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Historical Male Sex Symbols, Ranked By The Likelihood They Would Be Sex Symbols Now

Updated February 28, 2019 7.9k votes 605 voters 9.0k views26 items

List RulesVote up the sex symbols from history that would still have that status in the present day.

Throughout history, men deemed sex symbols are representatives of the cultures they thrived in. Before photography and film, men were esteemed for their reputations in politics, music, literature, and the poetics. As the movie industry rose in the early 20th century, Hollywood celebrities became the nations emblems of sex appeal. 

British poet Lord George Gordon Byron passed before the magic of the silver screen took shape, but his image as a figure of desire still holds up. However, Italian adventurer Giacomo Casanova might not provoke the same response today as he did in the mid-1700s. 

Once Hollywood began romanticizing men in the industry, the global conception of beauty was indelibly influenced by movie stars. And although the 1960s and '70s don't qualify as historical in comparison to the early 18th century, the actors who ruled the city of desire during those years strongly affected modern society's idea of who ranks as a sex symbol. 

Historic male sex symbols may represent the culture they were empowered by, but some still hold up against the hottest male celebrities of current times. 

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  • Cary Grant
    Photo: RKO publicity photographer / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    Cary Grant (born Archibald Alec Leach; January 18, 1904 – November 29, 1986) was an English-born American actor, known as one of classic Hollywood's definitive leading men. He began a career in Hollywood in the early 1930s, when he acquired his stage name, and became known for his transatlantic accent, debonair demeanor, light-hearted approach to acting, and sense of comic timing. He became an American citizen in 1942. Grant was born in Horfield, Bristol. He became attracted to theater at a young age and began performing with a troupe known as "The Penders" at age six. He attended Bishop Road Primary School and Fairfield Grammar School in Bristol. At the age of 16, he went as a stage... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: Dec. at 82 (1904-1986)
    • Birthplace: Horfield, United Kingdom
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  • Sidney Poitier
    Photo: U.S. Information Agency / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    Sir Sidney Poitier, (; born February 20, 1927) is a Bahamian-American actor and film director. In 1964, Poitier became the first Bahamian and first black actor to win an Academy Award for Best Actor, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. He continued to break ground by starring in three successful 1967 films, all of which dealt with issues involving race and race relations: To Sir, with Love; In the Heat of the Night; and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, making him the top box-office star of that year.Poitier has directed a number of films, including Uptown Saturday Night, Let's Do It Again, and A Piece of the Action, with Bill Cosby; Stir Crazy,... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: 93
    • Birthplace: Miami, Florida, United States of America
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  • George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet, peer, and politician who became a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence, and is considered one of the historical leading figures of the Romantic movement of his era. He is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and remains widely read and influential. Among his best-known works are the lengthy narrative poems Don Juan and Childe Harold's Pilgrimage; many of his shorter lyrics in Hebrew Melodies also became popular. He travelled extensively across Europe, especially in Italy, where he lived for seven years in the cities of Venice, Ravenna and Pisa.... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: Dec. at 36 (1788-1824)
    • Birthplace: Eurasia, Greater London, United Kingdom, London, England
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  • James Maitland Stewart (May 20, 1908 – July 2, 1997) was an American actor and military officer who is among the most honored and popular stars in film history. Known for his distinctive drawl, down-to-earth persona, and authentic, everyman acting style, Stewart's film career spanned over 55 years and 80 films. With the strong morals he portrayed both on screen and in his personal life, Stewart epitomized the "American ideal" in the 20th-century United States. The characters he played spanned a wide range of subjects and appealed to large audiences. His emotional film performances contributed to his cinematic acclaim. Stewart began his career as a performer on Broadway which earned him a... more on Wikipedia
    • Age: Dec. at 89 (1908-1997)
    • Birthplace: Indiana, Pennsylvania, United States of America
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