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Published: Sunday, 2/6/2011

Liz Smith: Vanity Fair packs its issue on Hollywood

"YOU'RE NOT a star until they can spell your name in Karachi," said Humphrey Bogart.

I realize that the editors of Vanity Fair are hard-pressed to top their past Hollywood edition covers because they've done 17 of these puppies so far in hot succession.

Vanity Fair and the rest of us ran out of real movie stars a long time ago and we haven't made up the difference by manufacturing a lot of compelling new ones in the meantime.

This year VF offers a slew of young stars posed on one of those foldout covers. The men are in black tie. The ladies are in evening gowns, several of which are barely there.

But I'd have been more entertained if they'd posed the women in black-tie tuxedos and had the men half naked.

• Despite my annual complaint about the cover of the Hollywood issue, the magazine itself is always a splendid thing, chock full of the new and the vintage.

On the vintage side, there is "Charmed and Dangerous," a photo essay on fabulous movie queens of the past — and a few from the present. There is Veronica Lake, peering out from under peek-a-boo tresses; Elizabeth Taylor at 16, looking like a woman of the world; Marilyn, naked under the sheets; Lana Turner, the glossiest of the MGM glamour girls; Rita Hayworth, lounging in character as Gilda; Ava Gardner, the greatest; Barbara Stanwyck (believe me, Stanwyck was super-sexy; she wasn't always the white-haired matriarch of The Big Valley.)

On the more contemporary side we get Penelope Cruz, Kim Basinger, Kathleen Turner in her Body Heat era, and Angelina Jolie. No offense, but not even Miss Jolie has a patch on Ava.

There's lots more. Too much, almost! The Hollywood issue is like an enormous buffet table at the biggest party on Oscar night. You know that no matter how much people eat, a lot of those luscious prawns will go to waste.

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