60 Groovy Photographs
By | December 15, 2020
Groovy PSA flight attendants in the 1970s.
When you take a look at these photographs from the groovy era you'll see more than just some cool outfits and nostalgic moments in history. If you look closer you'll see some of the most important moments of the glory days of the 20th century.
Each one of these rarely seen photos from the '60s and '70s will take you back in time to an era when things were a little more easy, and a lot more cool.
Whether you lived through the groovy era or you're living vicariously through these nostalgia inducing snapshots get ready to have an eyeful of the grooviest moments of the '60s and '70s.
There was never a better time for air travel than the 1970s. The flight attendants looked cool, travelers dressed up, and the whole thing just felt a little more fabulous. In the groovy era air travel was something special, it's still a col and efficient form of pseudo time travel, but in the '60s and '70s flying was special.
In the '70s, flight attendants wore outfits that were colorful and cool. Their uniforms didn't just look like something that you'd wear to work, they looked like something that you'd wear on a night out at the club. The appeal of these outfits wasn't just that they looked great, they also served as a way to make flyers feel comfortable 30,000 feet in the air.
Gregg Allman and Cher on their wedding day in 1975.
Could it be? Did the blues rocker and the ultimate pop queen find love with one another in the '70s? For just a little while, that's exactly what happened.
We think of Cher as the eternal partner of Sonny Bono, but after they split she found love with another musical stalwart, but this time he was a hard living rocker from the south. After meeting in 1975, the couple had an awful first date but that didn't stop them from marrying on June 30 of that year.
Cher filed for divorce nine days later. The couple got back together in an effort to raise their son. They recorded an album and went on tour, and that pretty much ended things. The couple broke up for real in 1977. Even though they didn't work out, Cher still insisted that she loved Allman, saying:
Nobody ever made me feel as happy as Gregory did. God, he’s wonderful. I don’t understand why he can’t see it. He’s the kindest, most gentle, loving husband and father.
Jimi Hendrix playing guitar in a hotel room with Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork of The Monkees, when he toured with them in 1967.
You really wouldn't expect to see Jimi Hendrix hanging out with The Monkees. He remains an icon of rock n roll, and aside from being one of the best guitarists to pick up an axe, he literally changed music forever from the first time he stepped onstage with his band, The Experience.
The Monkees didn't do any of that, but they were really fun. The pre-fab four were put together to mirror the success of The Beatles, and the artists who played them were seriously weird, so it makes sense that they would be friends with Hendrix.
More than just friends with Hendrix, The Monkees knew that he was brilliant and even had them open for them on an ill-fated tour. If only we could go back in time and check out those shows.
You know the show, you know the band, you know the school bus. But who remembers what the sign on the *back* of the bus said?
"I think I love you, but what am I so afraid of," or so sang The Partridge Family, the number one family band who had their own bus and a kooky manager to boot.
The faux-family band was on the air for four years, and in that time they scored hit singles and won the ratings time and time again. Starring Susan Dey, Danny Bonaduce, Suzanne Crough, Brian Forster and David Cassidy, the series followed the family as they faced the trials and tribulations of the music industry. While speaking about the quick success that came with the Partridge Family, David Cassidy described the whole thing as a fated, but confounding:
It was fascinating how quickly it evolved, just by fate. It was obviously God’s intent. I feel very, very fortunate to have had all of the stars align to do that. Because I was able to not only become very successful but to touch people’s lives and bring light into their lives.
Beloved game-show host and American icon, Alex Trebek, looking groovy on the set of "Jeopardy" in the 80's.
No gameshow host was quite as comforting as Alex Trebek. He was more than just the mustachioed host of Jeopardy, he was a steady hand at the wheel who made sure that fans and players alike had a great time.
Trebek didn't just fall in to the Jeopardy hot seat, he earned the spot after years of hosting shows across Canada and the U.S., building up a gentle onscreen persona that made people want to tune in to see him, even if they didn't care about trivia.
It's safe to say that Alex Trebek is one of the most important game show hosts that's ever been on TV. He didn't just teach us facts, he taught us how to be good people.
Lonnie G. Johnson is a former Air Force and NASA engineer who invented the best-selling "Super Soaker" water gun in 1983, he also holds more than 120 patents.
If you love firing off a cold blast of water on a hot day, then you have this former NASA engineer to think. Lonnie Johnson has played a major part in the world of American engineering: He worked on the first stealth bomber, and he built a working robot as a child, Johnson is a serious technical mind.
But he also knows how to have fun. While working for the Air Force he came up with his first water pistol, and his first big test of the Super Soaker occurred at a military picnic of all places. He told the BBC:
I soon found my prototype water pistol was an excellent ice-breaker at social events. I took it to an Air Force picnic one day and a superior officer, a major, saw it and said, "What is that you got, Johnson?" I said, 'This is my water gun, sir.' And he said, 'It looks really strange - does it work?' So I turned to him and shot him right between the eyes. After that, the picnic was over. Everybody was throwing cups of water, cups of beer and it just turned into a big free-for-all.
Look no helmets! Who remembers hanging out like this growing up?
There was a freedom during the groovy era that's disappeared over time. In the '60s and '70s kids weren't just allowed to ride around their neighborhood all day with their friends, their all day excursions were encouraged by their parents.
