Just as the novelty of motion pictures was reaching peak status, the industry had all American sweethearts, dashing heroes, vamps and comedy genius, and along came a mystery like no other -the "Latin Lover". Rudolph Valentino a volatile mix of French and Italian with huge penetrating brown eyes, smooth shapely lips and serious intensity that rippled through his body as tango steps filled the screen. The first true screen heart throb took over the dreams and imagination of audiences. While certain handsome actors had livened up the fantasies of every day people, no one before had been that iconic sex symbol that moved large masses to a frenzied state. His short life, 1895 to 1926, filled American audiences with love, lust, delight then utter devastation at his loss.
"The Sheik" (1921) - Feminism and cultural differences. Interesting and fun to watch.
There are a few actresses that could be placed as equivalent sex symbols along with Rudy Valentino. Evelyn Nesbit and Clara Bow certainly have their place as his equals in this realm. However, lets jump here to someone that built a mass hysteria, again, like no other before her, Ms. Betty Grable. As one of the very first and most notable 'pin up' girls, Grable donned the wallet, trunk and locker of service men during world war 2. Born in 1916, Grable held the title of Box office Queen for several years, becoming a symbol not only of sex, but of home- an American dream. She passed away too young at 56, but had already faded out of the fantasy of Hollywood.
"Moon over Miami" (1941) -Sweet, simple, fun.
There are many movie stars, but only some that reach an emotional disturbance for a large segment of the population. These are still rare status symbols that for whatever reason create adulation like no other.