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The Hollywood Pinup Throughout Cinematic History

Hollywood Pinups Throughout Cinematic History

From Betty Grable in a one-piece bathing suit peering saucily over her shoulder into the eyes of millions of American soldiers fighting in WWII, to the iconic shot of Ava Gardner slinking in a skimpy leopard leotard against an animal print backdrop, Hollywood pinups have tickled the licentious fancies of enthusiastic devotees for decades.

Hoping to whip up a rabid fan interest in their films and to immortalize the careers of their expensive stars, studio PR departments cranked out reams of pinup prints that were pasted into memory books, stuffed into picture frames, and taped to dingy walls of every red-blooded human across the globe. From this practical motivation came a popular art form that still thrives today - albeit in a much more graphic form.

The formula was to feature a glamorous young celebrity, photographed while scantily dressed and positioned in provocative poses. The result was a bawdy brand of exhibition that caused fits for the Advertising Advisory Council and the Hays Office which were established to govern the production of most US motion pictures released by studios from 1930 to 1968.

Below, we've compiled a collection of some of Hollywood's most rare, memorable and beautiful pinups taken from the world-famous Kobal collection, one of the leading photo archives from the earliest days of cinema. Enjoy!

Click any image to enlarge

Hollywood Silent Era

Sheila Terry

A silent-era starlet from Cecil B. D Mille's Feet of Clay in 1920.
Baby doll Sheila Terry "tells all to the mike" while filming The Silk Express

Betty Grable

Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters promoting Tennessee Champ, 1954.

Betty Grable in her now-classic World War II pinup pose.

Brigitte Bardot

Ursula Andress

Brigitte Bardot was the first feminist pinup. A tiny wisp of French delinquency, with a delicious smile, she stole all the world's thunder.

Ursula Andress at 18 once said about disrobing in front of the camera, "what amuses me about making a film? Looking in the eyes of the technicians when I take my clothes off. I have nothing against nudity. We are born this way."

Angie Dickinson

Angie Dickinson at age 27. It took Dickinson five years to finally experience her breakout role when Howard Hawks cast her in Rio Bravo where her dance gal feathers tickled everyone's fancy.

Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth described herself as a serious actress and dancer. One of her least favorite movie quotes: "If I were a ranch, they'd call me the Bar-nothing."



Jane Russell

Ava Gardner

What are the two great reasons for Jane Russell's rise to stardom? Ava Gardner joined MGM in 1941 at 18 years of age.

Esther Williams

Shirley Temple

Shirley Temple thinking anything Dotty Lamour can do, she can do better.

There was one star the sea - or the incredibly lucky swimming pool - always had, and that was Hollywood mermaid Esther Williams.

Elizabeth Taylor

Jane Mansfield

Elizabeth Taylor promoting Love is Better Than Ever. This was director Larry Parks' last film before being blacklisted. Jayne Mansfield, the All-American blonde on a screen set in the 20th Century Fox gallery in 1957.

Raquel Welch

Nastassia Kinski

Raquel Welch reportedly had swimming suits exclusively tailored to just contain her splendid "equipment."

Nastassia Kinski in the 1971 Hammer horror, To the Devil a Daughter.

Cheryl Ladd

Morgan Fairchild

Cheryl Ladd was asked to take on the formidable task of filling Farrah Fawcett's shoes in Charlie's Angels.
Morgan Fairchild added the steam to NBC's soap opera Flamingo Road which was created to compete against CBS's Dallas and Knot's Landing.

Bo Derek

Bo Derek's poster became one of the popular of all-time. Second only to the one to the immediate right.

Farrah Fawcett


This poster pinup of Farrah Fawcett became one of the most popular of all time when the bedroom of nearly every pre-pubescent boy in the '70s was plastered with Fawcett's flowing locks and glowing smile.

To the delight of female film fans everywhere, Hollywood’s he-men certainly weren't left out of the pinup scene. Often called beefcake, Tinseltown’s leading men under contract to the studios flexed muscles and primped physical prowess for all to see and admire... and photographers were there with cameras flashing to capture the bulging pecs of Cary Grant or the flexed physique of Johnny Weismuller. The dubious Hays Code would rear its condemning head again on the masculine side of the pinup card when the hairy chest was censored in favor of smooth, hairless chests on screen (see William Holden below). My, how times have changed!

Click any image to enlarge

Johnny Weissmuler

Rossano Brazzo

Johnny Weissmuller became the sixth and definitive Tarzan in 1932's Tarzan, The Ape Man.
Rossano Brazzo was the No. 1 Continental lover for American women in the 1950s.

William Holden

Laurel and Hardy

William Holden was made to shave his chest by the Hays Code. Chest hair during the '30s and '40s was regarded as a source of moral corrupution.
Paul Newman and Robert Redford may be prettier than Laurel and Hardy, but the public affection for this '30s comedy team rivals their popularity.

Ronald Reagan

Robert Redford


Ronald Reagan often played the hero's best pal.
University droput, Euro-bum, and painter Robert Redford eventually turned to acting after Broadway success in 1963.

Buster Crabb

Buster Crabbe was the first Weissmuller rip-off in 1933's Tarzan the Fearless.

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