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Vanity

Little Women
by Laura Jacobs (Vanity Fair - February 1996)

In an age when Information is trespassing upon Innocence, and mass is trouncing class, the ingenue has become an endangered species. Do not confuse her with the lollipop Lolita, who's been in stock since Salome. Do not mistake her for those sad, static Madonnas in Young Turk, mean-street movies. This girl is magic, the spell she casts veritas et lux. Though the feminist may disinherit her and the playwright forget her lines, we want her back.

And she has come back, the only way she can: younger. Take Claire Danes, the 16-year-old New York-born actress with the opening-night name, who is currently filming Juliet (Shakespeare's) in Mexico City. As Angela on the television series My So-Called Life, Danes was a Flemish princess one minute, plain as porridge the next.

In Little Women, her deathbed scene scaled transcendentalist heights. But, the ingenue has always had otherworldy powers (Colette likened Gigi to an archangel). Fifteen-year-old Christina Ricci, raised in New Jersy, has founded her career on the afterlife, and the other-life. Starring in this spring's The Last of the High Kings and now at work on the remake of That Darn Cat, she made her first real splash at 10 in Mermaids. Then came Wednesday. As the Addams Family's savant, Ricci did deadpan by way of Derrida. From there it was only a growth spurt to Kay, Casper the Friendly Ghost's soul mate. Perhaps the match was inspired by their incandescent foreheads. It's not easy finding young men equal to the light in these girls' eyes.

© 1996, Condé Nast Publications Inc.