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Shape-Up Secrets from Old Hollywood Glamour Girls

Marilyn Monroe

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The ultimate glamour girl, Marilyn Monroe was more famous for her other, ahem, assets than her cooking prowess, but biographers say Monroe was on the forefront of the health-food movement. Plus, the curvy beauty was one of the first famous females known to routinely lift weights.

According to old grocery receipts and reports from friends, Monroe was a homebody who loved to do her own shopping and then cook healthy, sometimes elaborate meals at home.

Audrey Hepburn

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Audrey Hepburn was known for her perpetually perfect posture—a feat that not only enhanced her enviable bone structure, but experts also say helps prevent indigestion, constipation, and back and neck pain. While she wasn't crazy about formal exercise routines, Hepburn loved walking and would find reasons to work walks into her daily schedule.

To maintain her gamine figure she reportedly ate a simple diet of mostly fruits and vegetables with the occasional plate of pasta or square of dark chocolate as a sweet treat. Her last stay-gorgeous trick? Afternoon naps!

Mae West

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Mae West, who once lugged her exercise bike into an interview, had a lifelong love of fitness and went for daily bike rides into her 80s.

As for food, West was an early believer in coconut oil—but not to eat. She swore that spreading it on her face was the secret to youthful skin. And while she wasn't a huge fan of weight-lifting herself (that we know of), she certainly encouraged the sport by casting dozens of hunky bodybuilders in her Vegas shows.

Katharine Hepburn

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Katharine Hepburn was one of the first great Hollywood actresses to not only "exercise vigorously" but to admit it. Her parents encouraged her from childhood to "work her body to its highest potential," and she loved all kinds of sports (swimming, golf, and tennis especially). Hepburn prided herself on doing all her own stunts well into her 60s. At 84 years old, she said she could still stand on her head, walk on her hands, and somersault off a diving board. That's one admiral bag of party tricks!

Greta Garbo

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Nude sunbathing every afternoon was Greta Garbo's favorite health tip, but if streaking isn't your style, the beauty was also known for her "Sparta-like" daily workout routine. Garbo was a huge fan of "tramping about the woods."

The life-long vegetarian wasn't too rigid with her diet, but she swore by light breakfasts and lunches.

Marlene Dietrich

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Marlene Dietrich has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the first actresses publicly told to lose weight by her studio and then being put on a diet. She went on a prescribed eating plan of broth, cottage cheese, and toast but sensibly added exercise to "shape her body." Whatever she did worked, as she was renowned for her figure. But we hope she was able to figure out a more moderate diet over the years!

Jean Harlow

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Cable resistance exercises were a favorite of Jean Harlow—and the fact that she's using her exercises to model adorable swimwear makes it even more fun. However, the actress famously struggled to keep her trim figure and was known for gaining weight between films and then returning to a strict diet of salads to get back in fighting form. While we don't condone her yo-yo dieting technique, it is nice to know that not every glamour girl was just born that way.

Elizabeth Taylor

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"In those days, few women worked out on a regular basis, so I had no exercise program to keep me in shape. I adored horseback riding and I always enjoyed swimming and walking," Elizabeth Taylor said of her young start in film. However, to launch her career with National Velvet, the teen was put on a high-protein diet and a "strict regime" of exercise.