Mata Hari, originally Margaretha Geertruida MacLeod, was a Dutch exotic dancer who worked as a spy in World War I. She was known to have seduced diplomats and military officers with her twirling hips and batted lashes. She managed to worm the secrets out of them with her trickery but was eventually caught by the French government and arrested for espionage. Despite being sentenced to death, she is one of the most famous female spies in history because she knew how to weaponize her looks for the good of her country.
Marie Antoinette was known famously for the saying, “let them eat cake,” but she was also known for her strikingly good looks. In fact, many movies and tv shows have depicted her opulence and extravagant lifestyle, and for excellent reasons. She was known as having a very radiant complexion and was so much of an extrovert that even her husband’s father was swayed by her personality and kissed her. Unfortunately, she lived during a time in France that wasn’t… the best. We all know where the rest of her story goes, but that doesn’t detract from how beautiful she was.
Helen of Troy is known in the history books as the woman with a face that launched a thousand ships. This was not only because she was beautiful but because Paris also stole her from King Menelaus, the king of Sparta. Unfortunately, most historians have considered her “cheating” on her husband and that Helen of Troy didn’t actually want to be rescued. However, the truth is difficult to figure out from the lore. Beautiful or not, she’s the perfect example of how poorly society and history have mistreated gorgeous women.
Montezuma II was an Aztec emperor with the cojones to stand up to Hernan Cortes, a Spanish conquistador who wanted to capture the land in Mexico. He managed to expand the Aztec empire from Honduras all the way to Nicaragua, but his subjects had problems with his demands for tribute. However, a Spanish soldier described him as being of a good height and quite slender, with a cheerful face that had a scanty black beard. Unfortunately, there are no accurate artistic images of Montezuma II from the Aztec perspective.
During the early 18th Century, Willem Mons was called one of the “best-made and most handsome men” anyone had ever seen. His sister was taken by the tsar, Peter the Great, which granted him access to the Russian court. This allowed him to influence Russian society, which was relatively easy to do with his charming good looks. However, this led to rumors being borne, one of them being that Mons got into the empress’ “good graces,” which angered the tsar immensely. Mons was quickly arrested and decapitated in the city square to set an example to the rest of the public; the tsar then pickled Mons’ pretty head and kept it in a jar beside Catherine’s bed.
Jack Kerouac was a novelist of the early 20th Century who definitely had a “James Dean” thing going on. Beautiful as well as intelligent, he was a novelist as well as a poet, pioneering the Beat Generation. He wrote spontaneous prose covering many topics, ranging from travel to jazz to drugs and poverty. He’s considered the inspiration for the famous people of the 1960s, including the Doors, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan. He played fast and loose with his words and life, as he was known for being a heavy drinker. A shame that he couldn’t have taken a healthier approach so that he could have graced us with more of his face and work.
Also known as Shaka Zulu, he was one of the most influential monarchs of the Zulu Kingdom. He maintained a pretty big empire on his own on the southern tip of the African continent, mostly through the innovative ways he taught his soldiers how to fight. And it was because he was a warrior that his depictions in paintings and statues are so attractive. He was muscular throughout, which meant he always had his summer bod ready for whoever crossed his path. His enemies described him as “ugly,” but they were probably just jealous haters.
Alma Mahler was actually one of the most renowned female composers in the world. It’s not surprising that not many people know of her, but she was a renowned socialite for her ability to compose music and striking beauty. She was considered a classical Edwardian beauty, with her long curling hair and clear pale skin with a cleft in her chin that added to her beauty. She definitely knew how to wow a camera, too, as there are no photos of her out there that aren’t strikingly beautiful.
Mike Tiernan was a famous baseball player, but that’s not why he had so many fans. Many women became interested in the sport just to watch him slide over the bases in those tight baseball pants. He played for the New York Giants and once scored six runs in a single game, which very few baseball players have accomplished since then. People probably thought he was pretty shy because he generally avoided the press and didn’t make any protest if an umpire made a questionable call. That’s okay; women like the silent type anyway.
While Alexander the Great was mainly known for establishing an empire that ran from Macedonia to Egypt and Greece to parts of India, not many people know that he was actually quite attractive. He was also known for his excellent hand-to-hand combat skills, meaning he was likely quite ripped in his day. Historical reports have stated that Alexander the Great was quite stocky, muscular, and incredibly handsome. However, he was unable to grow a beard of any kind. That’s okay; we’re sure Alex probably didn’t need one to improve his looks.
