The ‘Perfect’ 1930s Hollywood Body


Who Has The Best Figure in Hollywood?

Cover of Photoplay 1931


The ideal 1930s measurements for a Hollywood actress is certainly a lot different and a lot healthier than the modern day version, but it was interesting ( and a bit depressing) to see that 80 years ago, our hang ups about body shape was all alive and well.

Photoplay was then the ‘go to’ gossip magazine about the stars, the movies and the film industry. Much like People magazine today and they ran a competition back in 1931, with four presiding ‘judges’, to select the perfect body amongst a selection of 21 movie actresses that were well known and in the public eye in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

I had never heard of this actress till now but the winner was a Mexican silent film star turn ‘talkies’ star :

Dolores del Rio



At 5’4.5″ she weighed 120 lbs, had the measurements 33-25-36 and was described as “warmly curved” and “roundly turned”.

One of the judges was Broadway producer Earl Carroll, and he rejected Greta Garbo as being too thin but had this to say about the final four actresses:

‘There is no sense of frailty about them. They are roundly turned. They are, in every instance, a far hail from any boyish form, and they are not the underdeveloped, adolescent type,’ he explained, before selecting Del Rio as winner.


Another judge was American artist Earl Christy who chose Bebe Daniels for her ‘glowing warmth’ and ‘lovely symmetry’.


‘Backbones . . . should not be social, protruding like clipped wings when low cut evening gowns are worn,’ he warned.
‘They rob a women a that lovely, rounded look. They are reminders of the mechanism of the body, of joint fitting into joint. Joints of course are very important, but they function quite as efficiently unseen.’
He immediately eliminated two girls from his list for this reason and three more because when they stood with their feet together ‘daylight was visible between their knees.’


Bebe Daniels

Bebe Daniels

The third judge, Dr. Al Goldwater opted also for the healthier looking Dolores del Rio, adding:

‘I most earnestly hope that a star who has curves and looks as a women should look will be granted as having Hollywood’s best figure.‘I know the tremendous influence the screen exerts on modern life. And I am a little dismayed by the number of girls and young women who come to my office suffering from anemia and low blood pressure. Too often their ailments can be traced to ill-advised and strenuous dieting.’


Interestingly it was the only female judge, dressmaker Hattie Carnegie,  who selected the slimmer Constance Bennett :


‘Miss Bennett is a trifle slim perhaps, but to my mind, she more than atones for this by her carriage and by the way her head is placed on her gracious shoulders,’


So even then, men preferred curvier ‘healthy’ looking women, and women tend to be a lot harsher about their weight, opting for the slimmer more emancipated look.


Here is the original article courtesy of Media History Digital Library :


Dolores del Rio
Best Figures in 1930s Hollywood
Best top 4 figures in 1930s Hollywood


Do you think they had it right back in the 1930s and we have got it all wrong today?

Let us know!


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