Anne McAllister is finishing a book this week or she would be busy putting up even more of the 987 pictures she has of today's Male on Monday for your delectation.
Ever since I clipped my first hero out of the Penney's catalog (long-sleeve dress shirts) twenty-six years ago, I've been collecting men.
I have file folders full of them left over from the 'olde days' when men still came in paper form.
And now I have virtual folders of them in varying resolutions and numbers of pixels.
They are all very handsome, very appealing men. But some are more appealing than others.
I admit to having favorites over the years. Those of you who know about Hugh-in-a-towel are already aware of that. But -- it wasn't always Hugh Jackman.
When I was casting the hero of my first book, after all, Hugh was still in high school. So over the years, I've gone through quite a few.
Some seem to endure, however.
Recently (say, in the last five years) one in particular has got what it takes to be quite a few heroes of mine -- so I'm celebrating his versatility as today's Male on Monday -- Raoul Bova.
Those of you who have been around the Pink Heart for a while may remember that Raoul was already celebrated a couple of years ago as a part of Ally Blake's tribute to Italian heroes.
But he has much greater range than that! And since, in one guise or another, he could be my hero in just about every book, it seems only fair to bring him back and give him a column of his own.
I know he's not only been the man in my mind while I'm writing, he's done in turn in quite a few other authors' books as well.
So, who is this source of almost unending inspiration?
Raoul Bova was born August 14th, 1971 in Rome. He has two sisters. At the age of four, he nearly drowned, prompting his parents to get him swimming lessons. Apparently he took them seriously enough to become a national champion in his teens.
He did his military service in the Bersaglieri and went to the Italian Institute of Physical Education with the intent of becoming a physical education teacher.
Fortunately fate intervened when he got a small television role, followed by his first film Piccolo Grande Amore in 1993 in which he played a local boy/swimming instructor with whom a pretty princess, on the run from an arranged engagement, falls in love. (And I swear I didn't even know this existed when I cast him as my hero in my next book, The Virgin's Proposition, about an actor who ends up rescuing a pretty princess from an arranged engagement!)
He was a pretty face, too, in those days and soon became a national heartthrob. But intent on proving he was more than that, he took acting seriously and began to seek out more demanding roles. Over the years he has played heroes and anti-heroes, cops and terrorists, saints and sinners.
He came to many Americans' attention when he appeared as Marcello, the love interest of Diane Lane's character, Frances, in Under the Tuscan Sun. I, for one, remember well the "Who's he?" moment in that film. I made it a point to find out.
Beyond his good looks and determination to work hard as an actor, Raoul takes his ability to influence people seriously.
He is committed both through his production company, Sanmarco, which he heads along with his wife, Chiara Giordano, and through work with other agencies, to promote social causes in which he believes. He has recently been involved with the Petition to End Hunger. And in 2008 he starred in 15 Seconds, a short film produced by Sanmarco, which was presented to the European Parliament prior to the “European Day against the Death Penalty” and during the celebration of UN’s 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These are just two of several projects of social significance with which he continues to be involved.
As the father of two growing boys, he has been concerned about the use of drugs among teens and in society in general. So one of his projects this past year was the film Sbirri, a true story of a well-known TV journalist who, after the drug-related death of his son, decides to follow the drug squad in their fight against drug trafficking in Milan.
Much of the footage in the film is taken from actual events as they happened, making it almost a documentary, as it explores one man's need to come to terms with his son's death and his sense of inadequacy as a parent, while at the same time the making of the film is Raoul's own quest to give credit to the unknown hereoes who work every day to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
It's this commitment to being a good parent, a good family man, and to making the world a better place for his children to grow up in that is as attractive as Raoul Bova's drop-dead good looks.
But the looks don't hurt, either.
Anne McAllister's latest book, One-Night Mistress . . . Convenient Wife was out in November. Raoul could have been the hero, but in this case, he wasn't.
However, look for him in next year's The Virgin's Proposition where he sweeps Princess Adriana off her feet before he even knows she is a princess.