The reality of beauty is that it’s largely a subjective assessment whose existence is, as trite as it sounds, in the ‘eye of the beholder’. The concept of beauty is actually fairly difficult to quantify in literal terms however, my opinion of it is this – “I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I always recognize it when I see it.” It should come as no surprise that some of the most beautiful examples of feminine beauty have been firmly established on the silver screen throughout the history of film, for the entirety of it’s existence. As the editor of Idiot’s Guide, I have compiled listing of the 10 actresses in Hollywood history who I feel best personify feminine beauty. The rankings run from 10 to 1, but the reality is there can be an argument made for any combination of hierarchy. For the purposes of this listing, we are going to go with the editor’s choice. Enjoy!
#10. Zoe Zaldana / Passaic, New Jersey
Zoe Zaldana‘s film career has followed a very successful trajectory. Beginning in the year 2000 with her role in ‘Center Stage’, which she followed up with a supporting role in ‘Crossroads’ (2002). However, it was her excellent performance as ‘Anamaria’ in the global mega-film ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl’ (2003) that made the stunning Zaldana, a household name. Currently, in 2016, Zaldana is among the highest profile woman in Hollywood to date, her films have earned over $2 Billion in world-wide receipts. This makes Zoe Zaldana a serious historical beauty as well as the 65th highest-grossing movie star in North America. Other notable films include: ‘Colombiana’ (2011), ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ (2014), ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ (2013), and ‘Star Trek Beyond’ (2016).
#9. Ava Gardner / Smithfield, North Carolina
In many ways, and in many circles, iridescent film beauty Ava Gardner is considered to be the original Hollywood brunette bombshell. Her career was wildly successful and she had the acting talent to match her extraordinary looks. In 1941, Gardner was signed by MGM Studios, and made a huge splash with her performance in the 1946 release of ‘The Killers’ In 1953, Gardner earned a well deserved Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her performance in ‘Mogambo’. Notable Films: The Hucksters (1947), Show Boat (1951), The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952), The Barefoot Contessa (1954), Bhowani Junction (1956), On the Beach (1959), 55 Days at Peking (1963), Seven Days in May (1964), The Night of the Iguana (1964), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), Earthquake (1974), and The Cassandra Crossing (1976). Ava Gardner is currently listed 25th on the (AFI) American Film Institute’s 25 Greatest Female Stars of Classic Hollywood Cinema.
#8. Elizabeth Taylor / Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, United Kingdom
You can’t discuss, consider, and/or remark about golden-age Hollywood films without a serious mention of the incomparable talent and beauty of Elizabeth Taylor. Especially with regards to the classical Hollywood cinema of the 1950s, where Taylor made her transition from teen, to adult star. Liz Taylor was a mega-star who’s colorful personal life and myriad of marriages, were well documented. In many ways she was the original Hollywood tabloid fascination. Her career began in 1939 with a contract for Universal Pictures, which turned out to be short lived, Universal canceled it after just one year, however it became clear over time that they made a huge mistake in doing so. In 1941, the teenaged Taylor was quickly signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer where she had an amazing successful run, including her breakout role in ‘National Velvet’ (1944). The (AFI) American Film Institute currently has Taylor ranked as the 7th greatest female screen legend of all-time. Notable Films: Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) (Golden Globe for Best Actress). Butterfield 8 (1960) (Academy Award for Best Actress). In 1963, Taylor literally broke the bank with what was at the time a record-setting $1 million salary to play the title role in the epic film Cleopatra. Also in 1963 was The V.I.P.s , followed by The Sandpiper (1965), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) Taylor was honored with her 2nd Academy Award, and others for this performance. Liz Taylor is a true Hollywood icon.
