David Manning Trivial Liars of the Month for August 2005

Sharon Stone

The great comedian Jack Benny lampooned vanity and maintained a career-long gag by claiming to be "39" whenever he was asked his age on his various radio and TV shows. That anyone would continue to lie when the lie could not possibly fool anybody (after all, Benny continued the gag into his 80s and had been publicly "39" for over forty years) was ridiculous, and the joke got funnier the longer it went on. But, of course, Jack Benny was in on the joke. If his audience thought for a second that the comedian actually expected them to believe such a transparent falsehood, it would have been laughing at Benny, not with him.

Sharon Stone could be doing dead-on parody of celebrities who deny having cosmetic surgery when it is obvious to everyone that they have, but if so, she is either charting new territory in performance art or channeling the spirit of Andy Kauffman. If either proves to be the case, The Ethics Scoreboard will be among the first to apologize and compliment her on her truly deft satire, but right now the evidence all point to an actress who is sticking to one of the silliest public shams in memory, and is thus August's Trivial Liar.

Virtually over night, you see, Sharon Stone simultaneously has started looking 20 years younger and stopped looking even remotely like Sharon Stone. I tuned in on a late night talk show recently to find the host chatting with a rather generically beautiful slim blond woman who had an oddly familiar voice. He kept referring to the fact that she was a "big star," which puzzled me, because I follow media and entertainment closely enough to recognize big stars, or even medium size ones. Oh, I may have weak moments when I'm not quite certain whether a fungible blond starlet is Brittany Murphy or Tara Reid, but I still know it's one of them. Not to boast, but I can even usually spot a washed-up former child star…say, Gaby Hoffman…when she suddenly shows up ten years older playing a featured role on an episode of Law and Order. But I couldn't just place this woman at all.

It was, of course, 47 year-old Sharon Stone…nipped, tucked, botoxxed and lord knows what else back into her early thirties, looking different enough that if she had told Jay or Dave or whoever it was that she was in the Federal Witness Protection Program, I would have believed her.

What I don't believe is that she hasn't had any "work done," as the current Hollywood euphemism goes, and that she is dedicated to growing old naturally. But that is exactly what Sharon Stone has been telling her fans and the press. Listen to Stone's recent comments to "FemaleFirst," a U.K. website:

"I think like a young person and, although I try to keep myself fit and active, I won't be taking desperate measures like facelifts and plastic surgery. I'm a great believer in letting nature take its course and living with what I've been given."

Apparently Sharon Stone wants us to believe that she has recently been "given" a brand new face by an anonymous donor.

The question raised by all this, as with most trivial lies of the "Elephant? What elephant?" variety, is why? Why show yourself to be liar when nobody believes you and nobody cares? More celebrities have had cosmetic surgery than not, it seems; a partial list would include Dolly Parton, Bruce Jenner, Bob Dole, Chelsea Clinton, Mariah Carey, Senator Joe Biden, Goldie Hawn, and the Olsen twins, and a complete list would almost fill the National Archives. Cosmetic surgery is so common that it is approaching the novelty value of a hair-cut; hardly anyone is shocked or scandalized about it, so why is Sharon Stone lying when in her case the evidence is so obvious? Unlike some celebrities who have undergone a cosmetic make-over, Stone looks good.

She just doesn't look like Sharon Stone.



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