Hollywood’s New Look In Sex
One dictionary’s definition of sex is simply, “the physical difference between male and female; the characteristics of the difference between male and female,” and perhaps it is for this reason that the new look in sex in Hollywood had made for some hot and heavy parlor conversation recently. I agree with a producer who said to me, “Where’s a woman’s sex when you have to wait for her to turn around to reveal her womanhood?”
The girls who characterize this new look, of course, are Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron, Jean Simmons whose short-cropped hair, boyish figures and wide-eyed expression have started a rage among, the teen-agers.
Before you rush to the beauty parlor for the shearing and before you starve yourself into a matchstick figure, hear what some of the male authorities in Hollywood have to say about sex appeal—new or otherwise. Here’s a personally conducted tour among the male contingent for opinions on the current crop of glamour queens and you’ll see, some like ’em rounded, some like ’em thin—and some just plain like ’em.
Take The Monroe sex appeal (and who wouldn’t want to!) versus Grace Kelly, the girl who currently has such notables as Clark Gable and Bing Crosby wrapped around her little finger. John Ericson who played opposite Grace in “Green Fire” says, “She’s very sexy. Not flashy and for me this is great. Her very unassuming manner makes her very exciting. She’s a person.” Burt Lancaster adds that Grace Kelly is among the ten women in Hollywood ,he considers most beautiful. “She will be a big star long after the public has forgotten all the current hip-twitchers,” predicts Burt. “Because while she is very sexy, you wouldn’t be ashamed to introduce her to your mother!” Dean Martin says of Marilyn Monroe, “She’s the kind of girl you’d like to bring home to your mother—if you could trust your father.” To which Jerry Lewis adds, “To me, Marilyn’s sex appeal is a study in geography. Both sides of her equator have such wonderful points of interest.” Donald O’Connor seriously adds, “There is nothing wrong with Marilyn Monroe in any department—she’s one girl who has sex appeal for millions of men and, specifically, has captured one. How could there be anything wrong with a girl like that?”
Next intriguing comparative combination is Elaine Stewart versus Jean Simmons. Elaine clings to the old-fashioned theory that her hair, flowing in long luscious waves, is attractive to a man—and if it isn’t her hair, it sure is something that makes the telephone ring off the hook and the line form to the left on date nights! Jean Simmons, on the other hand, (could it be because she’s already caught Stewart Granger? ) lets the barber run rampant with the shears. Burt Lancaster has a word for her, too. “She looks (on the screen) like a girl who is a lady in the parlor and a hussy in the boudoir.” For Jeff Chandler, the hair is not an important consideration in a woman’s attractiveness—it’s the eyes. And whether it be Elaine or Jean Simmons, The Monroe or Grace Kelly—“. . . somewhere along the line, it’s the same innate spark and you find it in the eyes first.”
Pier Angeli and Audrey Hepburn are two opposites on which male opinion is of accord—they both are sensationally sexy. Their reasoning may he different, but the total sum of male opinion adds up to one thing only—they’ve got sex appeal. Pier, with her innocent green eyes, Audrey with her slant-eyes send Donald O’Connor, John Ericson, Rock Hudson, to mention just a few. Says John Ericson: “Pier is innocence personified—she’s my type!” And John should know, he was one of Pier’s first dates when she arrived in this country. Donald O’Connor thinks it’s some “inner something” that comes “shining through”—Brother, where have we heard that one before! However, he adds, “Pier has that particular kind of femininity that makes a man whistle—and then get to know her better.”
Bob Neal is currently in this state with Pier, and there isn’t a bachelor in Hollywood who doesn’t envy him. Jerry Lewis who can’t be serious about any girl except his beloved wife Patti, says of Audrey Hepburn, “As soon as I saw Audrey, I knew right away she was a girl. Her high heels gave her away.” Getting down to cases on Audrey, however, Rock Hudson maintains, “It’s a goading thing that Audrey has in her eyes. Even her photographs seem to fasten her gaze on you as a challenge. This, dear lady, generates heat.” It sure does Rock—especially in a guy like Mel Ferrer who can hardly stand to be near the fire.
No two girls could be more unalike than June Allyson and Susan Hayward. And yet they both have tremendous appeal. “June,” says her loving husband (and who could ask for a better authority) “has a nice clean quality. Susan is sultry sex, but in my opinion, she’d look sexier if she covered up more. The same for Marilyn Monroe. For either one to undress too much is wrong. Each would be more exciting with a higher neckline—what you can see is never as thrilling as what you can imagine.”
