The ’70s was a decade full of memorable pop culture moments. In music, the original rock ‘n’ roll sound ended when Elvis Presley died. And the Beatles disbanded, releasing their last collective album “Let It Be,” per Pitchfork. But other rock bands like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were just getting started. And outside of rock, disco started to take over dancefloors all across the country. While the following decade made a greater stride forward in technology, the ’70s still gave us floppy disks, the first Apple computer, VCRs, and the first video game Pong, Paste summarized.
The nostalgia for the decade was so strong that it was the basis for the hit TV series “That ’70s Show,” which debuted in 1998, while frightening events impacted pop culture, too, like the movie “Apollo 13,” based on the nearly disastrous journey to space in 1970 (via The New York Times). The ’70s opened possibilities for celebrities in all types of entertainment. Many continued their craft for decades and seemed to never fall out of the public eye. Some reached a level of fame never achieved again — either by the celebrity or those who came after.
Looking at celebrities from the ’70s over 50 years later provides a one-of-a-kind connection between the past and future. Find out who is aging gracefully as we dive into what your favorite stars of the ’70s look like today.
Robert De Niro was familiar with mob roles
Robert De Niro, with his signature tough-guy look, dominated the back half of the ’70s with memorable films. This included “Taxi Driver” in 1976 and “The Deer Hunter” in 1978. But nothing could compete with his standout performance as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather: Part II” in 1974. Marlon Brando played the part in the original film, so De Niro had big shoes to fill. To prepare for filming, De Niro told CNN he went to a screening room in New York City “and had an old video camera and videotaped all of Brando’s scenes.” With his bootleg copy, the actor recalled, “I took those and I studied those.” The work paid off because De Niro won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars for his performance. And with the win, Brando and De Niro became “the only people to win Oscars for playing the same character.”
The actor continued to wow audiences throughout his career, often with Martin Scorsese as the director. In 2021, he and Scorsese united again to work in “Killers of the Flower Moon.” Sadly, De Niro injured his leg while filming. But in better news, Page Six spotted the veteran actor hanging with a friend in France while he turned 78 years old.
Goldie Hawn struggled with fame
As a young woman, Goldie Hawn was a gifted dancer, thanks in part to her mother who taught the practice. Hawn “performed as a ballerina and go-go dancer before being spotted on a can-can line in Los Angeles and drafted into TV comedy,” The Guardian explained. And by 1969, she earned an Oscar at the age of 24 for her performance in the comedy “Cactus Flower.” This started an impressive career in film and the actor became “a box-office favorite for much of the 1970s.” She still delighted audiences on TV, too, regularly appearing on the sketch series “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” Looking back at the ’70s, Hawn admitted, “It was a very strange ride, a quick rise to stardom. I was unsettled. I didn’t know where I was going.”
Becoming a household name at such a young age created a lot of confusion for Hawn. She recalled going to a psychologist “for about eight years to try to understand more about my mind, my psyche, how I could return back to my sense of joy.” The actor also looked to the Beatles for help. She knew the rock band practiced meditation, so she decided to start the Transcendental Meditation practice as a 26-year-old.
In her personal life, Hawn had multiple children, including Kate Hudson, and multiple husbands, until settling long-term with Kurt Russell. Plus, even in her 70s, Hawn continued to dance — showing off her moves in Instagram videos.
Robert Redford stayed close to politics
Early in the ’70s, Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand starred in “‘The Way We Were,’ a film about the ill-fated love affair between an outspoken activist and a gorgeous golden boy,” Oprah.com recapped. But the film could have been completely different because Redford originally turned down the lead role, which he felt was too one-dimensional. The actor then worked with the director to re-write the part. Streisand meanwhile didn’t believe Redford would take the role, despite her best wishes. “And then, I was in Africa making a movie and … a friend of mine at the time sent me a telegram, and it said ‘Barbra, Redford,’ and I knew he had signed on,” Streisand remembered.
To adapt the classic American novel “The Great Gatsby” to the big screen, the creators chose Redford and Mia Farrow as the star actors to tell the complicated love story. While filming the 1974 version of the film, Farrow remembers the Watergate scandal unfolding, “which riveted Bob Redford and me to the television set in his dressing room,” she said in her memoir “What Falls Away.” And Redford went on to make a feature film about the political scandal. He starred alongside Dustin Hoffman as two reporters for “The Washington Post” in the 1976 film “All the President’s Men.”
