Justin Timberlake, Hugh Jackman, Beyonce head list of entertainment ‘triple threats’
By Tony Hicks
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 04/14/2009 01:00:00 AM PDT
Updated: 04/14/2009 05:40:33 AM PDT
In basketball, the truly great all-around player is the guy putting up triple doubles. He scores, he rebounds, he assists. He does it all.
The entertainment equivalent is the triple threat: an entertainer who can sing, dance and act. Some can, some can’t, and far too many try.
The concept goes way back, from Al Jolson and James Cagney to Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Sammy Davis Jr., to name some of the best examples. Of course, for every natural like a Danny Kaye or Dick Van Dyke, there’s a Britney Spears trying to destroy the concept of acting in “Crossroads,” or a Pierce Brosnan nuking our eardrums in “Mamma Mia!”
One could logically argue David Hasselhoff’s voice blaring from radios all over Germany actually destroyed the Berlin Wall.
It’s hard to debate the greatness of the triple threat Mt. Rushmore (Jolson, Kelly, Astaire, Davis) and its foothills such as Cagney (who might’ve made the mountain had he sang and danced more), Kaye, Ben Vereen, Van Dyke, Gregory Hines, Judy Garland, Lindsay Lohan).
Wait “… who?
Anyway, without offering a perfect leakproof list, here’s who else might rate as legitimate triple-threats. The jury’s still out on the newest batch of Disney kids (Zac Efron, Miley Cyrus, Vanessa Hudgen, Ashley Tisdale, etc.). Let’s not pick on poor Jessica Simpson here; she has enough trouble.
True triple triumphs
# Justin Timberlake. And not just when playing with a box on “Saturday Night Live.” He got good reviews in “Alpha Dog,” and seemingly could become a consistently good actor.
# Most of the cast of the film “Chicago.” They were surprisingly good. Well, Richard Gere tried.
# Hugh Jackman: A triple hunk.
# BeyoncÃ©: So much all-around talent, she can sometimes be frightening.
# John Travolta: Obviously the guy can dance and act. He’s not the greatest singer, but he can probably sing better than near-miss Frank Sinatra could dance, based on a couple of ’70s music hits and “Grease.” Recently he got back into singing by duetting with Miley Cyrus on the “Bolt” theme song.
# Jennifer Lopez: Many (OK, me) doubted her singing ability until she finally toured in 2007. But she truly has (triple) game.
# Janet Jackson: Has about the same ability level as J-Lo, only with better abs.
# Tupac Shakur: Some say he could’ve been one of the greats. Although even good rappers don’t rate high on the singing scale, Shakur had a distinct voice, sometimes crossing over into singing. He was fairly powerful in the few films he made and, of course, started out as a dancer with Digital Underground.
# Elvis Presley: His voice was legendary and his dancing had parents bum-rushing the TV. The best thing about his acting? Ann-Margret.
# Patrick Swayze: “She’s Like the Wind,” and he sang the end theme from “Road House” â€” if only brawling counted on the triple scale.
# Julie Andrews: She squeaks by on the dancing part. Barely.
# Madonna: We’ll always have Argentina.
# Liza Minnelli: C’mon, who doesn’t get points for dancing in front of Nazis in “Cabaret”?
2 of 3 ain’t bad
# Frank Sinatra: The defining singing voice of a generation, Sinatra was a surprisingly good actor. But you could almost see Gene Kelly cramping up trying to slow down to wait for Sinatra’s “dancing” in “On the Town.”
# Prince: Well, at least he tried to act. He doesn’t dance much, but when he does it’s pretty explosive (think the end of the “Little Red Corvette” video). Throw in amazing songwriting and playing every instrument known to man, and he might be the first quintuple threat.
# Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Olivia Newton-John and Cher: None can dance, but all can sing and act. Maybe even at the same time. And don’t get worked up about Newton-John in “Grease.” It was no coincidence that Danny only won the dance contest once Cha-Cha shoved Sandy out of the way.
# Michael Jackson: Let’s see, beyond “The Wiz,” there was all that crotch-grabbing and squealing in his videos. That was acting “… right?
# Michelle Pfeiffer: Remember “The Fabulous Baker Boys.” Forget “Grease 2.”
Don’t quit your day job
# Burt Reynolds: Actors get big and start believing they can sing and dance. Anyone who has Reynolds’ ’70s LP “Ask Me What I Am” (a bad singer with a huge mustache?), or saw “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” knows better.
# Paris Hilton: Maybe the only person in this conversation who is 0-for-3 in triple thrills. And she’s threatening to make another record. Who says money doesn’t matter?
# Lindsay Lohan: Just act. Please. Give it a try. It might work out.
# Sylvester Stallone: “Rhinestone” was a joke “… right?
# Eddie Murphy: He only sings well when he’s acting.
# Mariah Carey: Not sure about the dancing but, after “Glitter,” we can definitely rule out acting.