Above, a bonus gallery of some of these 50 guys—shirtless!
My list of History's Hottest TV Actors went over really well...and also provoked some heated debates whose opening salvos invariably began with, "Where's ...?"
Now, I'm happy (and exhausted) to present the first of three posts detailing my personal selects for History's Hottest Movie Actors. This first post will cover #100—#51 in ascending order, the second will cover #50—#26 and the final post will be my Top 25.
I look forward to your comments, whether they are to lump praise or heap scorn, though I hope you will take all of this in the spirit it's intended—as my own choices and nothing more...
#100 Tom Cruise (1962—) It's something of a statement to put one of the biggest movie stars of all time, and a good-looking one at that, way down at #100. While I haven't found him remotely appealing in years, there's no way I could overlook how scorching-hot he was in his early years on the screen, when he seemed far more connected and natural. With Risky Business, he did for briefs what Clark Gable had done for undershirts—except in reverse.
Sexy Sampler: Endless Love (1981), Taps (1981), The Outsiders (1983), Losin' It (1983), Risky Business (1983), All the Right Moves (1983), Legend (1985), Top Gun (1986), Cocktail (1988)
#99 Michael Biehn (1956—) Cute when he was chicken—even when playing an obsessed fan of Lauren Bacall's—Biehn's doe-eyed looks quickly hardened, making him equally handsome as the more world-weary authoritarian or bad-guy types with which he'd become more identified. Could even rock a mustache without losing pretty points, as in Tombstone.
Sexy Sampler: Coach (1978), Hog Wild (1980), The Fan (1981), The Lords of Discipline (1983), The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), Rampage (1987), The Seventh Sign (1988), The Abyss (1989), Navy Seals (1990) Timebomb (1991), K2 (1991), Deadfall (1993), Tombstone (1993), Jade (1995)
Sexy Sampler: Dynamite (1929), The Silver Horde (1930), Lightnin' (1930), Once a Sinner (1931), Kept Husbands (1931), Born to Love (1931), The Common Law (1931), Girls About Town (1931), Business and Pleasure (1932), The Lost Squadron (1932), Bird of Paradise (1932), The Most Dangerous Game (1932), The Sport Parade (1932), Rockabye (1932), The Silver Cord (1933), Chance at Heaven (1933), Gambling Lady (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Splendor (1935), Adventure in Manhattan (1936), Woman Chases Man (1937), Wells Fargo (1937), Union Pacific (1939), Sullivan's Travels (1941)
#97 Cornel Wilde (1912—1989) A Hungarian fencer who abandoned a shot at the Olympics in order to act, this Wilde man was more than just a cut-rate Errol Flynn—after early acclaim followed by a long run in B-movies, he reinvented himself as a director and had some success in that area. Virile and handsome, he had a build like a fitness buff you'd find bumming around Venice Beach, which might explain why he was in so many mainstream movies that feel like semi-legit upgrades of things that came out of Athletic Model Guild.
Sexy Sampler: High Sierra (1941), Knockout (1941), A Song to Remember (1945), A Thousand and One Nights (1945), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946), The Homestretch (1947), The Greatest Show on Earth (1952), At Sword's Point (1952), California Conquest (1952), Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953), The Naked Prey (1966)
#96 Mike Henry (1936—) Every big-screen "Tarzan" was hot, but how many were hairy? Just Mike Henry, who only played the role in three movies. His other film work was pretty unspectacular, but considering he'd begun his career as a pro football player, it's not like he had pretensions to win an Oscar. Square-jawed? Squared.
Sexy Sampler: "Tarzan" movies (1966—1968), The Green Berets (1968), More Dead Than Alive (1969), Number One (1969), Rio Lobo (1970)
#95 Christopher Atkins (1961—) With the ultimate innocent look, this boyish blond became an international sex symbol with his naked role in the softcore classic The Blue Lagoon. He only had a few memorable screen appearances, but conquered the teen-mag world handily.
Sexy Sampler: The Blue Lagoon (1980), The Pirate Movie (1982), A Night in Heaven (1983)
#94 Helmut Berger (1944—) Forever memorable from his work in his partner Luchino Visconti's '60s and '70s films, in which he appeared as an impossibly beautiful and impossibly European object of desire. Don't Google him to see how he looks now.
Sexy Sampler: The Damned (1969), Dorian Gray (1970), The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970), Love Me Strangely (1971), The Bloodstained Butterly (1971), Ludwig (1972), Conversation Piece (1974), Salon Kitty (1976)
#93 Antonio Banderas (1960—) Who can forget discovering this mouth-watering screen presence via Almodovar's films, in which he looked like a Spanish David while committing crimes against nature? Then he popped up in Madonna's Truth or Dare, where the icon threw herself at him in vain. A man who could resist 1990-era Madonna? Once he was brought to the U.S. for films, Banderas's sexiness felt a little more canned, a little more stereotypically that of the "Latin lover." But he's certainly had his moments.
Sexy Sampler: Labyrinth of Passion (1982), Matador (1986), Law of Desire (1987), Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988), Tie Me Up! Time Me Down! (1990), Truth or Dare (1990), The Mambo Kings (1992), Philadelphia (1993), Interview with the Vampire (1994), Miami Rhapsody (1995), Evita (1996), The Mask of Zorro (1998), Original Sin (2001), Take the Lead (2006)
#92 Sal Mineo (1939—1976) Not high on many other "hottest movie guy" lists you'll find, Sal ranks on mine for his interesting mixture of innocence (especially early in his career) and edge (especially off screen). Who would've guessed that the lonely kid from Rebel Without a Cause would be a late-blooming gay man with a strong fetish for defiling all-American boys (Bobby Sherman and Don Johnson, reportedly) and for tightie whities? Read my pal's bio to get the full scoop on Mineo, who was a complex and driven artist and man. Or just watch him on the big screen in the admittedly laughable Who Killed Teddy Bear? and then challenge me for including him here.
Sexy Sampler: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), Crime in the Streets (1956), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Giant (1956), Rock, Pretty Baby (1956), Dino (1957), The Young Don't Cry (1957), A Private's Affair (1959), The Gene Krupa Story (1959), Exodus (1960), The Longest Day (1962), Cheyenne Autumn (1964), Who Killed Teddy Bear? (1965)
#91 Colin Farrell (1976—) This bad news bear cub has been setting hearts aflutter (against brains' better judgments) ever since appearing in Joel Schumacher's beef-fest Tigerland. He reeks mischief both on and off the screen, lost his looks for a bit when the partying got out of hand, but has bounced back admirably to continue as a reliably good-looking lead.
Sexy Sampler: Tigerland (2000), American Outlaws (2001), Hart's War (2002), Minority Report (2002), Phone Booth (2002), The Recruit (2003), Daredevil (2003), Veronica Guerin (2003), S.W.A.T. (2003), Intermission (2003), A Home at the End of the World (2004), Alexander 92004), Miami Vice (2006), In Bruges (2008), Fright Night (2011)
#90 Nick Scotti (1966—) This tragically underused multi-hyphenate was sweetly funny in Kiss Me, Guido, a gay comedy that received a major release at a time when LGBT movies were making in the millions instead of the tens of thousands at the box office. As appealing as he was, he barely got a chance to make another impact in the movies, instead falling back on his modeling, his Madonna-approved singing career and a short-lived reality series that capitalized on his New Yawk roots. Movie experience aside, we're talkin' about hotness here, and he's always had that to burn.
Sexy Sampler: Kiss Me, Guido (1997); Detroit Rock City (1999)