Nostalgic Photos That Show Just How Beautiful The Past Really Was
By | December 30, 2022
Here’s a throwback to when some of Hollywood’s hottest stars were up-and-comers, established stars were at their pinnacle, and fading stars were taking their last lunge at greatness. In this gallery of throwback picks, you will get a rare glimpse of some of your favorite celebrities as they were three or four decades ago … a great reminder of the good ol’ days before iPhones, Twitter, and Oscar slaps.
This article originally appeared on our sister site: HistoryDaily.org
In the classic, Cecil B. DeMille religious epic film, The Ten Commandments, which was released in 1956, the film’s star, Charlton Heston, had a small part in casting one of the more memorable characters. Heston, who played the role of Moses in the movie, offered up his own infant son, Fraser Clarke Heston, to play the part of baby Moses. Born in February of 1955, young Fraser was less than a year old when he made his film debut as the religious figure who was saved from death when his mother placed the babe in a basket and sent him floating down the Nile. After this brief appearance, Fraser Clarke Heston retired from acting to focus on directing and producing, once he grew to adulthood.
In the early 1960s, there were no hotter Hollywood celebrities than sultry Elizabeth Taylor and hunky Richard Burton. When the two co-starred in the 1961 film, Cleopatra, sparks flew. Since they were both married to other people at the time, their affair caused quite the scandal and made headlines in all the gossip tabloids of the day. The lovers seem oblivious to their fans’ disapproval. They continued on with their steamy affair and, once they were both officially divorced from their spouses, they got married themselves. Not once, but twice! They were married from 1964 to 1974 and again from 1975 to 1976.
For those people who grew up watching Gilligan’s Island reruns every day after school, it is hard to believe that the beloved TV series only ran for three seasons, from 1964 to 1967. For a show that began in the Civil Rights era, it was notable that the cast was all white. Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, once explained that the underlying premise of the show was to take a group of people from diverse backgrounds and put them in a situation where they needed to work together for their survival. That’s a great premise, but Schwartz’s cast of characters failed to adequately represent the diversity of the U.S. population.
Janis Joplin in Brazil, 1970.
Rocker Janis Joplin was famous for her heavy drinking and drug use almost as much as for her music. She did try to get clean and was almost successful in 1970. With her friend, Linda Gravenites, Joplin traveled to Brazil. There, she quit drinking and using drugs and enjoyed a relaxing vacation filled with days at the beaches and in the jungles. Joplin met a fellow American, David Niehaus, a college graduate and recent Peace Corps volunteer who was traveling the world. The two were inseparable while they were in Brazil and were often photographed together. When Joplin returned to the U.S., however, she went right back to heroin and her relationship with Niehaus ended.
Do you remember Cherie Currie? The actress and musician was the lead singer of the Runaways in the late 1970s before trying her hand as a solo performer. When that didn’t pan out, Cherie teamed up with her identical twin sister, Marie, shown here with her in 1980. The sisters formed a band with the obvious name of Cherie and Marie Currie. One of their songs, “Since You’ve Been Gone” hit the U.S. pop charts but fizzled in the 95th spot. Cherie Curie also appeared in the 1980 film, Foxes, with Jodie Foster and Scott Baio.
Jane Seymour in the early 1970s.
When this photograph of the lovely Jane Seymour was taken in the early 1970s, the British-born actress was still a fresh face in Hollywood with her star on the rise. She appeared in an uncredited role as an extra in the 1969 musical, Oh! What a Lovely War as her screen debut before tackling a leading role in a TV series, The Onedin Line. In 1973, she was cast as a Bond girl, Solitaire, in Live and Let Die. With her long, straight hair, charming accent, and classic good looks, Seymour was often cast in period pieces and romances, including East of Eden, The Woman He Loved, Somewhere in Time, and War and Remembrance.
Robin Williams and Shelley Duvall in the film Popeye (1980).
Casting did a perfect job when they selected funnyman Robin Williams, fresh off his television debut as the wacky alien, Mork for Ork on both Happy Days and Mork and Mindy, as Popeye in the 1980 film of the same name. They did an equally perfect job casting Shelley Duvall as Popeye’s love interest, Olive Oyl. Williams, with his screwball style of acting, could contort his face to mimic the comic strip character while the tall, slim Duvall looked the part of the lanky Olive Oyl. In fact, film critic Roger Ebert stated that Duvall was “born to play the role of Olive Oyl.” As a whole, however, critics were not overly impressed with Popeye when it debuted in 1980.
