Celebrity sex symbols, Pt. 1

We love Scarlett Johansson so much we almost made it through The Black Dahlia. Almost.

We love Scarlett Johansson so much we almost made it through The Black Dahlia. Almost.

-- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:29 AM ET

With apologies to pop wuss Justin Timberlake, he never had to bring sexy back. Sexy, if you look anywhere around you, never went away.

Today the Sun begins a three-part series looking at the 50 greatest sex symbols to ever hold the popular culture sway -- from movie stars and singers to athletes and models.

They are the individuals who, thanks to good genes and more than a little of that elusive ingredient we call charisma, really are too sexy for themselves -- and everyone else.

50: JACQUELINE BISSET: In 1977's The Deep, this English rose did for wet T-shirts what Bo Derek did for cornrows two years later in 10. So famed was Bisset's clingy performance Newsweek magazine voted her "the most beautiful film actress of all time." Not surprisingly, Bisset reportedly loathes the fact her breasts have a legacy while the rest of her does not.


Canoe Live: Who would make No. 1 on your list? Have your say here


49: PRINCE: With The Purple One's fusion of funk, pop and raunch, he strutted and slithered to superstardom as both a musician and a sex object, thanks largely to his embrace of early '80s androgenous fashions. Hence, the high heels. Ever the puzzler, he again goes by the Prince monicker after renaming himself as an unpronounceable symbol in the 1990s and branding himself a slave of the music industry.

48: SOPHIE MARCEAU: Convincingly royal as Princess Isabelle opposite mad Scotsman Mel Gibson in the Oscar-winning epic Braveheart, this French beauty joined the elite and, some say, cursed ranks of Bond girls in 1999's The World Is Not Enough. Most recently, she moved behind the camera and was named best director by the jury of the 2002 Montreal World Film Festival for her film Parlez-moi d'amour.

47: TYRA BANKS: In recent years, the sumptuous, sensuous Banks has broadened her career horizons -- hosting the reality hit America's Next Top Model as well as her own daytime gabfest -- but for many, she'll always be remembered best as one of the original Victoria's Secret Angels. Heavenly.

46: LEONARDO DiCAPRIO: DiCaprio sparked Beatles-scale hysteria in 1997 with his turn as the perfectly coiffed hero of Titanic, still the top-grossing film in history. And ever since DiCaprio -- the King of the World as far as teenage girls were concerned -- has been trying to escape "Leomania" by taking his inner Jack Dawson and pummeling the pretty out of him. Still, no matter how many gritty roles he takes on or how many times he pairs with director Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York, The Departed), he will probably go to his grave eulogized as, in the words of Titanic co-star Kate Winslet, the "most beautiful man on Earth."

45: TOM CRUISE: Hard to believe Cruise was once the dominant heartthrob on the planet after his hip-swiveling lip synch to Bob Seger in Risky Business. Now, a little more than two decades later, he's creeped out and confused even his most earnest fans, who followed his blinding smile loyally from superfluous fizz (Cocktail) to ambitious Oscar contenders (Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July). The question now is will Cruise end up being his generation's Paul Newman -- as he once seemed destined -- or their Marlon Brando?

44: SCARLETT JOHANSSON: Is Johansson, as the hype would have us believe, really the curvaceous second coming of the screen goddesses of Hollywood's yesteryear? Time will tell, although in this age of eating-disorder-as-accessory, Johansson at least seems a sweater-snug fit. Remember though, all things and measurements are relative. Marilyn Monroe probably would have had her for breakfast. And still have been hungry.

43: EVA GREEN: From fearless and full frontal in The Dreamers to tough and tender as Daniel Craig's Bond girl in next month's Casino Royale, this gorgeous, green-eyed Parisian stands poised on the cusp of international stardom. Somehow we doubt she's even daunted by the career hex suffered by so many of 007's past conquests.

42: TWIGGY: Groovy, baby. This English waif was arguably the modern era's first supermodel. Her signature slim physique is credited for changing the shape of the female sex symbol -- from the plumper proportions of, say, Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, to the thinner dimensions on display since the 1970s.

41: HALLE BERRY: The producers of the action thriller Swordfish reportedly paid Berry a US$500,000 bonus to bare her breasts. Berry, who had never appeared without her clothes before, did. Then she wouldn't put them back on. Suddenly at ease with her own sexuality, she bared all for Monster's Ball (and won an Oscar), donned Ursula Andress' famed bikini from Dr. No for her stint in the Bond flick, Die Another Day, and then got down on all fours for Catwoman. The movie was a notorious bomb, but every dime it made, you can be sure, was thanks to the lure of Berry in a leather catsuit.

