A Brief History
On September 14th, 2012, in a major invasion of privacy, the French magazine Closer published topless photographs of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. This incident led to a major outcry as “Kate” was vacationing at a private residence, and many thought the paparazzi had once again overstepped the boundaries of the socially and morally acceptable.
In our two previous articles from this series, we have already listed 21 women famous for being naked or who, at one point in their lives, had famously been naked. In this article, we again examine 10 more such ladies. We are not just listing any playboy bunny or actress who flashed her boobs or exposed her butt in a B or even mainstream movie. The main prerequisite for making it on these lists is that their nudity had to have a social, cultural or historical significance.
For the latest installment in this series, the “Top 10 Black Women Famous for Being Naked,” compiled in honor of Black History Month, please click here.
1) Eve (dawn of mankind)
God created Adam in his image, and Adam created Eve from his rib. Obviously, God must also be naked, as he had neglected to give them clothes. It was in the Garden of Eden that Eve did not heed God’s warning to not partake in the forbidden fruit, and she, tempted by the evil serpent, further tempted Adam, and both of them upon realizing their sin, also became aware of their own nakedness and equated it with guilt and shame. This, however, does not make sense, as their nakedness had obviously first represented innocence and purity. At any rate, it was Eve, the first woman and first naked woman at that, whose actions made nudity a taboo state of being.
2) Bathsheba (c. 1000 B.C.)
Bathsheba, wife of David and mother of Solomon, is almost always depicted nude because it was her nakedness that caught the attention of David, King of Israel and Judah, as he peered down from the rooftop and spied upon her at her bath. Her tale is a tale of sensuality, lust, seduction and sex. It was not she, however, who seduced David, it was David who seduced her, and in Bathsheba’s case, she was still married to another man at the time David impregnated her! It is hard to believe that this is a Bible story and not some episode of a sordid talk show!
3) Phryne (c. 370-300 B.C.)
A courtesan (a.k.a prostitute) in ancient Greece, one of Phryne’s lovers happened to be the sculptur Praxiteles who asked her to model for his statue Aphrodite of Knidos. He also made two other statues of her which stood at the temples of Thespiae and Delphi, one of them in gilded bronze. The most famous episode her life is her trial. The charge has long been forgotten but not the fact that she supposedly exposed her breasts in court to incite pity.
4) Gabrielle d’Estrées (1573-1599)
The favorite mistress of Henri of Navarre, Gabrielle is historically important because she encouraged Henri to convert to Catholicism in order to become King of France. “Paris is well worth a mass,” is what Henri uttered in response. In a famous painting by an unknown artist, Gabrielle is pictured nude with her sister and holding Henri’s coronation ring, a ring she had helped him obtain.
5) Audrey Munson (1891-1996)
An “American Venus,” Munson was a famous model, and sculptures for which she modeled still exist all across the United States. In New York City, alone, at least a dozen sculptures of her still stand. At the Manhattan Municipal Building, for example, her image by Adolph Weinheim, called Civic Duty, still stands poised over the city. From there Munson went on in 1915 to become the first woman to appear fully nude in a non-pornographic film. After starring in four silent movies, she succumbed to mental illness and was eventually ordered to a psychiatric facility, where she stayed for 65 years until she died at age 104.
6) Jackie Kennedy (1929-1994)
Jackie Kennedy had always been prim and proper and she was revered as the widow of JFK. She then married Aristotle Onassis, and public opinion of her sank as many thought she had betrayed her dead husband’s memory. Respect for her was at an all-time-low when Larry Flint printed nude pictures of her in his pornographic Hustler magazine. Taken by a papparazo who was hiding on a fishing boat, the pictures were of a fully nude Jackie sunning herself on her husband’s island of Skorpios. The issue quickly sold out, and Hustler joined the ranks of Penthouse and Playboy. In 2009, a nude Jackie again made news as a naked picture of her she had signed was found in some of Andy Warhol’s old storage junk. To the author’s knowledge, no other former first lady has had nude photographs of herself published.
7) Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)
Considered by many to be the epitome of female good looks, Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few Hollywood beauty queens of whom nude pictures did not exist. An anomaly! That was the case until 2011, when the British Daily Mail published a nude photograph of “Liz” taken by her friend actor Roddy McDowall when she was 24 . It had been in a private collection, and the collector had waited for her to die before sharing it with the world. To see the picture, please click here.
8) Dr. Laura Schlessinger (1947- )
This radio talk show host and no-nonsense propagator of conservative morality should have listened to her own advice: Do not allow your lovers to take naked pictures of you! They will come back to haunt you! Even 25 years after the fact! In this day and age, one could say: Do not take naked pictures of yourself with your cell phone and send them! Hackers will get their hands on them! In Dr. Laura’s case, in an effort to humiliate her, an aging lover decided to splash all sorts of highly compromising pictures of her across the internet. Considering her self-ascribed role as a moral apostle, it was quite shocking to see, and it cost her a lot of credibility. Due to the nature of the photographs and out of respect for Dr. Laura, they will not be shown in their entirety or linked here, but they are still on the internet, although it has been 16 years since they were originally published.
9) Janet Jackson (1966- )
Explained away as a “wardrobe malfunction,” Janet Jackson’s infamous “Nipplegate” episode during halftime at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 had possibly been staged in an effort to create controversy and to generate better ratings. Instead viewers were shocked and enraged because many children had been watching the family event. In total as many as 140 million people saw the “mishap” live. As a result, a five-second delay was imposed for all broadcasts, and the music channel MTV was banned from any future involvement in American football halftime performances.
10) Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (1982- )
The paparazzi had already set a precedent for indecently photographing British princesses on vacation; in 1982 they went too far for the first time when they photographed Princess Diana pregnant and in a bikini. Thirty years later they photographed a topless Kate. Whereas Diana was on a beach, Kate, however, was on private property, making it all the more invasive and intrusive. Prince William was especially angered since he had always striven to protect his wife from the leering eyes that had hounded his mother into her grave. So much so that the normally mum Palace felt compelled to issue a statement in which it announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be seeking legal action. William and Kate did just that, and they filed a criminal complaint, the result of which was that the French magazine Closer was no longer allowed to publish or promote the pictures to exploit the Duchess.
For the other articles in the History and Headlines series on naked ladies, please click here.
For another interesting event that happened on September 14, please see the History and Headlines article: “September 14, 326 A.D.: Sepulchre and True Cross Found in Jerusalem!“
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