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The Five: Hottest women over 40 on TV

by Joel Keller, posted Dec 23rd 2005 9:36AM
Elizabeth Vargas - Sexiest over 40 on TVWhen I was doing my post about the lovely Bonnie Hunt, I realized that there are more more sexy women over 40 all over the entertainment spectrum than at any time I can remember. I don't know if it's better diets, the advent of Botox, or something else, but 40 no longer seems to be the career killer it once was. Here are the five women on TV who are old enough to remember the Nixon administration but still make even young guys' hearts go pitter-patter.

Some caveats: I am excluding Hunt because she's mainly in movies now. I am also including women who have been on TV recently, but not necessarily this year. Finally, everyone on Desperate Housewives only makes Honorable Mention because I want to give others their due for once.

By the way, this took me a while to do. I just kept remembering people who could fit in this category; some of whom you'll see are quite surprising. I was going to include women who were over 50 and over 60, but I decided to give them lists of their own, you'll see those in the coming days.

Click on the link for the picks.

 

1.  Elizabeth Vargas - She could tell me that my apartment building was falling down and I wouldn't shut off the TV. It's those eyes; they just lock you in and don't let go. We'll be seeing a lot more of her, since she's been named co-anchor of World News Tonight. Oh, and she'll still be flashing those pearlies to us and John Stossel on 20/20 every week, as well (I wonder if John ever thinks of leaving his wife when she smiles at him).

Anyway, many of you thought I might list Katie Couric here, but for some reason, I'm getting pretty sick of Katie. She's gone from cute and perky, to sexy and "out there", to bitchy and annoying. Vargas just reads the news, and she doesn't flirt with her interview subjects, like Ms. Couric irritatingly does week after week (you see Katie pulling on her earring as she interviewed Howard Stern? If that's not flirting, then I'm an elephant). She has an authority that makes her even more sexy. And the fact that she's married to a balding singer of sappy soul music doesn't hurt her image a bit.

2. Maura Tierney - Ok, Maura's barely over 40, but I really wanted to put her on this list. It was either going to be this or a long-winded ode on a My TV Crush post, so consider yourselves fortunate (for now... I may still do one). There's just something about Maura that rivets me to the screen. It may be an accessibility that others on this list don't have; she's played flawed characters and characters that are tough as nails. She was an underrated presence amongst the crazies on NewsRadio, and she's kept me watching ER for many years after the show itself became boring and ridiculous. Heck, I'm watching her sex it up on an ER rerun as I write this.

Why else do I like Maura so much? Well, for one, in a scene on ER, you could hear the Pixies blaring on her car stereo right before she turned the it down. It just seems like she picked that song, not the producers. In another ER scene, a drunken Abby is talking to Carter. She puts her hand on his face and caresses it. The playful, hurt, and vulnerable look in her eyes in that scene made me just go "aw, man..." I could see myself in the car with Maura, groovin' to "Gouge Away" while gulping down some 40's (and yes, I know the character Abby was an alcoholic. Please chilland let me have my fantasies), then having a life-altering talk before going back to... well, ok, that's enough of that, but you get the idea.

3. Mariska Hargitay - Boy, can she kick ass! On Law & Order: SVU, Mariska does a slow burn, trying to right the wrongs that sickos and pedophiles perpetrate week after week. And while she's kicking ass, she's even sexier. The suits, the tight shirts underneath those suits, those "I want to tear your d**k off" looks in her eye... man oh man, who wouldn't want to get locked in an interrogation room with Mariska?

There was a scene in a recent SVU where she jumps on top of a perp and grabs his throat to get him to tell her where he's hiding a kidnapped child. Something about that scene rang false to me, mainly because it was Mariska; sure, she was angry, but wouldn't said sicko have enjoyed her aggressivenes and asked for more? That's how sexy she is; she can't even choke a guy without doing it in a hot manner. 

She can play sweet, too, as she did when she played Mark Greene's girlfriend Cynthia on ER, but I like her determination and grittiness on SVU much better. Oh, and her mom was Jayne Mansfield. That Jayne Mansfield had some big breasts...

