“After 40, a woman doesn’t need a lover so much as a good PR agent.” That would be a great quote for the mythos surrounding Cleopatra, the global metaphor for ageless beauty of the past three millenniums. Besides her hefty cache of personal charms, she knew the value of self-promotion — you can’t just get a guy to say, “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety,” without deploying legions of reliable PR agents or whatever they were called in Ancient Egypt.

The question is: Would her reputation have survived in the crude, cruel climate of present-day Hollywood? It’s a problem worth pondering when even Michelle Pfeiffer — who, at 52, should be listed in the dictionary under “golden” — is forced to utter such unspeakable lines as, “You’re seeing an old woman,” to a whippersnapper of 25. What’s the world coming to?

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