Not a member? Sign up now
10. Anna Karina
Giving Brigitte Bardot a run for her fine-ass money, Anna Karina was the enduring muse of the French New Wave. She had a casual, cat-eyed liquid sexuality, under a thick line of bangs that would put Zooey Deschanel to shame.
9. Lauren Bacall
Lauren Bacall was the type of sex symbol you dreamed about meeting in a darkened corner of a smoked-filled, oaken bar. With her trademark husky drawl and inquisitive eyebrows, Bacall seemed to emerge full-formed from Raymond Chandler's whiskey-soaked noir. The world — and future husband Humphrey Bogart — was collectively laid low by Bacall in a satin black gown in To Have and Have Not.
8. Raquel Welch
The bikini might as well never have been stitched before Raquel Welch wore the fur variety in One Million Years B.C. Welch embodied the dicks-out approach of many '70s sex symbols: gravelly, tan, and unapologetic.
7. Mae West
An incorrigible source of innuendo and the author of a play called, simply, Sex, Mae West almost singlehandedly inspired the censorship codes that afflicted Hollywood for decades. World War II life-vests were nicknamed in tribute to her bosom. That's serious influence.
6. Jean Harlow
Known as the original Blonde Bombshell, and certainly a prototype for Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow was a formidable figure in sex-symbol history. With her high-penciled brows, wide grin, and wandering beauty mark, she practically invented the trope of the playful vamp.
5. Rita Hayworth
The 1941 Life magazine pin-up of Rita Hayworth kneeling on satin sheets had military men everywhere excusing themselves to the restroom, and left her with an indelible spot on this list.
4. Pam Grier
In 1974, one fine slit in a red dress in Foxy Brown introduced the world to Pam Grier's majestic decolletage — and we're still thinking about it. With audacity, bodaciousness, and abdominal muscles, she was an action superhero and an incomparable sex symbol.
3. Elizabeth Taylor
When she wasn't getting married, Elizabeth Taylor earned her fundamental place in the sexual revolution by being one of the first huge stars to dirty up her name and bare her fair limbs for the big screen. Paired with her intense performances, her bedroom eyes gave her an enigmatic and mesmerizing sexual presence that seemed almost extraterrestrial.
2. Brigitte Bardot
We owe this icon of the French New Wave for more than just her staggering loveliness. She may have also given us the Beatles — the young Paul McCartney and John Lennon bonded over their Bardot-lust. And Bob Dylan once confessed that the first song he ever wrote was to her. The greatest popular music ever recorded was basically inspired by this one bombshell, and if you look at pictures of her, it's easy to understand why.
1. Marilyn Monroe
The platinum curls. The red, ready-to-suck lips. The fatal shape. And a voice like a mid-thrust moan. Who could take the top spot but Marilyn Monroe, the foremost figure in American sexual iconography?