4. Sela Ward - I've already gone on ad nauseum about why I like Sela so much, but here's another reason: she looks like a friend of mine. I think if someone on TV resembles a friend, even in the slightest, you pay more attention to that person when she comes on your screen. Of course, I never see my friend dressed the way Sela is in this picture (hey, we're just friends, OK?), but that's just a small thing.

I'll just let the fine folks at AskMen.com do the talking for me: "She has a seductive appeal about her, and an aura of having lived 3 lives in one lifetime. She exemplifies the reason why young men are continuously fascinated with the idea of dating older women. More importantly though, she destroys the myth that mature and intelligent women aren't sexy."

Three lives in one lifetime... nice turn of phrase. But as I said in my Crush piece, the depth she's gained as she's gotten older has added to her already stunning beauty.

[thanks, Esquire, for this great pic!]

5. Patricia Heaton - Yes, she's had a lot of work done, and yes, her transformation led to an ugly sitcom trend of "fat husband/hot wife". But, I applaud her for not letting all those pregnancies and her approaching fifties get her down. She didn't enhance and pull back, she just lifted and tucked what she had. And she looks fairly natural because of it. Also, Patricia doesn't pretend to be anything but a Republican who loves her religion and her family, which flies in the face of what anyone would expect to see from a Hollywood star (judging by what I'm seeing in this picture, I don't think she's a Laura Bush-esque prude, either). Not that I agree with her, but you've got to admire the strength she has in her convictions, considering she's on a political island out there in La-La-Land.

Pat's the quintessential "hot mom" (or MILF, if you're an American Pie fan). She refuses to dress in sweats and put her hair up in a bun just because she has four (!) kids running around. Now, I'm sure she's got some help. But she really strikes me as a person who's more interested in being a mom than being on the red carpet. It's as if one of  the moms you see at the Sephora store at the mall happened to be in one of the longest-running sitcoms of all time. For some reason, I find this ability to be "normal" comforting, and sexy as hell.

Honorable mentions:
Mary-Louise Parker
Deborah Roberts
Marg Helgenberger
Laura Innes
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Jennifer Tilly
Gail O'Grady
Teri Hatcher
Felicity Huffman
Marcia Cross
Vanna White
Courtney Cox
Lisa Kudrow

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23 Comments

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david marks

who could ever know that maura tierney is over 40? Yup,
A giant vote.

November 18 2007 at 10:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
albfun

Patty Heaton definitively gets my vote. The most gorgeous of all.

January 04 2006 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gavin

I am glad that "ER"'s Laura Innes is finally recognized for being beautiful over 40 years old. The emmy nominated actress-director has been seldom noticed, and 'sexy favorites' like Kim Catrall and Nicolette Sheridan stoled the spotlight.

Way to go Laura!!!

December 30 2005 at 12:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
starz

thanks for adding mariska! lol i saw maura and i was like "ok...if maura is on here then mariska has to...yes! there she is!" lol gawd i hope i look like them when i hit forty...

December 27 2005 at 9:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gikah

yeahhh
Laura Innes is veery attractive.......come on people..she is hot...
well..on ER sometimes she is ugly..I hava to agry..but just beacause they put her in taht way..
there is pic from her that...omg...she is amazin!
and Maura is incredble hot too!!
I love her hair!!!

good list
1
=PPP

December 27 2005 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Cindy

I totally agree with Elisa. Laura Innes is a very attractive woman. However, on ER she's made up as a "Plain Jane" and that's okay. It takes real beauty like her's to shine through, where as other people need all that make up and crap to look good. Laura Innes definately gets my vote. And Maura aint too bad either. The two should have shared the spot together.
Just a liitle food for thought. :)

December 27 2005 at 3:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kmac

Good list but what about Allison Janney?

December 26 2005 at 7:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Camilla

Oh my God. Maura Tierney should have been on the first and Patricia Heaton on second.

December 26 2005 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anonymizzle

Mariska Hargitay should have been number 1 AND 2!

December 24 2005 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elisa

Yes!! Laura Innes is very attractive :)
Great list!!
But sometimes on ER we can't see that...they put her ugly!!! arghhh!! that sucksss..u_u

December 24 2005 at 11:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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