40: JACK NICHOLSON: Any woman will tell you, sex is never better than when it's dangerous -- a characteristic that eludes the Matthew McConaugheys of our innocuous present-day. This explains, as much as anything, why Nicholson -- or "Jack" to his friends -- can confidently date a much younger woman in Something's Gotta Give without appearing revolting or absurd. Lucifer has been around a very long time, after all, and Nicholson, with his cooler-than-crazy swagger, still has plenty of brimstone left to burn at the age of 69.

39: AUDREY HEPBURN: Hepburn, the personification of grace, was an icon of cinema and fashion whose influence continues to resonate. One example: Not so long ago, someone tried to make a movie called Why Can't I Be Audrey Hepburn? It never got made because nobody wanted to star in it. Why? Because everyone already knows no one can ever be Audrey Hepburn again.

38: SHANIA TWAIN: Never has a naval meant so much. The tantalizing gravity of Twain's midriff-baring, come-hither twang almost made country music arousing. Of course, Twain is country like Jim Carrey is Canadian -- a realization that probably irks Nashville's old guard to this day. But what does she care? She's living in a Swiss castle with her husband/Svengali Mutt Lange.

37: CATHERINE BACH: If you don't know her, you know her alter-ego, Daisy Duke. Long before Jessica Simpson could string two words together (in other words, five years ago) Bach made cut-off jeans the signature fashion statement of the 1970s hillbilly farce about a coupla good ol' boys never meaning no harm.

36: MARLON BRANDO: Before he morphed into an overfed beluga whale, Brando was a thunderstorm of talent, screaming "Stella!" in A Streetcar Named Desire and pondering his fate never to be a contender in On The Waterfront. Brando tore through the artifice of stylized studio acting to pioneer the raw realism that's commonplace today. With his good looks and limitless gifts, he could have had any woman he wanted. Too bad he just wanted a twinkie.

35: MICHELLE PFEIFFER: Slathering herself across a piano in 1989's The Fabulous Baker Boys, Pfeiffer almost made you wish you were a lounge lizard. Almost. Although Pfeiffer often downplayed her physical attributes and seems to works less and less, she remains as elegantly sensuous today as she did then.

34: TOM JONES: All the women who have flung their knickers at the Welsh crooner can't be wrong. What's New Pussycat! is timeless, as is Jones' place in pop music iconography.

33: BROOKE SHIELDS: Before she was sparring with Cruise over her usage of antidepressants, Shields was jailbait for an entire generation thanks to The Blue Lagoon. The 1980 ad in which a then-15 year old Shields announced nothing gets between her and her Calvin Klein jeans was predictably vilified. It also sold a lot of jeans.

32: DEBORAH HARRY: Serving as a bridge between the rock goddesses of the 1970s and the pop tarts of the 1980s as the frontwoman of Blondie, Harry was a mesmerizing, melodic morsel.

31: MONICA BELLUCCI: Most of today's sex symbols make us feel safe. Too young, too plastic, achievable, they look about as ethereal as your average shopping mall tart. Not Bellucci, whose knee-crumpling beauty could buckle the boldest of boys and men alike. Bellucci, who oozes worldliness, made her English-language debut as one of Dracula's brides in Bram Stoker's Dracula. The count should be so lucky. An icon in Europe, this Italian actress has skirted with stardom in North America, appearing in The Matrix sequels and as Mary Magdelene in The Passion of the Christ, but, honestly, we'd prefer it if she remained an unattainable enigma.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEXY

Movie moments

  • Phoebe Cates emerges from a pool and doffs her bikini top (in Judge Reinhold's fantasies) in the best teen romp of all, Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

  • Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin play rough in Sea of Love, in which Pacino's cop never knows if Barkin's the woman of his dreams -- or nightmares.

  • Before she tangled with Pacino, Barkin raised temperatures with Dennis Quaid in the sultry New Orleans-set police thriller The Big Easy.

  • Mickey Rourke introduces then-Cosby kid Lisa Bonet to his voodoo thing in the supernatural thriller Angel Heart.

  • Marlon Brando enters into a raw, explicit affair with a French stranger to escape his pain in Last Tango in Paris.

  • Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie show that married people get naked and have sex too in Don't Look Now.

  • Jennifer Tilley and Gina Gershon get all tied up in Bound.

  • Kevin Costner and Sean Young steam up the backseat of a limo in No Way Out. As is typical with most female characters who enjoy sex, Young is promptly killed off.

  • Michael Douglas cheats on his wife with Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

  • In 91/2 Weeks, Rourke and Kim Basinger raid the fridge.


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