The lovely ladies of "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In" Judy Carne, Goldie Hawn and Chelsea Brown. (1968)
There were plenty of television variety shows in the 1960s and 1970s, but none as wacky and out-of-control as Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. The show was fast-paced, outrageous, and broke the stale mold of other TV variety shows. The zany cast of regulars, including Judy Carne, Goldie Hawn, and Chelsea Brown, kept the comedy rolling through each episode and their performances were enhanced by weekly guest stars. The show was a hit because it used a fresh approach to comedy to examine and comment on some of the hot-button issues of the time in much the same way as Saturday Night Live does today.
You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry! Since Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno played different versions of the same character on the TV series, The Incredible Hulk, they were almost never on screen at the same time. Behind the scenes, however, the two men became good friends. Playing the role of the Hulk was a dream come true for Lou Ferrigno. As an infant, he suffered a hearing loss that also impacted his speech development. He was bullied as a child and found refuge in reading comic books. He particularly loved the Hulk and Spider-Man. He started his bodybuilding training when he was just 13 years old and competed in bodybuilding competitions. He was tapped to play the Hulk in 1977.
Carey Lowell, Timothy Dalton and Talisa Soto during a photo shoot for the James Bond film "License to Kill" in 1988. (Photo by Douglas Kirkland)
The ultimate role for any male actor would be to play the suave and iconic James Bond. Several actors have the privilege of having this on their resumes, including Timothy Dalton shown here. Dalton’s tenure as Agent 007 came after Sean Connery and Roger Moore, who played the role in seven films each. When Dalton signed on to be the next James Bond in the mid-1980s, it was for a six-year contract. Unfortunately, the franchise was embroiled in licensing litigation at the time, therefore Dalton appeared in only two James Bond films, The Living Daylights and License to Kill.
Baa Baa Black Sheep, a military drama series from the late 1970s, was loosely based on the real-life antics of Marine pilot Greg Boyington who commanded a squadron known as the Black Sheep during World War II. The real Boyington went by the nickname “Pappy”, just like the character in the TV series, because he was older than the rest of the fighter pilots. In reality, he was only 30, but he was the commander of a group of young men in their late teens and early twenties. After the war, Boyington wrote a book about his exploits and adventures, and Stephen J. Cannell, the show’s creator and producer, pulled descriptions of other characters from it when developing his fictional characters for Baa Baa Black Sheep.
Ann-Margret sizzling in red, 1966.
Poor Ann-Margret. As one of the leading sex symbols of the 1960s, the sultry Swedish singer, dancer, and actress was often typecast as a beautiful, yet worldly seductress. The press dubbed her a ‘sex kitten’. She starred opposite Elvis in the 1963 Bye Bye Birdie and the 1964 Viva Las Vegas which helped launched her to stardom. When she auditioned for the 1962 movie musical, State Fair, she read for the role of Margie, the good, wholesome girl. Instead, she was cast as Emily, a bad girl role. This typecasting plagued her for much of her career.
The 1970s was the decade of the variety show and actress Mary Tyler Moore jumped on the variety show bandwagon. In late 1978, she debuted her show, Mary, but after just three shows and a ton of negative criticism, the network pulled the show. Fans, it seemed, preferred to see Mary Tyler Moore in a sitcom role. The show went into revisions and emerged in the spring of 1979 in a new version, called The Mary Tyler Moore Hour. This show was a sitcom/variety show hybrid. In it, Moore played the host of a TV variety show with a zany cast of co-workers. The audience got to see a behind-the-scenes look at show biz in addition to the performances of weekly guest stars.
Lynn-Holly Johnson never made it big as a figure skater or as an actress but she was able to use both these skills to land some memorable movie roles. In the 1974 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, she earned a silver medal in the novice category. She retired from competitive skating in 1977 but performed with the Ice Capades. Her movie debut was as a figure skater in the 1978 film, Ice Castles, a romance that also starred heartthrob Robby Benson. She yet again was cast as a figure skater in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only, which was released in 1981. By the mid-1980s, her film career fizzled out.
