Golden & Gorgeous: Hollywood's Hunkiest Stars
Golden & Gorgeous: Hollywood's Hunkiest Stars By Robert Edelstein, ReMIND Magazine
For nearly two minutes, all we hear about -- in TV news reports in the U.S., Italy and England -- is that the world’s most eligible bachelor, the handsome Nickie Ferrante, is finally getting hitched, to a beautiful, wealthy heiress. It is the beginning of the 1957 romance An Affair to Remember. As we finally see Ferrante walk suavely down the gangway of a cruise ship in his tuxedo, even before we see his face, we can tell by that step, that voice and that style who it will be: film legend Cary Grant. How many men in the movies could ever live up to so vaunted a reputation?
Say this for Grant, and for all the other classic Hollywood hunks you will see celebrated in this issue of ReMIND: They knew how to make an entrance, whether they were playing gruff or gritty, sensual or sentimental.
Like John Wayne as the crusty but principled U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, herding a wagon full of outlaws into the local jail in True Grit. Like Sean Connery, lighting a cigarette with casual elegance in Dr. No, delivering one of the most famous lines in movie history: “Bond -- James Bond.”
Along with those signature entrances, the Hollywood hunks all share another winning quality -- staying power. Once they hit the screen, we never want them to leave.
These are the men who have kept film fans riveted for decades. And in a sense, they were never hotter than in the 1950s and ‘60s. It was a golden age of the movies when elegance and romance still had its postwar place, but the antihero emerged with a vengeance as Camelot begat Vietnam, and life onscreen and off saw both new freedoms and dark consequences.
That’s when the movies needed stars (and characters) with rugged individuality to keep up with the times and to captivate the public, men who stuck by their code -- no matter how bad things got -- and turned honor into an art form. Those are the stars you’ll see in these pages, with careers and roles that spanned and defined the times.
It’s Gregory Peck, standing out as country lawyer Atticus Finch, fighting for the rights of the oppressed in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s the laconic, poncho-wearing nameless man with a gun Clint Eastwood played in the three spaghetti Westerns that, ironically enough, made his name. And if you wanted a little bromantic chemistry, you got it from Robert Redford and Paul Newman, riding the range and cracking wise in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You’ll get a taste of Spencer Tracy’s rough wisdom -- and you’ll like it. And a splash of the bubbly humor Rock Hudson offered in bedroom comedies. And then there’s Grant once again, who played it all -- ad man, action star and monument-climbing romantic hero -- in North by Northwest.
Today, the works of these actors live on thanks to the availability of DVDs, movie marathons on TV and the ease at which the internet can present clips of legendary performances. And new generations of fans are discovering these actors and their legacies, thanks to the streaming services that fill their libraries with content from the cinematic golden age.
Enjoy the view in these pages of the hunkiest of Hollywood men, who caught our attention from the start and kept it long after the picture faded out.
In 1962’s Dr. No, sexy Scot Sean Connery -- with his effortlessly cool acting, endearing accent and ruggedly athletic physique honed during his days as a bodybuilder -- exploded into Hollywood hunk history as the first big-screen James Bond. Despite five other actors having portrayed the secret agent, the 89-year-old Connery still remains the definitive 007 for a lot of people who recall seeing the original films in theaters and for those who discovered them in later decades. Thanks largely to the charismatic Connery being the embodiment of Bond in the minds of many, the actor has retained his attractiveness to fans no matter his age. He graced the cover of People’s Sexiest Man Alive issue in 1989, at age 59, and 10 years later, an internet poll named him Sexiest Man of the Century.
Montgomery Clift was known as one of the most handsome men to ever grace the silver screen, and before he was cast as dark and brooding characters in films like Red River (1948) and The Heiress (1949), he made a name for himself on Broadway in works by Cole Porter, Tennessee Williams and Thornton Wilder. The method actor was one of the first to study in the Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan, and in preparation for his role as a murderous social climber in the film A Place in the Sun (1951), he even spent a night in a prison. Talk about committed to his craft!
Whether it’s “Let my people go!” or “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!,” Charlton Heston was the go-to guy for gravitas. His commanding presence filled epics like The Ten Commandments (1956), Ben-Hur (1959) and El Cid (1961), and was turned upside down in apocalyptic sci-fi flicks like Planet of the Apes (1968) and The Omega Man (1971).
Few actors could balance debonair regality with impeccable comic timing like Cary Grant -- the Brit-born actor is the epitome of a screwball-comedy leading man. After tickling audiences’ funny bones in flicks like Bringing Up Baby (1938), His Girl Friday (1940) and The Philadelphia Story (1940), Grant turned his attention to thrillers and became one of Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite actors, starring in Notorious (1946), To Catch a Thief (1955) and North by Northwest (1959). In addition to pairing with Hollywood’s loveliest ladies, including Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet (1958), Doris Day in That Touch of Mink (1962) and Audrey Hepburn in Charade (1963), Grant had plenty of beauties in his real life, too -- he was married five times, including elopements with actresses Virginia Cherrill, Betsy Drake and Dyan Cannon.