Today, these youngsters would be checking their phones and getting pinged by their parents, but back in the middle of the 20th century there was nothing wrong with going off all day with your friends and going on an adventure. You didn't even have to wear shoes if you didn't want to. Wouldn't it be great if we could go back to those halcyon days?
Linda Ronstadt, 1968.
It's not talked about enough, but Linda Rondstadt is the focal point of some of the most beloved music of the 1970s - and it's all thanks to the foundation that she built in the '60s.
At the end of the '60s, Ronstadt was performing in Los Angeles with a backing band that consisted of members of the Eagles. She put guys like Don Henley together with songwriters like Jackson Browne and ended up creating a space where some of the most beloved songs of the 20th century were penned. She explained:
They used to rehearse in my house, where I was living with J.D., 'cause we had a bigger living room than they did. And I remember coming home one day and they had rehearsed 'Witchy Woman' and they had all the harmonies worked out, four-part harmonies. It was fantastic. I knew it was gonna be a hit. You could just tell.
Stevie Nicks and John Belushi pose together in 1979.
Of course Stevie Nicks knew John Belushi, the gold dust woman knew everyone seemingly in the '70s. As the singer of Fleetwood Mac that fans glommed onto, she was easily one of the most recognizable people of the era.
The same goes for John Belushi, thanks to his role as one of the "Not Ready For Prime Time Players" and his work on Animal House he was beloved across America. Both of these stars are famous for their hard partying ways, so it's highly likely that these two got into a lot of trouble when they were hanging out.
But who knows? Maybe Stevie Nicks and John Belushi were just in a book club together, right?
Classic actresses Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in 1962.
It's wild to see these two actresses goofing around together. They famously feuded throughout their careers, decades passed as professional and personal resentments built up between these two stars, but somehow they still found time to appear onscreen together in 1962.
In What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? Crawford plays a former star who's constantly harangued by her sister played by Davis, who only agreed to appear in the movie if she could take on the title role. Their feud escalated to extremes during the production, but they clearly had some fun with it.
At the time, Crawford was on the board of directors for Pepsi (long story), so Davis had a Coca Cola machine installed in her dressing room. Classic.
Freddie Mercury looking relaxed.
It's safe to say that modern music wouldn't be the same if Freddie Mercury never stepped up to the microphone as the lead singer of Queen. His camp style and over the top performances have influenced everyone from Rob Halford to Lady Gaga, he was a true original.
Throughout his tenure as the singer for Queen, Mercury changed the way that fans thought of stage shows. Where someone may have once just expected a band to get up and play some songs, Mercury taught people to look for something more exciting in their music. The spirit of Freddie Mercury still lives.
The goofy and funny Robin Williams as a cheerleader running out with the others at a Denver Broncos game, 1979.
That's right, this is funny man Robin Williams dressed up like a cheerleader for the Denver Broncos. This shot from a 1979 game between the Broncos and the New England Patriots shows just how far Williams would go for a promotion. Look closer, Williams is dressed like Mork from Mork & Mindy, that's because he was being filmed for a quick shot on the show.
On the episode of Mork & Mindy, Mork is only a cheerleader for a brief moment, but in real life Williams was on the field with the girls for a while, freezing his gams off while tossing out cheers with the best of them. Can you imagine a star doing that today? No way.
Scilla Gabel, Italian actress and Sophia Loren’s body-double. (1957)
You never hear about this kind of thing, but Scilla Gabel worked her way up from being Sophia Loren's body double to starring in real deal films and television. The most amazing thing about Gabel isn't just the way she took her career from an off camera position to being a star in her own right, but that she actually became critically acclaimed.
Between 1957 and 1967, Gabel starred in a ton of European genre pictures. She never really got out of that pigeon hole until later in her career when she started working in the theater. It was treading the boards where she found an audience that truly appreciated her. If Scilla Gabel can teach us anything it's to never give up on our dreams.
Jim Morrison singing with Van Morrison at Whisky a Go Go. (1966)
Before Van Morrison was the vaulted singer-songwriter with hits like "Brown Eyed Girl" under his belt (never mind the jaw dropping album "Astral Weeks"), he was the singer of Them, a psyche rock band who brought the world "Gloria."
Morrison's band made their bones while performing at the Whisky-A-Go-Go with the Doors as their opening band. This collection of talent on stage must have been astounding to watch - especially when Van Morrison and Jim Morrison sang duets with one another. Van Morrison told Rolling Stone:
We did 'In the Midnight Hour' and 'Gloria.' He was really raw. He knew what he was doing and could do it very well. One thing that surprised me in their set was that Kurt Weill song ['Alabama Song']. Nobody thought of doing that then.
Steve McQueen with his 34th birthday present from his wife Neile, a new Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta Lusso V-12. (1963)
Steve McQueen may have been an actor, but more than anything he was an avid car collector. In his day he was the king of cool and he had a garage full cars, especially Ferraris. He had four of these bad boys, and this 250GT Lusso fed McQueen's love of speed.
A present from his first wife, this Ferrari had a brown finish which is pretty unique when it comes to Ferraris, they're mostly in red and black, but brown is definitely cool. Don't worry, McQueen also had a red Ferrari, it was a V12 coupe that sold for $10.2 million in 2014.
Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan at Mick’s 29th birthday party in 1972
In 1972, Mick Jagger was joined by 500 revelers on the roof of the St. Regis hotel after the Rolling Stones rocked Madison Square Garden. Jagger's birthday party actual started on stage when the band brought out a giant cake for him before throwing pies at the singer.
Guests at the party at the St. Regis included everyone from Zsa Zsa Gabor to Tennessee Williams and the Muddy Water blues band. It was seriously the party to be at. When the New York Times caught up with Bob Dylan at the party they asked what he thought of the rowdy crowd of industry folks and he replied simply, "It's encompassing."
Meatloaf and Tim Curry, 1975
When The Rocky Horror Picture Show transitioned from the stage to the screen one of the holdovers from the live show was a pre-fame Meatloaf. While speaking about the early version the show, Meatloaf explained that he met a lot of famous people while working on the show, but only one of them made him feel starstruck. The King himself, Elvis Presley. He said:
When I met Elvis and I couldn't talk to him. He came to see Rocky Horror and everyone else who had played Eddie over in England had tried to do an Elvis impersonation. That's what they said to me when we started doing it out in L.A., but I looked at them and go, 'Why would you want an Elvis impersonation? Why wouldn't you want Eddie to be his own human being?' They go, 'Well, okay,' and that's what Elvis talked to me about. He goes, 'Well, I hear everyone wants to do an Elvis impersonation [for Eddie] but you didn’t.' The one thing I did say to him was, 'No, because there's only one you and only one me.' That's all I said to him.
Who used to watch "Romper Room" when they were growing up?
Romper Room was one of the most important shows for young people in the groovy era. Not just a baby sitter on the TV, the series was created as a way to make better children's television. In an era before actual educational programming, Romper Room had to do it all.
The series was franchised around the country, and featured a glut of local talent thanks to the way in which is was franchised throughout the states. At the center of the show was "Miss Nancy," played by Nancy Claster. She didn't just write segments for the show and perform in character, she taught that women who followed inter footsteps who to do their jobs.
The whole series was made so children watching the show could carry out the same experiments and on screen antics as the children in the film explains Sally Bell, Nancy Claster's daughter:
The core of her curriculum was really the belief that Romper Room was for the children at home, and that everything that the children saw on television, whether it was just plain fun or educational -- and a lot of Romper Room was educational -- should be set up so that children at home could participate.
The Cars bassist/vocalist Benjamin Orr, 1978.
As the bassist and one of the singers for The Cars, Benjamin Orr anchored the band with his cool look and distant vocals that made him the perfect parallel for Ric Ocasek's weirdo pop savant thing. Sadly, Orr left us in 2000, but his former bandmates always felt that he was the most important member of the group.
Cars guitarist Elliot Easton spoke about the importance of Orr prior to the band's introduction to the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame saying that without him, the band wouldn't have had such a distinct sound:
[Not having] Ben leaves a big hole in the band, let’s face it; he had the greatest voice and when Ric would be singing lead in a song, Ben really helped us sound better, besides his amazing lead vocals.
Raquel Welch as roller girl K.C. Carr in the film "Kansas City Bomber," 1972.
Raquel Welch was one of the earliest roller girls, or at least she played on in the Kansas City Bomber. Welch plays K.C. Carr, a derby girl who's new to Portland, Oregon, to raise her kids and start over before she becomes a star of the roller rink.
This was the perfect movie for the time. Not only was Welch a super star at the time, but roller derby was seriously hot in the '70s. Putting Welch and the early extreme sport together made perfect sense. While speaking about her role in the film Welch said that she felt a kinship with her character:
The motivation of the character I play is simply to make a buck in life and to attain a sense of identity. There's a futility in what she does. The shape of the track is her life, round and round, going nowhere. But the pros, the real skaters who worked with me, they were terrific. Most of them suffer from the same image I do. They're on skates, they're padded up, they're on a raised track. Most people tend to think of these girls as Amazons. But most of them are even smaller than me. They're not as muscular or as butch as you'd expect. I have a similar problem. Most people are disappointed if the door hinges don't shatter off when I walk into a room.
Here's a groovy transistor radio from 1961.
There's just something cool about the groovy era design. The radios, record players, and even the cars look like molded pieces of dreamy candy. These radios were the perfect way to listen to music on the go. Finally, if you didn't have a car you could tune into your favorite station and listen to the hits of the day.
All you had to do with this radio was load it full of batteries, set the tuner to whatever you wanted, and then jam. The one drawback to using one of the babies was that everyone could hear what you were listening to. For that, you had to wait for a version of this to be produced with a headphone jack.
John and Jackie Kennedy on their wedding day, 1953.
On September 12, 1953, John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Newport, Rhode Island in front of 800 guests, can you imagine a wedding being that big?
The wedding was attended by luminaries from across the world, and the couple received a blessing from Pope Pius XII. It's safe to say that this was a star studded affair. For those that didn't make it to the wedding, the reception made room for even more people.
1,200 attendees made their way to the 300 acre Auchincloss oceanfront estate on Hammersmith Farm to congratulate the happy couple and take part in munching on the four foot tall wedding cake.
On the set of "Jaws" 1974.
There's no doubt about it, Jaws is one of the most important films of the 20th century. Not only was a massive blockbuster, but it changed the way summer blockbusters were thought about for years to come. Although, while making the film no-one thought that the movie was going to do anything special.
