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Readers Poll '98

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Who’s more popular—Oprah or Rosie? Is Leo DiCaprio really a Titanic star? Which ER doc makes hearts beat fastest? Much as we like to think we’ve got our fingers on the national pulse, we at PEOPLE realize the only way to answer such critical questions definitively is to put them to you, our readers, the ultimate arbiters of pop culture. That’s exactly what we’ve done with our first full-blown readers’ poll since 1994. We surveyed 1,000 readers at random by phone; their median age is 38.5, and 68% are female. Do you favor affirmative action? Can you name even a single Spice Girl? For the answers to many—if not all—things great and small, read on.

Who is your favorite female singer?

Near, far, wherever you are—that’s where you’ll hear “My Heart Will Go On,” the unstoppable Titanic ballad by sultry Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion, who topped the charts with 17.2% of readers. Dion easily beat fellow pop divas Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston (who tied for second with 5.3%), as well as Barbra Streisand and Madonna (all squared in fourth place with 4.3%).

Who is your favorite male movie star?

Stand in line, Brad. Et tu, Keanu. The king of the hill is Mel Gibson, a Hollywood veteran who received 10% of the vote. Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise tied for second (4.3%), with Clint Eastwood finishing fourth (3.6%). Fifth place, a tie, offered something older, something new: Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio (3.3% each, though Leo—big surprise—was a major hit with PEOPLE’S female readers ages 18-34).

Who is your favorite female movie star?

Hollywood’s Queen of the Romantic Comedy—Meg Ryan, adorable as ever in City of Angels—was deemed heavenly by 5% of readers, tying for the top spot with Helen Hunt, fresh from her Best Actress Oscar for As Good as It Gets. Julia Roberts came in third (4.9%), just ahead of G.I. Jane‘s Demi Moore (4%). Susan Sarandon took the fifth spot (3%), while Titanic‘s Kate Winslet bobbed up in 12th place.

By whom would you rather be interviewed—Oprah Winfrey or Rosie O’Donnell?

Oprah didn’t run rings around Rosie, but she does have a clear edge: 52% vs. 45%. Worth noting: Among younger readers, ages 18-34, the stats were almost exactly reversed: 53% opted for O’Donnell; 44% hoped for Oprah.

Jay or Dave?

Leno kicks Letterman’s can in the ratings, but people who read PEOPLE—particularly the younger ones—prefer Dave (44%) over Jay (41%). That’s good news for Letterman, surely the most angst-ridden man to earn eight figures a year. Relax, big fella: They like you, they really like you!

Name a Spice Girl. Go ahead, even one

Marjoram? Cardamom? Black Pepper? Basil? Ringo? Fergie? Moe? Old Spice? So challenged, 1,000 PEOPLE readers searched the spice rack of their minds and came up…virtually empty. Only five in a hundred could correctly name even one of the sugarpop quintet comprising (here we go, from left) Posh Spice, Ginger Spice, Scary Spice, Baby Spice and Sporty Spice.

Diana remembered

A century from now, who’ll be more famous—Princess Di or Albert Einstein? Sorry, Al: 66% of readers gave the nod to Di (vs. 33% for Einstein). Diana also fared better than Winston Churchill (83% vs. 16%) and Mahatma Gandhi (90% vs. 9%). And while the princess edged out one King—-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (67% vs. 30%)—she trailed another: Elvis Presley, tabbed by 51% of readers, vs. Di’s 46%.

Spell check

Asked to spell actor Matthew McConaughey‘s last name, 63% failed miserably (McAgony?) and 36% gave up. The 1% who nailed it were, we suspect, relatives.

How will history remember Clinton?

Let’s talk legacy. Given four options, 9% of readers said Bill Clinton will rank as a “great” President. Another 37% voted for “good,” with 32% opting for “average.” And 16%, convinced that Bill will blend in with history’s less memorable first execs, said, “He’s no Millard Fillmore.” Asked who wears the pants in the Clinton family, 66% thought that Hillary, not Bill, is top dog at home.

Who is your favorite female TV star?