Almanzo Wilder was the husband of Laura Ingalls, which doesn’t seem like much until you discover that he was her muse for her story, “Farmer Boy.” He was a farmer who built a dream house for his wife, charming Ingalls over with his sparkling baby blues. Who wouldn’t swoon for a man who makes a home from scratch? He even went with her to author events, standing by her side and allowing his wife to be the center of attention instead of taking it for himself. We could stand to have more men like that in the world.
Virginie Amélie Gautreau was also known as Madame X, the subject of a painting done by John Singer Sargent. People described her as being similar to a deer: striking but also quite delicate. Sargent believed that her appearance should be captured as such, but the revealing of his painting caused quite a scandal. Many said that “Madame X” was much too promiscuous, and both the artist and the subject were publicly mocked. Sargent managed to escape to London, but Gautreau lost her fortunes and died in anonymity. It seems people just couldn’t handle her vibe back then.
Not many people know the name of Tenzing Norgay, but he is one of the first two people to scale Mount Everest. He began mountaineering in the 1930s when he was chosen by Eric Shipton, mostly due to his warm, charming smile. Norgay had a gleaming grin with perfect white teeth, but that wasn’t the only thing going for him. He was quick-witted and had a warm appearance that was quite pleasing to the eye. In fact, he captured the eye of three other women with whom he eventually married and had children.
The English explorer known as Walter Raleigh was the favorite courtier of Queen Elizabeth I. He helped with the colonization of North America, defended England from the Spanish Armada, and sported a stylish beard that was ahead of his time. From the paintings depicting Raleigh, he knew how to dress in style, wearing expensive fineries and an earring in one ear that definitely accented his extended features. No wonder Queen Elizabeth I took such a liking to him. It makes you wonder if there were other rumors about them at the time.
Cleopatra was considered in the history books to be a seductress of some kind of both Julius Caesar, Marcus Antonius, and Augustus. She was a master of seduction and romance and went out of her way to make her suitors happy. For example, she arrived on a boat dressed as Aphrodite with perfume emanating from the atmosphere just because she knew Marcus Antonius was a fan of Hellenistic culture. Talk about dedication! But she wasn’t only beautiful; Cleopatra had the brawn and the brains to back everything up. She was also something of a military strategist and very skilled in chemistry, law, and economics.
Gayatri Devi was born a princess; her graceful beauty definitely exudes that. She was always destined to live a public life for everyone to see, which no one minded because she had the face of a movie star. This beauty also dressed well. Why? Because she always paid attention to how her mother dressed. However, she was more than just a pretty face. Gayatri Devi advocated for the education of young girls and had several schools built in India to enforce this. Unfortunately, she had to endure the Emergency enacted by Indira Gandhi but came out the other side of the ordeal still looking fabulous.
Everyone has heard of the famous outlaw Jesse James at some point in their life. He robbed trains and banks for a living, terrorizing the area of Missouri for his own gain. Many people considered him an embodiment of Robin Hood, but there are no facts to back this up. What the images do back up, however, is that he was a real looker. He probably could have used his good looks to get whatever he wanted instead of a gun, but he likely never considered the idea.
Emiliano Zapata came from a background that didn’t lend much to the world of glamour, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a revolutionary for Mexico. He worked hard for his country and his people, and he looked damn good doing it. Emiliano Zapata would wax his mustache to perfection, wear specific suits, and cast others’ opinions of him to the wind. He dressed to impress and demonstrate to others his essential position so that they knew who was always in charge. Zapata definitely qualifies as one of the best-dressed revolutionaries to try and overthrow a government.
Shah Jahan was the fifth emperor of the Mughal Empire, where the Mughals reached the peak of their architectural achievements. One of his most famous buildings was the Taj Mahal, which hundreds of thousands of people visit yearly. Besides these accomplishments, he was considered relatively easy on the eye. He had several wives (though they were primarily for political purposes). However, he had no qualms about wearing jewelry, always depicted with bands of beads around his neck and in his head adornment. We can’t blame him for it; he definitely managed to pull it off.