Here's one of the McDonald's that has the old single arch, it's located in Magnolia, New Jersey and was one of only seven in the world.
McDonald’s is known for its golden arches, but decades ago, “arches” was singular, not plural. Some of the first McDonald’s fast-food restaurants ever built featured a single arch instead of the iconic double arch that we see today. And unlike today’s arches, the single golden arch of the early 1960s was constructed on the ground so it looked more like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis than the giant “M” we now know. Only a few of these single-arch McDonald’s are still around today. In fact, this one, found in Magnolia, New Jersey, is one of only seven remaining single arches in the country.
Although she is the daughter of two of Hollywood’s greats – Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis – Jamie Lee Curtis carved her own path through the entertainment industry. When this pic was taken in 1980, she was making a name for herself as a ‘scream queen’ having starred as Laurie, the sole survivor in Halloween, John Carpenter’s slasher flick. In fact, Curtis reprised her iconic role in seven more installments of the Halloween series. She matured from a teen actress to a leading lady that could tackle comedy roles as well as dramas.
Canadian-born Doug Henning was fascinated with magic from an early age. He turned his hobby into his first performance, at a friend’s birthday party, when he was only 14 years old. When he graduated from high school, however, he hung up his magic wand. He didn’t want to do kids’ birthday parties or nightclub gigs for the rest of his life. Instead, he enrolled in university with hopes of becoming a doctor. To make ends meet, he took on a female assistant and started performing at bars. He then studied theatre in hopes of honing his performance skills and set his sights on large stage productions, a new avenue for magicians at that time.
For ten years, from 1971 to 1981, actress and director, Penny Marshall, who starred as Laverne in TV’s Laverne and Shirley, was married to Rob Reiner, a fellow actor and director. This was not Marshall’s first marriage. As a 20-year-old college student, Penny Marshall married a college football player named Michael Henry. It was 1963 and Marshall left school when she got married. A year later, the couple had a child, a daughter named Tracy, but the marriage was doomed to fail. They divorced in 1966. When Marshall married Rob Reiner, he adopted her daughter, who is now an actress herself, Tracy Reiner.
In its first season on the air, the television drama series, The Waltons, raked in the awards at the 25th Emmy Awards, held in May of 1973. The TV show was nominated for the most awards ahead of the awards presentation with nine nominations. At the end of the evening, the show collected five of the Emmys, including, as this photo shows, awards for Richard Thomas for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series and Michael Learned for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series. In addition, Ellen Corby, who played Grandma Walton, earned the top honors for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. The Waltons was also selected as the winner in the Outstanding Drama Series category. Not bad for its debut year.
Do you remember the lovable twins, Buffy and Jody, from Family Affair, a wholesome TV show that aired from 1966 to 1971? It may surprise fans to know that the actors who played the young twins were not, in fact, related. The original script for the show called for Buffy and Jody to be different ages, but Brian Keith, who starred as Uncle Bill, advocated for a rewrite after seeing how well two of the child actors, Johnny Whitaker and Anissa Jones, looked together. Did you know that “Buffy”, “Jody”, and their older sister, “Cissy”, were all nicknames for the characters’ full names, Elizabeth, Jonathan, and Catherine?
Franken Berry cereal was first released in 1971.
Beginning in 1971, General Mills Corporation released a line of ‘monster’ cereal, breakfast cereal with cartoon monster themes. The five products included Count Chocula, Boo Berry, Yummy Mummy, Fruit Brute, and Franken Berry. The comic rebranding of classic movie monsters like Frankenstein and Dracula were supposed to appeal to young children, the brand’s target audience. There was, however, a weird and disgusting twist. The vibrant food dyes used in Franken Berry cereal turned the poo of consumers a bright pink! The scene in the toilet was probably more frightening than the breakfast cereal rendition of Frankenstein! Folks referred to the anomaly as “Franken poop”. In response, General Mills pulled the product from store shelves and reformulated the food dye to a different, safer pigment.
Lili Taylor, Julia Roberts and Annabeth Gish in the film "Mystic Pizza." (1988)
Julia Roberts’ made her film debut in the romantic comedy, Mystic Pizza. She appeared in this movie alongside Lili Taylor (it was also her big breakthrough role) and Annabeth Gish, a former child actress who was leveling up to more mature roles. Set in the real-life fishing town of Mystic, Connecticut, the trio portrays teenagers working at the local pizza shop as they navigate life and love as young adults. Mystic Pizza was favorably received by film critics and Roberts, Taylor, and Gish were all praised for their performances.
