Sexiest Men of the '50s, '60s, '70s

Marlon Brando

"He was such a sensitive instrument. I used to play the violin, and I liken Marlon to one of those strings that when you're playing just vibrates." —Eva Marie Saint, remembering Marlon Brando (pictured in A Streetcar Named Desire)

James Dean

"He sure appeals to me. I guess that's because I'm the type that likes to take in stray cats and dogs and he reminds me of that." —an unnamed starlet who dated Dean, talking to LIFE circa 1955

Warren Beatty

"Some guys come at you like a Mack truck. This one is slow, smooth, and in complete control." —Eva Marie Saint on Beatty, in a 1961 issue of LIFE magazine

Steve McQueen

"Sirs: Was it necessary to show such suggestive and provocative photographs of Steve McQueen and his lovely wife...? I am no prude but your magazine is seen every week by our most important national asset, the teen-agers, and you are setting a bad example by displaying such photographs." —a reader writing in about LIFE's super-sexy photos showing McQueen at home, 1963

Harry Belafonte

"I'd rather be known for my art than for my body, but a guy who appears in public has to keep in shape." —Harry Belafonte in LIFE, 1957

Sean Connery

"A character jumping in and out of bed all the time — you could see how that would catch on in a drab place like England." —Connery on his fictional alter ego, James Bond, in LIFE, 1964

Elvis Presley

"What was he wearing? Nothing lavish, my dear, just a smashing white jump suit, slashed to the sternum and lovingly fitted around his broad shoulders, flat belly, narrow hips and...well, it's a nice fit." —a LIFE review of an Elvis show in Las Vegas, 1970

Mick Jagger

"One security man grew so tired of catching boys flinging themselves at the stage in hopes of touching Jagger that he snapped at one, 'What's the matter, don't you like girls?' The Stones, it should be said, decidedly like girls, but their unisex appeal can confuse." —LIFE on Jagger (pictured with then-girlfriend Anita Pallenberg), 1972

Richard Burton

"Richard is a very sexy man. He's got that sort of jungle essence that one can sense. It's not the way he combs his hair, not the things he wears; he doesn't think about having muscles. It's what he says and thinks." —Burton's then-wife Elizabeth Taylor, in an essay that appeared in LIFE, 1964

Bruce Lee

"He is the patron saint of the cult of the body: the almost mystical belief that we have the power to overcome adversity if only we submit to the right combinations of exercise, diet, meditation and weight training; that by force of will, we can sculpt ourselves into demigods." —from the "TIME 100" list of icons from the past century

Ryan O'Neal

"O'Neal's mouth is not at all slowed down by the fact that he was not the first choice for the male lead [of Love Story]. 'I like the sexploitation films myself,' he beams at an interviewer, 'to watch and to be in.'" —LIFE on O'Neal (pictured with costar Ali MacGraw) in 1971

Paul Newman

"The first time I remember women reacting to me was when we were filming Hud in Texas. Women were literally trying to climb through the transoms at the motel where I stayed. At first, it's flattering to the ego. At first. Then you realize that they're mixing me up with the roles I play — characters created by writers who have nothing to do with who I am." —Newman in the book Paul and Joanne: A Biography of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Kirk Douglas

"If the good guy gets the girl, it's rated PG; if the bad guy gets the girl, it's rated R; and if everybody gets the girl, it's rated X." —Douglas, year unknown

Montgomery Clift

"A good man in a hard-fisted role like the tough cowhand in Red River, he somehow brings to any part an unaffected and easygoing manner which makes him seem like an average middle-class American." —LIFE in 1948

Clint Eastwood

"The character Eastwood plays is invariably a man in total control, able to handle anything. He is his own law, and his own morality — independent, unfettered, invulnerable, unfathomable and unbelievable. He is a nondimensional symbol of man as pure superiority. He is a heavy dude. He is superstud." —LIFE in 1971

Robert Mitchum

"Build my gallows high, baby!" —notorious Hollywood bad boy Mitchum to Jane Greer in Out of the Past