There were tons of reasons why the movie felt like a disaster - the script was being constantly rewritten, the shooting schedule went longer than it should have, and worst of all the big mechanical shark didn't work.
The stress from the film was so much that Spielberg says that he had a panic attack at the airport when the shoot was finally finished and he was on his way home. He was certain that his career was over. He turned out to be incredibly wrong ($470 million wrong).
Linda Ronstadt and Mick Jagger backstage at a show in 1978
As a mainstay of the rock scene in groovy era, Linda Ronstadt crossed paths with all of the greats, and each and every one of them wanted to work with her. She wasn't just a great voice, but she had a kind of star power that's impossible to ignore. She and Mick Jagger actually ended up working together, although it wasn't what Ronstadt thought it would be.
When asked what she thought about singing with Mick Jagger at a Stones concert, Ronstadt noted that it was like going to rock school. She told Rolling Stone:
I loved it. I didn’t have a trace of stage fright. I’m scared to death all the way through my own shows. But it was too much fun to get scared. He’s so silly onstage, he knocks you over. I mean you have to be on your toes or you wind up falling on your face. He’s amazing. Mick just scolds all the time, you better do right: he’s usually right when he scolds.
Mini-dresses causing quite a stir in Capetown, 1965
In the 1960s miniskirts took the world by storm, but not in the way that you think. While young women took to them like a fish to water, the public at large was horrified at these pieces of clothing that showed off multitudes of skin.
Created by Mary Quant, the inventive and exciting fashion designer, miniskirts brought high hemlines to the world and she changed the face of the swinging sixties. She took influence from the people around her, artists, musicians, and poets, and all of those people turned London upside down and made it into a mod paradise.
These skirts are still all the rage, even if they're not turning heads like they used to.
Chaka Khan in New York City, 1975.
From her time as the singer of Rufus to her solo career, Chaka Khan has remained a singular voice in the pop and R&B scene. On top of that she's seriously cool.
Chaka Khan's most well known hit, "Ain't Nobody," is an undeniable Wclassic, and big enough that she could just call it a day, but when asked if success had gone to her head, Chaka Khan told Interview Magazine:
It hasn’t because I haven’t let it. I control my life and I have never let success run away with me—I’ve taken it and ran. And the only thing that could threaten my stability is me—I’m my only threat and my own worst enemy. Beyond that, I don’t feel successful. I’m nowhere near where I plan to be as far as my goals.
The always-groovy Goldie Hawn in 1970.
Goldie Hawn has always been one of the coolest actresses of the groovy era. Not only was she able to transition from playing ditzy blondes in comedy sketches to taking on more dramatic roles like those in Shampoo and Private Benjamin, but she never had a problem with being the butt of the joke.
Hawn's first big break came in 1970 with There's a Girl in My Soup. Oh sure, audiences had seen her before on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, with Girl in My Soup she was able to show off her acting chops by playing off of the mighty Peter Sellers.
Her star rose through the '70s, but it was in the '80s when she really hit the big time with the success of Overboard.
Playing at the arcade in the 1980s.
If you were born in the '70s then you definitely remember the rush of spending all day in the video arcade, jamming quarters into machines and trying to go as long as possible without going home.
Some of the best arcades were jam packed with machines, standing side by side where kids could stand shoulder to shoulder button smashing and trying to get an epic high score. Whether you liked to play Burger Time or you were more of a Jungle King kind of player, there was something for everyone in an arcade, it was the great melting pot of the suburbs.
The dark rooms, the neon lights, and the pulsing sound of the machines, don't you wish you could go back to an arcade right now?
Nice shot of Robert Plant during the Led Zeppelin concert at the Oakland Coliseum, 1977.
During their heyday, there wasn't a band on the planet that could top Led Zeppelin - not in the studio and not on stage. The band's mix of raw rock power, bluesy songwriting, and mysticism made them one of the most captivating bands of the 1970s.
Every member of the band was important. While John Paul Jones and John Bonham held down the rhythm, it was Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page that turned their songs into shouts from Valhalla. Plant and Page's two pronged attack was unforgettable, and it helped make the band the apex of rock n roll, one that hasn't been surpassed to this day.
A young Sophia Loren showing some leg.
Sophia Loren is one of those groovy era success stories that we love to hear. After winning “Miss Elegance 1950," at the Miss Italia pageant, Loren went on to study at the national film school of Italy, but she didn't really need schooling, she had natural charm.
Aside from some small roles in the early '50s, it was Loren's role in The Gold of Naples in 1954 that put the eyes of Europe on her. Four year later she signed a contract with Paramount and became a legitimate international star.
Since her breakthrough in America in 1954, Loren has continued to be an omnipresent star across the world.
Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen and Frank Stallone on a ride at Six Flags Magic Mountain. (1987)
Imagine getting on this ride at Magic Mountain and looking over to see this cavalcade of stars (and Frank Stallone) riding with you. Would you be listening for which star screamed the loudest? Or would you just be freaking out about seeing the stars of Rocky, Die Hard, and Cobra (and Frank Stallone) feet away from you?
It's crazy to think that Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone were buddies. Aside from starring in dueling action franchises, Stallone and Willis were incredibly competitive. In this era it was all about who had the highest grossing box office, and who had the biggest muscles. Maybe their antagonistic streak also extended to who could go on the most rides at Magic Mountain.