Jean Stapleton, Bea Arthur and Betty White at an event in 1978.
This photo, taken in 1978, shows three of the most popular mature actresses of the 1970s. Jean Stapleton, a stage and screen actress, became a household name – and earned three Emmys and two Golden Globes – for her portrayal of Edith Bunker in the controversial sitcom, All in the Family. She starred in this role for nine seasons, starting in 1971, and logged 205 episodes as the optimistic wife of the racist, chauvinistic Archie Bunker. Bea Arthur has a recurring role as Maude Findlay on All in the Family, in the early 1970s before she got her own spinoff show, Maude, from 1972 to 1978. Shown with the former co-stars was the iconic Betty White.
Comedy team Jerry Stiller and wife Anne Meara, 1971.
You might know Jerry Stiller from his role as George Constanza’s father on Seinfeld or Carrie’s dad on The King of Queens, but this actor and comedian, who died last year, enjoyed a long and distinguished show business career. During the 1960s, Stiller, with his wife Anne Meara, formed a successful comedy duo, Stiller and Meara. The two had numerous appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show as well as other television variety shows. The couple decided to end their comedy team before it destroyed their marriage but they both continued to work on their own projects, only occasionally collaborating with each other.
Nita Talbot, Bob Crane and Arlene Martel on the set of the TV show "Hogan’s Heroes" (1965)
The premise behind the television series, Hogan’s Heroes, was quite clever. It featured the adventures of a group of highly skilled Allied soldiers, under the leadership of U.S. Army Colonel Robert Hogan, played by Bob Crane, who purposely remain ‘prisoners’ at a prisoner of war camp in Nazi Germany during World War II so that they are privy to Nazi military secrets. A secret tunnel system under the prison allows the men to leave to engage in special ops without being detected. Actresses Nita Talbot and Arlene Martel had reoccurring roles on the series as fem fatale Russian spies.
The cast of "Lost in Space" (1967)
Danger, Will Robinson! The sci-fi TV series, Lost in Space, was a futuristic retelling of The Swiss Family Robinson. It followed the adventures of a family of space pioneers as they set out to explore and colonize the far reaches of space. The first season of the show, which debuted in 1965, was shot in black and white. The subsequent seasons were filmed in color, allowing the show’s costumers to outfit the cast in space-age-inspired uniforms in a variety of bright, yet matching, colors. Lost in Space ran for 83 episodes over a three-year period and overlapped with another well-known space series, Star Trek. In the mid- to late-sixties, the U.S. was deep in the space race so it is not surprising that shows about space were so popular.
Roddy McDowall relaxing on the set of the film "Planet of the Apes." (1968)
Even though Roddy McDowall is best known for his role as Cornelius in Planet of the Apes, the British-born actor and director appeared in numerous other works in which we can actually see his handsome face. He started his show business career as a child actor in his native England before coming to the United States where he appeared in How Green Was My Valley, My Friend Flicka, and Lassie Come Home. His list of film credits is quite diverse, ranging from Disney live-action movies, such as Bedknobs and Broomsticks and That Darn Cat to historical epics like The Longest Day, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Cleopatra to adventure flicks like The Poseidon Adventure and comedies like Funny Lady, Overboard, and A Bug’s Life.
The Bee Gees in 1963.
We remember them best as the flowing-hair, disco-suit-wearing, heartthrobs of the late 1970s, but when the Bee Gees first started on their musical journey, they were young, nerdy-looking lads from England who were living with their parents in Australia. The Gibb brothers were often hired to play gigs at various events while they continued to hone their skills. The brothers, Robin, Barry, and Maurice hit the charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s but it was the rise of disco in the mid-to late 1970s that really pushed the trio to stardom. Their 1977 soundtrack album for the movie, Saturday Night Fever, was a pivotal moment in their careers.
