Darla Hood batted her eyelashes and twirled a parasol, and Alfalfa and Butch were knocked sideways by her coquettish charm. Famously the Our Gang child-actress even sang I'm in the Mood For Love.
Nothing's changed, except now the little rascals are Drake and Chris Brown, the two stars at the centre of a New York nightclub melee involving bodyguards, hurled bottles of high-priced liquor and the cork-popping beguile of Rihanna, that Barbadian bombshell who wasn't there, but who possibly (and innocently) set off the boorish feud. She's the beautiful object of affection and the mother of all must-haves – the sultry Umbrella singer in a world raining men.
The particulars of what went down in the predawn hours at Club W.i.P. in SoHo last week are in dispute. In a tweet on Friday, Brown, the American singer whose mood is as volatile as his R&B is smooth, described a TMZ account of the brawl as "insane" and "not informative" and not based in fact. Earlier, Brown had tweeted a photo showing a nasty gash on his chin. A rep for Drake told People magazine that the Toronto rapper "did not participate in any wrongdoing of any kind," and that he had left the club before the altercation began.
What we do know is this: That there are rumours of a reunion of Rihanna and Brown (who feloniously assaulted his then girlfriend in 2009); that Drake once told the New York Times that he was left feeling like a "pawn" after a brief relationship with Rihanna; and that both Drake and Brown would probably agree that the heavy-lidded lady is all that.
While Rihanna is only a so-so singer, she's quite talented at being desired. She has been romantically linked to actors Ryan Phillipe, Shia LaBeouf and Josh Hartnett. When asked about her, Katy Perry once told Rolling Stone magazine that it was "disgusting" how gorgeous Rihanna is. "Anytime I introduce my friends to her, male or female," said the I Kissed a Girl singer, "the ride back always consists of, 'What, does she drink the blood of virgins?' "
As incendiary muses go, Rihanna is right up there with Helen of Troy and Olive Oyl, the cartoon character desired by amorous alpha males Popeye and Bluto, who fought constantly in her name. Like Drake and Brown, Popeye had an entourage (the burger-obsessed Wimpy). Bluto was alone and tactless, and would often resort to kidnapping the bun-haired Olive.
Other highly desired females in history include the widow Jackie Kennedy and Hollywood's Marilyn Monroe, who once turned down Elvis himself.
On his blog for News One for Black America, Boyce Watkins, unsolicited and outrageously, offered advice for Brown and Drake. The Syracuse University professor and sometimes cable-news talking head asserted that they were idiots for fighting over Rihanna's honour, explaining that "the downfall of most great men usually involves a woman."
It's doubtful anyone sees the powder-keg-personality Brown as a great singer, let alone a great man. But, anyhow, the professor went on to trash the woman in question: "Rihanna does not appear to be in the 'good woman' category. Perhaps I would have been tempted to date her when I was 20, but now I know better, and so do most of my intelligent friends."
Most of his intelligent friends.
Much more rationally, the professor noted that the brouhaha had more to do with ego (and liquor) than the girl. And it's true that hip hop and urban R&B are genres in which the artists are highly competitive. Drake employing Rihanna on his song Take Care was as much about swagger and marketing as it was an artistic or romantic choice.
As for Rihanna, she's currently starring in the blockbuster film Battleship, as a naval weapons expert. Off the screen, she leaves the boys to go ballistic – a duel of bottles at thirty feet. She hasn't publicly commented on the melee possibly waged in her name, but most likely she's smiling, a muse amused.