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a thinking man's list

by Miles Mathis

I say “of the screen” here, because I have seen women just as sexy around town. But since I don't have pictures of these women, we can't share the experience. We can only talk about famous women. I say “a thinking man's list” because this list won't include any bimbos famous for big tits or boob jobs. It will conspicuously lack most of the usual suspects.

I also say "screen" to include TV and sports and music, since we watch those on a screen, too.

You won't see here any of the plastic people from the last decade with their fake bodies and fake hair and fake noses and fake lips. A couple of people on my list have gone south over the years, but I include them for their fresh early selves. I will comment as I go.

I also use the word “sexiest” on purpose. There are some extremely beautiful women I passed over, simply because they seemed to me to be made of ice. We will take Nicole Kidman as an example. Beautiful beyond belief, but I couldn't see sleeping with her. I doubt she sleeps. I think even her breathing is regulated by a machine. Hundreds of “top beauties” failed to make my list for that reason. This is a list of what I perceive to be intelligent women (well, mainly), but intelligent women are also divided into sexy and non-sexy. Liz Montgomery would be an example of the former and Audrey Hepburn would be an example of the latter.

I also leave off a whole sub-category of beauty, which will enrage the fairer sex. But this is my list. It isn't a committee list, and I don't feel compelled to say people are sexy who I don't feel anything for. This includes not only the fake and foolish, who I have already mentioned, it also includes the buxom and the bombshells: I fully understand the draw of them, I am just not drawn to them. This would be the Rita Hayworth, Jane Mansfield type. A large portion of other people's lists are made up of this category, and a large portion of beauty pageants are as well. So there is no lack of appreciation for the type. But you won't find her here. If you're a baby-got-back kind of guy, you will have to look elsewhere. These babies ain't got much back. They tend to be sleek and trim.

Angelina Jolie was voted the sexiest woman of the century by Empireonline, but I can't figure these folks out. I assume the list was compiled by teenage girls or Hollywood reps. I find Jolie unappealing pretty much across the board: for her tattoos, her hard personality, her crazy-bitch persona, her doctored features, and her constant PR blitz. Like so many others on other contemporary lists, she looks like a Stepford Wife to me. She is literally scary. She was beautiful at 16, but she was scary even then. I find 9/10's of modern “beauties” scary like that. They either look like porn stars or like figures at Madame Tussaud's. They wouldn't thrill you in bed, they would only annoy you in bed. They would spend the whole time barking or quacking in those nasal voices women now have, and you would have to go sleep on the couch to find some peace.

The only non-current actress who made the top 30 at Empire was Marilyn Monroe. Just proves that contemporary people know nothing about history. Why call it “of the century” or “of all time” when you know nothing of the century, much less of history? Check out the list for yourself: Gary Oldman and Alan Rickman are ahead of Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve.

Let's look at some real women:


Elizabeth Montgomery. Everyone's favorite witch. I don't have to sell anyone on this one. Except that I will say that she was already in her 30's in "Bewitched." You have to go to the files to find pictures from the '50's, when she was even more beautiful. Hard to believe, but true. She was still smokin' in the 60's, though, even after having kids. Perfect knees, which few people bother to notice. Sexy and a great sense of humor, too. Thank goodness we have her in syndication.


Embeth Davidtz. Another unknown in the States who should have been known. See her in A Feast of July, an overlooked Merchant/Ivory film. You may also remember her as the maid in Schindler's List. Just look at that picture! Too good for modern cinema, I guess. There are no words for what she does to my heartbeat.


Grace Kelly. I lose track of the plot every time she enters the room in Rear Window. She really moves and speaks like a queen. Not just gorgeous, but regal. And yet somehow still warm. If this list were for beauty alone, she would be at the top. Can you believe anyone would list Angelina Jolie over Grace Kelly? Apocalyptic, really. Grace Kelly was number 39 on the Empire list, just above Ewan MacGregor. Honestly, not a joke.


Helen Slater. Yes, Supergirl always did it for me a lot better than Wonder Woman. These photos may give you an idea why. Y'know, Jerry had great taste: remember Becky Gelke on "Seinfeld"? Helen is Jewish, though I wouldn't have guessed it. See her in The Legend of Billie Jean.


Veronica Lake. Just discovered Veronica, in I Married a Witch. Wish she could have played Galadriel. She is what I see when I read the book, not Kate Blanchett. She could even have worn the white gown from I Married a Witch. Wow!


Charlotte Rampling. If Charlotte doesn't make your breath catch in your throat, I don't know what to say. Stick with Pam Anderson. In my book, she is the definition of sexy. She should have stayed away from the cigarettes, but in the early years, she was every smart man's dream. I always thought she was French, but she is English. Definitely exudes a French sexuality, though, and did French cinema. See her in Georgy Girl.


