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Male sexsymboles of the 20th century

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Male sexsymboles of the 20th century

Did your favorite hot actor make our list?

By Rebecca Dane

This list gets a little bit steamy! There are so many sultry stars that found their way into the hearts (and crushes) of the world.  

Note: This list definitely lacks diversity. While they are a bunch of hot white men, it’s still mostly a list of white men. Thankfully, the times have changed (and are continuing to change) so this list is only going to get even steamier.

In the 1920s, sex symbols included Rudolph Valentino and John Barrymore. John Barrymore was a stage actor, whose portrayal of Hamlet threw him into the spotlight. He turned to silent films and starred in pictures like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Sherlock Holmes. In his personal life, he was married and divorced four times.


Greta Garbo & John Barrymore, Grand Hotel, 1932  

In the 1930s, sex symbols included Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart.  Clark Gable was often referred to as “The King of Hollywood.” He was best known for his role in Gone with the Wind. He later became a distinguished Major in the U.S. Army Air Forces.

In the 1940, sex symbols included Cary Grant, Gregory Peck. Gregory Peck played the role of Atticus Finch in the film To Kill a Mockingbird, for which he won an Oscar. He was also known for his humanitarian efforts, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for them.

In the 1950s, sex symbols included Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley and James Dean. Marlon Brando is best known for his role in A Streetcar Named Desire, and many years later, The Godfather. Marlon Brando was known for a wild personal life, including a large number of wives and girlfriends (he had eleven children). In 1976, he told a journalist that he had a history of homosexual experiences.


Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951


In the 1960s, sex symbols included Paul Newman, Sean Connery, and Jim Morrison and Mick Jagger. Jim Morrison was the lead singer of the Doors, and is considered by many music critics to be one of the most iconic frontmen.

In the 1970s, sex symbols included John Travolta, Ryan O’Neal and David Cassidy. David Cassidy became famous from his role as Keith Partridge in the show The Partridge Family. Ryan O’Neal was an amateur boxer before beginning his career as an actor. His most famous movie was Love Story, but he still makes appearances on television like in the show Bones.


Patrick Swayze & Jennifer Grey, Dirty Dancing, 1987

In the 1980s, sex symbols included Harrison Ford, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Patrick Swayze. Indiana Jones, Han Solo, Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now. You don’t need me to tell you that I’m talking about Harrison Ford. But, before he became the star he is today, he only played minor roles – to the point that he had to become a carpenter to support his family.

In the 1990s, sex symbols included Brad Pitt, Colin Firth, Leonardo DiCaprio and Denzel Washington, and Hugh Grant. I don’t think any explanation is needed for any of these men. It’s an excellent group or talented actors, who are also very nice to look at.


There were so many sex symbols over the decades that we just chose a few. Did we miss anyone that you felt was absolutely essential? Let us know!



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