With otherworldly good looks, charm and charisma, Rock Hudson established himself as a heartthrob with roles in Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Giant (1956) and Pillow Talk (1959). Sadly, Hudson suffered turmoil in his personal life, as the homophobic culture of the 1950s forced him to live as a closeted gay man. He died of AIDS in 1985, becoming one of the first public faces of the disease.
That infamous mustache and unruffled grin charmed ladies onscreen and off (he was married five times) for decades. But when Clark Gable took off his shirt in 1934’s It Happened One Night, some audience members were overcome, fainting on the spot. Shrewd and confident, Gable exuded his sex appeal and had everyone believing that he kissed like no other. He proved just that in his most famous role as Rhett Butler in 1939’s Gone With the Wind. “Rhett, don’t. I shall faint,” exclaimed his precious onscreen love Scarlett (Vivien Leigh). But it was his final words in that film -- “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” -- that left most women heartbroken and forever in love with the actor, who admitted: “What people see on the screen is me.”
While Gregory Peck is best known for his role as heroic attorney Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) -- which earned the handsome brunette his fifth Academy Award nomination and first Oscar statuette -- the stately actor also sizzled onscreen in Roman Holiday (1953) with Audrey Hepburn, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Spellbound (1945) with Ingrid Bergman and in his film debut Days of Glory (1944) alongside fellow film rookie Tamara Toumanova. Peck, with his perfectly swooped bangs, also smoldered as a lusty brute in the 1946 film Duel in the Sun.
From the late 1950s through the early 1990s, Warren Beatty capitalized on his stunning good looks and sexy charm to become one of Hollywood’s most infamous playboys. “Warren goes through women on an industrial scale,” Natalie Wood once stated. It wasn’t until 1991’s Bugsy, when he cast and fell for Annette Bening, that he would settle down. Beatty is the only person to have been nominated for Oscars in acting, directing, writing and producing for the same film -- and he’s done it twice, for both Heaven Can Wait (1978) and Reds (1981).
Early on in his career, legendary actor Tony Curtis was cast in lighter fare mainly for his good looks. It didn’t take long for critics and fans to realize that he was more than just a pretty face, though. Curtis shared that combo of acting talent and looks with Marilyn Monroe, with whom he famously starred in the classic 1959 comedy Some Like It Hot, giving the film two of the best-looking leads in Hollywood history. Even when he appeared in more intense and dramatic roles, like playing the title serial killer in 1968’s The Boston Strangler, Curtis still managed to look great doing it.
This onetime circus acrobat didn’t start acting until he was in his 30s, appearing in his first film in 1946. Lancaster became a true Hollywood sex symbol after his iconic scene kissing Deborah Kerr on the beach in From Here to Eternity. As an actor, Lancaster had a wide range, playing both macho tough guys and more sensitive roles throughout his long career.
His all-American good looks have captivated audiences since his earliest roles, and Robert Redford has shown that not only do some men get even better looking with age, but they also get more talented. Like many actors of his era, Redford got his start on the stage and in small TV roles. He then starred in a pair of films with Natalie Wood -- Inside Daisy Clover (1965) and This Property Is Condemned (1966) -- before hitting mega-stardom in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). Redford reunited with his Butch Cassidy costar (and good friend) Paul Newman in The Sting (1973) and the two blue-eyed hunks turned their onscreen chemistry into a lifelong, offscreen friendship. Redford found success behind the cameras, too, and earned an Oscar for his directorial debut, Ordinary People (1980). He also founded the Sundance Film Festival, which has become the country’s largest showcase for independent films.
Those signature blue eyes. His gentlemanly ways. His passion to make the world a better place. It’s hard to top the beauty Paul Newman radiated both inside and out. Humble, generous and gorgeous, Newman remains one of the classiest actors of all time. Raised in Ohio, Newman spent a stint in the U.S. Navy before enrolling in Kenyon College and pursuing acting. The death of his father in 1950 prompted him to return home to help run his family’s sporting goods store, where he worked for almost two years before committing to acting full time. It wasn’t, however, until he laced up those gloves as boxer Rocky Graziano in 1956’s Oscar-winning Somebody Up There Likes Me that audiences took notice. What followed was a resumÃ© like no other -- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), The Long, Hot Summer (1958), The Hustler (1961), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Absence of Malice (1981), The Verdict (1982), The Color of Money (1986), Road to Perdition (2002) -- and more. At age 47, he turned his attention to his other passion -- racecar driving, where he won four amateur championships. His devotion to his wife of 50 years, Joanne Woodward, was commendable, as was his philanthropy. In 1982 he founded Newman’s Own, Inc., and donated all after-tax profits and royalties to charities.
Photo Credit: Rock Hudson: © 1960 Universal Pictures Company, Inc. --
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