30 Classic Hollywood Stars Looking Impossibly Glamorous

There are few movie stars today who consistently look as good in pictures as the screen goddesses of yore. That's why old Hollywood is still so synonymous with the word "glamour."

The off-screen lives for some of these women weren’t glamorous at all, of course. And many of them — Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Carole Lombard, Veronica Lake — died much too young.

But the following photos have a transfixing power of their own. The images range from traditional portraits to behind-the-scenes shots. Claudette Colbert looks like a work of art, smoking a cigarette in front of a sculpture. Ava Gardner attends Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Rainier III of Monaco. Brigitte Bardot holds a parrot in Cannes.

Take a journey back in time with us, and don't forget to cue "Hooray for Hollywood."


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Photo: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images.
Josephine Baker, circa 1928
Baker's style has had a lingering effect on pop culture. See: Rihanna.
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Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images.
Marlene Dietrich, circa 1930s
No man or woman has looked better in pants than Dietrich.
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Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images.
Anna May Wong, circa 1930
The groundbreaking Wong — do read more about her — starred in her first talkie in 1930, around the time this photo was taken.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Bette Davis, 1933
Forget the Victorian neckline. Focus on the eyes.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Carole Lombard, 1933
Lombard was best known for screwball comedy, but she strikes a far more serious, sultry pose here, albeit coated in feathers.
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Photo: Archive Photos/Getty Images.
Greta Garbo, circa 1935
Swedish star Garbo left the business in 1941, and this sly image says something about the aloof quality that defined her stardom.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Claudette Colbert, circa 1935
The star of It Happened One Night redefines "statuesque" here.
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Photo: Clarence Sinclair Bull/Getty Images.
Rosalind Russell, 1936
This girl Friday (get it?) made it acceptable to lounge on a flower-patterned couch in stripes.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Olivia de Havilland, circa 1936
Yes, this is the woman who played the "plain" one in Gone With The Wind.
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Photo: Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images.
Katharine Hepburn, circa 1937
Are the Calla Lilies in bloom, Kate? Hepburn lounges here, around the time she starred in 1937's Stage Door.
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Photo: Gordon Anthony/Getty Images
Vivien Leigh, 1938
There's that glorious Scarlett O'Hara side-eye.
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Photo: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images.
Myrna Loy, 1938
Loy was The Thin Man's famous Nora Charles. Let us bask in her greatness the way she's basking in this light.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Barbara Stanwyck, 1940
No need to doubt Stanwyck's status as the ultimate noir femme fatale.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Ingrid Bergman, circa 1940
That's a face that says "you're going to regret letting me get on that plane, Rick."
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Photo: Toronto Star Archives/Getty Images.
Norma Shearer, 1941
Sometimes a suit is all a gal needs to feel grand.
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Photo: Bob Landry/Getty Images.
Joan Fontaine, 1942
Fontaine was Olivia de Havilland's (rival) little sister who played classic heroines of literature like Jane Eyre and Mrs. de Winter in Rebecca. She's dreaming she went to Manderley here.
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Photo: New York Daily News Archive/Getty Images.
Veronica Lake, 1942
Here she is modeling her signature face-obscuring golden locks in a photo taken at the New York Daily News studio.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Joan Crawford, circa 1943
The diva looks softer and gentler here, well before that Mommie Dearest viciousness.
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Photo: Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images.
Lauren Bacall, circa 1943
The 19-year-old Bacall — Harper's Bazaar cover girl — knew how to smolder even before her first film hit the screen (To Have and Have Not in 1944).
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Photo: Teenie Harris Archive/Carnegie Museum of Art/Getty Images.
Lena Horne, 1944
That smile! The actress-singer grins gorgeously, backstage at a theater in Pittsburgh.
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Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images.
Judy Garland, 1945
Garland married Vincente Minnelli in 1945, the year this photo was taken.
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Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Ginger Rogers, circa 1945
She's a babe— even when her tap shoes aren't visible.
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Photo: J. R. Eyerman/Getty Images.
Marilyn Monroe, 1948
Photos of Monroe looking glamorous are legend. This is an early one, when she was still just a supporting player.
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Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
Leslie Caron, 1951
The ballet dancer wore this number to the premiere of An American in Paris, her breakout role.
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Photo: John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images.
Audrey Hepburn, 1953
Look up "gamine" in the dictionary and you should get this photo of Hepburn. Roman Holiday, the film for which Hepburn won her first Oscar, was released the same year this photo was taken.
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Photo: Sharland/Getty Images.
Grace Kelly, 1954
Kelly already looks regal in 1954, a couple of years before she officially became a princess, and the year her Oscar-winning performance in The Country Girl was released.
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Photo: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images.
Jean Simmons, 1955
It's appropriate that Simmons looked prim: In 1955 she starred opposite Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls, playing the Save-A-Soul Mission's Sarah Brown.
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Photo: Joseph McKeown/Getty Images.
Ava Gardner, 1956
Gardner attends Grace Kelly's wedding in 1956. It's hard to match Kelly's dress, but Gardner comes close.
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Photo: RDA/Getty Images.
Brigitte Bardot, 1956
The siren hangs with a parrot in Cannes in 1956. Not a bad look.
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Photo: Frank Worth, Courtesy of Emage I/Getty Images.
Elizabeth Taylor, 1956
Taylor in 1956, on the set of Giant, the movie best known as James Dean's last.
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