Of the Bronte children, Charlotte was the oldest and grew famous for her novel, “Jane Eyre.” She was deemed the epitome of the beauty standards of the Victorian era, with a petite frame that placed her under five feet. She was also frail in disposition, with a wasting pale appearance that most women tried to achieve at the time. However, this was likely due to tuberculosis, which she witnessed her other siblings succumb to. Her large, blue eyes were also a drawing feature, though it’s unclear whether she used nightshade drops to achieve this look.
Queen Nefertiti is another name out of Egypt associated with exceptional beauty. Although there are no authentic depictions from her era as to what she looked like, there are plenty of statues that remain that seem to have captured her likeness, which can be described in one word: stunning. In fact, her name literally translated to “a beautiful woman has come.” That kind of name set her up for success in the looks department. After 12 years of her reign, however, she seemed to have disappeared from the history books. Many people theorize that that’s because she took over as pharaoh and was forced to start dressing as a man. We’re pretty sure she was still gorgeous to look at.
The famous writer of Huckleberry Finn and Tim Sawyer, Mark Twain, knew how to string words together to tell a great story. He was known for being exceptionally smart and ahead of his time, but also for a fantastic head of hair. He set the trend for the time and is immediately recognizable for his white suits and matching locks, especially that grand mustache. Even the newspapers described him as being quite good-looking, with a voice that was both gentle and dry at the same time. Like German wine, they described it. How’s that not a compliment?
Zhao Feiyan was considered China’s gold standard of beauty during 32 BC in the Han Dynasty. She was abandoned at birth and was raised to be a dancer. She was so good at the task that she caught the attention of Emperor Cheng. His heart enraptured by her beauty, he took her back to the palace and made her his highest-ranked concubine. In fact, he became so obsessed with her that he started to neglect the duties of his own kingdom. That’s definitely more beauty than one person can handle.
Lillie Langtry was an actress on the London stage in the late 19th Century who took her work very seriously. Not many people took her seriously, believing that acting was a job beneath any well-bred woman. However, Langtry was considered so beautiful, and her looks captured the hearts of the future King Edward VII, who tried to seduce her into his bed-chamber. Although she became his mistress, that didn’t stop her from being a career woman: she opened up her own theater once she retired and ran her own stable for racing horses.
Harry Houdini is considered to be one of the greatest magicians ever. He was capable of escaping routines that most people are warned never to try. He started to develop his stunts and tricks that wowed his audiences across Europe and the United States. Although many considered his routines to be fake, what people couldn’t deny was the charm that practically oozed out of him. However, he was incredibly taken by his wife, Beatrice, who was also his stage assistant. Sorry, ladies, but he was completely spoken for.
Eva Peron, also known as Evita, was a native Argentinian woman who luckily met Colonel Peron at an art festival to raise funds for the victims of an earthquake. The colonel was so taken over by her beauty that he proposed to her on the spot. Barely a year later, he was elected as president, and Eva became a global icon that all of the fashion world looked up to. She was exceedingly charming, and her elegant dresses were the envy of everyone who looked at her. Her beauty only adds to her perfect “rags to riches” life that has become ingrained in modern pop culture.
Lord Byron gained renown for being one of the great English poets and for being a war hero during the Ottoman Empire. Being a striking 5’9″, he was quite renowned for his personal beauty and taking great care of his body. Lord Byron did a lot of boxing, rode horses, and was an avid swimmer. He enhanced his beauty by wearing paper rollers in his hair to keep it looking its best. He would also put himself on extreme diets to maintain his weight, but like the rest of us, he would cave and indulge in some guilty pleasures at the end of the day.
James Stark was a theater actor, mostly appearing in tragedies. One of his more famous roles was Hamlet, and we can see why. He had a striking face that could definitely melt a few hearts, and we can only guess that he had quite a commanding voice, given his popularity worldwide. Unfortunately, there aren’t more photos of him because it would have been nice to see what his smile was like. There’s no word of him marrying or having children either, so there’s unlikely someone else in his family line to make the comparison.
Yes, we’re talking about thatJohn Wilkes Booth, the same one who assassinated Abraham Lincoln. But before he became a famous assassin, he was known for his looks. He had dark curly hair and striking eyes to the point that he had flocks of women vying for his attention. He shared his good looks with his brother Edwin, who was considered the more “classically handsome” of the two. Maybe John was just a little jealous of his brother and needed to upstage him somehow, but he definitely didn’t make the best choice in doing so.