In his personal life, sadly, Redford outlived his son. BBC reported in 2020 that the younger James Redford died at age 58.
Olivia Newton-John sang her way to the top
Prior to becoming a famous actor in the U.S., Olivia Newton-John was a well-respected singer across the pond. “In 1974, she represented the UK in the Eurovision song contest with the song ‘Long Live Love,’ coming in fourth,” The Guardian reported. And she was up against some stiff competition, with Abba winning the contest that year for their song “Waterloo.” After the loss, Newton-John pivoted to country music and relocated to Los Angeles. Off the success of her album’s title track “Let Me Be There,” she won the Grammy Award for “Best Country Vocalist,” per Newton-John’s official website.
Though she proved sustained success as a musician, Newton-John is often best remembered for her role as Sandy in the 1978 movie “Grease.” The film is reportedly “the most successful movie musical in history” as of 2021, and it earned Newton-John a Best Actress nomination at the Golden Globes.
She continued to sing and sold over 100 million albums. And perhaps her most well-known single, “Physical,” ruled the airways in the ’80s. Billboard ranked “Physical” as number one in the Top Songs of the ’80s chart. But outside of her amazing success, Newton-John faced many health issues. As of 2020, she was diagnosed with cancer three times, The Guardian reported. But she remained optimistic and said of her diagnoses, “It has been a gift. I don’t wish it on anyone else. But for me, it’s been important in my life.”
Faye Dunaway is intertwined with the Oscars
The classic 1967 bank robbery film “Bonnie and Clyde” featured Faye Dunaway as the female lead and Warren Beatty as her partner in crime. This was her breakout film in Hollywood and started an incredible run of movies for Dunaway — 14 in just the ’70s. And her most recognized performance came in the 1977 film “Network.” The role earned Dunaway a Best Actress award at the Oscars.
Decades later, Dunaway would be remembered for another iconic Oscar moment. Except Dunaway was on the wrong side of history on this occasion. She reunited with Beatty on stage to present the final award of the night, Best Picture, at the 2017 Oscar ceremony. After a suspenseful few moments, Dunaway announced “La La Land” as the winner. Except “Moonlight” was the real winner. Looking back on the mix-up, Dunaway told Today, “I was very guilty. I thought I could have done something.”
Dunaway never stopped acting and signed on to the film “The Man Who Drew God” in 2021. The movie was controversial even before filming, because it marked Kevin Spacey’s “first role since 2017, when dozens of accusations of sexual harassment and assault saw the ‘House of Cards’ actor effectively ostracized from Hollywood,” Variety reported.
Producers took a chance on John Travolta's career
As a 17-year-old, John Travolta auditioned for the lead role in the film adaptation of the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The teen lost out on the part but impressed producer Robert Stigwood. Years later, Stigwood wanted to have Travolta be the lead in a film adaption of “Grease,” the Broadway musical. In fact, “Travolta had already appeared as Doody, one of the T-Bird gang members, in a road company,” Vanity Fair reported. But the stage version was so popular that Stigwood needed to push back production until the run on Broadway finished. To secure his star actor, Stigwood gave Travolta a three-movie worth a million dollars.
The move was a big risk because, at that time, Travolta was only known for his role on the TV series “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Travolta delivered and danced into the hearts of fans in “Saturday Night Fever.” Released in the height of disco fever — and forever a relic of the era — the film showcased Travolta’s smooth dance moves. Then, Travolta went all-in with song and dance as the heartthrob Danny Zuko in the movie musical “Grease.”
The third film in the deal “Moment by Moment” flopped and started a downward trend for Travolta until Quentin Tarantino cast him in “Pulp Fiction.” Travolta continued to act but never quite reached the height of his fame from the ’70s. Sadly, his wife Kelly Preston died in 2020, with Travolta posting a tribute on Instagram.