George Burns and Walter Matthau in the Neil Simon film "The Sunshine Boys." (1975)
Who better to play reuniting Vaudeville actors in the 1975 movie, The Sunshine Boys, than a former Vaudevillian himself, George Burns, and actor Walter Matthau? The pair of aging actors tackled the roles of Lewis and Clark, a pair of cantankerous former Vaudeville partners who get back together to revive their once-famous act. George Burns was 79 years old when he appeared in The Sunshine Boys and the film, for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, sparked a comeback for the longtime entertainer. The consummate performer, Burns was cast in more movie roles after The Sunshine Boys and continued actor even after his 100th birthday.
Let’s be honest. Sitcoms like the 1980s Who’s the Boss? probably wouldn’t fly today, but during that era, when more and more women were finally achieving powerful positions in business and casting off of the expectations of motherhood and domesticity, it was a prime time to use a TV series to examine traditional gender roles. The sitcom had Judith Light playing Angela, a high-powered lawyer and divorced mother, as the primary breadwinner of the household. Tony Danza’s character, on the other hand, was the housekeeper and nanny, taking on a more traditionally female role in the household. The show poked fun at many of the gender stereotypes.
In the early 1980s, ABC decided to combine two really cool professions – stuntmen and bounty hunters – into one television show. That was the premise of The Fall Guy, which was on the air from 1981 to 1986. As improbably as it sounds, the action series was a hit with audiences. It starred Lee Majors as a big-time stunt man in Hollywood who, along with his fellow stunt performer, Jody, played by Heather Thomas, and his cousin, an apprentice stunt man, Howie, played by Douglas Barr, moonlights as a bounty hunter. The show was filled with fun special effects, car chases, and pyrotechnics.
Angelica Huston and Jack Nicholson met in 1973 and began a tumultuous, on-again-off-again relationship that lasted for the next 17 years. Nicholson has a reputation for being a playboy and he was involved with several women during his time with Huston. He fathered at least six children with five different women. It was the highly publicized affair with Rebecca Broussard with whom he had another child that finally caused Huston to permanently split with Nicholson. Huston and Nicholson appeared in only one film together, Prizzi’s Honor in 1985.
Iconic actor John Wayne was married three times and fathered multiple children. With his first wife, Josephine Saenz, he had four kids. With his second wife, Pilar Pallete, he had three more children, including John Ethan Wayne, shown here with his dad on the set of True Grit. In the 1971 western, Big Jake, nine-year-old Ethan was cast to play “Little Jake”, the grandson of the title character which was played by his father. For a time, Ethan Wayne worked in Hollywood as a stunt man and actor in Hollywood.
When the TV drama series The White Shadow debuted in 1978, it made television history. It was the first time that a TV drama featured a predominantly African American cast. The show centered around a former professional basketball player who became a high school basketball coach in a poor, inner-city school. The coach, played by Ken Howard, was white while the majority of the students were black. The show tackled some hard social issues of the day, including racism, teen suicide, and homosexuality. The show, which was well-received by fans and critics, ran until 1981.
The TV series, The A-Team, was a fast-paced, action-packed show about a tight group of former military special ops who are working as soldiers of fortune. It is hard to imagine a punk rock entertainer fitting into this scenario, but in an episode that aired in February of 1986, Boy George and the Culture Club guest-starred. Boy George, of course, played a singer, but sandwiched between musical performances, he joined the guys of the A-Team to thwart some bad guys. In one memorable scene, he watches as Murdock tried to pick a door lock but the singer grew impatient and kicked the door down himself.
When Francis Ford Coppola adapted the S.E. Hinton novel, The Outsiders, into a movie in 1983, he cast a group of up-and-coming actors for the film. In fact, this group of young performers, which included Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio, Emilio Estevez, Patrick Swayze, Matt Damon, Diane Lane, Tom Cruise, and C. Thomas Howell, was labeled the “Brat Pack” by members of the entertainment industry. Critics praised the performances of all the young actors, but Macchio and Howard received high praise. The Outsiders netted more than $33 million at the box office and has garnered a devoted cult following.
On screen, the cast members of The Brady Bunch were wholesome goodie-goodies, but behind the scenes, things were much more real. The show’s producers tried to encourage bonding experiences between the kids, like this birthday dinner for Barry Williams in 1972. There were rumors that the young actors had romantic tristes with each other which is, of course, not what wholesome goodie-goodies do. A year after this photo was taken, in 1973, Barry Williams even shot an episode as Greg Brady while he was high. As the story goes, Williams was smoking pot with a few friends when the producers called him to start filming a scene from the ‘Law and Disorder’ episode.
