At 50, Sharon Stone still making headlines

At 50, Sharon Stone still making headlines

( dpa ) - Like Madonna, Jane Fonda and even Hillary Clinton, Sharon Stone is proving that in the modern era, strong and beautiful women can thrive in the public eye even past the traditional years of their prime.

Stone turns 50 on Monday, and though she may no longer be dominating headlines as much as she did in her heyday, she still is seen as a sexy superstar all over the world.

For those whose memory has faded of Stone's most famous moment, here's a brief reminder.

It came in the 1992 movie "Basic Instinct" in which she played one of the sexiest psychopathic killers of all time - Catherine Tramell, a brilliant bisexual killer who used her physical and mental attributes to captivate and distract the cops investigating her.

Her most notorious scene came during an interrogation where the seductive suspect repeatedly crosses and uncrosses her legs to reveal to her investigators and the world that she is not wearing undies.

The movie established Stone as a top Hollywood star, but she later claimed that she slapped director Paul Verhoeven when she realized her genitals were exposed on screen.

"I don't think that it (the film) moved my career because you could see up my dress," she said. "I think that it moved my career because I'm good in the movie."

There's no doubt that the movie has to a large extent defined her acting career. Yet it was to be 14 long years before she followed the obligatory Hollywood route and made a sequel.

Part of the reason for the delay was a dispute over who owned the movie rights. Another reason was a reported dispute with the producers over the level of nudity.

Paradoxically, this time it was Stone who wanted explicit sex scenes. Perhaps it was to show that she still had sex appeal as a woman in her late 40s. Or maybe it was, as she claimed, to push and provoke her audiences in a repressive American culture.

"We are in a time of odd repression and if a popcorn movie allows us to create a platform for discussion, wouldn't that be great?" Stone said in an interview. She added that despite the failure of the sequel, she would love to direct and act in a third Basic Instinct film.

That might be pushing it a little for a woman in her 50's - even if she does possess a unique combination of brains and beauty.

From the start Stone felt she was destined for greatness, telling an interviewer that even as a child, she wanted to be "the next Marilyn Monroe."

Born on March 10, 1958, she was one of three siblings who grew up in a solid middle class family in a small town in the US state of Pennsylvania. She was an intelligent child, skipping a grade in school, reportedly scoring 154 in an IQ test and going to university at the age of 15.

After winning a local beauty pageant she became a model for the famed Ford agency in New York in 1977 and got her first break into movies with a bit part, in Woody Allen's 1980 film Stardust Memories.

She went on to make more than 40 movies, including Casino in 1995 for which she won a best actress Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination.

In recent years she has made headlines for other reasons. In her personal life she has been through three marriages and has adopted three children from Africa. She remains deeply committed to the African continent, raising millions of dollars to fight malaria and AIDS. She has also strongly criticized US policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Yet as always, her beauty continues to draw attention. She recently sued a plastic surgeon who hinted that she had plastic surgery. And doctors in Britain blamed her and other older stars such as Madonna for projecting unattainable images of beauty that are believed to have caused an increase in the number of women in the 50's being treated for anorexia.

"It is a much more competitive world that we live in now," said Mary George, a spokeswoman for BEAT, a British eating disorders charity. "Older role models such as Sharon Stone, Madonna (48) or Jane Fonda (70) put extra pressure on women and make them worried about their body issues, which can lead to an eating disorder."

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