Diane Keaton wore many different hats
Diane Keaton started her acting career in the ’70s and was part of “The Godfather” trilogy, according to her IMDb page. But when the movie “Annie Hall” came out in 1977, Keaton truly became a star. It also helped propel the fame of her co-star and director Woody Allen. For her performance, Keaton won the Oscar for Best Actress. Two years later, she and Allen reunited for his film “Manhattan.” According to The Guardian, Keaton “was the perfect foil to Allen’s neurosis, charming and believable.” And though she went on to star in other great films, Keaton became entangled in the controversies surrounding Allen. His adopted daughter Dylan Farrow, wrote an open letter for The New York Times and called out Keaton for being silent on accusations against the director. In her interview for The Guardian, Keaton claimed, “I have nothing to say about that. Except: I believe my friend.”
In addition to acting, Keaton became known for her impeccable and unique sense of style, “full of tailoring and voluminous skirts,” according to Vogue. Throughout the years, her signature pieces were “extra-wide belts, high-waisted pants and full skirts,” and elegant hats. Keaton also stayed connected with the younger generations through music. She posted a video on Instagram singing along to Ariana Grande’s song “thank u, next.” Grande commented twice on Keaton’s post, saying “I am having an out of body experience” and “love you SO MUCH.”
Alan Alda became an advocate
Alan Alda became won over audiences as the charming Army doctor Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running TV series, “M*A*S*H.” The role earned him six Emmy awards during the 11 years the show aired (via The Washington Post). What’s more, as of 2020, the series finale remained “the most-watched episode in television history,” via AARP.
Alda later transitioned into numerous roles in the entertainment industry. He became an author, releasing his book in 2017 and the next year, launching a podcast. Both tools were created because Alda “wants us all to relate and communicate better.” And this focused heavily on science. “One of the most basic things I’ve tried to do is give people a greater understanding of how science works,” Alda explained. To help accomplish this, he stayed actively involved in the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, which he established in 2009. As part of various initiatives to help the fields of STEM, “Alda and his colleagues have taught to 15,000 scientists over the last decade,” Forbes reported.
In his personal life, Alda revealed in 2021 how he met his wife Arlene Weiss in 1956. The two met in their college days at a dinner party hosted by a mutual friend. Alda confirmed in a tweet that he and Weiss bonded over eating a “rum cake off the floor and were inseparable after that.”
Clint Eastwood seemed to never stop
Often starring as the hero, Clint Eastwood rose to fame in spaghetti westerns like “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.” And though he already had many successful films under his belt, Eastwood still felt inferior to old Hollywood stars like Laurence Oliver. “[I’ll] never be a Laurence Olivier,” Eastwood said in 1971, per Rolling Stone. The actor explained, “With my physical type and legato personality, I’ll never play certain parts. But I still can do things that have some quality.” But Eastwood would go on to be a legend both in acting and directing. And by the early ’70s, he had already “become a bona fide sex symbol, and the kind of star who might plausibly drive an entire all-female seminary into a tizzy.” In 1971, he also debuted his “Dirty Harry” character in the first film of the series. In the movie, Eastwood delivered one of his most classic lines, “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Eastwood then starred as the same character in four more films.
In the next phase of his career, Eastwood started directing in addition to acting, including popular films “Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby.” In 2021, he was involved in “Cry Macho” as both the star and director. As of this writing, Eastwood has four Academy Awards and the 2009 National Medal of Arts, among other prestigious honors.
Michael Douglas continued the family tradition
Michael Douglas was born with acting in his blood — he’s the son of old-school Hollywood star Kirk Douglas. And by the time the younger Douglas was in his 20s, he “was already quite the prince, playing a heartthrob cop in ‘The Streets of San Francisco,'” The Guardian recapped. And he thrived behind the scenes too, producing the film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Reportedly, the film was “a long-cherished project of his father’s.” Douglas continued to thrive in Hollywood and only increased his fame as he approached middle age. Two of his most famous movies, “Wall Street” and “Fatal Attraction” both came out in 1987.
In 2000, Douglas married the much younger Catherine Zeta-Jones. The pair later had two children together and lasted through difficult times, like when Douglas revealed in 2010 that he had stage-four throat cancer. The actor went through intense chemotherapy sessions, which he remembered, “made me very weak.” And years later, the actor hinted that the cancer may have been caused by a sexually transmitted disease. According to Douglas, a specific sexual act with his wife could both cause and cure the disease.
Later, Douglas admitted he actually had tongue cancer but lied to downplay the severity while promoting a new film. And he apologized to Zeta-Jones for revealing intimate details of their marriage, The Guardian explained. Things smoothed over for the couple, who relaxed together on the island of Mallorca in 2021, Douglas told Ultima Hora.
