What has become of the Hollywood beauty? Before, these beauties lit up the screen as if they were born to be on it. Nowadays, film is littered with a different kind of beauty – the one cast just because of how she looks. No offense to Jessica Alba or Jessica Biel, but they don’t emit the same screen presence that classic Hollywood regularly gave birth to. Yes, Angelina Jolie looks very good with Brad Pitt, but Jolie’s voluptuousness doesn’t come close to matching Monroe’s radiance.
I might be bias, but when watching these classic on-screen beauties I have never been distracted by their beauty. These women showcased their persona – a mix of beauty, personality and talent. Not that I mind watching Alba dance with a lasso in Sin City or Biel showering in Blade: Trinity, but these scenes distract from the film by enhancing the actresses’ sex appeal while downplaying any acting ability. These five on-screen beauties, however, had it all.
1. Ingrid Bergman – There hasn’t been any actress quite like Ingrid Bergman. It can’t be a coincidence that she starred in so many great movies like Casablanca, Notorious, Spellbound and Murder On The Orient Express. She was the biggest actress in the 1940s, enchanting the world with her beauty and talent (she won three Academy Awards). Although her infidelity resulted in her fall from grace, she still continued to act with charm and dignity.
2. Eva Marie Saint – Eva also has her share of starring roles in many great movies (On The Waterfront, 36 Hours, North By Northwest and Grand Prix). When the roles she was offered weren’t satisfactory, in the 70s Eva turned to the small screen and to the stage with much success – winning an Emmy in 1990 for the mini-series People Like Us. She is currently filming Superman Returns.
3. Veronica Lake – One of the most beautiful women in Hollywood at the time, she invented the “peek-a-boo” look with her long hair curled to block one of her eyes. This look was so popular that during World War II, the United States government asked Lake to stop using the look because so many of the women would copy her and get their hair trapped in machines while working in the factories. Her best role is in Preston Sturges’ slapstick comedy masterpiece Sullivan’s Travels.
4. Marilyn Monroe – One of the most mythic icons in screen history, Marilyn Monroe personified stardom. High profile marriages to Arthur Miller and Joe DiMaggio as well as rumored affairs with John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy heightened the mystery surrounding her persona. Her sex appeal might have overshadowed her acting talents, but she never shied away from the spotlight. Elizabeth Hurley once said that “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat.” I’m sorry, but Monroe will always be more beautiful than Hurley and the highest point of Hurley’s career is still a hundred miles below the lowest point of Monroe’s career. Film highlights include Some Like It Hot, The Seven Year Itch and The Asphalt Jungle.
5. Ava Gardner – She was one of the most recognized sex symbols in Hollywood, starring in films like Show Boat, The Killers and The Hucksters. She began her career as a model, later turning to film. She was married three times to Mickey Rooney, Frank Sinatra and Artie Shaw.
Honorable mention: Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Bibi Andersson
Inspired by Jones Violet’s “Of Hunks and Babes” article, here.