The 1940s and 1950s were, collectively, known as the "Golden Era" of Sci-fi. During this time science fiction gained wide public attention, particularly through literature.
Leaving the obvious talents of H.G. Wells and his historic literary counterparts behind for a moment, it was the Second World War and the creation of the Atomic bomb and other technological advances, which created a stimulus for this golden era.
Much of the films in the 1940s focused on the war and there is probably scope for a "war babe" site somewhere on the web, but it won't appear here. What this means is that the 1940s was rather short of sci-fi films and thus babes. In fact, the decade lists only 32 films made in the genre, a far cry from the next decade which boasts over 180!
However, there was a whole host of serials that aren't listed in the Wiki list, but I have included them as they pass my sci-fi test - (see my blog or comments on Batman).
As a start, we had the Flash Gordon serial, of course. We met Dale Arden and Princess Aura in the 1930s, but for the last of the 3 serials, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) the actresses changed. Dale was played by Carol Hughes..
... and Aura was played by Shirley Deane
I thought Dale was a lot braver in the 1940 serial and looked very leggy in her costume, which had a very short skirt for the time. Aura did very little, but we will meet them both again in the 1980s.
The encouragingly-titled The Perfect woman (1949) starred Patricia Roc as Penelope Beman, the "perfect woman".
A busy lady, Linda Stirling starred in the films Manhunt of Mystery Island (1945) and The Purple Monster Strikes (1945). In the Republic serial, The Crimson Ghost (1946), she played feisty Diana Farnsworth, and whilst the image below is fairly representative, she does look better in colour (don't we all?).
Another busy actress, Anne Nagel appeared in Man Made Monster (1941), sometimes known as The Electric man, as June Lawrence. This image doesn't do her justice, as she was a very pretty actress. Shame that her life was dogged by her husband's suicide and a long bout of alcoholism...
She also appeared in the Serials The Green Hornet (1940) and The Green Hornet Strikes Again (1940) as Lenore Case, the hornet's secretary.
Not on the wiki list is Captive Wild Woman (1943). Here we have Acquanetta, also known as the Venezuelan Volcano, playing Paula Dupree, who is actually a gorilla with transplanted organs from two different women, including a human brain, of course.
However, the transformation was not a complete success, as Paula started to mutate back to her gorilla shape, killing the mad doctor who created her in the first place.
A year later, Jungle Woman (1944) followed and again we saw the exotic and beautiful Acquanetta (who by the way was born Mildred Davenport, but claims she was born on a native American reservation) playing Paula Dupree aka the ape woman. There was a further film in the ape-woman trilogy, The Jungle Captive (1945), although played by Vicki Lane this time. This film isn't listed as sci-fi by IMDb, but I don't see why - it included the same Paula Dupree character and follows the same storyline. It's difficult to find a good image from the film, so here's sultry Acquanetta in a movie poster for Jungle Woman.
Also not on the wiki list, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) , too featured a small bevy of beauties from the decade. First we have the very lovely and very Swedish Ingrid Bergman as Ivy Peterson, a sensual young barmaid, unfortuntely killed by Hyde.
Also in the film was "sweater girl" Lana Turner, as Beatrix Emery.
Another notable babe at the time was the Black widow (1947) (not the Marvel character, who appears much later on) which starred Carol Forman as Somdra aka the daughter and agent of King Hitomu, and she looks pretty hot in her black costume. This was a serial made in the 1940s and re-shown as a TV series in the 1960s.
To make up the numbers, here's the Invisible Woman (1940), played by Virginia Bruce (although personally, I can't wait to get to future versions of the character...).
The 1940s were short of babes, but in the next decade the number of sci-fi films increased dramatically...
>>On to Sci-fi babes of the 1950s