#7. Halle Berry / Cleveland, Ohio
Halle Berry ‘s 2002 Academy Award nod for Best Actress for the romance drama ‘Monster’s Ball’ was monumental as well as historic. Berry’s well deserved honor that year made her the only woman of color to ever win a Best Actress Academy Award, a fact which remains true even today (2016). During the decade of the 2000’s Halle Berry was among the highest paid actresses in Hollywood. She became a household name in 1992 after her breakthrough performance in the smash hit romantic comedy ‘Boomerang’ where she starred alongside the great comedian Eddie Murphy. Notable Films: The Flintstones (1994), Bulworth (1998), in 1999 she played Dorothy Dandridge in the television film, and she won an Emmy Award, as well as a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. Swordfish (2001), Die Another Day (2002), X2: X-Men United (2003), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Cloud Atlas (2012), The Call (2013), and X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014).
#6. Natalie Wood / San Francisco, California
Sadly, the untimely and controversial death of timeless beauty Natalie Wood has largely obscured what was a fantastic career in film. Natalie had many memorable roles in films such as a child in ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ (1947), then later with James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ (1955) for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Other Notable Films: Splendor in the Grass (1961), Gypsy (1962), Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice (1969), and of course the all-time classic, ‘West Side Story’ (1961). Natalie Wood was a talented beauty who received three (3) Academy Award nominations before the age of 25 years old. That’s saying something much more than the circumstances of her death ever could. In the fall of 1981 Wood was shooting a film called ‘Brainstorm’, while out on a weekend boat trip/party near Santa Catalina Island, Natalie Wood is said to have accidentally fallen over the side of the boat and drowned. It would later be revealed that her blood alcohol level was an astounding .14%. The fact of the matter is that there is a black hole when it comes to facts surrounding the circumstances that led to her drowning. Namely, the way, and/or how she went overboard and entered the water has never been proven. At the time she was on the boat with husband actor Robert Wagner, and Brainstorm co-star Christopher Walken. Sometime on the evening of November 28, 1981, she went into the water and drowned. Natalie Wood’s body was discovered at 8:00am the following morning, November 29, approximately one mile away from the boat. An abandoned small inflatable ‘dinghy’ was also found on a nearby beach. According to her husband Wagner, when he went to bed, Wood was not present, they had had an argument earlier in the evening. An autopsy later revealed that Wood had strange bruises on her body, as well as an abrasion on her left cheek. Personally, I think that this is one of, if not the most successful Hollywood ‘cover-up’ in it’s storied history. Natalie Wood was a talented beauty.
#5. Sophia Loren / Rome, Italy
Sophia Loren and her breathtaking beauty came to international fame following the fruits of her 1956 five (5) picture contract with Paramount. How talented was Sophia Loren? Let’s start with her performance as Cesira in Vittorio De Sica’s ‘Two Women’ (1960), a performance that earned Loren an Academy Award for Best Actress in 1962 this also made her the first actor to win an Oscar for a foreign-language film performance. Sophia Loren earned a record six (6) David di Donatello Awards for Best Actress. Loren also won Best Actress at the 1961 Cannes Film Festival. In total, Sophia Loren won 22 international awards for ‘Two Women’. Notable Films: Vittorio De Sica’s ‘Marriage Italian Style’ (1964) for which she was nominated for a second (2nd) Academy Award. In addition to her Academy Award, Loren sported a Grammy Award win, five (5) Golden Globes, a BAFTA Award, a Laurel Award, and the Honorary Academy Award in 1991. Loren also received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievements in 1995. Sophia Loren was named one of the top 25 female American Screen Legends in the (AFI) American Film Institute’s ‘AFI’s 100 Years…100 Stars’ in 1999. A true talented beauty of legendary proportions.
#4. Angelina Jolie / Los Angeles, California
The breathtaking beauty of Angelina Jolie is only rivaled by her amazing performing, and creative talent. In her illustrious career Angelina has been awarded an (1) Academy Award, two (2) Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three (3) Golden Globe Awards. She is also one of the highest paid actors of any gender in Hollywood today. Not bad for this natural beauty who began her show business career as a child, working with her esteemed father, Jon Voight, in the 1982 film ‘Lookin to Get Out’. She grabbed her first major leading role in the 1995 film ‘Hackers’. Her performances in films ‘Gia’ (1998), and ‘Girl, Interrupted’ (1999) garnered Joile much critically acclaim, including the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for ‘Girl, Interrupted’. Notable films: Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Wanted (2008), and Salt (2010), Lara Croft in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), A Mighty Heart (2007), and Changeling (2008) for which she earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. To date her biggest commercially successful film is the fantasy film Maleficent (2014).
