People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People
Photograph by Sandra Johnson/Retna LTD

Paolo Montalban

ACTOR· Even Whitney Houston had to cast about for her Prince Charming. As an executive producer of ABCS top-rated musical version of Cinderella, Houston needed a '90's guy to slip that glass slipper onto Brandy's foot. "He had to be gorgeous, but he also has to have a heart," she says. "He had to he a pinup type that girls would instinctively know their mothers would love and trust." In true story-book fashion, it took some time before her prince did come-until the very end of the very last day of auditions, when in walked Paolo Montalban. "Everyone knew he was the one," Houston says, "the moment he entered the room."

Since the fairy tale aired in November, life for Montalban, 24, has become somewhat surreal. The former chorus member in Broadway's The King and I is receiving a stream of scripts and fan mail to pore over. "I don't get it," says the 6'1" Montalban, who lives alone in an apartment in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen and keeps in shape by lifting weights and Rollerblading. "Good-looking people are symmetrical. But one of my eyes is lower than the other. I also have a really big head. It's huge! And I have broad shoulders, but I disappear when I turn sideways."

To stay on his trail, follow the scent of Paul Mitchell Shampoo One and Kiehl's Mango body wash. "It's fruity, but in a masculine way," he says. "I love smells. I love to go to the drugstore and smell the new products."

"Paolo," explains his mom, Vivian, "is not as aggressive as other guys." In grade school, she recalls, "he went through an awkward phase when he wore these thick, gold eyeglasses that made him look like a nerd. He wasn't too confident." It was back then that she and husband Paul, both research chemists, gave their son what he calls the greatest beauty secret of all. "When you're happy with yourself and kind to other people, that comes to the surface," says Montalban. "It doesn't change the arch of your eyebrow or the shape of your nose, but there's a glow that happens, right at the skin. It's unbelievable."