The Hollywood Sex Symbol: Yesterday and Today

for his forty-fifth birthday. A vision in a sheer, flesh colored Jean “Happy birthday…..Mr. President. Happy birthday….Mr President…..” softly croons Marilyn Monroe, May 19, 1962 for then President John F. Kennedy at a celebration Louis dress with 2500 rhinestones sewn into it and so tight-fitting that Monroe had to be literally sewn into it. Ms Monroe was every man’s dream in the 40s and 50s; the bombshell blond, with curves to kill, legs that seemed to go on forever and an ingenuously wide-eyed stare that made her seem so attainable but at the same time so far out of your reach.

Norma Jean as she was born was arguably the most delectable sex symbol of the last century. This iconic beauty oozed sex appeal that was classically captured in the promotional photo for the movie “The Seven Year Itch” with Tom Ewell, where she steps onto a subway grating while wearing a billowing white dress. Following in her high-heeled footsteps were the likes of Ava Gardner, ” The Love Goddess” along with Rita Hayworth, Jayne Mansfield, and Mamie Van Doren; strong, sexy women who made no apologies for the effect they had on men.

While New Hollywood may have a few young starlets that radiate that understated but vivacious sex appeal of their predecessors, Scarlet Johanssen springs to mind, Tinseltown has embraced the “a lot less is a lot more” philosophy when it comes to affairs of the wardrobe. The end of the last century and the beginning of this one saw the rise of another blond bombshell; a vision in a low cut bright red backless swimsuit, a brand new double D bust running in slow motion on a sunny Californian beach. Pamela Anderson is the generation X’s Norma Jean; sassy, athletic, with girl next door charms and a cup size that would put any prize melon to shame.

It is easy to name all the female sex symbols who have had their spotlight in Hollywood; but it is not so easy for the gentlemen who heat up the stage and screen in the last century. Rudolph Valentino is considered the first male sex symbol in Hollywood. Known as the “Latin Lover” he was one of the most popular stars of the 1920s and one of the most recognized actors from the silent movie era.
Paul Newman could easily be the man that summed up what old Hollywood sex appeal really was. Searing blue eyes, rugged blond locks, the ultimate debonair charmer. But his sex appeal didn’t only come from his captivating good looks, Paul Newman was known for his humility, decency, generosity and class; traits that set the bar high for the young trailblazers of today.

While the women of the 40s through the 60s swooned for the likes of Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier, Paul Newman and Cary Grant in full 3 piece tuxedos, impeccable dinner jackets, close shaves and slicked back hair, the dot-com generation swoons for the likes of “grungier” actors such as Johnny Depp. The swash-buckling maverick known for his off-beat roles was recently named “The Sexiest Man Alive” by Cosmopolitan Magazine. Contrary to the polished gentleman stars of yesteryear, Depp is famous for his disheveled and trashy fashion sense, multiple tattoos, and rugged “just crawled out of bed” coif.

But whether it be Marilyn’s legs or Pam’s bosom; Fred Astaire in

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