The Faces We Favor What Makes a Person Attractive? : Are Blondes Still Having More Fun?

SINGLE MEN DREAM about blondes, even though they tend to marry brunettes. And when single women envision the perfect man, he's a true cliche: tall, dark and handsome. Or he's the opposite: short and, well, kind of funny-looking.

These are the facts, according to Zelda Fischer. And Fischer ought to know. She's a modern Dolly Levi, an '80s-style matchmaker. Clients of her Gentlepeople Ltd. introduction service tell Fischer what they're looking for in a mate and then pay her $5,000 to $50,000 to find their perfect match.

"Most men tell me they want a woman who looks like Jane Pauley," Fischer reports. The host of NBC's "Today" show ranks No. 1 as a prototype wife, with actresses Cybill Shepherd and Goldie Hawn runners-up, Fischer says. "If they name a brunette, it's usually Sally Field," she adds. "None of these women look threatening; they're appealing in a fresh-faced way."

Tom Selleck and the late Cary Grant are women's top choices in the looks category, the matchmaker says. "But women are also attracted to Michael J. Fox and Woody Allen types. They both come across as intellectual and comical at the same time, and that's what appeals to many women--brains and a sense of humor. How a potential mate looks is far less important to women than it is to men."

In fact, says Fischer, who has been matching mates for eight years, men list looks as their top priority. "So I give a man exactly what he describes the first two times and then, when it doesn't work out--and it often doesn't--I introduce him to the woman who is best suited to him. And things start to click. Gradually, the men begin to change their priorities. The men who initially said they prefer blondes are much more likely to marry brunettes."

Women tend to rank looks sixth or seventh on their priority lists, behind such qualities as power, money, charisma, character and sense of humor, she says. "Most women don't care whether a man is short or balding. Even tall women don't generally discriminate against short men. Many women say bald is sexy," she says.

But Fischer, who maintains six offices internationally, including one in Beverly Hills, says both men and women have strong feelings about age and body type. "Women refuse to date overweight men, yet some men prefer heavy women. They're the minority, however. It's the rare man who asks for a short woman; most men want tall women. The biggest surprise is that both men and women are looking for mates their own age."

Fischer has consultants to advise on hair, makeup and wardrobe. "I only suggest those services if the client asks. Once I suggested that a gentleman cut off his beard because most women don't like them. He got angry and said no woman was worth that."

Fischer claims a success rate (meaning introductions that result in marriage) of 65%. Her message to singles: "When people realize that looks are far less important than they thought, they can start developing solid relationships." In the meantime, blondes appear to be having more fun.

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