As a stand-up comedian in San Francisco, Robin Williams honed his comedic timing and improv skills before live audiences for several years before his energetic, face-paced, and hilarious caught the attention of television executives. Williams was tapped by ABC in 1978 to guest star on their hit TV show, Happy Days. For the episode, Williams played Mork from Ork, a zany alien from outer space. Drawing on his improv experience, Williams delivered a rapid-fire dialog of wacky lines, complete with funny sound effects and gestures. He was just a fan favorite that the TV execs fast-tracked his own show, a spin-off from Happy Days featuring Williams’ alien character in a show called Mork and Mindy.
Here is director Francis Ford Coppola on the set of The Godfather when the iconic American crime flick was being filmed in 1972. The film adaptation of Mario Puzo’s 1969 bestseller followed the Corleone mafia family on their rise to power from 1945 to 1955. The movie almost didn’t get made. After Paramount Pictures acquired the movie rights, execs couldn’t find a director willing to tackle the momentous project. It was only after several other directors turned down the project that Francis Ford Coppola was brought on board. Under Coppola’s creative eye, the film was a blockbuster hit that spawned a movie franchise.
The early 1990s sitcom, Northern Exposure, was a classic ‘fish-out-of-water’ story with a frosty twist. The main character, a yuppie-ish, urban, recently graduated doctor with a big problem. He skipped over the fine print on his scholarship and now, unless he wants to pay back all his tuition from med school, he has to move to a remote Alaskan town to work as a medical doctor for several years. The young doctor, played by Rob Marrow, is totally out of his element in the tiny, isolated, cold town that is inhabited by an odd cast of characters. Obligated to stick it out, he learned to adapt to the environment and to find commonalities with the locals.
Shock Jock, Howard Stern worked at several radio stations in the late 1970s and early 1980s before landing a coveted position at WNBC in New York. Always a controversial disk jockey who liked to push the envelope, Stern was fired from this position in 1985. He wasn’t down for long. That same year, he was hired at WXRK to host their morning show, a position that he held for the next twenty years. During that time, he brought his morning show into syndication and broadcast to an audience of 20 million listeners. He remained his controversial self, becoming the most fined radio host in history with a total of $2.5 million over his tenure.
Hollywood directors can be so demanding at times. When actor Lee Van Cleef was cast in his debut film, High Noon, the director asked him to have his nose surgically altered to make him look more sympathetic. Seriously. Van Cleef nixed the suggestion, and, for his disobedience, his part was reduced to a non-speaking role. That didn’t deter Van Cleef from pursuing a show business career. He appeared in several ‘Spaghetti Westerns’ including For a Few More Dollars and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, from which this publicity shot was taken.
This might seem like an unlikely duo to see wholesome, Mayberry-ish Andy Griffith palling around with surfer dude Keanu Reeves, but the two actually starred as father and son in a 1986 movie. Titled, Under the Influence, the film explored the deteriorating family relationships imploding because of Griffith’s character’s longtime battle with alcoholism. Reeves, his son, is following along the same destructive path as his father while his sister falls victim to prescription drug addiction.
Did you know that Alison Arngrim originally auditioned for the part of Laura Ingalls for the hit television series, Little House on the Prairie? Michael Landon, creator of the show, had his work cut out for him casting the right child actors for the roles. He was impressed with Arngrim but did think she was right for the role of Laura. After he cast Melissa Gilbert for that part, he had Arngrim read for the part of Mary Ingalls. That, too, wasn’t a good fit so Landon awarded that part to Melissa Sue Anderson. When Arngrim read for the part of Nellie Oleson, the OG mean girl of Walnut Grove, Landon knew he had found the right role for her. As for Arngrim, she loved playing the villain … and she became besties with Melissa Gilbert off set.
Sisters, a drama series, ran for six seasons in the early 1990s. As the name implies, the show followed the lives of four very different adult sisters, each with a distinctly masculine names (Alex, Teddy, Georgie, and Frankie). The four actresses cast as the sisters, Swoosie Kurtz, Seal Ward, Patricia Kalember, and Julianne Phillips, brought a lot of star power to the set, but there were a few notable performers cast in recurring roles … performers that would be headlines in the years after Sisters ended. One was George Clooney, who played Detective James Falconer. Others were Ashley Judd who played Alex’s daughter, Reed, and Paul Rudd who played. Reed’s boyfriend.
