Sex appeal is an extremely subjective matter. What makes a woman sexy? In Japan it may be a small foot. In India, the perfect belly.
A dazzling smile. A great pair of legs. Seductive eyes. Thick, lustrous hair. A sultry voice.
To many American men it’s as simple as a great "rack".
Tastes have changed over the years, to be sure. In the early part of the twentieth century, women were shorter and rounder and, in fact, the “ideal” figure was that of an hourglass. The “flapper” ushered in a nearly non-existent bosom which blossomed again during the depression, a time when appearing gaunt was possibly considered less than fashionable.
During WWII, woman may have been patriotic enough to give up their hose, but not enough to forfeit the sensual appeal of a seamed stocking. With a ruler, eyebrow pencil, and some ingenuity, they managed to suggest the illusion of a seam. (After all, isn’t sex appeal often only about illusion)?
In the fifties there were a sufficient number of “blonde bombshells” to combat the “June Cleaver” type but it was the sixties that left an indelible mark. Model Twiggy’s “little boy” look had a major effect upon how women would view their sexual appeal for years to come. For the first time, they did not desire the sophisticated look of French knots and ample cleavage. Instead, they aspired to look young and “waifish” even if it took anorexia and/or bulimia to achieve those goals. There’s a scene on the beach in the movie, Gidget where Gidget’s well endowed friends scoff at Gidget’s petite, boyish figure. Nowadays it’s likely that Gidget would be laughing at her friends, viewing them as “fat”.
I’ve compiled a list of 20 actresses who might be considered to be the sexiest for the times in which they lived. (I say “might” because, as mentioned, tastes are subjective).
These women stand out for having maintained their sexuality, either by creating their own styles or by bucking the trends of the times.
I intentionally omitted beauties such as: Carole Lombard, Claudette Colbert, Lauren Becall, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Natalie Wood, Goldie Hawn, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jennifer Aniston, who, while they might be elegant, cute, or “girl-next-doorish” don’t necessarily exude sex. (Not to say that many men wouldn’t find them sexy or that women wouldn’t want to look like them. Audrey Hepburn is my personal favorite).
1. 1930’s - JEAN HARLOW (34-25-36) Star of "Hell’s Angels"; the original “blonde bombshell”.
2. 1940’s - RITA HAYWORTH (32-25-34) Glamorous star of “Gilda”; married to Orson Welles and also to Prince Aly Khan.
3. 1940’s - BETTY GRABLE (34-24-36) Known for her “great gams”; #1 pinup girl of WW II; married to trumpet player, Harry James.
4. 1950’s - MARILYN MONROE (37-23-36) Sexy and vulnerable; famous (amongst other things) for the dress that flew up around her waist in “The Seven Year Itch”.
5. 1950’s - JANE MANSFIELD (42-21-35) Very intelligent, despite her “poor man’s Marilyn Monroe” image. Mother of actress Mariska Harigtay, another beauty.
6. 1950’s - AVA GARDNER (36-23-37) Star of “The Barefoot Contessa”; had an earthy femininity; steamy marriage to Frank Sinatra.
7. 1960’s - ELIZABETH TAYLOR (36-21-36) Violet eyes set off her exquisite beauty; stormy relationship with Richard Burton; apparently not a fan of casual dating, she was married eight times.
8. 1960’s - ANN MARGRET (35-23-35) Ended up being considered the star of “Bye Bye Birdie” (an honor intended for veteran actress and co-star, Janet Leigh); Swedish “sex kitten” with a wholesome appeal; acted and had an affair with Elvis.
9. 1960’s - RAQUEL WELCH (37-22-35) Star of “One Million Years B.C.”, which popularized the “fur bikini”.
10. 1960’s - SOPHIA LOREN (38-24-38) Smoldering Italian actress; starred in “Two Women”; turned down Cary Grant to marry director, Carlo Ponti, still sizzling in her seventies.
11. 1960’s - BRIDGET BARDOT (35-19-35) French, exotic, sexy. American men adored her. (Check out that waistline…did these women wear corsets?)
12. 1970’s - FARRAH FAWCETT (35-24-35) Star of “Charlie’s Angels”. How many girls came of age with “Farrah haircuts”? How many boys came of age with that famed “Farrah poster?”
13. 1980’s - MADONNA (CICCONE) (34-23-33) Pop singer with a talent for re-inventing herself often, each persona sexier than the next; popularized “trashy lingerie”.
14. 1990’s - SHARON STONE (36-25-35) Interrogation scene from “Basic Instinct” – enough said.
15. 1990’s - PAM ANDERSON (36-22-34) Star of “Bay Watch”; hot relationship with rocker, Tommy Lee; epitomized the California “beach babe look” (or at least what men living outside California fantasize them to look like).
16. 2000’s - BEYONCE KNOWLES (34-26-40) Hip Hop star. The moves, the body, the voice.
17. 2000’s - SCARLETT JOHANSSON (37-26-37) Starred in numerous Woody Allen films. Voluptuous in a surprisingly old fashioned way.
18. 2000’s - HALLE BERRY (36-22-37) Starred as Catwoman in “Batman” and the costume fit to perfection, emphasizing her great body and terrific features.
19. 2000’s - SALMA HAYAK (36-25-37) Gorgeous Mexican born actress;
star of "Frida”. Recognized for having a spectacular, non-enhanced “rack”.
20. 2000’s – ANGELINA JOLIE (36-27-36) Known for her altruism, large family, and husband, Brad Pitt; considered to be one of the sexiest woman of her time; her bee-stung lips (emulated unsuccessfully by many women who don’t own mirrors) alone would qualify her for this distinction.
I apologize to anyone who might feel this posting to have been a touch politically incorrect but then I’m often a touch politically incorrect myself.
Have a great weekend and thank you for joining me on this week’s journey along,
RHODES LESS TRAVELED,