Found via The Corner, Mick LaSalle of The San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting list of who has been the coolest man in the world over the last 70 years or so. Strangely enough he includes Keith Olbermann on his list. Maybe it’s just me, but a barrage of spittle-flecked submoronic Godwin’s Law violating monologues seems to violate all reasonable definitions of coolness, but other than that, it’s an interesting, if frustrating list. I’d add the following names to it:
1959: Cary Grant, after making his most iconic film, North By Northwest, and still the very definition of suave at age 55.
1960: Miles Davis, who not only looked ultra-cool in his sharp Italian suits, but who ushered in The Birth of the Cool in the early 1950s, and was making his most enduring music as the 1950s ended: Porgy & Bess, Kind of Blue, and Sketches of Spain.
1964: Sean Connery at the height of Bondmania. What more need be said?
1968: Steve McQueen at the height of his stardom–the personification of cool.
1969: Joe Namath. He guaranteed it–and with the Jets’ win brought instant parity between the upstart AFL and old school NFL. But he traded his coolness in on pantyhose and a motorcycle movie with Ann Margaret.
1972: Robert Evans, the man who pulled the strings behind The Godfather, from commissioning Mario Puzo to write the book for Paramount in the late 1960s, to hiring Francis Ford Coppola to direct the movie. Married to Ali MacGraw (until a year later, when she ran off with McQueen), and with enough clout–and chutzpah–to ask Henry Kissinger to stop by the Godfather premiere party for a photo-op on his way out of the country to negotiate the Vietnam War peace talks. And get it.
1973: Jimmy Page, whose band was both selling more concert tickets than the Rolling Stones, and who could–for a time–outplay most rock guitarists and look the coolest doing it. Like Evans and Miles, his time at the height of cool was brief, and drugs help would shorten each man’s reign.
Needless to say, LaSalle’s list is very incomplete. But it’s a reasonable start.