The addition of Batgirl to the 1960s television Batman series was an ideal way to add both youth and a strong female character to the superhero show. The show’s writers created Batgirl, a motorcycle-riding, high-kicking crime fighter, and her alter-ego, Barbara Gordon. Gordon, the daughter of the police commissioner, worked as a librarian and lived in a cook townhouse with a secret service elevator leading to a hidden room in the basement. As for super skills, batgirl, beautifully played by Yvonne Craig, was clever enough to spot clues, had some nifty gadgets and a sweet ride, and some lukewarm fighting moves, but she managed to get the job done.
Maureen McCormick was just 13 years old when she was cast as Marcia Brady in TV’s The Brady Bunch, and she was 18 when the show was canceled. She later admitted that she struggled with finding her purpose after The Brady Bunch. She turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the void until she was an addict. In her tell-all 2008 book, Here’s the Story: Surviving Marcia Brady and Finding My True Voice, McCormick talks about her teenage fling with her Brady Bunch co-star, Barry Williams, how she traded sex for drugs as a young adult, and how she was so strung out on drugs that she botched her audition for the part of Miriam in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The 1980s TV sitcom, Too Close for Comfort starred veteran actor Ted Knight as the father of two adult daughters. The daughters move into the apartment downstairs from Knight’s character, Henry Rush, and his wife. Since Rush works from his home, his daughters frequently interrupt his days with their problems. Too Close for Comfort ran from 1980 to 1983 and again from 1984 to 1987. The show ended not because it was canceled by the network, but because lead actor, Ted Knight, passed away in 1986. Knight had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 1977 just after wrapping up his stint on the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Despite aggressive treatment, the cancer spread and proved deadly to both Knight and Too Close for Comfort.
When singer and actress Shirley Jones married a fellow performer, Jack Cassidy, in the summer of 1956, she acquired a stepson, David Cassidy, Jack’s son from his first marriage. Later, Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy had three more sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan. According to the story, Shirley Jones, who had recently turned down the role of Carol in The Brady Bunch, went to the auditions for The Partridge Family and was stunned to see her stepson, David Cassidy, there. When the director introduced David to her, not knowing their family connections, Jones bluntly said, “What are you doing here?” The show’s creators were thrilled at the real-life mother-son relationship and cast the pair as the mother and oldest son in The Partridge Family. Working together on the show help the two strengthen their bond.
On April 24, 1976, sultry sex symbol Raquel Welch hosted an episode of Saturday Night Live. In the episode, SNL favorite John Belushi did a skit that spoofed a scene from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which starred Jack Nicholson. Belushi did a spot-on impersonation of Nicholson’s character and Raquel Welch was a sexy Nurse Ratched. The skit was popular among SNL fans and, much later, Belushi called it one of his all-time favorite scenes from his time on Saturday Night Live. The same year that Welch appeared on SNL, she starred in the movie, Mother, Jugs & Speed.
The Atlantic Avenue Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland, has a long history. It was first built as a temporary promenade in 1902 but it had to be dismantled and stored on a hotel porch during high tide and when storms blew in. In 1910, a more permanent boardwalk was constructed and ran for five blocks. Running five blocks along Atlantic Avenue, it served the guest of ocean City for decades until it was destroyed by a violent storm in March of 1962. The young ladies walking along the boardwalk in Ocean City in 1967 were strolling along the new boardwalk that was rebuilt shortly after the original one was destroyed. Today, the boardwalk extends two and a half miles.
Did you know that Kate Jackson was originally cast to play the role of Kelly Garrett in the hit TV crime series, Charlie’s Angels? Jackson, seen here with her fellow Angel, Farrah Fawcett, was tapped for the role based on her character in the Rookies, but after she read for the part, she asked if she could take the role of Sabrina Duncan instead. Actress Jaclyn Smith took the role of Kelly. When the third season of Charlie’s Angels was about to start, Jackson was offered Meryl Streep’s role in the movie, Kramer vs. Kramer, but Aaron Spelling, the producer of Charlie’s Angels, wouldn’t rearrange his filming schedule to allow her to work on other projects.
