In a study of family photographs, psychologists Professor David Perrett and Elisabeth Cornwell - now at the University of Colorado have found that while both father and mother can influence the attractiveness of their daughters, the couple's good looks do not necessarily contribute to the attractiveness of their son as an adult.
Handsome men with masculine looks are likely to pass on masculine features, but not facial attractiveness.
The theory suggests it is not unusual for attractive parents to produce a beautiful daughter while failing to pass on the same good looks to a son.
While many celebrity mothers produce stunning daughters - such as Goldie Hawn and her daughter Kate Hudson or Jerry Hall and her daughter Georgia - the same is not necessarily true of celebrity fathers.
Sean Stewart, the son of Rod Stewart and his first wife Alana, would probably be judged less attractive than his model sister Kimberly.
"We can't see a strong relationship between the parents' attractiveness and the sons. If the parents are supermodels, the chances are the daughters will be lookers," Perrett said.
Prof Perrett said it has previously been suggested that a woman could increase her own reproductive success by choosing a "sexy" mate whose genes would be passed on to male offspring, making them irresistible to the next generation.
But the new study, published in the current edition of the journal Animal Behaviour, contradicts the theory.
He said: "When we looked at women's faces, we found clear evidence that attractiveness passed from both father and mother to daughter. For the male line, we find that facial masculinity conforms to the rule 'like father - like son'. Masculine dads have masculine sons.
"But we did not find any evidence that facial attractiveness is passed from father to son.