The Beatles played their final live performance on the rooftop of the Apple Corps building in 1969.
On January 30, 1969, John, George, Paul, and Ringo were joined by Billy Preston on the roof of Apple Records on Savile Row to give their final performance. The final show was meant to be the climax of a documentary about the band, but it turned out to be one of the most important moments of Beatles history.
As amazing as the performance was, it almost didn't happen. The local police tried to shut them down, and John Lennon couldn't remember most of his lyrics. An assistant at Apple Records had to write song lyrics on a cue card for Lennon to read during the songs.
Even though things fell apart throughout the show, it's still one of the coolest moments of the '60s.
Great photo of KISS guitarist Ace Frehley playing drums in 1982
As was one of the most influential guitarists of the '70s, Ace Frehley inspired a million kids to pick up a Les Paul, paint their faces, and start rocking. Many of those kids went on to start their own bands, and a few of those bands became huge.
Frehley understands his place in rock history, but he notes that in hindsight he would have kept some of his more over the top antics under wraps, if for not other reason than to be a better example. He said:
You gotta understand that most of the groups that are popular today, when KISS was at their high point in the late ’70s, the guys that are popular today were teenagers. And I was a major influence on the guitar players. A lotta people have come up to me and tell me, you know, if it wasn’t for me they would have never picked up a guitar. Alive I and Alive II are, they consider their rock and roll bible. I consider that very flattering. If I knew that was gonna be the case I probably woulda practiced a little more. But you know, that’s life. You take it as it comes.
A happy, groovy Stevie Nicks on stage and rockin' it, 1970s.
Stevie Nicks has always been so cool, but we wouldn't know just how awesome she was if it weren't for the members of Fleetwood Mack bringing her and Lindsey Buckingham into what she called her "dream job."
When Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac her entire life changed. She went from being a waitress who could sing to being the front woman of one of the most popular bands of all time. She told NPR:
For the first time in a long time we could actually go into a store and buy something. So it was totally cool. And then we actually went into recording. And then we got paid. At this point we were still hired hands. We didn't really look at it that way, but actually were... We were very, very focused and we were not indulgent. Because we, they weren't indulgent 'cause they needed this record. And we weren't indulgent because we had nothing. So we made this record. It came out in May. We hit the road in like June, and by September or October Lindsey and I, together, were a millionaire.
Cassandra Peterson and Erik Estrada on the set of "CHiPs" in 1982
Who's that goth babe choking out Erik Estrada? It's none other than Cassandra Peterson in costume as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. In the early '80s, Peterson was performing as a member of The Groundlings when she landed the role of LA's newest horror host.
The show that Peterson ended up hosting was meant to be Vampira's return to the small screen, but after a contract disagreement she was fired and Peterson made her way into the role.
It didn't take long for Elvira to become a national sensation even though her show was only local. In the early '80s she was on TV shows like CHiPS, in commercials, and even had her own Halloween show at Knott's Berry Farms.
Alfred Hitchcock on the set of "The Birds"- 1963.
The Birds may be one of Hitchcock's calling card films, the movie that people know even if they don't know anything about Hitchcock, but it was a nightmare to work on according to Tippi Hedren, the film's star.
Hedren says that Hitchcock spent days filming scenes where she was pecked by birds, leaving her distraught and ready to quit. Wouldn't you want to throw in the towel after a week of having fake birds tied to you with elastic while an English man yelled at you? Hedren wrote in her memoir that it didn't feel like anyone cared about her on set:
Hitchcock spent five days filming it before he finally decided he had all he wanted. On that Friday, the fifth and final day, when I arrived at the studio, on the verge of collapse, my dresser wrapped bands of fabric around me with small lengths of elastic attached to them... I was pelted with still more live, screaming, frantic birds, while the birds that were tied to me began pecking me as they’d been trained to do. I was too focused on my own survival to notice, but I was told later that it was even more horrifying and heartbreaking for the crew to watch than the previous four days had been, and there wasn’t a thing anyone but Hitchcock could do to put a stop to it.
Benny Hill and the Hill's Angels on "The Benny Hill Show" in the 1980s.
Benny Hill, he of the yakkety sax and silly costumes, was never far away from his dazzling beauties that he called Hill's Angels. The scantily clad gals were Hill's secret weapon. Not only did they look amazing, but they all had excellent comedic timing and could step in to one of Hill's over the top sketches in a pinch.
Throughout the years, Hill's troupe of nearly vaudevillian gals changed members, if for no other reason than to spice things up. The Angels managed to have some actual stars in their midst. British star Sue Upton was in the troupe for a while, as was Fraiser's Jane Leeves who went on to be more popular than Benny Hill.
Groovy couple, Charles Bronson with Jill Ireland, 1970s.
There aren't many couple from the groovy era who are as cool as Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland. He was the tough guy star of Sunday afternoon movies like The Magnificent Seven and Once Upon A Time In The West, and she was his beautiful English partner.
Once Bronson and Ireland were married, Bronson went out of his way to make sure that they were together as much as possible. Whenever he could he had Ireland cast in his films, often playing his wife, and once the duo had children they drove to set in their RV so their family could stay together throughout production. That's the life.
The lovely Crystal Gayle signing autographs at the 1979 FanFair.