Yonejirō Noguchi was a Japanese writer who lived in the United States, capable of capturing hearts with his words and beautifully soft features. He originally lived in California but continued to move across the country and to England, where he completed his third book of poetry. At the same time, he had several lovers vying for his attention all at once, with marriages and trysts thrown in the works. Noguchi definitely knew how to live an interesting life.
Hermann Rorschach was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from Sweden who helped develop the inkblot test that we now see in almost every form of popular medium. The test measured the unconscious parts of a person’s mind. But from the looks of him, we’re pretty sure that some of his patients were more interested in staring into those intense eyes than looking at some inkblots on pieces of paper. That thick head of hair didn’t hurt either, and you can almost imagine him tossing his hair back as he prepared his inkblots.
People fawn over royalty because of the traditions they stood for, but in today’s modern age, there aren’t very many royal family members who are considered downright gorgeous. Princess Fawzia definitely broke that mold. She didn’t exactly live a life of stardom, but she was born with a face that should have graced the silver screen. Back in the 1920s, she was named one of the most beautiful women in the world. She honestly looks strikingly similar to a young Elizabeth Taylor, if we have to be honest. Unfortunately, this beautiful queen of Iran faded into obscurity when she divorced her husband and hid away in Alexandria.
Shi Pei Pu is considered one of the most famous androgynous actors and Chinese Opera singers of his time. It’s a shame that he was deemed a Chinese spy by the French government and locked up for some time because the world missed out on seeing more of Shi Pei Pu and his talents throughout his life. Images of his early work accurately reflect how beautiful he was in his younger life. The play “M. Butterfly” was written about his life and his relationship with a French diplomat, which sparked some controversy regarding gender roles and sexuality.
Marlene Dietrich was born in Germany but escaped to America and became a citizen against Hitler’s orders to return. She knew she was fleeing a dangerous situation and risked her life by performing for the American troops on the front lines of World War II. Her perfectly coiffed hair, doe-like eyes, and striking red lipstick definitely stood out in the black and white films, and Dietrich had no problems belting out a tune, especially if it lowered the morale of the German soldiers. For her work, she received the Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor a civilian could receive.
Barbara Bush was the wife of George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States. Although most people had only seen her when she was getting on in years, it would be a lie to say she wasn’t a looker in her younger years. That lovely wavy dark hair and doe-like downturned eyes are inviting to any man looking her way. Lucky for her that she happened to score a future president, who began his political career three years after they got married.
Rupert Brooke was a British poet who was known for his war sonnets, as well as his boyish good looks. He knew how to put pen to paper, and it’s a shame that he didn’t focus more on writing romantic sonnets to attract a partner. Rupert Brooke did have an affair with Élisabeth van Rysselberghe. However, this cutie fell into severe emotional distress after his relationship with Ka Cox broke down, as he became confused about his intimate wants. He had many more lovers throughout his life as he traveled worldwide.
Josephine Baker had a career in entertainment that lasted for almost fifty years. She sang, danced, and worked as a spy for French intelligence during World War II. The Nazi guards were so struck by her beauty that they called her Black Pearl. They even allowed her to slip through the borders without any trouble. So how did she carry out her espionage? She had hidden messages written in invisible ink on her sheet music. She had no problems putting her good looks to use if it meant bringing down the Nazis.
Jesse Owens made the world fall silent when he ran in the 1936 Olympics in Germany when Hitler was in power. It was a giant middle finger to the face when Jesse Owens proved Hitler’s ideas of racial superiority wrong. He not only set a new Olympic record but did so to spite the American stance of treating black Americans as less-than. And Owens looked good doing all of it. He had a winning smile that won over the hearts of the crowds, despite everything going against him in a world that hated the color of his skin.
Born in Germany, Johannes Brahms is a well-known composer and pianist. Many of his compositions have become staples of any modern concert repertoire, with romantic motifs really standing out in his pieces. But the man behind the music had a great coif of hair, right? Despite the widow’s peak, his hair was thick, and his beard was also impressive. He could also rock a suit and bowtie, which added to his charm. Unfortunately, he had awkwardness around women to the point that he was never married.
Hunter S. Thompson was known for his unique type of journalism that blended fiction and nonfiction together. He would often write in first-person so that the reader felt like they were deeply involved in the story. This handsome guy is most well-known for his tales of motorcycle gangs. Hunter S. Thompson lived among them for a while. That is until they felt like their lives were being exploited for his fame and glory. His attractive sense of style made him stand out, too, sporting colored shades and different types of hats that made him appear as the wandering tourist that he was.