Jodie Foster grew up with her audiences
Jodie Foster started her acting career at a young age with Disney before landing a starring role in “Taxi Driver,” The New York Times recapped. In the film, she played an underage prostitute, interacting with the title character played by Robert De Niro. Foster was only 12 years old at the time of filming, which concerned the Los Angeles welfare board, a group “charged with the protection of young performers’ morals.” Before Foster was allowed to take the role, “she had to undergo a four‐hour interview with a Los Angeles psychiatrist, who ruled that she was mentally equipped to handle the part.”
The young actor remembered there was always a welfare worker on set to ensure “I wasn’t on the set when Robert De Niro said a dirty word.” For the sexually explicit scenes, director Martin Scorsese used Foster’s older sister Connie as her body double. In an interview for Rolling Stone, Foster remembered that De Niro would take her to diners to rehearse lines. “But Robert De Niro was super method-y then, and he was very in-character, he was very Travis Bickle, so he didn’t say anything. He just looked awkward,” she explained.
In 2013, Foster came out as gay during her speech for the Lifetime Achievement award at the Golden Globes. Afterward, she aged so well that for her role in “Hotel Artemis,” makeup artists altered her look to seem “at least 20 years older,” The Guardian reported.
James Taylor ruled the folk scene
As the Beatles were at the peak of their career, the group founded Apple Records in 1968. John Lennon reportedly said the record label would be “a place where anybody with a good idea could get funding,” NPR detailed. An unknown young artist at the time, James Taylor, played songs for Paul McCartney and George Harrison and became the first artist to sign with Apple Records.
During an interview on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” Taylor recalled also working at the Beatles’ studio. “When they weren’t there, I was there. I would sort of scamper in there, you know, and put down a few of my little tracks. And then clear out before they came back,” he said. After his time in the U.K., the singer “moved to Laurel Canyon with the rest of the denim-draped California dreamers who defined the sound of the late 60s and far beyond,” according to The Guardian. Then, Taylor’s breakout came with his 1970 sophomore album “Sweet Baby James,” where the folk album featured his most famous song, “Fire and Rain.” In response to the heartbreaking lyric, “I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend,” singer Carole King wrote her song “You’ve Got a Friend.”
In 2000, McCartney inducted Taylor into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And over 20 years later, Taylor was still performing for live audiences. In 2021, he and fellow singer-songwriter Jackson Browne were on tour together, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.
Lynda Carter had a wonderful career
When she was only 14 years old, Lynda Carter joined her first band. Instead of going to college, she toured the country from New York to Las Vegas and many places in between. But she feared growing older while still performing as a lounge singer. Carter then transitioned to modeling and in the early ’70s, “within the span of a month had been crowned Miss Phoenix, Miss Arizona and then Miss World USA,” per The New York Times.
Carter then moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting but “was disheartened to find limited roles for women.” She continued to sing and act in minor roles until becoming “Wonder Woman” in the 1975 TV series. By the time the show finished its three-season run, Carter was “a household name and international sex symbol.” She mostly dropped out of the spotlight and took a break from singing until 2005, when she joined the cast of the “Chicago” in London’s West-End. What’s more, Carter began touring again with her band. Unfortunately, she was unable to make a cameo in the rebooted “Wonder Woman” movie due to scheduling conflicts while she was on the road.
In 2021, Carter’s husband Robert A. Altman died. The couple were married since 1984 and had two children together, per People. Later that year, Carter continued to put out new music. In an Instagram post, she announced her EP “Unexpected.”
Michael Caine used his voice to create change
British actor Michael Caine first became a star in the ’60s and by the time the ’70s rolled in, he continued to star in films with other famous actors from the U.K., like Sean Connery. The two men starred together in the 1975 film “The Man Who Would Be King,” even though their roles were originally intended for American actors Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart. Instead, Caine used the opportunity to deliver his best performance ever, according to The Guardian.
The actor then appeared in films, ranging from comedies like “Austin Powers in Goldmember” to dramas like “The Cider House Rules,” often speaking in his distinct accent. For example, a hilarious scene from the British series “The Trip,” shows two men imitating what they believe is the best Michael Caine accent. “Cockney is my natural dialect,” Caine explained for TimesTalks. He revealed that at the time he started acting, most of his peers were very posh and in films about upper-class society. So, he used his natural accent “to encourage other people from working-class backgrounds to say that they could do it.”
