Hidden in the pages of Worldwide Crush are twenty-five references to celebrity crushes throughout all of crush history. Did you find them? It’s not an exhaustive list or even a best of list – they’re just the names that magically found their way into this book.
Look carefully, because sometimes they’re disguised! A boy’s name might go to a girl. The name could be spelled differently or simply rhyme with the celeb name. Maybe the first and last names are switched around. Or it could be the name of a character they played on TV. You might need help from your moms, your aunties, your uncles or even your grandmas because these crushes go way back. And HERE is where you find out who they are! VOILA!
It’s not a very diverse crowd because, historically, the entertainment industry was not diverse. At all. And you’ll find mostly boy crushes on this list because 1) my crushes were always boys and 2) teen magazines were devoted mostly to boys. The most well-known of those magazines was Tiger Beat, named after the 1960s slang word for ‘cute boy.’ And which tiger was it that made Tiger Beat’s popularity explode? Read on to find out…
Good luck! 😊
Rory Calhoun = Rory Calhoun
This one is actually an accident. The name Rory Calhoun came to me, fully formed, as I was driving by Lake Calhoun (now called Bde Maka Ska) in my neighborhood. But it turns out there was an actual Rory Calhoun who was kind of a heartthrob himself. The real Rory Calhoun was a handsome actor who starred in movies and TV shows starting in the 1940s. He was discovered while out riding horseback — by another actor who was impressed with his physique and brought him home to meet his talent agent wife.
And, I swear to you, I had seriously never heard of the guy. I swear! So how do you explain this coincidence? Who knows, maybe the ghost of the real Rory Calhoun whispered it in my ear that day. Maybe this is exactly the legacy he’s always wanted. If so, you’re welcome, Rory.
“I hope that “Worldwide Crush,” the biggest-selling song by a teenage male solo artist since Justin Bieber’s 2010 hit song “Baby” (source: TeenTalk online), stays at number one for the whole school year.”
Let’s get something straight: I will never ever EVER get tired of watching Justin Bieber’s Baby video. It’s the number one most crushworthy video of all time. A dance battle at the bowling alley? Girls versus boys? Come ON!!! I’m a way-too-old lady to be crushing on a teenage Justin Bieber but this video makes me feel thirteen years old in the best way possible. It’s historic in its crushability. And in the year 2010, it introduced a world of tweens and teens to a 14-year-old cutie from Canada who became the most beloved person on the planet. It was nutty.
What he did with that video is remind me about how I used to feel about Shaun Cassidy. And Andy Gibb. And Davy Jones. Those feelings were so real. And I wanted to tell all those fans crushing on Justin Bieber to cherish the moment. Enjoy your crush. Because someday you’ll be all grown up and you’ll realize how fun it all was. Justin Bieber ignited the flame of my old crushes from childhood. And that’s what I needed to start writing Worldwide Crush. And the rest is history.
Shauna Mendez = Shawn Mendes + Shaun Cassidy
“Besides, when my parents decided to name me Shauna, they tried it on with Mendez, not the name of some random guy they won’t meet for thirty years.”
Shauna Mendez, Millie’s best friend
Does that name sound familiar to you? Of course, it does because it’s a tribute to our beloved Shawn Mendes, another Canadian cutie who sang his way into our hearts when he was just 15 years old. His 2017 video for “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” is so crushy, it could inspire me to write another book (biking on cobblestone streets? Coastal kisses? Serenading me (I mean her) from a concert stage? The book writes itself!).
But I changed the spelling from Shawn(a) to Shauna to trick you, and to pay tribute to my very first crush, Shaun Cassidy, the doe-eyed floppy haired heartthrob who starred in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries from 1977-1979. You can see the doe eyes and the floppy hair in action in the video for his song Hey Deanie; seriously, LOOK AT THOSE EYES! Who else just happens to be a doe-eyed, floppy haired heartthrob? You guessed it … Rory Calhoun. Shaun Cassidy is the inspiration for Rory Calhoun. Bless his heart.
“We all freeze. My mom looks at my dad. My dad looks at my mom. And Cheryl looks at them both like she just saw Elvis in the back yard.”
