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Meg Ryan, America's sweetheart, turns 50

America's sweetheart is 50 years old today.

Meg Ryan, the bubbly blond actress from all those Nora Ephron movies that show up in multiple VHS copies at the thrift store, is 50.

That makes this as good a time as any to share our appreciation for the work that earned Ryan that sweetheart label. "When Harry Met Sally" comes to mind, particularly for this bit of cinematic gold:


I remember seeing "Sleepless in Seattle" before I moved to Seattle and thinking how lovely it might be to move to the Emerald City and live on a houseboat. Now I just wish I could go through the local airport and not see the film's title printed on oversized nightshirts in the bookstore. Let's all have a good cry:


And here's Ryan and "Sleepless" star Tom Hanks reunited in "You've Got Mail." In 1998 the Internet was a little less creepy. You can thank Meg:

None of these films should be confused with the critical greats of our time. But no doubt they hold a dear spot in the hearts of romantic comedy lovers, and Ryan gets the credit for that today. (Sorry, Hanks, it's not your birthday.)

We just spent a few minutes here trying to figure out who America's sweetheart actress is nowadays. We really couldn't come up with anyone who fits the bill the way Ryan did in the '90s. There are loveable actresses doing plenty of rom coms -- Anne Hathaway, Emma Stone, Ellen Page, Kate Hudson, Emma Roberts, Amy Adams -- but are they sweetheart material? Don't think so.

So, happy birthday, Meg Ryan. For those of you who have never used this "Top Gun" line, today would be a good day to start.