#3. Raquel Welch / Chicago, Illinois
You will be hard pressed to find any list of ‘Hottest and/or Sexiest Women’ of all-time without a serious mention of legendary beauty, Rachel Welch. Her star started to rise after the 1966 film ‘Fantastic Voyage’, a lucrative contract with 20th Century Fox was soon to follow. She also had a starring role in ‘One Million Years B.C.’ the same year. Although Rachel had just three lines of dialogue in the film, it was her image wearing a sexy, racy doe-skin bikini that prompted a run on a best-selling movie poster campaign. Based on that posters popularity, Rachel became an instant world-wide celebrity sex symbol. Other Notable Films: Bedazzled (1967), Bandolero! (1968), 100 Rifles (1969), as well as, Myra Breckinridge (1970). Without question Rachel was among the world’s sexiest film icons throughout the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. She often portrayed strong female characters. Rachel was named one of the “100 Sexiest Stars in Film History” by Empire Magazine in 1995. In addition, Playboy Magazine ranked Rachel as the No. 3 “100 Sexiest Stars of the Twentieth Century” list.
#2. Grace Kelly / Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
By the end of 1950, at the tender age of 20, Grace Kelly had appeared in more than 40 episodes of live theatrical drama productions in New York City. She was a broadcast darling throughout the decade of the 1950s, also known as the ‘Golden Age of Television’. Kelly’s 1953 performance in the film ‘Mogambo’ garnered her initial fame that she would carry for the rest of her life. Grace was honored with both Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations in 1954. That year Kelly starred in leading roles in five movies that included: ‘The Country Girl’ (Academy Award for Best Actress). ‘High Noon’ (1952), ‘Dial M for Murder’ (1954), and the Hitchcock classic ‘Rear Window’ (1954) with James Stewart. She also starred in ‘To Catch a Thief’ (1955) with Cary Grant, as well as ‘High Society’ (1956) alongside legends Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby. Kelly made tabloid history when she retired from show business at 26 years old in order to become Princess of Monaco by marrying Prince Rainier. The royal couple had three children, Caroline, Albert, and Stéphanie. Sadly, on September 14, 1982, Kelly died in a car crash as a result of suffering a stroke while driving, leading to the infamous deadly crash.
#1. Audrey Hepburn / Ixelles, Belgium
Under the definition of classic female beauty, the face of Audrey Hepburn is usually listed. Her starring role in 1953’s ‘Roman Holiday’ was record setting, as he became the first actress in history to win an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, as well as a BAFTA Award for that single film performance. She wasn’t done with 1953 as she also won a Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Play for her stellar performance in ‘Ondine’. Audrey Hepburn was a rare combination of classic beauty, talent, and disarming magnetism. Notable Successful Films: ‘Sabrina’ (1954), ‘The Nun’s Story’ (1959), the all-time classic ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ (1961), followed by ‘Charade’ (1963), ‘My Fair Lady’ (1964) as well as ‘Wait Until Dark’ (1967) a role for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a BAFTA Award. Over her career, Audrey Hepburn was a three time winner of the BAFTA Award for Best British Actress in a Leading Role. In addition, Hepburn was awarded a ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ from BAFTA, as well as the ‘Golden Globe Cecil B. DeMille Award’, the ‘Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award’, in addition to a ‘Special Tony Award’. Audrey Hepburn’s career legacy has her placed firmly as one of the greatest of all-time. She is one of the very few actors who have won the grand slam of awards: having won Academy, Emmy, Grammy and Tony Awards. Audrey Hepburn. #TheMostBeautiful #TheMostTalented.