In the 1950s, when Millie’s Grandma Cheryl was young, Elvis Presley’s popularity practically invented the teenager. No joke. Before Elvis, you had children and you had adults; but teens started differentiating themselves from their parents when they went crazy for songs like ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ His music was some of the first rock-and-roll anyone had ever heard and people in middle and high school loved it. Guess who didn’t? ADULTS. They hated Elvis Presley and didn’t want their teens listening to his music. They thought his dance moves were overtly sexual and would corrupt their children — even though all he was doing was wiggling his hips. Dumb.
I also think he looks a little bit like Shawn Mendes.
“…the Beatles, the Monkees, all the big hunks.”
Cheryl grew up with some of the most famous crushes in history. The Beatles are the original boy band, four mop-topped young lads from England who first made the girls scream with their performance of I Wanna Hold Your Hand on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. The love for them was so intense that it got its own name: Beatlemania.
“This song is totally old-school, like one of Cheryl’s old Monkees albums, with just a guitar and some handclaps and his happy, smiling voice.”
The Monkees were the first manufactured boy band, hired by TV producers to play a fictitious band in a show for teens and tweens in 1966. But they were so good, they became international superstars — and a real band — overnight. Watch the videos for the show’s opening sequence and you’ll see why. Even after the band broke up, the show stayed on TV in reruns and kept gaining new fans. People in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s were still crushing on the teenaged Davy, Peter, Mickey and Mike with only a vague understanding that the boys weren’t teenagers anymore.
“Paul McCartney will always turn my head.”
On page 45, we learn that Paul McCartney from the Beatles is Millie’s grandma’s first crush. Paul was considered the cute Beatle. And Cheryl’s not wrong – even as an old man today, Paul McCartney is still pretty cute. Watch him (on the far left) in this performance of Twist and Shout on the Ed Sullivan show and you can see why Cheryl (and millions of other fans) fell so hard for Paul.
“I can almost play “Love Dream” by Franz Liszt. That’s legit classical music.”
Strangely enough, one of the very first known celebrity crushes was this classical pianist from the 1840s. Isn’t that crazy? Lisztomania or Liszt fever was the intense fan frenzy directed toward Hungarian composer Franz Liszt during his performances. Women would mob his concerts and throw their hair ribbons on the stage. There’s even a song called ‘Lisztomania’ by the band Phoenix celebrating the phenomenon.
“She’s looking over at The Blondes: Trinity Breen, Taylor Hanson, Leaf Garrett, and Iris Moriarty…”
Taylor Hanson = Taylor Hanson
Taylor Hanson was just 14 in 1997 when he and his brothers from the band Hanson hit it big with the nonsensical song MMMBop. No one knew what it meant and no one cared because the blond, long-haired brothers were so bleeping cute that it was quite beside the point. The video includes classic cute-boy antics like rollerblading, running on the beach, splashing in the surf, and, for some reason, taking a taxi cab to the bus stop.
Leaf Garrett = Leif Garrett
If you were around in 1978, you might remember the Great Shaun/Leif Debate of 78; people either liked Shaun Cassidy OR Leif Garrett — but you could not like both. You had to choose! For me it was easy – Leif Garrett was too sketch for me. He was a child actor who got his start in movies like Devil Times Five, starring as an escaped patient from a mental health ward who innocently goes on a murder spree at an isolated ski resort (whaaaaattttt??????).
Plus he played Kristy McNichol’s boyfriend on the TV show Family who was pressuring her to have sex when she wasn’t ready. Ugh this made me so uncomfortable!!! I realize he was just playing a role BUT STILL! Why would I like him?!
But OTHER teens and tweens thought he was cute and so he became a regular in Tiger Beat Magazine and released a bunch of albums that included a #10 hit, I Was Made For Dancing. That’s how it was in the 70s – if girls thought you were cute, they gave you a record deal.
(no offense, Leif Garrett, I am clearly Team Shaun and I’m having trouble maintaining my objectivity)
Backstreet Boys and Howie
“Dr. Marion mentions a boy band from the nineties called the Backstreet Boys, specifically the one named Howie, who “inspired a unique hysteria among a particular population.” She says young people all over the world fell in love with the Backstreet Boys, especially Howie. She really makes it seem like Howie is the most important Backstreet Boy.”
