Disclaimer: There is no one way to be white, black or anything else, which is why categorizing behavior according to race can be extremely reductive (to paraphrase that noted white woman Madonna). That being said, here are the 10 whitest famous people in the world by far.
Three cheers for the all-inclusive Woody! Way back in 1997, he put one black character in his movie “Deconstructing Harry!” She was a prostitute named Cookie who sang an Al Jolson song! Oy. More recently, in 2009’s “Whatever Works,” Woody nobly included a black woman and her son; in fact, they were seen in the commercials for the film. But I recently talked to the actress who played that part, and she said she not only had one line, but on the set, no one had any idea how to do her makeup because she’s black!
Come on, Woody, I know auteurs are supposed to write about what they know, but maybe you should try to discover a larger palette of humankind. I mean, I know black people! And I write about them, too — and not just Bill Cosby! But wait a minute, folks. I just found out that Woody’s brightest classic, “Annie Hall,” had some black characters. In a scene that was cut! Oh, well. At least Woody is kind to Asians. He married one.
Runner-up: Lorne Michaels!
The woman who became immortalized as the divine mother, Carol Brady, has certainly got Wessonality, but I wouldn’t exactly say she has soul. No one’s ever confused her with Florence Ballard, the doomed but talented belter from the original Supremes. Even when Henderson tries to goose us with tidbits like the fact that she’s getting some nookie in her twilight years, it just makes us go, “Aww. What a lovely white woman.” And she is nice! I’ve met her, and she’s completely swell. She’s just very pale, LOL.
Babs is my hero in so many ways, but the closest she ever got to black culture is an embarrassing number in 1975’s “Funny Lady,” the sequel to her Oscar-winning “Funny Girl.” In one particularly lavish scene, she — playing famed singer/comic Fanny Brice — tries to get down on a gospel number, surrounded by African-American dancers engaging in wildly colorful moves. Wisely, she never tried it again. Aretha she ain’t, though Barbra has her own majestic style that I (and millions of other Caucasians) happen to appreciate.
Rihanna and Nicki Minaj pump up the funk, while Taylor shimmies around like a cheerleader captain and sings purty songs without offending anyone. When she dresses in a skimpy fashion and tries to act like a sexpot, she comes off like the demure high school girl who got cast to play Sandy in “Grease.” But in reality, she’s Sandy before the makeover. I give her all the credit in the world for parlaying her talent into a massive career, but — brace yourselves — she’ll never be Nina Simone.
Seacrest is a well-seasoned pro who’s obviously aiming toward world domination via producing and starring in all sorts of TV projects. There’s nothing particularly wrong with him, but one senses that he’d be equally adept at being a Disney World tour guide or an Applebee’s greeter. There’s a certain blandness to his dirty-blondeness, though that’s obviously served him well as he gets bigger and bigger.
Like Woody Allen, the woman just doesn’t seem to have black in her color scheme. Pressured to include some differently toned people on “Girls,” she did so half-heartedly, but the show is obviously never going to be “Black-ish.” Dunham’s view of sexy hipsters is rather monotone — though at least her wit and wisdoms take on varying shades of the rainbow.
Broadway has never exactly been “Showtime at the Apollo,” and certain leading ladies add to that sense, coming off sort of like the human answer to Crest whitening strips. Chenoweth (who’s also scored on TV and in movies) is a richly talented gal with a soaring voice and expert comic chops. She can chirp, she can coo, she can belt, she can woo. But one can’t help feeling that if she’d been born earlier and had taken a few wrong career turns, Kristin could have ended up as a regular on “The Lawrence Welk Show.” As much as I enjoy the kitsch value of that exercise in champagne bubbles and polyester schmaltz, I’m glad that didn’t happen, because she happens to be great.
I love “Dodo!” She’s America’s eternal virgin — a screen sweetheart who flashed her dimples in 1950s and ’60s romantic comedies with studs like Rock Hudson, in between displaying her honeyed voice in splashy musicals. But let’s face it, she’s whiter than un-toasted Wonder Bread. Doris can’t help it, especially now that she’s retired and in her 90s, but I strongly feel she should leap back into the spotlight with a James Brown tribute album, to prove she’s got the spirit. Any takers?
Justin puts on the homie attitude and talks the talk and tries to be all cool and shit, but the more he does all that, the whiter he seems. The generally welcome cross pollination of culture is obviously leading to anomalies like this — where a chalky pop star thinks he can pretend to be a hip-hop artist. I’m glad Donny Osmond never tried it.
Meryl has ably played British people, Australian people, fashion editors and even witches, but she’s never dared to portray anyone black. I guess we know where her range ends! Yes, Meryl taught a violin class in East Harlem in “Music of the Heart,” but she never sanctioned an interracial relationship involving her daughter, like Katharine Hepburn did in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” Case closed. Meryl needs to shake things up and get down with her bad self, or Glenn might finally take over.
Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.