Justine Waddell. Not well-known in the States, but I know of her from BBC's "Wives and Daughters," which I highly recommend. Another slip of a girl, with fantastic eyes and a brooding intelligence. Just look at those cute little lips! Too good for most men's whorish lists.

Anne-Louise Lambert. I watch Picnic at Hanging Rock just to see her brushing her blonde hair in the mirror. What a sexy mouth, made even sexier somehow by the crooked teeth. I wish I could have seen her in the Aussie soaps back in the early 70's.


Claire Danes. Like a smarter, more soulful version of Gwenneth, without the whiny, raspy voice. Gwenneth looked great in Emma, but it wasn't quite enough to make the list. Claire just seems a lot more real. Much sexier eyes, too. I wish I had seen her in more movies. Way to go Claire on not getting a nosejob or boobjob! No fingernail polish or toe polish, either. Very sexy.


Robin Wright. The Princess Bride. Smart and Gorgeous. Maybe not the warmest person on this list, but still waters run deep. It's the no make-up thing I like about this photo. The director knew that princess brides didn't wear makeup. But Robin never wears much makeup, as you see. Not a lot of slutty pics on the web, either. I had to dig for these old ones of her.


Nastassja Kinski. The top of the sexy-eyes list. In Tess of the D'Urbervilles she is at her best, at least for someone like me who wishes the peasant costume would make a comeback. Nothing like a girl in a cotton dress.


Lauren Bacall. See her in To Have and Have Not, at age 20, her first appearance. She proved that a skinny blonde can be sultry. She should have stayed away from cigarettes, like so many others (including her husband Bogart), but she has made it to 85 nonetheless. She should also have kept her eyebrows in the early years. But that is mainly quibbling. She was among the sexiest. Just look at that nose. I don't think they were doing nosejobs back then. And she could stare right through you, obviously. No wonder Bogey fell for her. Who wouldn't? Reese Witherspoon was ahead of Bacall in the Empire list, and so was John Cusack. Again, not making this up. You can't make up stuff like this.


Julie Christie. One of my favorites from the 60's. And talk about aging well. She is 68 now. Compare her to Bardot, who is 75. Bardot is 7 years older and looks 30 years older. Woody Allen once joked that he wanted to be reincarnated as Warren Beatty's hands, and this is one reason why. This is how a woman is supposed to age. The third photo is from her late 50's, and the fourth from her 60's. If she has had surgery, it was done right. See her in Heaven can Wait, when she was 36.


Jessica Lange. One of the smartest women in Hollywood. A bit edgy for most, but just my flavor. Check out these old photos and she will become your flavor, too, I would guess. See her in Frances or The Postman always Rings Twice.


Vivien Leigh. Gone with the Wind, of course. Not as sexy as some, but right behind Grace on beauty alone. Should have kept her own eyebrows.


Bridget Fonda. One of my personal favorites. I am thinking of the period from Aria up to Single White Female. Once again, she didn't need the nosejob, but who can tell a girl anything these days. She hasn't done much good work, but she was something to look at. So long and lithe. Here she is as Bacall with Bogart, I mean Crowe.


Olivia Newton-John. Always preferred her in Grease before she went black leather. Pale blue sweaters and bobby socks are much sexier (which may explain this entire list). Like Shelley below, Olivia has destroyed her face with multiple lifts and tucks. We will remember them as they were.

Shelley Long. Those of you with Megan Fox at the top of your list will say, “What!” But she's just my type, I guess. Her character was annoying, yes, but that was the script. We can imagine she was not quite that flighty in real life, if we like. Still, she was smart, not icy, and what can I say, I like the librarian look she had on the show. And physically, what's not to like? She was already in her 30's in "Cheers," so we have to remember that. This picture is her in her 20's: long graceful neck, limpid bedroom eyes. She also had gorgeous hands and arms, lovely hair (possibly better light brown than blonde), and a great figure (if you like small breasts, which I do). I imagine if she had never spoken a word I would have an easier time convincing you (although she has a lovely voice).


Keri Russell. I will always have a soft spot for Felicity. Could be the sweaters, but I think it is the smart girl thing again. No one ever made sneakers as sexy as Felicity, either. Here she is without too much makeup.

Diane Keaton. Yes, Diane Keaton. There aren't any good pictures of her from the 70's online, but here she is from Looking for Mr. Goodbar. The Beyonce guys won't understand this one, but so what. Woody knew how to pick 'em. See her in her panties and t-shirt in Annie Hall. Very real, very vulnerable, very smart. Big droopy bedroom eyes. The Vassar or Bryn Mawr girl not lost to lesbianism, sneaking into your dorm-room at night to play scrabble.

Meryl Streep. Not strictly the prettiest face on this list, but see Sophie's Choice. The smartest and most talented woman ever in Hollywood, the greatest actress of all time, and in Sophie's Choice, sexy as all get-out. A glorious nose, no matter what you say.


