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The Hottest Actresses from the 1960's

Icons | March 5, 2018

Tina Louise At the Wheel American actress and singer Tina Louise at the wheel of a convertible, circa 1965. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)


The counterculture movement of the 60’s had a quite an impact on films. Unlike anything prior, movies began to break social taboos involving sex, violence as well as other cultural norms. Films began causing controversy and fascination, which naturally led to curiosity.

Films as well as television programs became increasingly dramatic and provocative as the cultural revolution got underway.

The cultural revolution was the beginning of the New Hollywood era that dominated the next several years in theater and television. The revolution changed the television and film industry for many years to come.

Films of this time also focused on the changes happening in the world. Films including Easy Rider (1969), starring Dennis Hopper, focused on the new-found world of drug use as well as the dramatically changing socially acceptable culture of the time. Movies became more sexually explicit, such as Roger Vadim’s “Barbarella” (1968) as the counterculture progressed.

The following actresses were some of the most gorgeous, talented and symbolic beauties of television as well as films from the 1960’s.

These talented actresses either won or were nominated for academy awards and were considered the best female leads from the 1960’s.

Bombshell Tina Louise is probably best recognized for her role as Ginger Grant on the television program “Gilligan’s Island.”

Tina Louise’s career started on stage in the mid-1950’s, prior to landing her breakthrough role in 1958 drama film “God’s Little Acre.” Louise earned a Golden Globe Award for “New Star of the Year.”

Prior to that, Louise had starring roles in several other Hollywood movies, including “The Trap,” “The Hangman,” “Day of the Outlaw,” and “For Those Who Think Young.” From 1964 to 1967, Louise portrayed the role of, Ginger Grant, the fictitious, Hollywood movie star in the CBS television sitcom, “Gilligan’s Island.” She later returned to film, appearing in “The Wrecking Crew,” “The Happy Ending,” and “The Stepford Wives.”

Elizabeth Montgomery was an all-time favorite smoking-hot actress in films as well as television.

Elizabeth Montgomery was the daughter of the famous Robert Montgomery. She began her acting career in the 1950’s with a role on her father’s television series, Robert Montgomery Presents. She won a Theater World Award for her 1956 Broadway debut in the production “Late Love.” In the 1960’s, she became known as everybody’s favorite, good witch for her role as Samantha Stephens on the ABC sitcom Bewitched. Her role on that very series earned her five Prime-time Emmy Award nominations and four Golden Globe Award nominations. After Bewitched ended its successful run in 1972, Montgomery continued her acting career with roles in many other television films, including A Case of Rape (1974), as Ellen Harrod, and The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) in the title role. Both roles earned her additional Emmy Award nominations.

From Barbarella in 1968 to Netflix Today – Jane Fonda is one of the sexiest actresses ever!

Henry Fonda's daughter has been in the spotlight both on and off the screen for over 50 years. Other incarnations include controversial political activist (also known as "Hanoi Jane") and '80s workout poster girl -- the woman does not age.

Mia Farrow first gained notice for her role as Allison MacKenzie in the television soap opera Peyton Place.

Farrow went on to gain further recognition for her subsequent short-lived marriage to Frank Sinatra. An early film role, as Rosemary in Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby (1968), resulted in her being nominated for a BAFTA and a Golden Globe award for Best Actress. Mia Farrow went on to appear in films such as John and Mary (1969), Follow Me! (1972), The Great Gatsby (1974) and Death on the Nile (1978).

Julie Christie was a pop icon of the “swinging London” era of the 1960’s.

Julie Christie has won Academy, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. Christie’s breakthrough film role was in “Billy Liar” (1963). In 1966, she won an Academy award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1965 film “Darling.” The same year, Christie starred as Lara in “Doctor Zhivago.” Following those accomplishments, she starred in “Fahrenheit 451” (1966), “Far from the Madding Crowd” (1967), “Petulia” (1968), “The Go-Between” (1971), “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971); (for which she received her 2nd Oscar nomination), “Don’t Look Now” (1973), “Shampoo” (1975), and “Heaven Can Wait” (1978).

Anita Ekberg was another smoking hot, curvy, blond that captured audiences’ attention in films!

By the mid-1950’s, after several modeling jobs, Anita Ekberg had finally broken into the film industry. She had guest-starred in the short-lived TV series “Casablanca” (1955) and “Private Secretary.” Ekberg played a small role in the film “Blood Alley” (1955), starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall. She also appeared with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in their comedy act in “Artists and Models” (1955) and “Hollywood or Bust” (1956). For a while, Ekberg was even publicized as “Paramount’s Marilyn Monroe.” Ekberg landed her (most likely) best-known role in “La Dolce Vita” in1960, portraying Sylvia Rank, the unattainable “dream woman” of the character played by Marcello Mastroianni. This film is known for a scene of her cavorting in Rome’s Trevi Fountain alongside Mastroianni, which has been called “one of cinema’s most iconic scenes.”