Charles M. Schulz with his "Peanuts" figurines, 1960s. ✏️
Much of the appeal of The Peanuts, the popular commit strip created by Charles Schultz, is that the group of characters is made up entirely of children who live in a world where adults are present but never interact with the characters in the comic strip. Even though the characters are children, the comic strip still examines the philosophy and social concerns of the day. Readers connected with the characters, from the unsure Charlie Brown to the sassy Lucy and the introverted musician, Schroeder. Perhaps that is why the comic strip had such longevity.
Directed by Ishiro Honda, the 1954 Japanese film, Godzilla, triggered an unexpected cult following. Did you know that the producers originally wanted Godzilla to be a Kraken-like octopus but the special effects director suggested a dinosaur-ish monster instead. The special effects director, Eiji Tsuburaya, invented a new filming technique for this movie. Called ‘suitmation’, this technique involved the use of a full-size costumed actor interacting with a miniature stage set. Since its debut in 1954, Godzilla has become a pop icon and one of the most recognizable movie monsters in history.
Can you believe bodybuilder-turned-actor Steve Reeves didn’t get the part of the title character in the 1959 movie, Li’l Abner? He lost out to Peter Palmer, despite looking this good in his Li’l Abner costume. Reeves, a professional bodybuilder, appeared in several Italian-made movies in the 1950s, playing beefy characters like Goliath and Hercules. These roles made him, for a time, Europe’s highest-paid actor. His 1958 and 1959 movies, in which he played Hercules, helped make him the number-one box office draw of 1960. Perhaps the producers of Li’l Abner thought that the role of the well-built country bumpkin was a stretch for Reeves, who was typically cast in ‘sword and sandals’ movies.
In an unlikely pairing, Michael J. Fox and Jan Jett were cast as siblings in the 1987 drama movie, Light of Day. The movie marked Joan Jett’s film debut. It followed the lives of Joe and Patti Rasnick and their parents. The siblings form a band and go on tour, taking Patti’s young son with them. The parents are displeased that Patti, a single mom, makes a series of bad choices. Desperate for money, Patti pushes to take the band to the next level amid a serious health crisis with their parents. The reviews of Light of Day were mixed, although the soundtrack did well.
It is safe to say that, as television programming for children, Romper Room was a blockbuster hit. The show was formatted to include local children on each show, along with the show’s hostess and other characters. Romper Room was so popular and the waiting list to be on the show was so long, that many parents added their children to the list as soon as they were born … or even before they were born. Romper Room was both syndicated and franchised. The show was originally filmed in Baltimore and those episodes were broadcast to many markets around the country, but the stations in some cities, like San Antonio, New York, and Los Angeles, had Romper Room franchises. Their shows followed the same scripts but used local kids.
John Inman and Mollie Sugden in the BBC comedy series "Are You Being Served" (1972-85)
Bawdy, inappropriate, and full of slap-stick humor, the British sitc0m, Are Your Being Served? was a national favorite for ten seasons. The show followed the antics of a group of employees at Grace Brothers, a fictional department store based in London. Staring John Inman and Mollie Sugden, the show poked fun at Britain’s class system, as well as other social commentaries. A staple on BBC from 1972 through 1981, the series spawned one spin-off and several holiday specials. It still has a huge cult following because the episodes are available on DVD.
Swedish weight lifter and actor Kjell Nilsson is perhaps best remembered for playing The Humungus in the 1981 film, Mad Max 2. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Nilsson’s character was the leader of a roving band of marauders. He is more than a pile of muscles though. The Humungus used clever psychological warfare and impassionate speeches to become victorious over a group of settlers. In a total change of pace, Nilsson appeared in the musical spoof, The Pirate Movie in 1982. The film started young heartthrobs, Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol in a modern retelling of The Pirates of Penzance. In this film, Nilsson is a hunky pirate.
In the 1960s, beach-themed films were all the rage. It all started with the 1963 movie, Beach Party, starring Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon. The first in a series of the Beach Party franchise, the movie shed a spotlight of the surfer culture of southern California at the time. In the movie, a research anthropologist hangs out at the beach to study the ‘wild mating habits’ of California teens. He attempts to decipher the strange slang words they use but gets caught up with a rouge biker gang that clashes with the surfers.