Actress Lark Voorhies ranks 37th in Regal Magazine’s list of 50 most beautiful Black women of all time (AP Photo/William Philpott, File).
The 50 Most Beautiful Black Female Celebrities of All Time
By Kevin Hunter
There is nothing like Black beauty. For thousands of years, some of the most beautiful women of all time have been Black women or women of African origin. You can go as far back as Nefertiti and Cleopatra of Egypt and work your way through history to the present and find that some of the most beautiful and smartest, and most elegant women in the universe are indeed Black. Black beauty is very present today and even more so as it is displayed daily in the entertainment industry.
There was so much positive feedback from readers regarding the Top 10 Hottest Women of 2011 that we thought that for Black History Month we’d take a look at some of the hottest and most beautiful Black female celebrities of all time, who are without a doubt also some of the most beautiful women of all time.
Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. But beauty also comes from within and how a woman carries herself. Beauty is also expressed in what she’s accomplished and what she gives to others. The most beautiful women of all time aren’t just so drop-dead beautiful on the outside but they hold a certain charisma, are extremely talented, charming and successful in their chosen fields. Many were trailblazers and pioneers that paved the way for others on this list. Many have college educations and have been and are activists, philanthropists and community leaders.
A list ranking the most beautiful women of all time is never easy (fun, but not easy). And this list isn’t totally about saying one is more beautiful than the other. There is also the impact they’ve had on Black and mainstream culture, society and history. So I encourage you to take a look and enjoy some of the bios and images of women who are truly not only some of the most beautiful Black celebrities, but some of the most beautiful women of all time. Over the next three weeks we will be rolling out the 50 most beautiful Black women. Enjoy the women ranked 34-50.
34. Lisa Bonet
Man! Didn’t we just love Lisa Bonet as the adorable and spunky Denise Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” and “A Different World?” She was the girl we all wanted to bring home to meet our parents and take to the high school prom. But she would soon break our hearts by leaving both shows and marrying rock star Lenny Kravitz at the age of 20. Born to an African American father and Jewish mother, Bonet is as sexy as she is cute. That was evident in the controversial 1987 movie Angel Heart with Mickey Rouke and Robert De Niro. Bonet continues to act occasionally and remarried in 2007 to actor Jason Momoa. She has four kids, one of them being actress Zoe Kravitz. But to TV fans everywhere, Bonet will always be the one of the most beautiful women of all time and girl of our dreams – Denise Huxtable.
35. Toni Braxton
The incredibly beautiful Toni Braxton with one of the greatest voices in music has won just about every award given to a musician. So far she has six Grammy Awards, seven American Music Awards, and five Billboard Music Awards, and has been honored as a member of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. You couldn’t look at Braxton on her CD covers, TV and on the many magazines she’s been profiled and not think that she’s one of the most beautiful women of all time. With more than 60 million records sold, Braxton is one of the biggest selling R&B artists of all time. But lately Braxton’s career has been sidetracked by various health problems. She has battled breast cancer and was diagnosed with the small vessel disease microvascular angina. Braxton also suffers from the life-threatening disease systemic lupus erythematosus.
36. Jasmine Guy
After Lisa Bonet left the hit show “A Different World” after just one season, producers retooled the show and had it center around often annoying spoiled brat, but incredibly hot Southern belle, Whitley Gilbert Wayne, played brilliantly by Jasmine Guy. Many thought that would be the end of the show, but it went on for another five successful seasons, much of that due to Guy’s strong character and being one of the most beautiful women on TV. Born to an African American father and Portuguese American mother, Guy has appeared in numerous movies and TV shows, most recently as Sheila Bennett on the CW show “The Vampire Diaries.” Guy is also an accomplished singer and has been a hit on Broadway in such shows as “The Wiz,” “Leader of the Pack,” “Grease” and “Chicago.”
37. Lark Voorhies
Lark Voorhies has also been acting since she was a small child and made a name for herself playing the non-stereotypical character of Lisa Turtle on “Good Morning, Miss Bliss” and on the long running series “Saved by the Bell.” This very beautiful and talented actress went on to star in a handful of TV shows and soap operas such as “Days of Our Lives” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” A little trivia here; Voorhies is the niece of the Jacksons’ Jermaine Jackson.
38. Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett is another one of those classy, beautiful celebrities who seems to get more beautiful every time you see her. After earning a Bachelors of Arts degree in African American Studies from Yale in 1980, and a Masters of Fine Arts from the Yale School of Drama in 1983, Bassett went on to become one of the nation’s finest actresses and one of the most beautiful women of all time. She won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Oscar for her role as Tina Turner in the hit movie, What’s Love Got to Do with It. That says a lot about her talent and beauty as she beat out Halle Berry, Whitney Houston, Robin Givens, Vanessa Williams and Janet Jackson for the part. The versatile Bassett has also played other African American female icons such as Betty Shabazz in the film Malcolm X and Panther, Rosa Parks in The Rosa Parks Story, Katherine Jackson in the TV miniseries, “The Jacksons: An American Dream,” and Voletta Wallace in Notorious, and was unbelievably hot as Stella in How Stella Got Her Groove Back.
39. Sade Adu
The Nigerian-born Sade Adu won our hearts over with her beautiful, exotic looks and a smooth, silky voice with her debut and signature hit “Smooth Operator” from the U.S. top-10 charting album “Diamond Life” back in 1983. All six of Sade Adu’s studio albums, a live and two greatest hits compilations all peaked in the top 10 in the U.S. “Promise” in 1985 and “Soldier of Love” in 2010 both reached number one. She and her band have won four Grammy Awards. The international superstar and one of the most beautiful women of all time still sells out concerts worldwide and her songs are a mainstay on pop and smooth jazz radio stations everywhere.
40. Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey has never really been one of the critics’ favorites as her music has been called sugary, artificial and vapid among other things. But for more than 20 years comments such as those fell on deaf ears with her fans. Since making her debut in 1990, Carey set the tone for pop female singers everywhere with a stunning five-octave range voice and incredible looks and larger than life stage presence as she has been regarded by her fans as one of the most beautiful women of all time. Carey, who was born to an Irish American mother and African American/Venezuelan father has sold more than 200 million records making her the ninth top-selling artists of all time, and the third biggest selling female of all-time in the U.S. trailing only Madonna and Barbara Streisand. She is credited for helping introduce R&B and Hip-Hip to mainstream audiences everywhere. She is a true icon and to prove it, just watch anyone using one of her many hits while auditioning for talent shows such as “American Idol.”
41. Whitney Houston
In the early part of her career, it seemed liked there was nothing Whitney Houston could not do. She was (is) one of the most beautiful women of all time, and an incredible songstress, actress and model. She is the only artist to have seven consecutive number one hits on the Billboard charts, and her single, “I Will Always Love You” from the Bodyguard soundtrack became the biggest-selling single ever by a female. Houston has been plagued by many setbacks over the years, but it’s safe to say that we all hope to see this beautiful woman with the soulful voice back on top again
42. Lola Falana
In the tradition of such hot and sultry performers as Josephine Baker and Dorothy Dandridge, Lola Falana was all that and more. Born of Cuban and African American descents, Falana became known for many television and movie roles as well as being a very talented singer and dancer. She lit up the stages in Las Vegas in the 1970s to sold out crowds at The Sands, The Rivera and The Aladdin, becoming the highest paid performer making as much as $100,000 a week. She has since become a Catholic and has dealt with multiple sclerosis. She still travels preaching the Gospel and has a ministry called “The Lambs of God Ministry” that focuses on helping orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa.
43. Donna Summer
Donna Summer was one of the true hot divas that dominated the music charts in the 1970s and 1980s, and was a legend in discos all over the world. The Queen of Disco will forever be known for such hits as “Hot Stuff,” “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls,” “MacArthur Park Suite,” and “She Works Hard for the Money.” Summer was the first and only artist to have three consecutive double albums reach number one on the U.S. Billboard chart. She also has 11 gold albums, 12 gold singles, 13 American Music Awards, five Grammy Awards and was the first African American female to receive an MTV Video Music Award nomination. Today the born-again Christian still records and tours occasionally.