Who didn’t love, love, love Brigitte Bardot?

Brigitte Bardot starred in comedy films, with “limited” international release, before she became world-famous in 1957. “And God Created Woman” was the controversial film that put her on the public radar. Bardot later starred in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1963 film “Le Mépris.” Her role in Louis Malle’s 1965 film “Viva Maria!,” resulted in Bardot being nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress. Bardot, not surprisingly, caught the attention of French intellectuals as a result of this role. She was the subject of Simone de Beauvoir’s 1959 essay, “The Lolita Syndrome,” which described Bardot as a “locomotive of women’s history.” Bardot had been regarded as the first and most liberated woman of post-war France.

Catherine Deneuve was known as a French beauty.

Deneuve gained recognition for her role as an aloof and mysterious beautufil lady for many film directors, including Luis Buñuel and Roman Polanski. Over the course of her career, she appeared in more than 120 films. Catherine Deneuve was a 14-time César Award nominee and she won for her performances in François Truffaut’s “The Last Metro” (1980) and Régis Wargnier’s “Indochine” (1992).

Deneuve was first discovered in Jacques Demy’s 1964 film, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” before going on to star for Roman Polanski in “Repulsion” (1965) and for Buñuel in “Belle de Jour” (1967) and “Tristana” (1970). Catherine Deneuve was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for “Belle de Jour” and the Academy Award for Best Actress for “Indochine.”

Claudia Cardinale was a voluptuous, female, European film icon of the 1960’s.

Cardinale appeared in many of the most acclaimed European films of the 1960’s and 1970’s. She was mainly recognized for Italian, French and English films. Cardinale, not surprisingly, won the “Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia” competition in 1957. The prize was a trip to Italy which quickly led to other prizes… film contracts.

Franco Cristaldi acted as Cardinale’s mentor for many years. Later, they were eventually married. Subsequent to making her acting debut in a minor role with Omar Sharif in “Goha” (1958), Cardinale became one of the best-known actresses in Italy for her roles in films such as “Rocco and His Brothers” (1960), “Girl with a Suitcase” (1961), “The Leopard” (1963), “Cartouche” (1963) and Federico Fellini’s “8½” (1963).

Since then, Cardinale became even more well known following her role in “The Pink Panther” opposite David Niven. For several years she appeared in Hollywood films such as “Blindfold” (1965) with Rock Hudson, “Lost Command” (1966), “The Professionals” (1966), “The Hell with Heroes” (1968) and the epic western “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968). Cardinale was also praised her role as a former prostitute opposite Jason Robards and Henry Fonda.

Raquel Welch first gained attention for her role in “Fantastic Voyage” (1966), after which she landed a contract with 20th Century Fox. Her employer loaned her, on contract, to a studio in Great Britain, for whom she made “One Million Years B.C.” (1966). Welch only had three lines in that film, yet the sexy images of her in the doe-skin bikini she wore in the film became best-selling posters. Those posters turned her into a celebrity sex symbol, almost overnight!

Welch later starred in other notable films including “Bedazzled” (1967), “Bandolero!” (1968), “100 Rifles” (1969) and “Myra Breckinridge” (1970).

Her unique and appealing persona on the big screen only helped her in becoming a sexy icon of the 1960s and 1970s. Welch made her mark in film history by portraying strong female characters. Although she was, admittedly, sexy, her characters broke the stereotype of the submissive, female sex symbol.

Oh, good Lord, have mercy, Ursula Andress!

Ursula Andress became famous for her role as Honey Ryder, a shell diver and James Bond‘s object of desire in “Dr. No” (1962). This was the first movie to ever portray the international man of mystery and intrigue, James Bond. In what became an iconic moment in film and fashion history, Andress rose out of the beautiful Caribbean Sea in a sexy white bikini, wearing a large diving knife on her hip. Because of her heavy Swiss-German accent, her character’s voice was provided via “voiceover” by Nikki van der Zyl. The calypso, however, was sung by Diana Coupland.

This scene marked Andress as the “quintessential” Bond girl. She later said that she owed her career to that white bikini. “This bikini made me into a success. As a result of starring in ‘Dr. No’ as the first Bond girl, I was given the freedom to take my pick of future roles and to become financially independent.” The bikini she wore in the film sold at auction in 2001 for $59,755. That my friends, is quite a bikini!

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.