Her poster was ubiquitous in the late 70′s, even when she left the TV series that made her famous. Shocked murmurs poured forth when her controversial departure was officially announced, and countless magazine articles featured headlines such as: “Say it isn’t so?!!” It was as if the blond “bombshell” was betraying her many ardent admirers, tempted by promises of an even greater fame.
Her replacement in the show was warmly embraced, but the chemistry of the leads was thrown off and it was never the same. Yet her poster stubbornly remained on the walls in boys’ bedrooms, although it wasn’t until later — years later — that I understood the full implications of this.
This “phenomenon,” as it was commonly called by a stunned and gossipy press, was caused, in part, by her bright and radiant smile, a smile which sent all serious considerations into retreat and demanded a complete surrender to this arresting (and rare) blend of girl-next-door wholesomeness and effortless sensuality. But there was also the matter of her nipple, peeking out of her red one-piece bathing suit as if female sexuality could no longer be contained even in the most wholesome women, and was about to be unleashed upon a still-repressed populace.
Many a teen-aged body was captivated by her, and responded in a way that made her nipple seem like a national monument, or at least a monument to puberty. Years later, I took down her poster for a while — after mainstream-media lies had created sexual detours and deformations in many of us — but recently I put it back up. On the wall, she shall stay.