One of the secrets to his captivating performances might have come from a bizarre acting technique. Cain read in an acting book to never blink, so, “For the next eight years, I walked around trying not to blink. People around me, my mother and everybody, thought I had gone nuts,” he told The Mirror.
Al Pacino showed his versatility
Al Pacino’s breakout role came as one of the leads in the 1971 film “The Panic in Needle Park” as a heroin addict in a “love story,” Roger Ebert reviewed. But Pacino landed the role of a lifetime for his second film. Director Francis Ford Coppola wanted to cast Pacino in his film “The Godfather,” but faced pushback from the movie’s executives who wanted either Robert Redford or Ryan O’Neal for the part. Producer Robert Evans reportedly didn’t want Pacino and called him a “midget,” Vulture detailed. Pacino originally auditioned for the role of Sonny before landing the iconic role of Michael Corleone. According to the actor, he would stroll around Manhattan while preparing for the part. “I remember not being able to articulate [that arc], even to Francis,” he said. And Pacino revealed, “for the first couple weeks of filming, they were going to let me go.” Instead, the director filmed a crucial scene with Pacino earlier than planned, which impressed all those involved with the film and secured Pacino’s spot.
After reprising his role in “The Godfather: Part II,” Pacino joined a rare group of actors who were twice nominated at the Oscars for playing the same character, via The Hollywood Reporter. The ’70s were great for Pacino outside of the mob story, with starring roles in “Serpico” and “Dog Day Afternoon.” Decades later and the actor was still going strong, including a role in the 2021 film “House of Gucci.”
Cher almost lost it all
At the age of 16, Cher met singer Sonny Bono, more than 10 years her senior, The Guardian summarized. Both were singers and soon, the pair started dating. The musical couple began to work with producer and future convicted murderer Phil Spector. In fact, both appeared as backing singers on The Ronettes’ masterpiece “Be My Baby,” per BBC. Cher also appeared on another Spector-produced classic, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” by the Righteous Brothers. After her backup work, Sonny and Cher became popular with their single “I Got You Babe” and starred in their own TV show. “They were the most famous couple on the planet as a singing duo, a comedy act, and husband and wife,” according to The Guardian.
In 1975, Sonny and Cher divorced, which nearly ruined Cher financially. Sonny reportedly “took the money -– 95% of it, with 5% going to lawyers.” Cher later explained, “We worked side by side for 11 years and I ended up with nothing. I worked really hard for that money, and it never occurred to me that he would take it.” And to make matters worse, she had to pay her ex-husband an additional two million dollars for not fulfilling the “contract for Sonny and Cher as a couple.”
Cher not only recovered but thrived, becoming a singing legend. And in 2008, she landed a Las Vegas residency, earning an estimated $60 million per year and only stopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jack Nicholson was filled with emotions
The scene that helped make Jack Nicholson a star was unsurprisingly due to his tremendous acting skills. But he also was instrumental in the writing. For the 1970 film “Five Easy Pieces,” Nicholson completely rewrote the lines for the scene. Looking back on his performance, he told The New York Times, “It was a breakthrough for me as an actor, for actors. I don’t think they’d had this level of emotion, really, in almost any male character until that point.” He went on to explain how he felt truly emotional in the scene and could even remember every physical detail about the moment he filmed the part.
Nicholson showed the full possibilities of his acting skills in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” The film, a comedy and drama based on the novel from the ’60s, starred Nicholson as a mental hospital patient who appears to actually be sane. As reviewed by The New York Times, the actor played “the role of Randle with such easy grace that it’s difficult to remember him in any other film.” And for his incredible performance, Nicholson won the Best Actor award at the Oscars.
He went on to star in other films like “The Shining” and “The Departed” — often showcasing his signature, sinister-looking smile. His last acting credit came in 2010, according to his IMDb page. In his share time, Nicholson spent much of his retirement sitting courtside at Los Angeles Lakers games, per the Los Angeles Times.