Cary Grant

"You know, I always did like a man in a uniform, and that one fits you grand. Why don't you come up sometime and see me?" —classic cougar Mae West's immortal lines to Grant in She Done Him Wrong

Robert Redford

"Just standing there in his socks, just existing, he goads and tempts and bugs and dares you into ventures and adventures you would normally not dream of undertaking." —LIFE writer and Redford's friend Richard Schickel in a 1970 profile

Alain Delon

"Here he comes, the most overwhelming Frenchman this side of Charles de Gaulle, riding into the U.S. to devastate feminine hearts.... His specialty is playing boudoir heels, and he intrigues women off-camera as well as on with a withering arrogance." —LIFE in a 1964 profile

Burt Reynolds

"Can a guy get by with nothing but his looks on a best-dressed list? Apparently. Burt Reynolds, who appeared draped on a bearskin for a much talked-about Cosmopolitan centerfold, has been named to a list of best-dressed men.... The Fashion Foundation of America explained its choice by saying that Reynolds was part of a trend toward 'undress.'" —TIME magazine in 1973

Gene Kelly

"If Fred Astaire is the Cary Grant of dance, I'm the Marlon Brando." —Kelly

Jim Morrison

"The time to hesitate is through/ No time to wallow in the mire/ Try now we can only lose/ And our love become a funeral pyre/ Come on, baby, light my fire..." —Morrison's lyrics from the Doors' 1967 hit "Light My Fire"

Richard Roundtree

"They say this man Shaft is a bad mother— / SHUT YOUR MOUTH!" —Isaac Hayes' theme from Shaft, the 1971 blaxploitation flick that made Roundtree a star

Joe Namath

"Namath's life-style requires an ultra-plush penthouse apartment on New York's East 76th Street. He has furnished it, bit by bit, with a llama rug, an Italian marble bar, gold bathroom fixtures, and an oval bed with satin sheets." —LIFE in 1969

Frank Sinatra

"For years I've nursed a secret desire to spend the Fourth of July in a double hammock with a swingin' redheaded broad... but I could never find me a double hammock." — Sinatra as quoted in the book The Way You Wear Your Hat

Marvin Gaye

"I've been really tryyyyyyyin', baby/ Tryin' to hold back this feeling for so long/ And if you feel like I feel, baby/ Then come on/ Oh, come on/ Whoo!/ Let's get it on." —Marvin Gaye, "Let's Get It On"

Bruce Springsteen

"Wendy let me in, I wanna be your friend/I want to guard your dreams and visions/Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims/And strap your hands across my engines." —Lyrics from Springsteen's "Born to Run"

Gregory Peck

"As his lean, disturbingly intent image becomes more familiar on the screen, the sighs of the nation's susceptible female fans are expected to grow gustier." —LIFE on then-newcomer Peck, 1945

John Travolta

"Forget the vaccination program. One strain of swine flu has already laid waste 27 million Americans. They are the country's 8- to 14-year-olds, a population group feverishly infected by a band of scurvy incorrigibles known as the Sweathogs. Their leader is 22-year-old John Travolta — rather, Vinnie Barbarino, as he's called in the classroom on ABC's Welcome Back, Kotter. Gifted with telegenic blue eyes and a Kirk Douglas dimple, Travolta is leaving prepubescents catatonic and is seemingly on the cusp of the impossible: knocking off the Fonz as TV's hottest pop icon." —People magazine in 1976

Tom Jones

"Sirs: Last summer, Tiger Tom blew into Kansas City for a personal appearance. I haven't been the same since. Any resemblance to the suburban housewife who went into that auditorium to see Mr. Jones in the flesh and the thoroughly converted Jones fan that came out is purely coincidental. That man simply has to be seen and heard to be believed — and not even then can one assimilate his impact immediately." —a letter to LIFE's editors from a Tom Jones devotee

George Best

"I used to go missing quite a lot... Miss Canada, Miss United Kingdom, Miss World." —British soccer bad boy Best


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