RUSSELL CROWE CAUGHT TRYING TO ROB THE CRADLE

Published on: February 13, 2002

Russell Crowe went home with a Golden Globe for best actor in "A Beautiful Mind," but the trophy he wanted and didn't get was the beautiful body of teen actress Thora Birch.

Russell, 37, was so gaga over the 19-year-old that her father had to step in to keep him at bay!

The actor attended the awards with his girlfriend Danielle Spencer. But at a star-studded party at Trader Vic's after the awards, Danielle got lost in the crowd and Russell made a beeline for Thora, who was nominated for her role in "Ghost World."

"When Russell asked Thora how old she was, she told him 19. She was shocked when he replied, 'Well, that's good because I like young girls -- especially 19-year-old girls!'" an insider told The ENQUIRER.

"Once it became apparent to Thora that Russell was hitting on her, she asked, 'What about your girlfriend Danielle?'

"Russell said, 'She's not my girlfriend anymore.'

"But that's not the worst of it -- Russell told Thora he was having a hard time keeping his eyes off of her breasts!

"Every time Thora managed to get away from Russell, he'd reappear over her shoulder again.

"Once when she went into the ladies' room to freshen up, Russell was right behind her. The other women in the room couldn't believe their eyes when he came strolling in to hit on Thora as she stood in front of the mirror.

"He stood behind her caressing her shoulders and telling her how beautiful she was. Russell seemed so sincere and was so persistent. She was taken in by his compliments and handsome looks.

"Suddenly, out of nowhere, Thora's father Jack grabbed Russell by the shoulder and asked her if everything was alright. Jack had been watching Russell hit on his daughter and saw him follow her into the bathroom.

"Later, when Russell was leaving the party, he pulled Thora aside and invited her back to his suite at the Hotel Bel-Air.

"Thora didn't take the bait and ended up going home with her dad."

When contacted by The ENQUIRER, Thora's father, who is also her manager, said: "I have no knowledge of this happening."

But the insider revealed that the following day Russell called Thora and tried to seduce her again.

"She told him never to call her back, then slammed the phone down."