The Backstreet Boys hold the honor of having the second-best Halloween music video of all time (according to me). Second only to the Thriller video, Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) is a spooky-fun choreo-jam that you may have danced to in your bedroom if you were a kid in the late 90s. Keep an eye on the vampire in the top hat if you want to know why Dr. Marion can’t shut up about Howie.
Millie’s mom’s uncle Jesse = Uncle Jesse from Full House
“We didn’t even drive that far when my mom’s uncle Jesse died this summer. We just sent flowers.”
The character of Uncle Jesse — from the 80s TV show Full House — was modeled after Elvis Presley; a dark-haired, leather-jacketed, rock-and-roll-loving guitar player with an adorable sneer. He was played by actor John Stamos and he had the most famous mullet in history. It was luscious. All the boys in my high school tried and failed to attain the mullet-perfection of Uncle Jesse. After the first season of Full House, John Stamos cut off his mullet and people lost their minds – I know one person who cried for days and took her John Stamos poster off the wall. The producers had to think fast and wrote an episode about a haircut snafu that allowed the audience to mourn the beloved mullet together. RIP Uncle Jesse’s luscious mullet.
Devi Jones = Davy Jones
“We watch as Devi Jones swings in small arcs, turning to look at Theo occasionally while he talks to her.”
THIS was the face that made Tiger Beat magazine a huge hit! All the Monkees were heartthrobs but Davy was The Cute One. And when the editors at Tiger Beat saw him, they said “GET HIM ON THE COVER! NOW!”
Davy made a cameo on the most watched Brady Bunch episode of all time, where he takes Marcia to the prom and sings a song called Girl; the Monkees TV Show wasn’t even on TV anymore but it made people fall in love with him all over again. For me it was the video for Cuddly Toy that won my heart. Davy Jones was the perfect crush, slight and impish with a sexy British accent, and he sometimes appeared shirtless, mostly at the beach, sometimes on horseback (horses = sexy. I do not know why). And when my friend group divided up the Monkees amongst us, I got Davy because we were both the short ones of the group. That made sense to me so I went with it.
“My God, Millie, I still have my Leonardo DiCaprio poster in the attic. I know that sounds weird, and please don’t tell your father…”
For some people it was an adorable tweenage Leonardo in Growing Pains, the early nineties TV show. But did you see Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic? Holding Kate Winslet gently around the waist at the bow of the ill-fated ship so she could feel like she was flying? That’s the moment that earned him supercrush status. I think it was the floppy blonde hair falling into his face. And that cheeky bad-boy (but not TOO bad-boy) grin. Now he’s all grown up and hairy and we’re supposed to call him “Leo;” what, like I’m just supposed to forget about his floppy bangs? Never, LEONARDO.
New Kids on the Block
“And I’m reminded of the teen idol tragedies I read about for my social studies extra-credit assignment—there’s one where a girl actually got killed by stampeding fans at a New Kids on the Block concert in the nineties.”
That’s a true story. In 1992, a girl in South Korea suffered a head injury and didn’t survive. This is why security is so tight when we go to concerts today; when people feel a rush of emotions, it can make them push to get closer to the stage. And this can be dangerous.
Suffice it to say, these five guys from Boston were beloved. And they became legit pin-up boys; that means people would “pin up” their posters (usually from Tiger Beat) on their walls.
“When I get to the bus stop, Joey McIntyre, Luke Perry, and Malik Zayne are the only ones there, all chasing each other.”
Joey McIntyre = Joey McIntyre
Even though fans have different favorites, every boy band has The Cute One, right? Well – Joey McIntyre was The Cute One in The New Kids on the Block. He was only 12 years old when he joined the band so he had a more innocent, cuddly look than the other guys. Watch him in their video for Step by Step and you’ll see exactly what people were falling for in the late 80s.
Luke Perry = Luke Perry
Luke Perry skyrocketed to teen idol status playing the bad boy, Dylan McKay, on Beverly Hills 90210 in the 1990s. After he grew up, he went on to play Archie’s dad on Riverdale but tragically died during the filming of the show. After his passing, #myfirstcrush appeared to be the biggest trending hashtag of the day. It is said that he may have been the last great teen idol.
