Vintage Photos Of History's Most Iconic Women

OMG March 30, 2018 By Alexm

Gorgeous women have graced magazine covers, editorial spreads and billboards since the dawn of advertising, and this natural obsession with the female figure isn't ever likely to die down.

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However, if you go back in time, you'll find many vintage photos of attractive women that aren't doctored to within an inch of their lives like they are today. No airbrush or fake tan was needed to capture the natural, lithe beauty of these women because they already had that x-factor that photographers crave. 

Here are some beautiful examples. 


1. Jane Fonda, 1958

Jane Fonda may now be 80-years-old, but if you go back to the two-time Academy Award-winner's heyday, you'll be blown away by just how beautiful she was.

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Here, a young, up-and-coming Fonda is captured playing cards in the back of a limo as she stretches her alluring legs.


2. A grid girl decorates a Ferrari 312 at the 1968 British Grand Prix

While Formula 1 has recently parted company with grid girls in the wake of various women's movements, there's no denying that their inclusion on the grid added a spot of gloss to the sport, as evidenced by this photogenic woman posing on the bonnet of Chris Amon's Ferrari 312 race car.

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The unnamed model bears a canny resemblance to Francoise Hardy's character in the 1966 movie, Grand Prix.


3. Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot out for a walk

Actresses Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot were great friends and even starred alongside each other in the 1973 movie, Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman.

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Photographed in many editorial spreads, this photo of the pair walking alongside one another as they showcase their Amazonian-like legs is taken from a famous Life magazine shoot.


4. Sophia Loren 

A regular participant in beauty contests in her home city of Naples before she made it big in Hollywood, Loren's beauty was so spellbinding locals ascribed her the nickname Sophia Lazzaro, as many said her beauty could wake Lazarus from the dead. 

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Years on, and the legendary Italian actress' Hollywood accolades are plentiful, with Grammys, Baftas, Golden Globes and an Oscar all to her name, the latter of which came from her performance in the 1962 foreign language movie, For Two Women, with Loren becoming the first actress in a foreign movie to win an Academy Award for Best Actress. 


5Marylin Monroe

Sex symbol, icon, and Hollywood superstar. Marilyn Monroe is one of the most recognizable faces of all time, and her enduring legacy continues to attract new fans. But staying away from the fact that she was initially used in Hollywood as a cute blonde, Monroe was one of the first female actresses to champion equality in an industry that still comes under attack for the pay gaps between men and women.

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So sassy and all-conquering was the blonde starlet that she had already started her own production company by 1954 after being dissatisfied with the level of pay being offered by unscrupulous studio executives.


6. Brigitte Bardot

An icon of the 50s and 60s, the original blonde bombshell possessed a beauty that was in keeping with the often overused term 'other-worldly.' Taking away her clear-to-see beauty, Brigitte Bardot oozed class as well as confidence, and her status as a sex symbol in the early 1950s gave her a superstardom unheard of for non-English artists at the time. 

One journalist, writing an article for Life Magazine in 1958 entitled, "The Charged Charms of Brigette," even gushed, "Not since the Statue of Liberty has a French girl lit such fires in America."

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Retiring from acting at 39, the French starlet has devoted the rest of her life to animal rights charities and has also published five books.


7. Audrey Hepburn goes shopping in Los Angeles with pet deer, Ip

Audrey Hepburn needs little introduction, but her adorable friend does. The adorable photo is believed to have been taken in Los Angeles by Life magazine photographer Bob Willoughby who accompanied her on many films, including the 1958 flick Green Mansions, where Hepburn first met Ip.

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The film saw Hepburn's character play an intrepid, nature-loving explorer who forges a special relationship with a fawn in the Venezuelan jungle. Thinking it would help Hepburn, her husband and director of the film, Mel Ferrer, recommended she take the fawn home with her to build up a believable bond.

It was a decision that clearly worked as it didn't take long for Hepburn to fall in love with Ip, as Harrison Carrol observed in an article she wrote for the newspaper The Day. "When I talked to her [Audrey] on the set, she was petting the fawn that will work with her in the film. It's a cute little thing. It lay contentedly in her arms, kept nuzzling her neck and trying to lick her cheek".


8. Sharon Tate

Married to the film director Roman Polanski and pregnant with his child, everything seemed to be going just great for the actress Sharon Tate. She was living the dream and appeared destined to continue living it for years to come until Charles Manson directed his "family" of followers to kill her.

The late serial killer was actually indirectly responsible for the murders of seven people, which included the eight-month pregnant actress Sharon Tate. While not taking part in the killings, Manson was held accountable for instructing the murders, which were carried out by Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten.

