Throughout the ages — from the Trojan War to Jersey Shore — men have dueled and died to win the affections of beautiful women.
Rather predictably, the more beautiful the damsel, the fiercer the fellas have fought to lay claim to (or just lay) her.
Many of these lovely ladies have, however, suffered from the teensy shortcoming that they never actually existed in the first place.
Renowned debunker of bunk Brian Dunning has compiled a list of historical femmes fatales, both real and imaginary, on his site Skeptoid.com, and we’ve narrowed it down to the five hottest women who never lived.
5. Helen of Troy
She had a “face that launch’d a thousand ships,” according to Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus, and her abduction brought about the Trojan War. That’s assuming the Trojan War actually happened, for starters, which is a matter of some scholarly contention. Even if it did happen in one form or another (and involved preposterously oversized horse with soldiers hiding inside), Helen of Troy almost certainly remains a purely mythical hottie.
She was a sultry character in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and is believed to have played a starring role in Greek legends dating back centuries before Homer, meaning she probably never lived. Quoth Homer: “D’oh.”
4. Rosie the Riveter
The enduring symbol of female wartime industriousness — and the inspiration behind innumerable present-day roller derby team logos — has a tomboyish quality that is oddly irresistible. Rosie represented all the American women who worked in factories to make weapons and supplies for the men who were overseas trying to blow up the Führer.
Made famous by a 1942 song by the same name, Rosie the Riveter was said to be “part of the assembly line… making history.” And, according to posters bearing her supposed likeness, Rosie had high cheekbones and a toned biceps that surely gave chills to the more submissive men of her era. Sadly for them, she was merely a sexy, fictitious stand-in for factory-working women who were probably more grimy than gorgeous.
3. Tokyo Rose
Her sultry voice floated across the airwaves of the South Pacific during the Second World War, her messages of propaganda cloaked in a come-hither tone. Lonely servicemen might have been wooed by her broadcasts if she hadn’t been so heavy-handed with suggestions of surrender.
In reality, Tokyo Rose was probably the common monicker given to a half-dozen or so English-speaking female DJs in Japan. Debate has simmered for decades over who was, and who wasn’t, the “real” Tokyo Rose, but it’s probably a moot point, since most servicemen are said to have seen right through her transparent guise. It’s safe to assume, though, they also imagined seeing right through her transparent blouse.
The Queen of Arthurian legend, the frisky monarch rumored to have had an extramarital fling with Sir Lancelot, was about as real as Merlin’s spells. The historical veracity of Arthurian lore — the realm of Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table and, to a lesser extent, the Knights Who Say Ni — has been debated for ages.
It’s safe to assume that the jaw-dropping Guinevere, whose name translates to “White Enchantress,” is a figment of fiction. Interestingly, the name “Guinevere” is believed to be the predecessor of the modern English name “Jennifer,” which might explain why so many men consider Ms. Aniston to be such a white enchantress.
1. The Triple-Boobed Woman from Total Recall
Technically, this generously bosomed female is not a historical figure, since Total Recall is set in a dystopian 2085, largely on the planet Mars. Although nobody actually believes she was real, we just felt like mentioning her anyway. Along with Arnold Schwarzenegger’s disturbing, buggy-eyed death rattle at the film’s apex, the appearance of the three-breasted Martian hooker is one of the few unforgettable moments in the 1992 action flick.
Her scene in Total Recall was so iconic that the creators of the rather unnecessary 2012 remake were sure to include a triple-boobed starlet (played by the fetching Kaitlyn Leeb, who has merely two boobs in real life). For our money, the original triple-boobed Martian hooker, played by Lycia Naff, will always retain a special place in Hollywood history. Fact: the script originally called for four breasts, but it was decided that the prosthetic looked too “bovine.”