Michelle Phillips. The original hippy chick, from The Mamas and the Papas. Waify body and perfect face, looked great without makeup. Like Kate Moss without the wall-eyes or the vacant stare.


Jennifer Connelly. Tends to drift to the modern overdone look, but she's just incredibly sexy, no matter what. It isn't the big naturals on a little torso that do it for me, since that is not my thing. It isn't even the legs, though she has among the best. It is the intelligent stare she has. Just WOW.


Sarah Polley. Just watch the math scene in Guinevere. Written and directed by a woman, it could have been shot by Nabokov. No one has ever been more kittenish than Sarah, especially with that closed-mouth smile she developed. Looks a bit like a shorter Uma, but Uma has always annoyed me for some reason.


Susan Dey. Who can forget "The Partridge Family"? Well, those of you under 40, I guess, who never knew it to forget. She was also pretty hot in that lawyer show I never watched. That is the very definition of doe-eyed.


Anne Brochet. See Cyrano de Bergerac, where she plays Roxanne. One of the greatest noses in the history of cinema, and heavy-lidded eyes to melt you. That Jewish thing again, I think.

Jean Butler. Must be the Irish in me. Long legs and long red hair. Can't go wrong with that. And look at those freckles! Heaven. And no mascara. Double heaven. See her in the original "Riverdance."


Zhang Ziyi. The sexiest thing ever to come out of China. See her at her best in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Capucine. Named after the flower, not a cup of coffee. A French actress. See her in The Pink Panther, when she was already in her 30's. Eyes to die for. She almost seems too adult for me, somehow. Being Peter Pan, I have a hard time seeing myself with women like this, though she is sexy beyond belief.


Janet Leigh. Most people my age only know her from Psycho, but you have to see her in Little Women (1949) before you understand why she made my list.


Natalie Wood. Simple features, great skin, and lots of charm. See her in West Side Story or Splendor in the Grass.

Candice Bergen. Those who only know her from “Murphy Brown” need to be given the clue by this picture.

Kate Winslet. Generally too full-bodied for my taste, Kate still has to make the list for intelligence, talent, and sex appeal. She looked mighty tasty in Jude, possibly her physical peak, although she is still a stunner.


Ingrid Bergman. Girl-next-door freshness and charm, and a nice accent. The old-fashioned arms-like-a-pillow appeal. I can see it.


Carol Lombard. See her in Vigil in the Night, from 1940, when she was 32, or go back even further, to Twentieth Century, six years earlier. Famed for her fiery personality and flashing eyes. . . and imperfect nose.

Caroline Sihol. If you want to see someone who has aged well, see Caroline in Tous les Matins du Monde, at age 42. Noses can be made by man, but eyes like that can only be made by Nature. There are precious few images of Caroline online, since she mostly did French TV during the 70's and 80's, but here is one I dug up. Sort of like a latter-day Lombard.


Mira Sorvino. Mira looks great either dead-skinny, as she was in the beginning; or full-figured, as she was in Mighty Aphrodite. You can guess which I prefer. She once had the best legs in Hollywood, maybe in the world, as you can see here (I had to cut that Backus bastard out).


Diane Lane. See, she always had that tiny nose. She's gotten a lot of press for aging well, but she's only 45. I remember her from A Little Romance. Too young there to be called sexy, I admit, so we'll include a pic from her late 20's. See, she always had the breasts, too.


Selita Ebanks. Like Jennifer Beals, but more exotic and curvier. Eyes tilted a bit more, too. Very hot. One of the few on this list that mirrors normal lists by “normal” guys.

Suzanne Farrell. The prettiest face in ballet. Balanchine had the eye.

Farrah Fawcett. OK, not exactly brainy, but what a body! See her in one scene in "The Partridge Family," way before "Charlie's Angels." Oh my God! A complete natural (in the beginning, anyway). You have to be a stunner to steal the camera from Jaclyn Smith. Jaclyn was a stunner, too, of course, but she made even Farrah seem smart and dynamic, which is why she isn't here. Here is Farrah in her 30's, still looking good.


Ekaterina Gordeeva. The prettiest skater ever. Not the greatest, that would be Oksana Bayul, from the same Olympics, in 1994. I wanted to include Oksana, but felt I couldn't, since she hasn't looked good since she passed 16. Being 16 is an unfair advantage. Ekaterina, however, has always looked great and skated great. She looked her iconic best in '94, when she won the gold with her love Grinkov (for the second time). She was tiny and fit and flawless, tossed across the ice like a paper doll. She didn't exude sex appeal, exactly. She exuded the “virgin except for my beautiful husband” look, which is very appealing, too. Certainly not a turn-off, except I guess for the very jaded. Every old-fashioned man would like to have that look from his own wife.