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Manson's motive was to start a race war between African Americans and white people by murdering residents in the wealthy, predominately white suburbs of L.A. and then blaming the killings on members of the black community. 

The 83-year-old eventually served over 40 years before he succumbed to his death in a hospital in Bakersfield, California last year, with this elegant photo of the beautiful actress thought to be the last captured image of the star alive before Manson's cult killed her.


9. Elizabeth Taylor

One of the most glamorous and successful stars of 1950s classical cinema, Elizabeth Taylor was a well-known public figure throughout her life, so there isn't many images or incidents about her that are known to the public but here is a one of with her arms around a male companion. 

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Dressed down with her arms clasped around the lucky man's shoulders, Taylor's celebrity was characterized as much by her love life as her acting, with the actress marrying 8 times. 


10. Annette Stroyberg

Though the Danish actress was never as celebrated for her work as other women on this list, Stroyberg still possessed a star appeal, even when she was lounging in the sun with friends.

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In truth, the late actress was most known for being the blonde model who replaced Brigitte Bardot as director Roger Vadim's second wife. Despite Vadim's efforts, he never managed to convince studio heads of Stroyberg's talents, and thus she became known more as his wife than the Hollywood actress she had hoped to become.


11. Raquel Welch and that famous photo

To say Raquel Welch was a sex-symbol of the 70s is almost selling her short. She was an icon and arguably the face of American New Wave Cinema, such was the extraordinary celebrity she possessed and the fame Raquel garnered for her acting prowess and model-like looks would see her labeled by many industry commentators as the 'It' girl of Hollywood.

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The hype surrounding Welch is thought to have started after she starred in the British indie flick One Million Years B.C. Despite only having three lines, it was the image of her body in one scene, clad only in a doe-skin bikini that instantly propelled the actress into superstardom. What followed was a host of movie offers, which saw the brunette beauty star in the notable films Bedazzled and Myra Breckinridge.


12. Cher

Cher is so cool that she only goes by one name, and the 70s was no different. Beginning her career on the Sonny and Cher Show, the performer soon became an icon in music, fashion and acting, a feat proven beyond doubt when she won an Oscar for Moonstruck in the late 80s, which added to her already-impressive collection of Emmy, Grammy, and Golden Globe Awards.

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Aged 70, Cher, real name Cherilyn Sarkisian, appears more focused on interests outside Hollywood of late and is noted for her political views, philanthropic endeavors and social activism, which has seen her attend many LGBT and climate change rallies.


13. Betty Brosmer

Fashion models and movie starlets dominated the world of female celebrity in the early to mid-1950s, but Betty Brosmer, later known by her married name Betty Weider, changed that trope when she gained widespread publicity as one of the first female bodybuilders.

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The physical fitness expert posed for a number of photos during the 1950s, making her a popular commercial model and pin-up girl. 


14. Raquel Welch- the goddess of black and white photography

Raquel Welch was as photogenic as they came, but in some cases, the object of the photo can look better when shot in black and white.

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Welch's overwhelming beauty is certainly something to admire, and it's little wonder she is regarded as one of the most beautiful women of the 20th century.


15. Marilyn Monroe at Jones beach, 1949

Sporting darker, brown hair as opposed to her signature blonde locks she is most synonymous with, it is rare to come across a color photo of one Hollywood's most famous starlets.

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Gazing into the lens with a delightful smile, Monroe has long set the standard for female beauty since her rise to fame in the 1950s.


16. Debbie Harry poses for Chris Stein, 1976

Debbie Harry's new wave rock band Blondie were groundbreaking and were one of the first to find mainstream success with a female as the lead singer. The blonde bombshell and "Heart of Glass" hitmaker also became one of the first women rockers to grace the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

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Away from acting, Blondie also had a successful career as an actress with over 60 film roles and a number of TV appearances to her name. A photogenic face, Debbie Harry wasn't shy to strut her stuff for editorial covers, either, as this sensual photo of a skimpily-clad Harry shows.


17. Sally Field, 1966

Starting off her career in television, Sally Field came to fame on the sitcoms Gidget, The Flying Nun, and The Girl with Something Extra.

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The beautiful actress eventually became one of the most in-demand actresses in Tinseltown, and she wasn't short of attention in the looks department either, as evidenced by her broad portfolio of photoshoots, most of which brilliantly captured her innocent smile and girl next door looks.


18. Jamie Lee Curtis's iconic performance in Perfect

Jamie Lee Curtis sent hearts racing when she starred alongside John Travolta in the evocative and racy 1985 movie, Perfect. Steamy, passionate and oh so sensual, Curtis soon became a global sex symbol when the film hit theatres. 

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Playing John Travolta's love interest and aerobics teacher, the chemistry between the two leads was palpable and made for a movie that will likely never be seen again.


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