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Who's the Most Eligible Guy Now?

September 25, 1996|ELIZABETH MEHREN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the next most eligible bachelor of them all?

With the wedding Saturday of John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette, female hearts were shattered. Bachelor-watchers were bereft.

Staffers at tabloids and celebrity-centered periodicals were sent into something more closely resembling chaos.

What unmarried male on Earth could possibly succeed the scion of America's most prominent--and sometimes controversial--political dynasty? Who would replace the man chosen in 1988 as People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive"?

"It's a desert out there," said People Managing Editor Landon Jones, among others, wondering fruitlessly who would inherit the title of World's Most Eligible Bachelor. "I've been racking my brain all day. I haven't come up with anybody. Nobody! This is not good."

As Jones was the first to admit, national sex symbols sell magazines. But fantasy heartthrobs also offer wild and distant hope to women whose lives may otherwise be mired in banality.

"He is a fairy tale character," said University of Washington sociology professor Pepper Schwartz, author of "Love Between Equals" (Free Press, 1995). "He's handsome, rich, comes from a legendary family. He's part of American history. For everybody in the dating market, or sitting across the table from their husband, thinking maybe this is not what I envisioned, he's good fantasy material. As a human being, it might be something else again. But on paper, this looks pretty darned good."

"I'm sure that many people will be disappointed [by Kennedy's marriage]," said Shari Thurer, a Boston University psychologist. "In the more pathological forms, they will transfer their love to someone else."

But who?

Jones, at People, lobbied hard for Hollywood.

"Brad Pitt, David Duchovny--even Dennis Rodman: He's got money, he's got style, he's got an entourage," Jones urged. No playboy prime ministers came to mind, he conceded, and Jones dismissed the entreaties of an assistant that he select presidential aide George Stephanopoulos to be the world's newest most eligible bachelor.

Patrick Kennedy, the bridegroom's cousin, is unmarried. But the Democratic congressman from Rhode Island wasn't even invited to the wedding--thus suggesting that he may not even be on the inner list of his own family. Another Kennedy cousin, William Kennedy Smith, is disqualified from bachelor stardom for other reasons.

Jones yawned at the notion that Britain's Prince Charles, freshly divorced, might be recycled as a quasi-eligible bachelor-prince. The Prince of Wales, Jones said, is rapidly losing ground to his own bachelor son Prince William.

"He's definitely cute. He's rich, and younger men are always fashionable," Jones essayed.

The name of "an exceedingly good looking" unmarried prince from Spain eluded Jones. Holland and Sweden produce good royalty, he acknowledged, "and sometimes they have money."

And speaking of money: If you're going to fantasize about being swept off your feet by a handsome prince, why settle for an imaginary kingdom such as Camelot? Why not choose a real, live country--a seaside enclave that boasts more jewelry stores than grocery stores?

Yes, Prince Albert of Monaco.

Last week you may have been just another mid-level monarch with a receding hairline and a yen to be a bobsled champion. Today you are a global hunk.

Albert's assets vastly outnumber detractions. Other than being stuck with a cumbersome name like Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi, this prince is a ripe 37 years old. Rumors abound that any day his dad will step aside and allow him to take over the family business, running the sunspot called Monaco, a country known invariably as "the fairy tale republic."

Unlike John F. Kennedy Jr., who spirited Bessette into a loft in TriBeCa that they share with a mutt named Friday, Albert owns castles. Real castles. He likes to drink beer and hang out at Le Texan, Monaco's cool Tex-Mex joint. He went to Amherst and had a mother--the late movie actress Grace Kelly--who was born in the USA.

In a move that even Bob Dole could wrap his heart around, Albert spoke out at the International Olympics Committee in support of less partying and more drug testing. And just as John F. Kennedy Jr. was linked with glamorous actresses, Albert has been paired with high fashion model priestess Claudia Schiffer.

Yes, Prince Albert. Saturday may have been your lucky day.

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