Speaking of undressed sex, how do the men feel about the opposites, Jane Russell and Jean Peters. Jane started out with a cut-down neckline in “The Outlaw” and has added a hip-wiggle to her other attributes in “The French Line.” In real life, of course, she’s a church-going girl with Bob Waterfield for a husband and couldn’t be happier when not being stared at by members of the opposite sex. Bob Wagner, on the subject of the recent bride Jean Peters, is frank to admit she’s tops in his list of tempestuous temperature exploders. “Jean is salty, gutty, a very—you should pardon the expression—lusty dame.” All the men interviewed on these two girls had a unanimous opinion. “Sex is here to stay. Thank goodness it comes wrapped in such lovely packages.”
Two more unlikely candidates for the same guy’s heart would be Ava Gardner and Debbie Reynolds. Isn’t it wonderful that what appeals to one man, is another’s poison? Debbie had champions in such male form as Robert Wagner, “real gone, real wonderful.” Donald O’Connor: “She’s got a magic for me, but then maybe I’m just susceptible to femininity.” Robert Dix (Debbie’s current heart throb), “Debbie’s got sweetness and intellectual appeal. She’s very stable and got definite sex appeal.” Ava Gardner heads Burt Lancaster’s list of girls who can stand up to the “new lookers.” “Ava represents every man’s ideal of sex appeal. I can’t recall her ever having to stoop to the kind of obvious display that so many of the new stars affect. Men are becoming less and less amused by too much blatant sex—just as they are with any over-commercialized product!” Of course, Burt wasn’t comparing Ava to Debbie when he said that Debbie has been debating for a long while whether to show or not to show in the bosom department. Dean Martin tried to be serious about Ava Gardner when he said he thought she had the appeal of a queen. “When you meet a woman like this, she expects to be champagned and caviared,” he said with a dreamy expression on his face. Jerry wiped it away when he added, “But all she’ll get from Dean is spaghetti and meat balls.”
While those two zanies are sounding off, we might as well go on to the comparisons (or lack of them) between Leslie Caron and Elizabeth Taylor. Martin felt “Leslie Caron has a sort of fragile-type beauty that rocks a man’s pulse. She looks as though, if you touched her, she’d break in two.” To which Jerry Lewis added, “And if she does, remember we’re fifty-fifty partners!” Leslie does, of course, have that beauty that comes from within—for her face could never be called more than winsome. At the other extreme, Elizabeth Taylor, for sheer classic features, there is no one in Hollywood who can hold a candle to her. “Elizabeth is just not my type,” young John Ericson told me.
“I worked with her in ‘Rhapsody’ and she was just too darn beautiful. Give me an Audrey Hepburn with eyes like a faun—that just sends me.” John, a man who’s willing to be frank, however, adds with emphasis, “However, Millie my wife—I wouldn’t trade her for all the faunlike eyes in the world!” Walter Pidgeon, a bit of contrast to John in age, adds his two-bits’ worth from a worldly point of view, “There are no unappealing women,” he says, and then thoughtfully adds, “but Elizabeth Taylor has everything a woman could desire on the surface.”
Dana Andrews compares Elizabeth and Gene Tierney in his book of appeal—“Each is quite different. Elizabeth has great warmth and great depth. She has a smoldering kind of vitality, constantly expressed in her remarkable eyes. (Perhaps this is why Mike Wilding’s such a happy guy!) But, Gene Tierney, with her slanting eyes and high cheek bones, has an exciting, almost Oriental quality. Well read, good conversationalist, cosmopolitan and this adds up to sex appeal.” Um-m maybe. After a certain age, when you’ve been happily married as Dana has for many years, these qualities might be the safest to sight as sex appeal.
Actually, all kidding aside—no matter what type of woman you are, like Monroe (and who wouldn’t want to be) like Audrey Hepburn (if your husband can stand the dieting you’d have to do, he could certainly stand the way you look), like Elizabeth Taylor (and if the Good Lord made you like her, don’t postpone a trip to your nearest casting director!) your own good femininity will keep you attractive to the males in your life. Just relax and be yourself because after all sex appeal, in the ultimate, is anything a woman does to make herself attractive and interesting to others.
After all, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, for all their wisecracks, just love the very wrappings they tear away from sex appeal!
—BY SHEILAH GRAHAM
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER 1954