How the Hottest Women of the 20th Century Has Evolved Over Time

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We all seek role models — those who motivate us and provide templates for our aspirations. These role models encompass a broad spectrum, from global leaders and medical pioneers to creative architects, mathematical prodigies, artistic talents, aerospace engineers, and literary luminaries.

Among these influential figures are individuals celebrated for their attractiveness. Below, we highlight seven female celebrities from previous generations whose accomplishments have paved the way for others.

Faye Dunaway

AF Archive/Mary Evans Picture Library/East News, Rich Fury/Invision/AP/East News

Faye Dunaway, often described as the quintessential Hollywood diva and known for being ’difficult’, will also be remembered as one of the most seductive, bold, and stylish icons of her era. Her captivating performances in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968), Chinatown (1974), and her Oscar-winning role in Network (1976) not only earned her critical acclaim but also cemented her status as an icon.

Guarding her privacy closely, Dunaway seldom gives interviews and makes few public appearances. But she still serves as a vibrant reminder that sex symbols can embody a variety of shapes and personalities.

Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot, born in 1934, rose to international fame as a sex symbol during the 1950s and 1960s. Born to affluent bourgeois parents, Bardot first caught the public’s eye when she appeared on the cover of Elle magazine in 1950. Roger Vadim, an aspiring director, was captivated by her and meticulously crafted her public and cinematic persona.

As her career began to decline, Bardot made her last film appearances in 1973 and then retired from the spotlight. The reason for her departure from a thriving career was strikingly straightforward — she simply “had enough.”

Kathleen Turner

© Romancing the Stone / 20th Century Studios, Evan Agostini/Invision/East News

Legendary actress Kathleen Turner rose to stardom as the seductress in the 1981 film Body Heat, quickly becoming a household name recognized for her deep, husky voice, one of her signature traits. She was named one of the sexiest stars in film history and has often been compared to a young Lauren Bacall.

Unfortunately, Turner’s film career faced a rapid decline due to rheumatoid arthritis, which limited her activities. The condition worsened, and medications altered her appearance. Fortunately, thanks to new treatments, her arthritis went into remission. She made a notable comeback, playing Chandler Bing’s parent in the TV show Friends.

Geraldine Chaplin

Mary Evans Picture Library / East News, Joel C Ryan/Invision/East News

Geraldine Chaplin’s film career has had its ups and downs, but among the numerous Chaplin descendants, she alone has managed to carve out a measure of personal success, stepping out from under her father’s overwhelming shadow.

Geraldine Chaplin’s breakout role occurred in 1967 when she starred in the film Peppermint Frappé, directed by Carlos Saura. Her captivating performance in this role garnered critical acclaim and established her as a rising star on the international film scene.

Tina Louise

Courtesy Everett Collection / East News, Kristin Callahan/Everett Collection/East News

60 years have passed since Tina Louise captivated audiences. The actress, singer, and author, born in 1934, is best known for her role as Ginger Grant, the movie star marooned with six others on Gilligan’s Island. This sitcom originally aired from 1964 to 1967.

In 2005, she was ranked second in TV Land’s Top Ten all-time sex symbols list.

Tina Louise chose not to participate in any of the three television movie sequels of Gilligan’s Island after the series ended in 1967. She was convinced that her role as Ginger had undermined her career as a serious actress.

Michèle Mercier

Michèle Mercier, portraying Angélique, became a Franco-Italian icon and entered the realm of legendary screen goddesses primarily through her memorable five-film role spanning from 1964 to 1968.

Following the release of Angélique, the Marquise of the Angels, Mercier’s portrayal of the unconventional heroine, celebrated for her unique, fiery red hair, became both a boon and a bane. This role propelled her to instant fame, positioning her alongside the likes of sex symbol Brigitte Bardot in terms of celebrity and popularity. However, her association with these five popular films also led to her being typecast, which abruptly halted her blossoming film career.



Lesley Lawson, a renowned supermodel recognized globally by her iconic pseudonym Twiggy, captivated the fashion world during the dynamic era of the 1960s. With her distinctive androgynous appeal, pioneering ultra-short haircuts, and slender frame, she reshaped the standards of beauty and style.

However, despite her meteoric rise to fame, Lawson grappled with self-doubt, confessing, “I hated my appearance, so I thought everyone was crazy.”

Stay tuned and don’t miss our recent article where we showcased how iconic beauties of the past looked at various ages.

Preview photo credit Romancing the Stone / 20th Century Studios, Evan Agostini/Invision/East News, AF Archive/Mary Evans Picture Library/East News, Rich Fury/Invision/AP/East News


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