, less bigoted about race and women, less uptight sexually and more protective about the environment. “Kids seem more down to earth,” said one reader, who certainly seemed to be having a nice day. “Their hair is cut shorter, and their ideas are more reasonable. They pay more attention to dress and are more work-oriented.” Is that reader putting a little hopeful body English on the pendulum? Or is the pendulum really swinging back?
Do you think inflation in the United States will ever be brought under control?
No, said a resigned, empty-pocketed 57 percent, most of them women who cope with rocketing grocery prices. Economic despair was almost universal, except, interestingly, among the 55-and-over set, often described as the hardest hit by inflation. They lived through the Depression, and exactly half of them felt we could surely pull out of this mess.
Are you for the Equal Rights Amendment?
Resoundingly yes, said 64 percent—again, as in the woman-for-President question (above), mostly men. Only 60 percent of women approved of ERA, while among both sexes, readers between 25 and 34 felt best about it. A substantial 14 percent of all readers, including 18 percent of the women, expressed themselves as “Not sure,” proving what both the pro-and anti-ERA forces have been trying to tell us: Not everybody knows what ERA involves. The folks most in the dark: senior citizens.
Dreamy teams for the silver screen
Who’s your favorite male movie star?
Paul Newman, 54, readers chorused, just in time to see his second Robert Altman movie, Quintet (the first was Buffalo Bill, remember?), freshly released to not-so-hot reviews. Behind Newman was Robert Redford, and then Clint Eastwood. Women swayed the vote in that direction; left to themselves, men called Clint numero uno and put Newman second, Burt Reynolds third.
Ignoring box office and bankability, PEOPLE readers banished John Travolta to 12th place, but what’s Woody Allen doing in 11th? Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss was the least familiar name, but, ironically, still placed number five in popularity, meaning the folks who know the guy’s work are bonkers about him. As for the least favorite of all 13 actors, it was a case of Sylvester Who.
Who is your favorite movie actress?
Readers hadn’t seen her in a new movie since A Star Is Born, but they were still true blue to screen queen Barbra Streisand, 36. Diana (The Wiz) Ross came in second overall, and classic beauty Faye (Network) Dun-away was third, completing a sweep for the three highest-paid actresses in the business. Jane Fonda placed fourth, with a surprising number of teenage fans, and Diane, the kooky Keaton, was fifth. (Like Travolta, Lily Tomlin plunged to second-to-last, possibly a reflection of their disastrous Moment By Moment.)
The over-55 crowd thought a little differently—they liked Diana Ross best, then Ann-Margret and Streisand. They summoned up the least enthusiasm for Brooke Shields, who s at 13 is the age of their granddaughters.
What stars would you like to see together in a movie?
Stretching their considerable imaginations, PEOPLE readers played Sam Goldwyn: Who are the new Tracy and Hepburn? The dreamiest teams were Redford and Streisand (whoops, that’s been done, but maybe there’s a sequel, The Way We Really Were); Kristofferson and Streisand (A Star Is Born Again?); Eastwood and Fonda (Aha! creative casting—let’s call it A Fistful of Feminists); and Reynolds and Fonda (Smokey and the Pundit). Actually, readers would like to see Reynolds, Streisand or Fonda with just about anybody, and almost certainly will.
Liking Billy Joel just the way he is
Who is your favorite male singer?
The readers chewed on 15 names and came up with Billy Joel, 29, whose Just the Way You Are copped him a recent Grammy for Record of the Year. Second overall by a hair was Neil Diamond, with a great bulge of fans in the 35-to-44 age group. Stevie Wonder got top billing from males, but placed third in the totals. Then came Barry Manilow and Paul Simon. One grace note: The over-55ers preferred Tony Bennett (and Manilow for that matter) to Frank Sinatra. In the Fleeting Glory department, the teenagers who once grooved on Shaun Cassidy helped drop him to 15th place.
Who’s your favorite woman singer?
Lovely Linda Ronstadt, 32, was the favorite with almost every age—attractive to men, nonthreatening to women and clothed in respectability by her friendship with the governor of California. Olivia Newton-John was second (among 11 contenders) with lots of adolescent fans from Grease. Donna Summer shook up disco lovers, especially those too young to get into fleshpots like Studio 54, and they boosted her to third place. Older folks liked Dionne Warwick, Loretta Lynn and that nice Debby Boone. The ’60s generation remembered Joni Mitchell. But what happened to dynamite Dolly Parton? She won the Female Country Grammy, but was busted to last place.
What’s your favorite pop group?
They’re more than stayin’ alive. The Bee Gees have got it all—loyal fans who remember them from their first incarnation as soft rockers, plus the Saturday Night Feverish 12-to-17-year-olds and a solid bloc of women who like handsome Brits with soprano voices. Musically hip PEOPLE readers know the Brothers Gibb have four new Grammys, including one for the Fever sound track, the biggest-selling album of all time. Women’s suffrage turned the tide in this contest—the males had Chicago and the Eagles in a tie for first place. Fleetwood Mac came in fourth, and the hard-to-crack Rolling Stones found a hot new audience in a surprising spot—ages 12 to 17. Over 55, people dug the safe and sane Osmonds, followed by the Beach Boys. The Osmonds proved to be the best-known group, but scored 11th among 13 in popularity. The Grateful Dead were not forgotten, but almost. Only ear-splitting Kiss got lower marks. The 12-to-17ers, the group’s supposed constituency, told them to kiss off. Their parents put it even more forcefully.
Four figures, pro and con, and one who’s mostly con
Now here’s a famous name. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
“Jerk!” “Fink!” “Bad news!” For a fellow who started out as the peanut-farming President’s down-home brother, Billy has gone from colorful to contemptible in the eyes of PEOPLE readers. “Blah! Pain in the behind,” one bowdlerized. “Big-mouthed troublemaker,” another said. Billy does have defenders, but they’re ambivalent. “I like the obnoxious guy,” crowed one woman. Another excused him as “funny.” Many readers sadly agreed that Billy “makes it hard for his brother.” One woman, in mishearing the name, suggested what may be the Carter family’s—if not the country’s—worst fear: “He’s President,” she said, “and he’s doing the best job he can.”
“Communist dictator!” “Beard!” “Cigars!” Lots of the old Red Scare hovers over the bewhiskered head of the Cuban dictator, seen as that “evil man” who locked horns with Jack Kennedy. “He’s a devil,” one reader snarled. “He kind of scares me,” allowed another. One grimly wondered why “someone hasn’t shot him by now.” Too much Starsky & Hutch? Or CIA hearings?
“Too much money,” one reader said and, as with Jackie Onassis, they suggested that her crime was her wealth. Comments ranged from “spoiled and greedy” to “little rich girl gets away from justice.” But others said, “I feel very sorry for her,” and meant it. “Unjustly accused.” “An innocent, exploited by both sides.” One reader’s telling summation: “Kidnap, confusion, sadness.”
Readers aren’t sure about Ali’s self-promotion. They’re glad he’s “positive,” but wonder if he isn’t too “egotistical,” a “loudmouth” and “a braggart.” One thought of AM as an artist (he paints now), another as a dancer (which he is in the ring). So effective is Ali’s projection of his personality that almost nobody mentioned his race or religion. That’s public relations.
“The word ‘justice’ comes to mind.” A large number of readers were unsure of consumer advocate Nader’s specific contributions, but thought of him as “honest” and “incorruptible” anyway. He “fights for the small people” and “does a needed service.” One reader found him “picky and a nuisance,” and another harrumphed: “He goes overboard!” That reader must have been in Detroit.