Fifty-three years ago today, a doll named Barbie made her splashy debut at the American International Toy Fair. Named after creator Ruth Handler’s daughter, Barbara, Barbie quickly became the must-have doll for every little girl. Standing at 11½ inches tall, Barbie is the quintessential teenage dream. Sure, she’s gone on to have careers as a doctor, astronaut and computer programmer, but she’s not the only blonde bombshell to make waves in history. Meet seven other dangerously curvy blondes who captivated the world.
The Original Bombshell: Jean Harlow
Born Harlean Harlow Carpenter, the actress moved to California with her mother, Jean, who had hopes of becoming an actress. But it was the young Harlean who would go on to make it big in classic screen gems like “The Public Enemy,” “Red Headed Woman” and the 1933 screwball comedy “Bombshell,” which helped coin her nickname, “Blonde Bombshell.” Sadly, her life was cut short when she died of kidney failure at age 26. Her career is remembered by Darrell Rooney and Mark A. Viera in their book “Harlow in Hollywood: The Blonde Bombshell in the Glamour Capital, 1928-1937” which includes over 280 rare photos of the actress in her element.
Some Like It Hot: Marilyn Monroe
Arguably the most famous blonde sex symbol of all time, Marilyn Monroe vaulted her way from model to movie star in the early 1950s. Soon enough, she would become one of the most recognizable people in the world, especially after her tragic death in 1962. David Wills collected her essence in photos in his collection, “Marilyn Monroe: Metomorphosis,” which curates her life in a stunning visual display with never-before-seen on-set photos and negatives.
Come Up And See Her Some Time: Mae West
The queen of the double entendre, Mae West, was known for entertaining vaudeville audiences long before she graced the silver screen. West’s quips and sly delivery became instant scene stealers, and she went on to have a successful career, even after the Motion Picture Production code ended up censoring some of her sexier lines. In “She Always Knew How: Mae West, a Personal Biography,” Charlotte Chandler points out that West was an early advocate for gender equality in a business that was dominated by male executives.
La Vie En Rose: Brigitte Bardot
In the 1950s, the French-born Bardot became a sensational sex symbol. Known for keeping Hollywood at bay and staying mostly in European markets, Bardot inspired fashion trends including the Bardot neckline (which exposes the neck and both shoulders). Barnett Singer’s “Brigitte Bardot: A Biography” explores the woman who struggled with depression behind the scenes.
Angel Is a Centerfold: Farrah Fawcett
If you were a teenage boy in the 1970s, odds are you had a poster of Farrah Fawcett on your wall. One of the original “Charlie’s Angels,” Fawcett was the blonde American icon, from her flipped hairdo to her pearly whites. Her tumultuous love affair with Ryan O’Neal was well documented in the press before her death in June 2009 (the same day as Michael Jackson). O’Neal’s memoir of their love story, “Both of Us: My Life With Farrah,” will be released in May.
The Beach Blanket Beauty: Pamela Anderson
Originally from Canada, Pamela Anderson got her big break after appearing on a big screen at a Canadian football game while wearing a Labatt’s Blue beer T-shirt. In 1989, she graced her first Playboy cover; a few years later she was perfecting the art of running down a beach in a skimpy red bathing suit on “Baywatch.” The public has been fascinated with her love life, which includes failed relationships with Tommy Lee and Kid Rock. Anderson is an author in her own right, with two novels, “Star” and “Star Struck” published in the mid-2000s.
The British Kim Kardashian: Katie Price
Known to U.K. Residents as Jordan, Katie Price gained notoriety in the 90s for a naked pictorial in a British newspaper. In 2004 she found a new life as a reality star, which led her to meet and eventually marry singer Peter Andre, whom she divorced in 2010. Price has written several novels and memoirs, including her most recent, “You Only Live Once.”