Perhaps it is because I was getting on in age, and my male radar equipment hadn’t yet been upgraded to detect the beauty, nay, the sexuality, of older movie actresses, that I hadn’t even noticed Helen Mirren until the past year or so. I had seen her in a number of films in the past, films like The Madness of King George and Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, but she failed to draw my attention. I just don’t recall her. The radar screen was blank.

She first caught my interest as Elizabeth I in the two-part series on HBO, vacillating between her Queenly power and her womanly vulnerability in an emotional tug-of-war with her main squeeze, played by Jeremy Irons. Now I hear she is drawing rave reviews for her performance as the other Elizabeth (II) in her new film, The Queen.

Becoming more intrigued, I recently tivo’d a segment of her acclaimed British series, Prime Suspect, on PBS, in which she plays a brilliant but troubled Detective Chief Inspector struggling with her personal problems, all the while pursuing murderers and rapists through the streets of London. I was hooked. The woman is a force of nature, and even in her most tortured moments, a wonder to behold. Her sexual magnetism is palpable, even on television.

Yesterday we received, among a fistful of flyers in the mailbox, a brochure from The Gap clothing line, obviously aimed straight at the heart of the twenty-something crowd, right? Well, not quite. Right there on page three (above) was Dame Helen herself, with husband Taylor Hackford, telling all of us sixty-somethings that sexiness never dies. If I can be knocked out by a silver-haired actress on the silver screen, there is a lot more to look forward to than I had imagined. (My wife Liz, though (left), is actually sexier than Helen, but don’t ever tell Helen that; we guys have to keep our fantasies alive.)

Dame Helen Mirren was born in Ilford, Essex as Ilyena Vasilievna Mironov on 26 July 1945. Her father, Vasily Petrov Mironoff, was born of Russian nobility and the family of her English mother, Kathleen Rogers, had worked in service to Queen Victoria. Mirren married Hackford, an American film director (An Officer and a Gentleman, Dolores Claiborne, Ray) in 1997, in the Scottish Highlands. They had been domestic partners since 1986.

It appears from where I now stand, as I approach the top of the mountain, that some women grow even more sexually alluring and beautiful as they grow older, having added essence of wisdom and a measure of finely cured experience to that potent feminine mix. Is this another groundbreaking cultural phenomenon provided to the world by us baby boomers, or has this always been true? I have no idea, since this is the first time I’ve been in my sixties. Girls, feel free to let me know whether you are beginning to notice the same thing in men. Guys, we have a lot to look forward to; time to hit the gym.

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