Sandra Bullock: America's sweetheart at 50

Story highlights

  • Sandra Bullock turns 50 on July 26
  • She continues to be beloved
  • The actress has said she would give it all up for her son

If there were ever a contest for "America's sweetheart," Sandra Bullock would be tough to beat.

The daughter of an Army employee and a German vocal coach, Bullock has continually struck a chord with fans over her nearly 30-year career. At turns charming and relatable, she comes across as extremely genuine in a field that makes its magic through pretending.

As the actress celebrates her 50th birthday on July 26, her stock as the long-standing favorite is as solid as ever.

Examine the evidence: She is firmly in the top 10 list of Hollywood's highest paid actresses, and her films tend to make money. Her 2013 sci-fi thriller "Gravity," which starred Bullock as an astronaut lost in space, earned $716 million worldwide.

And in her personal life, Bullock has managed to remain pretty scandal-proof. At the height of a devastating marital breakup from Jesse James in 2010, when lurid tabloid headlines appeared about his alleged affairs, Bullock shocked the world with news that she had secretly adopted an African-American son from New Orleans.

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Not only was it surprising that the Oscar-winning actress had such a tight circle that she was able to conceal a monumental personal moment, but unlike some other celebs who had been criticized in the black community for transracial adoptions, Bullock and her decision were mostly embraced.

Even other celebrities adore her. "Avengers" star Chris Evans has been quoted as saying Bullock was his first celebrity crush.

"I saw 'Speed' when I was in seventh grade, and I was like, that's my lady," Evans said. "I literally had a big poster (of her)."

It's easy to see why a preteen Evans fell for Bullock. In interviews Bullock can be funny, self-deprecating and just downright cool. During an appearance on "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" to promote her 2013 buddy cop comedy, "The Heat," she and the host good-naturedly took verbal swipes at each other. When Ferguson mentioned the film "Dumb and Dumber" (in an apparent reference to the way their interview was going), Bullock volleyed back about that movie.

"Poop humor is fun," she said jokingly. "If you do the toilet scenes well and commit to them they can be really, really powerful."

Not many Academy Award winners would tackle such a subject, but it's not surprising from Bullock, who proudly told Us Weekly that her now-3-year-old son, Louis, is fully potty-trained. While the actress has almost always been tagged as more girl next door than vixen, motherhood has clearly helped settle her even more.

She's been very outspoken about the fact that she would give it all up, the career and the fame, if it wasn't good for her son in any way.

"I don't want him to have pressures brought on by what I do. I will quit. I will leave," she told Vogue last year. "If I see whatever I'm doing affecting him negatively, I will pack up and move to Alaska."

That probably helps explain why the self-professed homebody would much rather be spending time with her kid than working the press. Eschewing the Hollywood scene, the "Blind Side" star has made paparazzi literally chase her outside the usual city limits, choosing to build her life in cities like Austin, Texas, and New Orleans.

Being on the red carpet, she told CNN at a 2013 premiere of "Gravity," is extreme enough for her.

"Being in front of a camera, in a nice dress, getting all dressed up is extreme," Bullock said. "There's a lot of other extreme situations, you know, just getting out of bed sometimes is extreme -- but I do it. Just got to do it, just got to get up. Put your sweatpants on, brush off the dog hair and just get out of the house!"

Part of what Bullock does when she gets "out of the house" is give back to the city of New Orleans. After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Bullock "adopted" Warren Easton Charter High School, and has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the institution.

In May 2014, she surprised the graduating class with a commencement speech.

"They're infections, they inspire me," Bullock said of the students. "They make me get off my butt and try to do better. ... I've been taking and taking from (the city of New Orleans), and when everything happened with Katrina, that's when you realize you have to put back."