Malik Zayne = Zayn Malik
Zayn Malik was one-fifth of the English-Irish boy band known as One Direction, or 1D for short. Everyone chose their favorite Directioner and there was plenty of cuteness to go around, including a young Harry Styles. But I thought it would be too hard to hide ‘Harry Styles’ in the book (Marry Myles? Cherry Tiles?) so Zayn it is.
One Direction reignited a boy-band fan-hysteria that had been dormant for a few years; they had the highest-grossing concert tour of 2014 and they’re currently one of the biggest selling boy bands of all time. The video for What Makes You Beautiful is classic cute-boy beach romping and even includes not one but TWO Volkswagens! A VW bug AND a VW bus! Come on, One Direction, that’s not fair! No wonder the world fell in love, right?
Cheer Up Sleepy Jean
“I walk into advisory and see that Ms. Peterman is wearing a T-shirt that says, “Cheer up, Sleepy Jean –”
‘Cheer up Sleepy Jean’ is a line from a Monkees song called Daydream Believer. No one really knows what it means – who’s Sleepy Jean? They never say. But the video is so happy, and Davy Jones is so adorable when he sings, that it really does pull me out of a funk. Which makes me think ‘Hey – am I Sleepy Jean?’ When Millie sees this line on Ms. Peterman’s shirt on page 167, that’s me sending her a secret message; cheer up, Sleepy Jean – things are going to get so much better.
“People I know say, “Happy birthday, Millie!” as they run by: Cassidy David and Randi Gibb, Amina Gale and Trinity Breen. Doni Ozmin and his sister, Marie, who I used to play with because our moms are friends, each give me a high five.”
Cassidy David = David Cassidy
David Cassidy might be the number one biggest crush of all time. He played Keith Partridge, the oldest brother/lead singer on The Partridge Family, a musical TV sitcom about five kids who form a band with their reluctant mom in the early 1970s. The Partridge Family was a fictional band but they released real records with songs from the show that turned into huge hits, including the number one smash single I Think I Love You.
David Cassidy became an enormous international superstar and toured the globe performing his hits to stadiums full of screaming teens. He was every fan’s ideal pretend-boyfriend; I have a friend who insisted her whole family call her “Mrs. David Cassidy.” And his face was everywhere: magazines, books, lunchboxes, tee shirts, school supplies, paper dolls, beach towels, toys and more. His fan club was bigger than Elvis’ and the Beatles COMBINED. To this day, no one has ever had a fan club with more members.
David Cassidy had the special sauce. And I don’t know if anyone else will ever match it.
Coincidentally, he is the older half-brother of Shaun Cassidy.
Randi Gibb = Andy Gibb
It was 1977 and I felt like I was growing up a little bit. Eventually, I graduated from Shaun Cassidy to Andy Gibb, little brother of The Bee Gees. His fluffy, sand-colored hair, the shy smile, his arms outstretched in that red satin shirt, like he’s beckoning to me (“hey girl…”) – I could stare at that album cover ALL. DAY. My grandma looked at my poster on the wall and said, “He sure likes his chest hair.” And, you know what? If I’m being perfectly honest, I did not hate it.
His first three singles went straight to number one, a recording industry record that still stands today. And his very first hit, I Just Want to Be Your Everything, hit number one not once but twice! It was Andy Gibb’s world for a hot minute and we were all just living in it.
Doni Ozmin and his sister Marie = Donny and Marie Osmond
At ages 18 and 16, Donny and Marie were the youngest entertainers in TV history to host their own variety show. It was a Friday night staple for families because the brother-sister duo had a squeaky-clean image and a funny, lighthearted sibling rivalry (plus perfect hair and megawatt smiles). They opened every show with a flashy cover of a hit song, like Elton John’s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, and then put on ice skates and continued their performance on ice. Seriously!
But it all came crashing down when Donny (wait for it…) got married! GASP! How dare he! It was really hard to crush on Donny when you knew he was in love with someone else; and people stopped watching the show and it was eventually canceled. It all worked out for the best, though; Donny is still married to the woman who stole him away from all those fans and Donny and Marie continue to perform together to huge crowds of adoring fans. Apparently, time heals all wounds.