By- James Fletcher

No, not Marlo Thomas, I’m referring to those actresses who show up in movies over and over again, and yet you just can’t seem to place their names.  There’s an awful lot out there dedicated to, “Hey, it’s That Guy!” but not a lot on the fairer sex.  So I decided to put together my own list of That Girls.

1. Bai Ling

I first became of Miss Ling due to her involvement in a local film entitled Petty Cash.  She’ll soon be returning to the fair state of Wisconsin to shoot another film, Yellow Hill.  You may have also caught her in the series Entourage in which she plays a martial arts trainer tutoring Vince in more than just Kung Fu.  Miss Ling is truly a “That Girl” having the prerequisite array of B films and television appearances.  She also wins the best photo award.

2.  Illeana Douglas

Illeana has been working consistently for the past 25 years and is always memorable in anything she appears in.  There’s something beautiful and sexy about Illeana crossed with just enough Olive Oyl to keep her honest.  She’s the granddaughter of the very fine actor, Melvyn Douglas, who first made his mark in the ‘30’s.  Illeanna first came to my notice in the 1991 remake of Cape Fear.

3.  Edie McClurg

“Central Casting, a neighbor lady.  Make her funny and quirky.”  Look no further than Edie McClurg.  She’s made a career of playing such roles, all with a twinkle in her eye and a laugh in her voice.  Her first movie was Carrie playing one of the schoolgirls, although blessedly leaving the nude scenes to the other girls (including another member of our That girl list).  Miss McClurg has plenty of comic chops having been one of the original members of The Groundlings.

4.  Margo Martindale

If Edie McClurg is the go-to actress for the quirky neighbor type, Margo Martindale is the go-to actress for the quirky neighbor type…that just might take your head off.  There’s something about Miss Martindale that’s jus a touch menacing.  Fortunately it’s usually coupled with a whole lot of humanity.  She was a high school cheerleader and was Miss Jacksonville High school 1969.  I’d love to see those photos.

5. Maria Aitkin

“Central Casting, I need a classy British lady.  I’m thinking Maggie Smith only better looking.”  Look no further than Maria Aitken.  Perhaps best known for playing John Cleese’s wife, Wendy in “A Fish Called Wanda,” Miss Aitken has the unique ability to play a bitch and make you like her at the same time.  This woman was born to star in a Noel Coward play and has done so many times.  She’s also a respected theatre director.

6.  Valerie Mahaffey

Miss Mahaffey never met a television series that she didn’t like, and she’s appeared on most of them.  She specializes in the pretty, skinny girlfriend who turns out to be a nut job.  When she shows up you can be certain a failed relationship isn’t far behind.

7.  Molly Hagan

Miss Hagan has made a career out of  playing small roles on numerous TV shows, but you may know here best as Matthew Broderick’s wife in “Election.”  There’s something alluring about this girl-next-door actress, but is it enough to remember her name?

8.  P.J. Soles

Miss Soles perfectly balances perky and naughty, which is the perfect recipe for a character in a horror movie.  She appears in two of the great classic horror movies of the ‘70’s: Halloween and Carrie.  But it’s her lead role in Rock ‘n’ Roll High School that cements her place as a That Girl.  P.J. plays Riff Randell, the Ramones biggest fan.  Did you know that Miss Soles was once married to Dennis Quaid?  Now you know.

9.  Patricia Clarkson

Miss Clarkson is one of those actresses that just seems to get more beautiful the older she gets.  If you need a graceful, porcelain-skinned actress, look no further.  She’s a very busy actress indeed, and yet seems to fly under the radar.  That’s perhaps the best thing that’s happened to her.  She’s our third connection to Stephen King’s Carrie, having played the part of Margaret White in the TV movie.

10. Melinda Dillon

With a career that closing in on 50 years, Melinda Dillon still isn’t in the lexicon of great American actresses.  You know her as the Ralph’s mother in A Christmas Story, but a look at her list of credits will bring many other movies such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Absence of Malice to mind.  Miss Dillon specializes in the mother roles that are just one step away from a complete mental breakdown.

11.  Mary Kay Place

Miss Place was just so damned adorable in The Big Chill that it’s always been something of a mystery to me that she didn’t become a household name.  She’s worked steadily since the ‘70’s, both as an actress and as a writer of music and teleplays.  I f you need an adorable aunt type, she’s your gal.

12.  Kelly MacDonald

Miss Macdonald may not be on this list for long, and indeed may have already moved past her That Girl status with turns in No Country for Old Men and Boardwalk Empire.  I first noticed her in Trainspotting as Ewen McGregor’s underage girlfriend.  Her acting is very subtle and seems to creep up on you.  And so does her beauty.  It’s a bit easy to write off Miss Macdonald as rather plain, but take a second look.

13.  Alfre Woodard

Miss Woodard shouldn’t be on this list as she is an actress of great talent and beauty, and yet I find most people don’t know her name.  The first time I saw her was in Passion Fish and I was hooked.  Every role she plays sticks out a bit more than it has a right to.

14.  Alice Drummond

If you need an older character actress who seems like she’s not all there and yet seems kind of sweet, look no further than Alice Drummond; she’s cornered the market on that character.  Miss Drummond started out on Dark Shadows and continued to appear in the soaps throughout the 70’s.  One suspects that like Bill Hickey, Miss Drummond was born looking old and only at the tender age of 83 has she caught up to those looks.  You may remember her as the Librarian that is haunted in the beginning of Ghostbusters, but I most fondly remember her as Hattie, the lady who keeps wandering off into the snow in Nobody’s Fool.   This should be quite a year for Miss Drummond with Dark shadows hitting theatres in May and Ghostbusters 3 in December.  Let’s see if she gets a cameo.

15.  Audrey Tautou

There ought to be a picture of Miss Tautou in the dictionary next to the word adorable, because she embodies the word.  Miss Tautou has been in some big films, most notably the French film, Amelie, and on this side of the pond, The Da Vinci Code, but American’s aversion to see anything with subtitles and Miss Tautou’s desire to remain a French film actress may keep her name from the tip of your tongue.  Along with Amelie, A Very Long Engagement should be on your must-see movie list.

So who’s your That Girl?  Chime in.

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