Sunday, January 13, 2008

Weekend Wind-Down:: Tall, BLONDE And Handsome

This weekend at The Pink Heart Society our very own Trish Wylie brings us lots of nice pictures to start the weekend. And why you may ask? Well apart from the obvious reason she's starting a bit of a campaign this month...

Tall, dark and handsome...

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm all for that. Bring it on I say! In fact... if there's a queue...sorry...IT'S WHERE???

The Oxford English Dictionary Online has the first citation of the phrase 'Tall, dark and handsome' as being in 1906 - just in case you wanted to know - but it seems to have become a cliché by the time the 1958 citation rolls around, perhaps from its use in the 1933 film 'She Done Him Wrong' - here's the relevant part of the entry for tall: In proverbial phr. tall, dark, and handsome, denoting a type of attractive man

O-oookkkaaaayyyy... But what if they're BLONDE??? Are they then automatically less attractive than the dark ones?

Seems to me that there are just as many tall and handsome ones with blonde hair and blue eyes - I've even supplied several examples here to prove my point. (well c'mon - they're very PRETTY pics - can you blame me? I do keep saying it's a tough job gang...) So are we prejudiced against blonde heroes? Does the fact that those gorgeous Mediterranean heroes sell by the bucketload mean that READERS prefer them tall, dark and handsome??? Gotta say at this point I hope they love the blonde ones just as much seeing as my latest hero is blonde...

Maybe it's in the interpretation of the saying?

Some would say the phrase grew out of the hardboiled pulp detective stories and crime dramas of the 1920s and 30s. Writers like Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett began using all sorts of slang in their books, and a lot of it stuck ("don't get any ideas", "wise guy", and the like...), and yet tall, dark, and handsome is the one most famous in the world of romance for completely different reasons - OR-IS-IT???
When actually, the phrase meant trouble in the form of a stranger...

So maybe quite apt after all? But although the description sounds like a dream guy to us, it was almost implied that the girl who fell for this guy was letting her weakness for men get the best of her - a decision she would, of course, come to regret... While nowadays we all think of tall, dark and handsome as the IDEAL MAN. The man no self-respecting heroine will regret being with by the end of the story. Sigh. Where was that queue again?

Now we should note that the 'dark' didn't necessarily mean dark-skinned, or even dark-haired, but instead it meant mysterious, determined, and generally with a "dark countenance" to back up their sincerity. So maybe the hair and eye colour has nothing to do with it at all???

There was even a 1941 movie starring Cesar Romero called Tall, Dark and Handsome about a hood having to deal with his mistress, his underlings, and his rivals. Described in some places as 'pretty good but forgettable', it does nevertheless go to show how fast and far the term had spread even by then...

But the fact remains that mention tall, dark and handsome today and we all think YUM. So maybe for we fans of romance it started with that element of danger? He was that boy our mothers all warned us about. He was forbidden. Yuh-huh and now we want him MORE, don't we???

Okat then let's break it down and look at it another way...

Tall - non-negotiable I think we'll all agree. It's all about the fantasy here after all. And it's not that there aren't millions of delicious men under 6ft tall but when a gal dips her toe in a little fantasy pool tall adds that little extra something, right?

So tall stays.

Handsome - a no-brainer my friends. But handsome is in the eyes of the beholder, isn't it? I mean just look at all my lovely research pics here and I'll bet there'll be some that appeal more to you than others. (Me - well, I have a very fine eye and I can see merit in ALL of them) And I could debate the differences between 'handsome' and 'attractive' til the cows come home but 'attractive' isn't in the phrase we're dealing with so I'll leave that to another blog I think. But again we're dealing with the fantasy here - and if the hero was loosing his hair, had a beer belly and was five foot two I doubt I'd be soaking in a bubble bath with his story any day soon! I'm particular about who'll I'll get wrinkly with thankyou.

So handsome stays. That leaves us to talk about 'dark' again...

Taking dark to mean dark haired/optional dark eyed and possibly olive skinned and keeping in mind the earlier stuff about the origins of the phrase in gangster type movies lets think about the sterotypes involved with dark haired and blonde haired. Remember those old movies when the bad guy dressed in black and the good guy in white so we knew who to cheer for? Well if we once translated tall, dark and handsome as dangerous and that was part of the attraction to we romance fans then does that mean in our minds we still see the blonde guys as the boy next door types? The ones lacking in that edge that make us go weak at the knees? Is THAT where our 'prejudice' has come from?

Have you read any books like that? You know where the 'too good' guy was dumped in favour of the tall, dark and handsome with an edge type? Why can't the blonde haired/baby blues guy have just as much of an edge to him - huh? HUH? Just look at the outcry when they went and cast a BLONDE GUY as James Bond!!! Mind you - he can help make my point here I feel... (see gratuitous pic of Daniel Craig at the seaside...)

The prejudice can have a twist too. Cos how many books have you read where the hero was tall, dark and handsome and the BAD GUY was blonde haired and a complete cad/bounder/s**t???

See what I mean? Seems to me my blonde lovelies have had a bit of a rough ride in our circles. I feel the need to jump to their defence. Particularly since my new hero is on the shelves as we speak (little bit of a plug there) I'll even hold my hand up high, hang my head in shame and say I've been just as guilty of ignoring the tall, blonde and handsomes during my writing career. In sixteen books I have written a total of two blonde heroes. Not a good ratio is it? Am I selling out? Have to say I'm feeling a little guilty... Heck - In Project: Parenthood I even have the heroine thinking the gorgeous Brendan was the kind of guy who never got anything wrong... like some kind of fair-haired angel. SEE?! Now where are the DARK HAIRED ANGELS???!!!