It just gets better and better for Helen Hunt. After tying for first in the favorite movie actress category, Mad About You‘s new mom was named tops on TV by 5.4% of readers. Running second was Oprah Winfrey (4.9%), with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Seinfeld‘s choosy Elaine, placing third (4%). Closing out the Top 5: outrageous Ellen DeGeneres (3%) and agreeable gabber Rosie O’Donnell (3%).

Paging Doctor…?

You’re watching TV, and you get the munchies. Do you grab a healthy snack or go for junk food? Twinkies: 58% Tofu: 38%

Okay, you went for the junk food, and now you’re having a heart attack. Who ya gonna call: Chicago Hope or ER? ER: 70% Chicago: 16%

You went with ER, and now you’re facing your toughest choice: Which doctor do you want to treat you?

A whopping 44% would trust their lives to PEOPLE’S Sexiest Man Alive George Clooney, who plays the dashing Dr. Ross. Then came Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards, 19%), Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle, 15%) and Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle, 7%).

Would you ever call this man (the one on the left)?

If you were terminally ill, would you phone Dr. Jack Kevorkian (above, partying with Tom Cruise)? Sixty-eight percent answered no, but 29% said yep, they would dial Dr. Exit.

All right, let’s get a few things straight. No waffling. Fast and furious, yes or no. Ready.

Legal abortion?

Yes: 53%

No: 42%

Don’t know: 5%

Capital punishment?

Yes: 74%

No: 21%

Don’t know: 5%

Affirmative action?

Yes: 57%

No: 33%

Don’t know: 10%

Gay couples adopting children?

Yes: 48%

No: 47%

Don’t know: 5%

Do you like your job?

Yes: 71%

No: 20%

Don’t know: 9%

Who is your favorite male TV star?

Jerry Seinfeld is the master of this domain (9.3%), edging out ER‘s pulse-quickening pediatrician George Clooney (8.8%). Clooney’s consolation prize: Women love him, while Seinfeld scores higher with guys (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Home Improvement‘s Tim Allen took third (6%), Bill Cosby fourth (3%) and Frasier‘s Kelsey Grammer fifth (2.5%).

And speaking of Seinfeld: After the show ends its long run this spring, which quirky character would you most like to see spun off into his or her own series?

Give us Kramer, readers cried! (Forty-nine percent did, anyway.) Next came Elaine (17%), George (12%) and…Newman! (Five percent—U.S. postal workers, perhaps?)

Who is your favorite male singer?

Stick another feather in that 100-gallon Stetson: Good ol’ Garth Brooks thundered down the road to victory with 8% of the vote. The booming voice behind 10 multiplatinum albums (Sevens is his latest), Brooks outpaced Elton John (4%), who finished a dot-jot-iota ahead of country crooner George Strait (3.9%). Elvis Presley is alive and well in fourth place (3%), followed closely by balladeer Michael Bolton (2.9%).

Who is your favorite band or music group?

Pearl Jam? Not even close. U2? Sorry, U-6th. Nine Inch Nails? Not in the Top 10. Most pleasing to the ears of PEOPLE readers was a country band that has been around a while: Alabama, those down-home harmonizers who walked away with this category back in 1985. Their 4.1% barely beat out another band you just might have heard of: the Beatles (3.9%), still popular thanks to three recent bestselling anthologies. Not far behind, in third place, were the soulful R&B singers Boyz II Men, four young guys who weren’t even born when the next two groups—Men II Geezers?—were conceived: the Eagles (2.1%) and those mischievous Brits, the Rolling Stones (2%)

What’s scariest about raising septuplets?

“College costs,” said 43% of readers (given four options). But let’s not forget “the day they get their driver’s license” (37%), “diaper duty” (14%) and “supervising birthday parties for seven kids—and their friends” (5%).

Who are these guys?

Good news! Given four choices, only 1% of readers believed that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were “America’s best two-man luge team.” Three percent thought Ben & Matt “started that big ice cream company,” and 4% were pretty certain that Damon & Affleck were “Monica Lewinsky’s new legal team.” Thirty-two percent admitted they were clueless, but 60% correctly identified the duo as the wunderkind stars and Oscar-winning writers of Good Will Hunting.

Golf, anyone?

If you were placed in a foursome with O.J. Simpson, would you play or walk away? Sixty-one percent said, “No way, O.J.,” predicting they’d be too teed off to tee up with Simpson. But 36% said they would stay the course.