THE BLOG
12/01/2014 06:32 pm ET Updated Jan 31, 2015

The Lovely Angie Dickinson

"IN AMERICA, sex is an obsession; in other parts of the world it's a fact," said the obsessively factual Marlene Dietrich.

•SO, what with the chilly month of December here, I thought we'd think upon the lovely Angie Dickinson. I was reminded of the leggy star when The Hollywood Reporter ran, on its recent back page, the famous 1966 Esquire magazine photo of Angie, posing in what was then a "shocking" picture.

In this shot by Frank Bez, Dickinson wears a pale blue pullover sweater, white high-heels, and a smile. That's all she wore, folks. Of course, this is tasteful semi-nudity and what was censorable back then is carefully hidden in shadow. Still, it was pretty racy for a non-Playboy photo.

Angie was freshly married to composer/conductor Burt Bacharach (much to the anger, displeasure and heartbreak of the above-mentioned Marlene Dietrich -- "What does she have that I don't?" raged Marlene. Nobody dared note the obvious -- youth.)

The younger actress had been an "up and coming" star for more years than she probably cared to think about at that point. She'd been sensational in "Rio Bravo" with John Wayne and in Ocean's 11 with Sinatra and the Rat Pack. In fact, she had a sexy, bristling effect onscreen in most of her films -- even things like Rome Adventure (luring puffy Troy Donahue away from puffy Suzanne Pleshette) or The Sins of Rachel Cade. (Her name was Rachel and she sinned!) But somehow Dickinson never quite "took off." Angie was perhaps "too much woman" for the times.

The sexy Esquire picture reminded the public that Angie was a steaming dish that needed to be served piping hot.

Still, despite great turns in The Chase, Point Blank (one of the superior surrealistic modern noir mysteries) and a lot of exploitive publicity for Big Bad Mama, it took TV's Police Woman to elevate Angie Dickinson to superstar status. She was no longer a fresh young thing, and all the more potent in her maturity. (Joan Collins always gets the credit for "bringing the older woman to TV," but it was really Angie who set the standard. And would Mariska Hargitay exist on SVU but for Angie?)

After that, Angie had at least one more classic film role, as the unhappy woman of "Dressed to Kill," and appeared in countless TV movies, including the beautifully weird "Wild Palms."

I admire Angie so much as an actress, and even more as an honest, affectionate, down-to-earth human being. (She famously walked out on a "This is Your Life" segment, feeling herself unworthy of such a tribute!) She has known her share of unhappiness and tragedy, but never courted sympathy and never ignored a friend who expressed support for her work or condolences for her pain.

And even in bad times, she'd phone to say thanks, when that was so unnecessary.

Angie is 83 now, still striking, still the "great broad" she was when every man in Hollywood (and Washington, D.C.) wanted her. She returned her advance on an autobiography, feeling that telling all would hurt others. I love her.

Oh, and many years after Angie's sweater-and-heels photo ran, Esquire put Britney Spears on its cover in a similar pose. Britney perhaps had a more bodacious ass, but she couldn't touch the class of Miss Angie Dickinson.

•"PERSONALLY, I'd stay as far the hell away from black holes as I can," said astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, questioning "the choices made by some characters in Christopher Nolan's space epic "Interstellar."

And David Brooks of the New York Times wrote an editorial recently where he compared science in the movie to its obvious religious allegories. These failed to make themselves clear to me. He wrote that the combination creates a powerful mystical atmosphere. (For instance, there are 12 "Apostles" on the Noah's ark spaceship...the space project is named Lazarus. The heroine saves the world at age 33. There is a fallen angel named Dr. Mann "who turns satanic in a Universe Garden of Eden...there's an infinitely greater and incorporeal intelligence offering merciful salvation.")

It missed me entirely until now. I have seen this movie twice and given it raves. But I did question those men in suits and ties still toiling at a NASA, which barely exists nowadays and I also pondered their doing this secret work while around them the world was starving and Earth was in ruins. I do wish someone would star my friend Anne Hathaway in something where she isn't required to cry a lot and have a red nose. (Maybe Les Miserables has temporarily typecast her as the go-to girl for weeping.)

And when, and if, they give an Oscar to Matthew McConaughey, for this, will it be because he can cry buckets onscreen?

•MY second encounter with NASA in one weekend came when I nabbed an expensive ticket to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won 11 Olivier Awards and is the darling of Broadway. The leading -- I won't say man; he's a boy of 14 -- person wears a NASA tee shirt most of the show. I think studying someone with extreme autism for two hours is fine and enlightening. But I think this show chiefly gets by on its dramatic lighting, design, props, stunts and choreography.

But I am in the minority. The rest of the world seems to worship this play and the book from which it was taken.