Click here for more Abandoned as a child, the victim of abuse in foster homes, Norma Jean Mortensen rose from poverty to become the single most celebrated movie star of all-time. She started out as a swimsuit model and caught the eye of tycoon Howard Hughes.
She had bit parts in small movies before taking the acting lessons that eventually drove her forward. Being the first Play..boy centerfold in 1953, she later starred in the comedy classics Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch and a series of successful films.
Adored by millions worldwide, her second marriage to baseball great Joe DiMaggio played like a fairytale but dark clouds were on the horizon. She began to drink and take pills and her screen work got scarce. She was involved with both President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, and was named Number One Sex Star of the 20th Century in 1999 by Play..boy . Her alleged suicide merely added to her mystique and legend.
“The trouble with censors is they worry if a girl has cleavage. They ought to worry if she hasn’t any.”
Having adopted a WASPy name took nothing away from the sexiness of Margarita Carmen Cansino, the young dancer who was born into a family of Spanish immigrants. Still a teenager, she began acting in minor movies in the ’30s. Her first husband, Edward Judson, took control of her career, signed her to a fruitful deal at Columbia, and the rest is history.
The studio had her raise her hairline with electrolysis and dye her hair auburn, and before long, she was the quintessence of exquisiteness. Nicknamed “The Love Goddess,” her pinup status was cemented when Life magazine published the famous picture of her kneeling on a bed, in 1941 (which also made her the second favorite pinup of WWII soldiers).
She starred in films in the ’40s and ’50s that thrust her to stardom, such as The Lady in Question and Gilda . Some even say that the popular cocktail “Margarita” was named after Rita Hayworth, when she was dancing at a club in Tijuana under her real name.
“Men go to bed with Gilda, but wake up with me.”
“A sex-symbol becomes a thing, I just hate being a thing. But if I’m going to be a symbol of something I’d rather have it [be] sex than some other things we’ve got symbols of.”
©UniversalStudios Although stage fright kept her from doing theater, this Italian magnificence was a talented actress. She overcame poverty to become one of the most famous international celebrities on the planet in the ’50s and ’60s. Loren’s voluptuous figure struck a chord with American audiences, as did her roles in award-winning films like Two Women and Marriage Italian-Style . Even if she’s approaching 70, Sofia Scicolone, her birth name, still oozes sex appeal by the shipload.
“Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got.”
This French idol started out as a model before making the leap to feature films. French cinema was engaged in a transformation during the ’50s, leading up to the New Wave, and BB, as she was nicknamed, got on the bandwagon just at the right time. Her willingness to show off her body in risqué films such as …And God Created Woman and Contempt made the world take notice. After a career spanning more than fifty movies from 1952 to 1973, Bardot left the spotlight to focus on animal rights activism.
“It is sad to grow old but nice to ripen.”
Click here for more Born in Sweden but raised in Illinois, Ann-Margret Olsson began her career as a singer. Discovered by legendary comic George Burns, she started appearing in Vegas shows and made Life magazine’s cover story. Following an energetic performance at the Oscars, she landed more roles in musicals, eventually holding her own against Elvis in 1964′s Viva Las Vegas . Her unrestrained dancing and innocent yet sensual image made her an iconic force to be reckoned with in the ’60s.
“The critics had an image of me, and they wouldn’t accept any other… I was a cartoon character. A joke.”
Often referred to as “the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe,” her career was confined mainly to acting in B-movies during the ’50s, when she was most popular. When she wasn’t acting, this squeaky-voiced beauty was posing for Play..boy magazine, which featured her in many layouts. Studio executives cultivated her dumb blonde image, as this was what had propelled her to stardom; however, she was reported to be quite intelligent. The tragic car accident that took her life in 1967 only added to her celebrity.
“Dramatic art in her opinion is knowing how to fill a sweater”
–Bette Davis on Jayne Mansfield
©www.cmgww.com Born Freda Josephine Carson, this St. Louis, Missouri native was an independent African-American woman who never hesitated to leave her husbands (she was married and divorced four times) if she wasn’t happy. She earned her own money by performing comedy in clubs and dancing during the Roaring ’20s.
She starred in musical revues in Paris and became both the greatest star in Europe, and one of the most photographed women in the world. Baker was awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette for her smuggling of secret messages as an undercover correspondent during World War II. And her adopting twelve children only added to her sex symbol status.
“Tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles”
–Pablo Picasso on Josephine Baker
This former beauty queen’s career really took off after finishing second at the Miss America pageant in 1953. She later appeared in a string of high-profile Hollywood movies such as Rio Bravo, The Chase , and Point Blank , but none of these turned Dickinson into a superstar. Her fame came later, in 1974 in fact, when she bared all for Big Bad Mama , at the age of 43. That same year, her newly discovered sex appeal led to her taking the lead role in the hit TV series, Police Woman .
“I dress for women and I undress for men.”
Once voted the Most Beautiful Woman in the World, Ava Gardner’s only ambition while growing up was to become a secretary. Fortunately, her picture was seen in high places and her film career took off. At first, she was relegated to acting pretty and keeping her mouth shut, but good reviews following her performance in 1946′s The Killers allowed her to star alongside legends like Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart in A-pictures. She became Frank Sinatra’s second wife in 1951; another reason to envy the Chairman of the Board!
“Everybody kisses everybody else in this crummy business all the time. It’s the kissiest business in the world.”