Lewis Powell was a conspirator with John Wilkes Booth and had attempted to assassinate William Seward, the United States Secretary of State at the time. He was originally a Confederate soldier at Gettysburg who plotted to kidnap Lincoln, which was unsuccessful. We have to admit, though, Powell’s definitely rocking the bad boy look that many people swoon for nowadays. He looks like someone you don’t want to mess with, and he is not a guy anyone should be taking home to their mother.
The biggest rival of Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, was one of the greatest inventors ever lived. However, he wasn’t an excellent businessman; his inventions were made for the betterment of humanity, and he rarely ever wanted to make a profit off of them. Behind his creations, he had a charming disposition and a peaceful stare that would stop almost anyone in their tracks. His six-foot-tall stature definitely helped him to stick out of a crowd too, and he carried himself very stately with anyone and everyone in his company.
People deemed Margaret Eloise Knight one of the best American inventors. She’s the original inventor of the flat-bottomed paper bag and later went on to patent a dress and skirt shield, a clasp for robes, and a cooking spit. In fact, Knight had many as about 30 patents to her name. She was definitely a looker, too, with that charming smile and beautifully-curled hair. And behind those sparkling eyes were likely ideas for more inventions that this beauty never got to bring to fruition. Unfortunately, she had no interest in a spouse and never married or had children.
Sessue Hayakawa was one of the very early heartthrobs of the early 20th Century. He first starred in a silent movie called “The Cheat,” where a woman was offered $10,000 for a night of passion. Hayakawa played a villain and was supposed to serve as a cautionary tale, but his appearance had quite the opposite result. “The Cheat” became less of a morality tale and more of a forbidden love story. He was one of the first non-white actors to woo white female audiences with his role. Unfortunately, the 1930s film industry rules banned any depictions of interracial desire, leading to Hayakawa no longer having a job.
You’ve heard of Bonnie and Clyde; Bonnie Parker is the same Bonnie from the infamous duo known for robbing banks throughout their lives. With no father to speak of and being married at 15, she quickly fell into trouble when she met Clyde while recovering from a broken arm. Clyde started organizing a group of bank robbers, and Bonnie happily joined. Her rough attitude complimented her “wild” appearance, looking like a woman who knew how to have a good time and wouldn’t take flak from anyone. She is definitely a woman ahead of her time.
The nephew and adopted son of Julius Caesar, Augustus managed to enlarge the Roman empire even further despite splitting the free Republic after Julius Caesar’s death. He worked to develop Rome’s network of roads, the police service, and fire-fighting services that helped to keep the community safe. But outside of his dedication to the people of Rome, he was considered an attractive man from all of the busts and sculptures carved in his likeness, especially if they’re an accurate depiction of his likeness. He was also described as being quite graceful in his movements; his only downfall was that he was a bit short.
Also known as Charlie Chaplin, he was mostly known for his comedies, films, and the infamous mustache that a German dictator unfortunately co-opted. His career spanned more than 75 years. Chaplin started from a very young age when his mother was sent to the asylum. He definitely had his good looks to help him along, with his soft, friendly features that seemed kind and gentle, the complete opposite of the slapstick humor he put into his films. He was reported to have had thousands of lovers and married four times.
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in the early 19th Century and defied society’s standards by teaching himself how to read. In fact, when he wrote his own autobiography, no one believed that a black man could have written it. Douglass fought to free enslaved people. He helped also helped with women’s rights, on top of looking quite handsome. Of course, this is not to overshadow the accomplishments he made throughout his life, but it would be a disservice not to at least mention how good-looking he was.
Originally known as Elizabeth, Empress Sisi was the 16-year-old sister of Duchess Helene, whom Franz Josef was initially supposed to marry. But once he took one look at Sisi, he decided to propose to her on the spot, and the rest is history. Sisi was known for having ankle-length dark hair, which she maintained for almost an hour every single day. But she wasn’t just a looks queen. This empress took care of her body with lots of exercises, including horseback riding, fencing, and gymnastics rings. Many speculated, however, that she dealt with depression and an eating disorder, so despite being the Empress of Hungary, her life wasn’t all roses.