So to redress the balance and atone for my sins I'm here to campaign for the merits of Tall, BLONDE and handsome. They can be sexy, they can be dangerous, they can be troubled, they can be BAD-BOYS with that EDGE to them and if there's one thing Alex in His Mistress: His Terms taught me - it's that they can be HOT! Don't all my very lovely, very carefully selected research pics demonstrate that? Oh I think so. Otherwise I'd have waffled on here for no reason at all. And that's not like me at all. Much.

Come on authors - fess up - how many blonde haired heroes have you created? What's YOUR ratio like?

And readers - stand up and be counted too - are you weaker at the knees for the tall, dark and handsome types or does blonde do it for you too? Have I Googled pointlessly? Is it simply all about the guy no matter what?

Y'all gotta admit there is a balance to be addressed...right?

Just take a minute and look at all their ikkle faces. How can you deny them their place in the glorious worlds we all love to get lost in? Now I'm a game gal but I don't know if I can offer comfort to ALL of them. I'd TRY. But... okay there isn't a 'but' in there but it's a matter of so many hours in the day...

Here in front of these venerable witnesses I hereby pledge to write at least one tall, BLONDE and handsome hero every year from 2008 onwards. I will make him unbearably attractive, I will not limit him to beta-ness, I will pay every little bit as much attention to his 'dangerous edge' and have my share of the 'bad-boy-blondes' and I promise to add liberal dollops of hotness all over the place - mark my words!
Anyone care to take the pledge with me?

H's & K's

Trish's latest release (featuring the tall, BLONDE and handsome hero who looks a lot like the first pic on this blog as it happens) is on the shelves in the UK and Ireland RIGHT NOW!

You can order His Mistress: His Terms from both Amazon and the Mills & Boon website and for more info on what Trish is up to and her books you can visit her Website or her Blog...


  1. Well sex on a stick Trish, this is a darned good post. Except you forgot Jamie Bamber. At 5'10 he's a little shortish, but a natural blonde just the same.

    Brad is looking quite Redfordesque, methinks.

    Confession time...I have yet to write a blonde hero. Of course I tried but that book got put on the shelf indefinitely.

    I did however write a red head. Do I get points for that?

  2. Lurve red heads!
    Fab blog!
    I generally write dark hero's but I do now and then do a blonde - am just doing the proofs on a blonde hero and even my heroine is saying to herself- "I don't usually like blondes" - but when a blonde is worth doing he's worth doing well!!
    My blondes have green eyes FWIW
    Carol Marinelli x

  3. LOL Very nice post, our Trish. Blonde stranger not so good in Scotland historically, I believe. They usually came from Scandanavia and had a habit of raping and pillaging. In fact, I have the blue eyes to prove it! If my Dad's to be believed 'tis why you need to be first footed by a dark-haired male.

  4. Whatever happened to Harrison Ford?

  5. You forgot Johnny Wilkinson, England's fly half and one of the reasons for watching any England rugby match.

    And I have written a blonde hero -- Vikar in Viking Warrior,Unwilling wife. Okay, so I cheated by using Philip Glenister who is more strawberry blonde/reddy brown.

  6. You write it. I'll read it.
    Blonde works for me!
    LOL Ray-Anne

  7. Oooooooooh Harrison Ford. May I say, Nicolette, you have EXCELLENT taste in men.

    I've written a blonde hero. My first. Now anyone tell me why he was dark haired on the cover???

  8. Natasha, because dark haired heroes sell better :-)

    Matthew McConoughy (probably spelled that incorrectly, but it's late here in my sweltering corner of Oz. And my brain is tired). He qualifies as blonde doesn't he? Reign of Fire. Scene right at the end where he plays dragon slayer. Fab.


  9. I hope my name dropping will help convert all you who prefer the darker man. I'm not asking that you abandon the hero you love to love, but give the blonde guys a chance. Please?....Anyway, here goes:

    Particularly in the romantic comedy, Something New.

    Come on ladies, admit it. He's sex on legs.

  10. Why, thank you, Natasha! I like to think so. And so do you, especially as we both seem to have, shall I say, a...fondness...for RA?

  11. think I may have just posted a blank sheet!
    Anyway, what I meant to post was - heroes I've written so far - one tall dark and brooding, one with curly chestnut hair,and a chip on his shoulder, and third BLONDE, with cold blue eyes - the quintessential English aristocrat (well, he is a Regency hero)
    Annie Burrows

  12. Oooooooh! Some of John Schneider's earlier photos turn my insides to yes, I've used him as a hero!!!

    Loved Simon Baker in the TV series, The Guardian? Didn't last long, but he caught my attention.

    Great photos!

    Carol Hutchens

  13. LOL...I meant mush!

    Carol Hutchens

  14. yeah, simon was great in the guardian. but you honestly have to check out Something New. he is the perfect man, perfect hero, perfect lover....please, rent it now.

    You'll end up buying it after seeing it once, promise.


  15. Actually, I've always preferred the blonds (male form is usually without the "e"). It's funny that my sister always liked the dark-haired men (she's a red-head), whereas I have light brown hair and liked the blonds. I had read somewhere that that is a more common preference, statistically.