Country music and lengthy hair fans found their crossover queen in Crystal Gayle, Loretta Lynn's sister who scored hits with "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" and "Talking In Your Sleep." Gayle says that she aimed for making "middle the road" hits because her sister told her to go for it and not try to copy her style.
Gayle came around at the perfect time. Her pop leaning songs were right in line with those of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, and she just rode the wave all the way to stardom. While working towards crossover stardom, Gayle was also growing out her hair to extreme proportions. She says that she was inspired to grow her hair out because her mother made her keep it short when she was young. She explained:
My mother always kept my hair really short because she worked. "She couldn't fix it. She did a lot of the midnight shifts, and she worked at a nursing home and a home for children... I wanted hair long enough to put into a ponytail. When I got old enough to take care of it myself, she let me grow my hair longer. The worst part was going downstairs. If I forget, people would step on it. I lost a lot of hair that way, and I don't mean two or three hairs. That's a way to thin out your hair!
Elisabeth Shue as Ali Mills in the flick "The Karate Kid," 1984.
When Elisabeth Shue popped up in The Karate Kid as Ali Mills, the hearts of a million teenage boys skipped a beat. She was the quintessential girl next door, and it helped that she was just as tough as the guys from Cobra Kai. Even though the film follows the ups and downs of learning karate in Southern California, the screen just pops whenever she shows up.
One of the most memorable moments from The Karate Kid (aside from that rocking crane kick) was Shue's kiss with Daniel LaRusso. There was some extreme face hoovering in the scene, something that Ralph Macchio regrets:
The vacuum kiss. We practiced. It was like, 'This is the ’80s! We don’t want it to be little and sweet!' What were we thinking?
Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, 1960s.
ABC's Batman is still one of the most watchable shows that's ever been filmed. It's campy and creative, and it's still incredibly funny. The third season of the series introduced Batgirl, a librarian by day who fights crime alongside the Dark Knight at... well, night.
Yvonne Craig says that she didn't really now anything about Batman, but after a meeting with the show's producers they fell in love with her, and they felt that she was perfect for their demographics. She explained:
They decided they wanted to go with someone who would appeal to the over-40s males — hence the spray-on costume — and prepubescent females. In those days, they didn’t do all these demographic studies, they just knew that they were missing part of the audience. So we did this seven-minute presentation and it was a quick thing. Barbara Gordon is a librarian, she sees the Moth Men at the table in the library, hears something’s going on, takes off her skirt and turns it into a cape, and she takes off her hat and turns it into a cowl, and that was that.
Bruce, Linda, Brandon and Shannon Lee doing a photo shoot in Los Angeles, 1970.
The effects of Bruce Lee's groovy era cool are still being felt today, even though he's been gone since 1973, the world is still very much in the thrall of this martial arts master. From the mid '60s until 1973, he brought his own personal brand of martial arts to the world through appearances in films and as Kato on The Green Hornet.
Even though Lee is remembered as one of the most important martial artists in history, he wasn't some muscle bound dummy, there was a real philosophy behind the way he fought. Everything that Lee did came from his brain, whether he was delivering a monologue or delivering massive kicks. Lee described his personal philosophy as such:
I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence... Whether it is the Godhead or not, I feel this great force, this untapped power, this dynamic something within me.
Cheech & Chong in "Up in Smoke," 1978.
After meeting in 1968, Cheech and Chong found a mutual love of improv that provided a through line of their entire career. They worked on routines, performed live, and recorded albums, and all of that became the basis of their first film Up In Smoke.
While plotting out the film, Cheech and Chong say that they mostly just worked out a concept for the film and just went with it when the cameras were rolling. And even though the duo play a couple of spaced out of Angelenos, the guys behind the characters contend that they were completely sober on set. Cheech Marin told Rolling Stone:
We maybe [partook] after shooting, but not when we’re working. We had to sustain a level of energy, especially making movies. We had long days on set. If we [were out of it], we wouldn’t get it done.
After World War II, the population of Chicago shrank with reckless abandon. Factories closed, there were no jobs, and as people fled to the suburbs entire neighborhoods were destroyed and replaced with public housing.
Even though people were fleeing the city, Chicago never lost its cool. In the 1960s, the people who stuck around the city helped the area become one of the most artistic and hip places in the country, and definitely the coolest place in the midwest.
From the ashes of the '60s grew the Second City improv community as well as a thriving theater community made up of amazing performances who were able to thrive thanks to cheap housing.
Freddie Mercury and David Bowie having a chat backstage at Live Aid, 1985.
David Bowie and Freddie Mercury may look like they're all smiles here, but according to Brian May of Queen the two singers regularly butted heads when they were working together, especially during the recording of their hit single "Under Pressure."
When Bowie and Queen met up in Switzerland of all places they started working together in the studio as a way to get to know each other, but after having a bit too much to drink things got heated as they worked on the hit song to be.
May says that Bowie instructed the band to push forward using instinct, which wasn't the way that they often worked. Initially the song was going to be called "People On Streets," but the next day Bowie showed up with full lyrics prepared, this time focusing on this "Under Pressure" aspect of the song. May remembers:
David was in there first and told us he wanted to take the track over, because he knew what he wanted it to be about. We all backed off and David put down a lyric which now focused on the ‘Under Pressure’ part of the existing lyric... It was sort of wonderful and terrible. But in my mind, I remember the wonderful now, more than the terrible.
