Every now and then, Hollywood throws up some truly extraordinary women... women who combine style, intelligence and that rarest of rare characteristics - the ability to look sensual without the slightest effort.

American actress and former fashion model Halle Berry is perhaps the queen of that club.

She first came into the spotlight at 17, when she won the Miss Teen All-American Pageant in 1985 (representing the state of Ohio).

She made the switch to the world of television and films in the later 80s, although bad luck dogged her for the first few years. Her debut television serials - "Living Dolls", "Amen", "A Different World" and "They Came from Outer Space" were, to put it charitably unsuccessful.

Her cinematic debut was in 1991, with "Jungle Fever". Since then, the chocolate-skinned star has gone on to win a treasure trove of awards, ranging from Emmies, Golden Globes, Screen Actors' Guild awards and, of course, that Academy Award in 2002, for "Monster's Ball".

More recently, she was in the news for having won a legal battle against former beau Gabriel Aubry, stopping him from visiting their daughter, Nahla, 3, without supervision.

Legal battles aside... Halle Berry remains one of the world's sexiest women!

Check out a slideshow of the "X-Men" star...