Bombshells

In the beginning, there was Theda Bara. The first movie bombshell seduced the male moviegoers as an exotic femme fatale in 1915’s “A Fool There Was.” She became known as “The Vamp” — short for vampire — for excelling as scantily clad sirens who turned macho men into whimpering fools for love. Ever since Bara nearly bared all, Hollywood has scurried to find the next great bombshell.

In the 1930s, there was platinum blond Jean Harlow; German-born Marlene Dietrich and Austrian-born Hedy Lamarr who had caused quite a stir appearing au naturel in the 1933 Czech film, ‘Ecstasy.”

During World War II, the bombshell also became the pin-up favorite of the armed forces, especially singer-dancer Betty Grable whose shapely legs were insured by Lloyds of London. She was such a favorite of the G.I.’s she even starred in a 1944 musical comedy called “Pin-Up Girl.”

The ultimate bombshell was Marilyn Monroe, who shot to stardom in the early 1950s especially after Hugh Hefner published the nude photo of her in Playboy.

But there’s more to a bombshell than a pretty face and shapely body. Harlow was a skilled farceur; Dietrich was an Oscar-nominated actress whose film career endured into her 60s; and Monroe not only had that “it” quality but demonstrated solid dramatic acting chops in such films as “Bus Stop” and “The Misfits.”

In fact, several bombshells have won Academy Awards including , Halle Berry, Gloria Grahame, Sophia Loren, Ginger Rogers and Shelley Winters.

Some bombshells had considerable brain power as well. During World War II, Lamarr co-invented an early form of spread spectrum communications technology, and Jayne Mansfield’s IQ was 163. But she often lamented that the only numbers her fans cared about were her measurements: 40-21-35.

— Susan King, who has covered Hollywood for The Times for more than 25 years.

Here's a look at some of the best-known bombshells with stars on the Walk of Fame. If you do not see the person you are looking for below please search our complete list of the stars on the Walk of Fame. And, if you haven’t yet, check out The Times virtual tour of the stars.

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