Don Johnson with Eagles Founder Glenn Frey who appeared in an episode of the TV series, Miami Vice “Smuggler’s Blues” (1985)
Glenn Frey essentially willed himself onto Miami Vice, the cooler than cool police procedural about cops in Miami. Thanks to his song "Smuggler's Blues," series creator Michael Mannc was inspired to write an episode of the same name and had Frey come out to play a helicopter pilot who helps out Crockett and Tubbs.
Bitten by the acting bug, Frey felt that that a move onto the screens big and small was the best way to have a second act, after all, he didn't think that he could look cool with a guitar strapped on forever. He explained:
How long am I going to be able to go out onstage and play rock ‘n’ roll and look young and vibrant? Acting is something I can do until the day I die. Instead of my life consisting of going out on the road, going home, resting up, writing songs, rehearsing, recording albums and going back on the road, I have acting projects. This way my life is a lot more interesting.
The Traveling Wilburys (1988)
Can you imagine what it would be like to walk into a room with a Beatle, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and one of the most important producers of the day? It must have been an intimidating experience for anyone hanging out with the Traveling Willburys.
Supposedly that just wasn't the case. When Petty was asked if there was ever an ego problem working with luminaries like Bob Dylan and George Harrison he said that it was an egoless experience:
Never, because these guys weren't those kind of people. None of us thought we had anything to prove. There was never even a glimpse of ego. As Jeff has said, 'You would have been laughed right out of the room if you had an ego. Not those kind of people.'
Here's a far-out 1958 Ford X-2000 space-age concept car.
How could would it have been to drive one of these massive, space-age looking cars? Designed by Alex Trimulous as a kind of concept car, there was never a full size model until the designer actually hand built his own version of the car.
Based on the blueprints of a 1962 Mercury, the X-2000 is more than seven feet wide and features a part of lights on the back that look like thrusters from the starship Enterprise. It is, in a word, magnificent.
The X-2000 never made its way into consumer hands, but it's been around the world in different exhibits, and today it can be seen in Belize. A fitting end for a very cool car.
Cheryl Ladd looking cool and summery in her white ensemble, 1979.
In 1977, Cheryl Ladd took on the impossible task of replacing Farrah Fawcett on Charlie's Angels. Ladd actually thought that it didn't make any sense to replace Fawcett because in just one season she became an icon.
Ladd says that she turned down Aaron Spelling's offer when he first approached her about appearing in the series. She just didn't think the fans would like it, at least until Spelling tossed out his million dollar idea. She said:
I didn't know how it would work for anybody to try to replace her. I mean, what a task, right? [Spelling said] Why couldn't you be Jill's little sister and you're already part of the family?' I said, 'I'm in!' It was brilliant.
Jayne Mansfield, 1957.
There were blonde bombshells and then there was Jayne Mansfield, an absolute pistol of an actress who shot to stardom after scoring a contract with 20th Century Fox. Her role in The Girl Can't Help It made her an international star. It helped that the movie had songs by Little Richard and Eddie Cochran.
20th Century Fox knew what they had in Mansfield. They promoted her as "Marilyn Monroe king-sized," both as a way to remind audiences that she was ever bit the simmering pot as Monroe and to attempt to coerce Monroe back to the company.
If that kind of promotion bothered Mansfield she never said so, In fact, she continued to appear in bubbly, pop oriented films until the late '60s.
Dolly Parton lighting up the day with her smile, 1977.
Dolly Parton has always been an icon, even when people weren't taking her seriously, when they were saying she was all look and no substance, she soldiered on. Parton seems to have come to the country music world fully formed, with hair to the sky and songs ready to break hearts.
Throughout Parton's career people looked down their noses at her thanks to her looks, but if it bothered her she never said. While speaking with Barbara Walters in 1977, Parton explained that she knows what people think about her, she just doesn't care:
Oh I know they make fun of me, but all these years the people have thought the joke was on me, but it’s actually on them. I am sure of myself as a person. I am sure of my talent. I’m sure of my love for life and that sort of thing. I am very content, I like the kind of person that I am. So, I can afford to piddle around and do-diddle around with makeup and clothes and stuff because I am secure with myself.
Natalie Wood back in the 1950s.
In the 1950s, Natalie Woods was just gaining steam onscreen. She was a performer from a young age, but at the time she was nothing more than a child star, however, it was her role in Rebel Without a Cause that made audiences take her seriously, although she had to win the role first.
Woods had to prove that she had chops even though she appeared in 20 movies since the age of five. So when she was auditioning for Rebel's director Nicholas Ray, she actually went out of her way to get into car accident while hanging out with Dennis Hopper to prove that she was a "juvenile delinquent."
After all that trouble, both the car accident and the struggle to be taken seriously, Ray wrote a memo to Warner Bros. that read:
We just spent three days testing 32 kids. There is only one girl who has shown the capacity to play Judy, and she is Natalie Wood.
Katharine Ross and Paul Newman in a scene from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" in 1969.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid did what no other western of the era could do, it made the dusty genre fun. That doesn't mean that other westerns weren't enjoyable, it's just that this film has something coursing through it that people can't deny.