44. Jennifer Hudson
Jennifer Hudson didn’t win “American Idol,” but she didn’t really have to. She had enough talent to win over the rest of the country and the world that didn’t vote for her 10 times over. Just two years after finishing an insulting seventh place on the hit talent show, Hudson proved all of her detractors wrong by winning a slew of awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls. Her 2008 debut album “Jennifer Hudson” sold more than one million copies. She has acted in several movies and TV shows, performed at Super Bowl XLIII, “The Grammy Awards,” the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” and has the ear of President Barack Obama as she is considered a friend of his. Hudson reinvented herself by slimming down and looks amazing as a spokesperson for Weight Watchers.
45. Jada Pinkett Smith
Nia Long beat out Jada Pinkett Smith for the role of Will Smith’s girlfriend Lisa Wilkes on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” but no worries. Pinkett got the ultimate prize by being the real-life Mrs. Will Smith since 1997. The former Miss Maryland 1988 is of African American and Cherokee descent, and for years has been regarded as one of the most beautiful women of all time and one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood. Pinkett Smith got her big break as the brilliant, sassy and street-smart freshman Lena James on “A Different World,” in 1991 and made her film debut in Menace to Society in 1993. Pinkett Smith also has the distinction of being a classmate of Tupac Shakur at the Baltimore School for the Arts where she majored in choreography.
46. Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad, a graduate of Howard University has been acting since the 1960s and is the sister of another beautiful actress Debbie Allen. But who are we kidding? We all know that she is forever known as the beautiful Claire Huxtable of “The Cosby Show.” Rashad’s character redefined the way African American mothers were portrayed on TV. Claire Huxtable became another groundbreaking character as one of the most educated, smartest and most beautiful women of all time in the history of television. All this while raising five very smart and beautiful kids, and putting up with the antics of one Cliff Huxtable.
47. Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll knew how to play the hot diva well as she did on such television series as “Dynasty,” “The Colbys” and “A Different World.” These are only a few roles that this ground-breaking actress, singer and one of the most beautiful women of all time has on a resume that spans six decades. The Tony Award and Golden Globe Award winner made history by becoming the first African American female to star in a non-stereotypical role as the lead in the 1968 TV series “Julia” as widowed single mother Julia Baker. “Julia” ran for three seasons and Carroll earned a Golden Globe Award and Emmy Award nomination. Carroll continues to act today and is a breast cancer survivor and activist.
48. Nichelle Nichols
Star Trek geeks or “Trekies” weren’t the only ones enamored with the beautiful Nyota Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols, who just happened to be the only African American male of female on the legendary science fiction series in the late 1960’s. Known for having the first on-screen interracial kiss in television history with William Shatner’s Captain Kirk, Nichols was also one of the first African American actors to play a non-stereotypical role. Before becoming a legend in “Star Trek,” Nichols was a singer and dancer and was discovered by jazz great Duke Ellington as a teenager. She also toured with another jazz great Lionel Hampton. But to fans everywhere she will always be the alluring and sexy Uhura, one the most beautiful women of all time ever to fly on the Starship Enterprise.
49. Oprah Winfrey
What can be said about the Queen of Everything that already hasn’t been said? As one of the most beautiful women of all time, Oprah Winfrey is one of the richest, powerful and most well-known women in the world who never met a worthy cause she didn’t like. The philanthropist, former talk show host and media diva has given so much of herself and has meant so much to so many people around the world, the only thing left for Winfrey is the title of “President Winfrey.”
50. Diana Ross
Diana Ross is the Queen of Motown one of the most beautiful women of all time to ever record for the label, and another one of music’s original divas. In 50 years as a member of the legendary girl group The Supremes, which helped launch Motown Records, and as a solo artist, actress and producer, Ross has scores of top 10 and number one hits as well as a slew of gold and platinum singles and albums. Ross has a Golden Globe Award for her role as Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues in 1972 for which she also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Ross won a Tony Award in 1977 for her one-woman show, “An Evening With Diana Ross.” She was in The Guinness Book of World Records in 1993 for being the most successful female artist in history with more than 100 million records sold worldwide.
Hunter is a contributing writer for Regal Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.