Sunday, 4 November 2012

Female sex symbols of the sixties - blondes

Allegedly, there is a Franglais version of a famous song, in which the lyrics are adapted to say "I can't give you anything but love, Bébé." Bébé being, of course, BB - Brigitte Bardot.

Although her acting career began in the early 1950's and her fame rocketed in And God Created Woman (1956), Bardot the international sex symbol is very much a creature of the sixties.

 Simone de Beauvoir called Bardot a 'locomotive of women's history', identifying her as the most liberated woman of post-war France (which may say more about France than Bardot).

If you wanted French and you wanted blonde, the sixties saw the rise of an icon of cool beauty known as Catherine Deneuve:

Like Bardot, Deneuve was a protégée (and more) of Roger Vadim, with whom she had a child. Oh, and she was also married for a while to one David Bailey:

If you are one of those gentlemen (or ladies) who prefer blondes and like them European, you might be surprised to know that (Harry Lime notwithstanding) Switzerland has produced more than chocolate and the cuckoo clock:

Ursula Andress, the original Bond Girl, was born in Berne. The strikingly featured Andress was probably born to play She (who must be obeyed) in 1965.

Before we depart continental Europe, we should not forget the woman who will forever be associated with La Dolce Vita ('the sweet life', for all you determined monoglots):

Swedish beauty, Ekberg, might notoriously not have aged quite as well as Deneuve, but in 1960 she was Marcello Mastroianni's 'unattainable dream woman' in Fellini's masterpiece.

Since Britain was about to 'Swing', we couldn't be left out of the blonde sex symbol stakes, could we?  But, hey, we were British, we wanted stylish and intelligent as well as sexy.

Later to be described as 'the most poetic of all actresses' by Al Pacino (make a note of that for a chat up line!), Julie Christie was a bright, beautiful and very English addition to the sixties film firmament. 

Christie was the swish girlfriend Tom Courtenay's Billy Liar was never quite brave enough to follow to London (1963), Bathsheba Everdene adored by Alan Bates's Gabriel Oak, Terence Stamp's Frank Troy, and Peter Finch's William Boldwood, in Far from the Madding Crowd(1967), and of course, she played an unforgettable Lara Antipova opposite Omar Sharif in 1965's Doctor Zhivago
But Christie wasn't the only British actress of the period with brains and sex appeal...
Susannah York, appeared in some of the edgier British films of the 1960s such as The Killing of Sister George (1968), Freud (1962), Tom Jones (1963), Sands of the Kalahari (1965), They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969).

American women, as we all know, can do intelligent or sexy, but not both together...think again.
Dubbed 'Hanoi Jane' in the American press for her overt support for North Vietnam (more properly, her principled opposition to the US war in South East Asia), Fonda, as she proved in the title role of the silly sci-fi movie, Barbarella, could also do 'fun and sexy'.
Believe it or not, Fonda was yet another lover of that most hated Frenchman of the sixties (well, in my book, anyway!) Roger Vadim.

Long before the 21st century's obsession with surgically enhanced curves, America in the 1960's gave us blondes with...well, ample figures. One of whom was clearly Too Hot to Handle:

Pennsylvania born Jayne Mansfield never quite reached the heights of a certain other blonde bombshell, but clearly had what it took to fuel many a male fantasy.
What can Sophia Loren be thinking?!
Wouldn't it be worth all the trouble of getting to be President of the United States, just for this one moment?
So much, much too much, has been written about Marilyn Monroe, so let's just leave the pictures to say all that needs saying here.

Which one of these gets your vote for the Blonde Bombshell of the 1960s? Vote below, or nominate your favourite if we've missed her out.