As much as we think of Robert Redford as one of the greatest stars of the 20th century, he nearly didn't get the role of the Sundance Kid. He notes that if it weren't for Paul Newman he never would have been in the film. Redford explained:
I was 29 years old and Paul was 42, he was considered a star at the time and I wasn't. So George [Roy Hill, director] and I went to meet Paul in New York and we spent some time talking and Paul decided he could work with this guy. He even told the studio he would support me being in the film. So from that point on I had a great deal of affection for him, for what he did for me. He didn't have to do that. So we did the film together and it fell easily into place.
Raquel Welch in the movie "Bluebeard" (1972)
Bluebeard is an absolutely wild movie. Concerning an evil Count who does away with his wives and keeps their fortunes, the film stars Richard Burton and follows his machinations as he attempts to seduce Joey Heatherton, but the real excitement comes from Raquel Welch's turn as "Magdalena," the nun who gives up her habit to be with Richard Burton.
Because this isn't a romance, Welch bites the dust pretty quickly, but she's great in the film. At the time of the film's release there were rumors about extracurricular activities going on set with Burton and members of the cast and crew, and while Welch never said anything about it, one of Burton's biographers said, "I think any affair that Burton might have had is credible."
Ronald Lee Ermey as the memorable 'Gunnery Sergeant Hartman' in the film "Full Metal Jacket" (1987)
One of the most memorable performances of the 20th century comes from Ronald Lee Ermey as the drill sergeant in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Ermey was a real deal military man who wanted to get into the pictures, and after working as a technical director and consultant on different war pictures he ended up in pictures.
In order to get into Full Metal Jacket, Ermey filmed himself shouting insults at a camera while someone threw tennis balls at him off camera. It was an impressive audition, but it also formed the way he had to rehearse. In 1987, Ermey told The New York Times:
I had to catch the ball and throw it back to Leon [Vitali, Kubrick's assistant] as fast as possible and say the lines as fast as possible. If I were to slur a word, drop a word or slow down, I had to start over. I had to do it 20 times without a mistake. Leon was my drill instructor.
The steely power cast of "The Magnificent Seven"movie 1960, Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Horst Buchholz, Charles Bronson, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter, James Coburn.
The Magnificent Seven showed audiences the strength of star power. By putting together major western heroes like Yul Brenner and Charles Bronson next to upstarts like Steve McQueen, The Magnificent Seven became a classic of the genre, and one of the most influential films of the day.
If you've seen the movie (which you definitely have), you know that it's impossible to take your eyes off of Steve McQueen, and that's all by design. McQueen did everything he could to be the center of attention in the film, even though he's acting with some of the greats, and his showboating immediately put him at odds with co-star Yul Brenner. McQueen said:
We didn’t get along. Brynner came up to me one day in front of a lot of people and grabbed me by the shoulder. He was mad about something. I don’t know what. He doesn’t ride well and knows nothing about guns so maybe he thought I represented a threat. I was in my element. He wasn’t. Anyway, I don’t like people pawing at me. I said, ‘Take your hands off me.’ When you work in a scene with Yul, you’re supposed to stand perfectly still ten feet away. Well, I don’t work that way. So, I protected myself.
Yvonne de Carlo in the movie "The Ten Commandments," 1956.
Yvonne De Carlo is one of those actresses who worked constantly - even if you never noticed it. In the 1950s she got her start in the bevy of sword and sandals movies that were all over the place in the era, but her break out role was in Salome, Where She Danced, so when she appeared in The Ten Commandments in 1956 she was a beloved star.
To prepare for the role of Sephora in the film she went full on method. Well, sort of. She weaving lessons at UCLA, and she took shepherding lessons in the San Fernando Valley, and she started prepping for her role with a drama coach months before the film began.
All of that work paid off when De Carlo received some of the best acclaim of her life. While you might think this was the final high point of her career, she was still about a decade away from starring in The Munsters.
Glamour shot of Lucille Désirée Ball, 1950.
By the 1950s, Lucille Ball was absolutely the hands down queen of comedy. After spending years working on the stage and as a major star of B-Movies throughout the 1940s, she was finally able to parlay her talent and success into the hit series, I Love Lucy. But first, she had to convince CBS that she and her husband were right for the part.
After viewing the pilot for the show, CBS was unimpressed with what they saw. Rather than shop the pilot around, Lucy and Desi took their show on the road, with Lucy playing the zany housewife who wants to get into Desi's band. The tour was so successful that CBS bought the series and immediately put it into their lineup.
Paul Newman enjoying the sand, sea and sun in Venice, 1963.
Paul Newman is easily one of the greatest movie stars that ever lived. He worked as a contract player at Warner Brothers and MGM before making his way into the rough and tumble '70s and its new Hollywood structure with no trouble at all. He brought his friends along with him, and gave audiences someone to root for.
As much as he's a star, as toned as he is, and as clear as his acting chops are, Newman always said that he had to work hard to become so beloved. He said that he felt he was a "terrier" in that regard. He told The New York Times:
I always wanted to be an athlete, a football player or a baseball player. I tried skiing for 10 years. The only thing I ever felt graceful at was racing a car, and that took me 10 years to learn.
The same goes for acting, or at least so says Newman. Once he began studying with Lee Strasberg, Newman says that the most important thing he did was develop "enough sense not to open my big mouth.''