Woman. Who portrays them better than our leading ladies onscreen? No, I’m not talking about the 21st Century glam dolls. The ones I’m referring to were not born with a silver spoon. They struggled through difficult childhoods and even tragic deaths. These were woman of substance. They did not need a hoard of crew or a family name to back them up. Their talent and raw beauty was enough to take them all the way. So much so that they are still just as alive in our memories and I don’t think we’ll ever have another one of them. We were blessed with numerous such faces. Let’s take a look at a few of the breathtaking beauties of the 50s and 60s. The golden era.
If there is anything like natural beauty – this woman defines it. She was rightly ranked by the American Film Institute as the third greatest female screen legend in the history of American Cinema and has been placed in the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame. She was a lot more than just a legendary actress. She was a style icon, the kind who left us with a fashion guide to hold true through the eras. She introduced and eternalized the LBD after the perfect little black dress she flaunted in Breakfast At Tiffany’s. This iconic woman was definitely not just a pretty face. She devoted a large part of her life to UNICEF. She worked in some of the most profoundly disadvantaged communities of Africa, South America and Asia and was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in recognition of her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She truly was beautiful – inside and out.
"Make-up can only make you look pretty on the outside. It doesn’t help if you’re ugly on the inside. Unless you eat the make-up." – Audrey Hepburn
The Venus of Indian Cinema – this celebrated actress has a lot of hit movies to her credit. She was ruling Indian Cinema and even attracted interest from Hollywood. She appeared in the American magazine, Theatre Arts where she was featured in an article with a full page photograph under the title: "The Biggest Star in the World – and she’s not in Beverly Hills". This alone, I think, tells us of her large fan-base. The lady with a luminous face as hers was born on Valentine’s Day. Noone else could have symbolized the day of love better. Madhubala was a versatile actress who tried her hand at every genre and aced them all. She was not only the jack of all trades but the master of all too. There was and will be only one Anarkali. It was a pity to see this fair lady turn to ashes at such an early age but Baby Mumtaz had already immortalized herself in our hearts.
The girl with the violet eyes – coincidentally got her first success with the film ‘National Velvet’. Taylor went on to receive a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, who named her seventh on their list of the Greatest American Screen Legends. But this glam doll had added a lot more feathers to her hat. She was a humanitarian in the true sense of the word. Taylor championed HIV and AIDS programs; she co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation and received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Legion of Honour and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her massive contribution. She wasn’t perfect. She was a woman who had had eight failed marriages. She knew her faults and stood tall with them. And I don’t think there is anything half as sexy as being ever so comfortable in your own skin. She laughed at her own failures and gave two hoots about what the world thought.
"I’ve only slept with men I’ve been married to. How many women can make that claim?" – Elizabeth Taylor
The Tragedy Queen. Whatever said and done, we have to admit that not many can rise to stardom with melancholy as a tool. It’s easy to love a smiling face, but it takes something to make people fall in love with your tears. This actress needed no glycerin to cry. Meena Kumari had a strong love for words and poetry. She was always seen in her famous white dress at all her public appearances. Unusual… yes… but not stereotypical as she was often cast as. She was a woman with a soul. She wrote beautiful poetry, a lot of which remains unpublished leaving behind the image of those deep, unsaid verses in her mesmerizing eyes. She loathed parties but loved a grand car. She enjoyed the pursuit of pleasure. There was always a mysterious persona around her but then again – If they are talking about you, you’re important enough to be spoken of.
This breathtakingly beautiful, blonde bombshell was the quintessential American sex symbol. But she captivated her audiences with more than just that. She was a magnificent performer, ranked as the sixth-greatest female star of all time by the American Film Institute. She was serious about her craft and delivered even the most-flawed roles effortlessly. She did not have the brightest childhood having had shifted between 11 foster homes. But she came out strong and showcased woman in a stronger light than ever before. She wasn’t your typecast dumb blonde. As a matter of fact, she had an IQ of 168. In spite of having known to be the diamond girl, she wasn’t much into expensive jewelry except a diamond ring and pearl necklace that were close to her heart. It was thus all about a persona. And she was picture perfect. Except that she was just as perfect even out of the frame. A great cook, a warm soul, a style icon and a fabulous performer. Here was one woman who did have it all. If not, she definitely knew how to make the most of it all.
"Woman who seek to be equal with men, clearly lack ambition." – Marilyn Monroe
By Krusha Sahjwani