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10 Greatest Female Sex Symbols in World Cinema

March 12, 2017
7 min read

There are actresses and there are sex symbols. Not everyone make that shift from being a talented performer to being desirable. Fantasy is a game reserved for only a select few. A sex symbol is someone who is confident in their own skin but makes their admirers suffer when they unleash their otherworldly charm. Here is a list of cine actresses down the years who have seduced generations of men with their effortless sensuality and are considered the top female sex symbols.

10. Zeenat Aman

Her bold and carefree personality ushered in a new era of leading ladies in Indian cinema who are aware of their sexuality and the effect that their physical appearance have on men. She started out as a model and then went on to win the Miss Asia title in 1970. Films came calling next and with Dev Anand as a mentor she went to rule the hearts of millions through her films most of which were ahead of the time. Prior to her entry into films Hindi film actresses were demure and myopic, always ready to sacrifice for the men in their lives. With her came the new age women who knows what she wants; her dreams and desires came to the forefront and women were no longer flat characters. She has played everything – a prostitute, a hippie, a bar dancer, a rape victim and the other woman. She was also one of the first actresses whose fashion sense off screen created as much impact as her onscreen style. She was the first Indian actress to have a perfume named after her.

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9. Julie Christie

Her success story is the stuff pop culture legends are made of. Born in British India she peaked during the swinging London era. An icon of cinema and Broadway, she looked sexy in whatever role she played; be it a career woman or a damsel in distress. She was all set to be a linguist when the acting bug hit her and when the world was at her feet she gave it all up for domestic bliss and social activism. Talk about woman with a mind of her own, desirable, right?

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8. Eva Green

She made a sinful debut in Bernardo Bertolucci’s ‘The Dreamers’. She doesn’t mind baring it all for art’s sake, even if it means sleeping almost naked with her onscreen brother. She exhibits a rare combination of vulnerability and strength in her demeanour which makes her so real. Her sex appeal is not only limited to films, even in her television roles she brings the same amount of sultriness. It was only apt that she was cast as a Bond girl in ‘Casino Royale’; the role that epitomizes the bold, beautiful and sexy women in films.

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7. Salma Hayek

Her sex appeal needs no introduction. She is the flag bearer of Latina dominance in world cinema. Brave, opinionated and an iconoclast, she is redefining gender equality by being independent and business minded. She started out as the object of desire in films but has now graduated to more meaningful roles. Every time she steps out on the red carpet she reminds us why she is so desired by many in the first place. Her cleavage revealing outfits have been taken over by a confident smile which has become a permanent fixture on her. Every now and then when she decides to give us a sneak peek into her perfectly toned body via editorial shoots, she easily commands attention and ruins the competition for wannabe hotties.

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6. Penelope Cruz

God was in a happy mode when he made her. Those kissable lips, perfect cheek bones and ample curves are just too much to handle for us mere mortals. She is a joy to watch on screen because she has the acting chops to match her exotic sex appeal. Marriage, motherhood and age have not diminished her appeal rather it has added to her oeuvre.

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5. Anita Ekberg

She got herself inducted into the sexy hall of fame permanently by simply cavorting around Rome’s Trevi fountain in Federico Fellini’s masterpiece ‘La Dolce Vita’. She was a sex symbol first and then an actress. A photographer’s delight and a designer’s muse she was offered multiple roles in Hollywood productions but it’s her sex symbol status that still lives on in the minds of people.

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4. Scarlett Johansson

The image of Scarlett Johansson biting her lips and giving a coy smile can make any men go weak in his knees. Her husky voice adds a layer of flesh and blood to her overtly sexual persona. The quote ‘they don’t make them like her anymore’ suits her perfectly. She is effortlessly sexy. Voted several times as the sexiest woman in the world by various publications she is only getting better with age. She regularly sets the screen on fire with her physically intimate roles and always manages to strike a fine balance between sensuality and substance.

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3. Brigitte Bardot

There is something about French women which make them so irresistible. They are credited with pioneering high fashion because they are very demanding. There was a time when French cinema was known for its explicit projection of sexuality on celluloid. Brigitte Bardot was a star of that era. She is what you call a triple threat in showbiz; an actress, a singer and a model. When it comes to intimacy on screen she doesn’t hold back from shedding her inhibitions to cater to the carnal pleasure of men around the world. Her racy photographs on the cover and pages of girlie magazines are still in demand. She wowed the paparazzi at the 1953 Cannes film festival with her seductive charm and acrobatic poses. Just Google it, right now!

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2. Monica Bellucci

The effect of her hypnotic beauty transcends physical boundaries. Her statuesque frame reminds us of the Goddess Aphrodite. She is the most prominent sex icon in European cinema today. Her ‘Dolce & Gabbana’ ads are a master class in seduction. The eponymous film role that made her an overnight sex symbol for men of all ages is ‘Malena’. Her innocent charm that hides more than it reveals was the USP of the film. She is the gold standard in depiction of desires on celluloid. No wonder she became the first actress in her 50s to be cast as a Bond girl, or is it Bond woman?

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1. Marilyn Monroe

Even after 5 decades of her passing away she continues to rule our hearts and imagination. She has more magazine covers than there are fish in a pond. A random photograph of hers can kick off an auction and her personal belongings are today considered national treasures. She is the lovechild of the glamorous American dream who loves to be photographed in high slit gowns while dripping in diamonds. Her serene face never gave away a hint of the turmoil that she was having in her personal life. She knew how to seduce the camera and the crowd. With her unprecedented sex appeal and big studio blockbusters she became Hollywood’s first global star. Till date her name is synonymous with Hollywood’s golden era as its brightest shining star.

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