Keira Knightley. OK, so she doesn't exude intelligence, but she is artistic looking. The present queen of the proudly (and rightly so) flat-chested, she would have made it much higher on the list, because, well, she is gorgeous. I mean, look at that yoga body! But she needs to stay away from Jane Austen. Keira as Atalanta, maybe; Keira as Elizabeth Bennett, never.


Salma Hayek. If you like 'em curvy, here is Salma to keep you happy. You can find all her curves in Frida. Frida never looked anything like that, but oh well. Even a guy like me is drawn to Salma's flames. She is triple caliente.


Mary Tyler Moore. Mary is one of the ones that hasn't aged well at all, being one of the first to go plastic. Even by the time of the MTM show, she had become too skinny, and her face had lost its freshness. But if we remember her only from "The Dick van Dyke Show," she has to make the list. What guy could stay in his single bed with Mary in the next one?


Natalie Portman. No longer exudes intelligence: did she take a dose of radiation on the Star Wars sets? But she's still gorgeous, and we can remember her personality from the snow stomping scene in Beautiful Girls or from Leon. Terrible, really, when you have a far sexier personality at 15 than at 25. Here's a couple from the good old days, before she started packing on the make-up like all the other “grown-ups.”


Kim Yu-Na. A nod to the present. More athletic than Oksana, with better speed and jumps, but without the high emotion and the ballet. The second best female skater of all time, and a real beauty. Sexy just because she's fit and gorgeous. Who knows what she is like off the ice?

Sean Young. I always go for the crazy ones, don't I? But she had the best nose and best profile in Hollywood in the early 80's. We have memorized her from Stripes. If she had a nose job, don't tell me.


Winona Ryder. Not what she used to be, but who is? We have to remember her from her pre-Depp days, when she still appeared fresh as a daisy.

Joni Mitchell. Talent is sexy, and Joni was the bomb. See the old videos on Youtube from the late 60's. Or how about this picture with David Crosby, before he got fat?


Svetlana Boguinskaya. Russian gymnast from around 1990. Let's face it, the Russians and Romanians have always been the best at gymnastics. Nastia Liukin may be ours now, but she is still Russian in the blood, as they say. Boguinskaya, although not particularly beautiful in the face, was the hottest gymnast ever, just based on the way she moved. There was something incredibly perfect about the way her legs fit into her hips, so that whether she was sliding across the beam, running across the floor, or jumping into the vault, you couldn't keep your eyes off her hips. The tiny waist was certainly part of it. Even while other gymnasts were competing, the cameramen would follow her around on the sidelines, just to watch her walk. Thank goodness they did. Still pictures can't hope to capture the motion. Oh, and before I forget, she was also the best dancer as gymnast ever. Gymnastics used to include dance, you know. It was supposed to be beautiful. Simone Biles is a powerful tumbler, but her routines aren't much to look at, since she can't dance. She is completely lacking in grace.


Diana Popova. See the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, rhythmic gymnast from Bulgaria. A face like Kinski and motion like Boguinskaya. Maybe the greatest eyes ever in sports. You also have to give her credit for turning down a modeling career.

Aissa Maiga. Unknown here, but big in France. Fantastic eyes. Reminds me of a dance partner I used to have back in Austin, at a club called "Faces."

Jennifer Beals. No one has aged as well as Jennifer Beals. Is this photo from this decade, or two decades ago? Hard to tell. I won't watch that L-word tripe, but I always liked Jennifer. Not a great actress, of course, but perfect for something like Flashdance, which was fun. The last decent movie Bruckheimer made. Or maybe it was just because I was 19.

Alison Brie. As the nerd in "Community," not the vamp in "Mad Men." Sweaters are sexy, especially when she fills them the way she does. There is definitely something about Jewish girls.

Bebe Neuwirth. Again, if you judge only from "Cheers," you probably won't get the full picture. Although we did get to see her with her hair down there occasionally, we still had to look past her character's voice, which was not her natural one. Plus, I saw her in person back in the 80's. You will have to take my word for it: very sexy.

Vanessa Redgrave. I include Vanessa just for this Skrebneski photo and the fact that she showed modern women how to age. Over-40 actresses in Hollywood complain that no one will hire them, but they still hire Vanessa at 73. Maybe it is because she never ravaged her face with surgery, and looks like a real human being. Her daughter Joely Richardson is going the same natural route (pic 4).

Some will say this list reads like it was compiled by a very old man. But no, check my photos. It was written by someone with taste who knows something of history (and perhaps something of women). Hopefully it will teach some of you young whippersnappers that beauty or sexiness wasn't invented in 1995. In fact, it took a nosedive around 1978, the very moment Olivia Newton-John gave up her knit sweater, her down-do, and her fresh face for black leather, hairspray, and another five coats of make-up.

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