Modern Hollywood starlets have a reputation for letting it all hang out.
But movie stars have always flaunted it.
And three of the greatest Hollywood nudes of all time were also statuesque beauties.
Which is just another way of saying they had plenty to show and they weren't shy about showing it.
Marlena Dietrich (shown above) exuded glamour and sensuality. She was an international star who donned skin tight outfits one minute and men's garb the next. Her androgynous beauty crossed all boundary lines. And it is well-documented that Marlena was extremely comfortable in her own skin.
On the MGM lot in Hollywood she was known as one of those stars who preferred to have her hair and makeup completed while she sat in the nude. And it didn't matter to her whether there were men or women around to watch. Her dressing room door was seldom closed and she was said to have an easy way about her on movie sets as well. To Marlena, showing off your assets was part of being a star.
Tallulah Bankhead was known for her salty mouth, her drinking and her unwillingness to wear undergarments or to keep her clothes on for a very long time. For Tallulah much of it was part of her desire to shock and be outrageous. But she also got a kick out of it as well. She titillated director Alfred Hitchcock on the set of Lifeboat by climbing in and out of the boat in question while not wearing anything under her skirt. She made sure that the esteemed director and everyone else on the set got a good view. Tallulah was known as one of Hollywood's most unabashed exhibitionists.
Finally, Joan Crawford (aka "Mommie Dearest") was like no mom you've ever known. Joan's way of telling a man that she wanted him (and she wanted and had many men) was to simply take her clothes off. Sometimes, she would tell the guy: "Excuse me while I slip into something more comfortable." After a few moments, she would reappear stark naked. If you hadn't noticed that Crawford had a great body, she wouldn't hesitate to remind you of it.
Dietrich, Bankhead and Crawford were all strong, powerful women. They did not suffer fools gladly. And they didn't hesitate to get right to the point.
Though they were liberated long before the modern women's movement, they had no intention of relinquishing their sensuality or their strong and obvious sexual appetites.
They were unconventional, to say the least. And each was a remarkable talent.
All of these stories (and more) are well documented in any one of a number of excellent Hollywood memoirs of the period.
So, lest you think we live in outrageous times -- think again.
The only difference now is that much of the misbehavior of and by stars is reported as it happens. In the 1930s, 40s and 50s, we had to wait till after our idols passed on to get the real dirt on how they actually behaved.
Stars images were more carefully crafted and largely preserved. Yes, the era before cell phone cameras and You Tube did have a certain appeal.