Jimmie Walker knew how to make fans laugh
A young man from the Bronx in New York City, Jimmie Walker started off as a standup comedian in 1969, but audiences all over the country were introduced to Walker for his role as J.J. Evans on the TV series “Good Times” (via PBS). The show took place in Chicago and “pioneered the portrayal of Black families on network TV, setting the stage (literally) for shows like ‘The Jeffersons’ and ‘The Cosby Show,'” plus modern-day hits like “Black-ish,” The Florida-Times Union summarized. On the series, Walter’s character was “the show’s comic relief, balancing the show’s tender family moments with bouts of his signature goofy, physical comedy,” PBS reviewed. Walker became known for his hilarious catchphrase, “Dy-no-mite!”
Reportedly, the show’s producer wasn’t pleased with the goofy trajectory of the show driven by Walker. His one co-star, John Amos, shared a similar sentiment, “I thought that we had lost the focus, which was the family as a whole and not just, you know, buffoonery.” But Walker defended his acting and said that any comedy needs someone to provide comic relief.
As of 2021, Walker continued to act and appeared in the movie “Chaaw,” Chestnut Hill Local reported. What’s more, he never lost touch with his roots as a standup comedian. The Florida-Times Union reported that Walker performed standup at a venue in Jacksonville, Florida. The article noted that Walker was based out of Las Vegas and travels on the weekends.
Ali MacGraw showed her emotions
The aptly-named film “Love Story” told the story of two “star-crossed lovers from different social stratas,” played by Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, Town and Country recapped. After premiering in 1970, “Love Story” suddenly “became a runaway international hit” for its chemistry between the leads and an emotional climax. Because of this, the then-unknown MacGraw “with one starter film under her belt, became an icon of her generation” after the flick’s release. The movie was a success with critics as well, earning Best Actor and Best Actress Oscar nominations for the two leads.
MacGraw remembered crying when she originally read the script. Reportedly, many in Hollywood passed on the romance but MacGraw asked her agent to greenlight the project. The Paramount chief at the time, Robert Evans, also wanted to pass on the story, “considering it overly sentimental.” But he reconsidered after “he fell in love with MacGraw” — both as an actor and a significant other. MacGraw and Evans later married and had a son together.
The couple ultimately divorced and in 2019, Evans died. “Our son, Joshua, and I will miss Bob tremendously,” MacGraw said in a statement (via The Hollywood Reporter). The actor added, “we are so very proud of his enormous contribution to the film Industry. He will be remembered as a giant.”
Dustin Hoffman became a controversial figure
Dustin Hoffman’s career took off first as the lead character in “The Graduate.” In the 1967 film, he played a recent college graduate who is “seduced by a woman who is twice his age — Mrs. Robinson,” The Atlantic dished. In the following decade, he starred in many popular films of the ’70s, and then, in 1979, Hoffman and his co-star Meryl Streep starred in the film “Kramer vs. Kramer.” The movie dominated the Oscars, winning Best Picture and Best Director. Plus, Hoffman won Best Actor and Streep Best Supporting Actress.
The movie also helped launch Streep’s amazing career, but while making the film, Hoffman used extreme method acting techniques. For example, Streep’s boyfriend John Cazale had recently died of cancer. In preparation for a scene, Hoffman allegedly taunted his co-star about “Cazale, jabbing her with remarks about his cancer and his death,” according to Vanity Fair. Richard Fischoff, one of the film’s executives remembered Hoffman “was goading her and provoking her, using stuff that he knew about her personal life and about John to get the response that he thought she should be giving in the performance.”
More troubling news about Hoffman came out in 2017 as several women accused the actor of “sexually predatory behavior,” per The Hollywood Reporter. But, Hoffman continued to act — for example, he signed on to appear in Mayim Bialik’s movie “As Sick as They Made Us” in 2021 (via The Hollywood Reporter).
If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
Bette Midler was the ultimate performer
The iconic entertainer Barry Manilow helped launch the careers of other entertainers, specifically, Bette Midler. He co-produced Midler’s debut album “The Divine Miss M,” which came out in 1972. Prior to the album, Midler was a well-known Broadway actor, appearing in shows like “Fiddler on the Roof.” Midler once wrote, “I began being called The Divine Miss M around 1969, when I made my first appearance at the Continental Baths, a gay bath house located in the basement of the Ansonia Hotel, at Broadway and 74th Street in New York,” per Billboard. In fact, her hairdresser for “Fiddler on the Roof” first called her “divine.”
The crooner’s singing in New York City unsurprisingly translated well to the music industry. Midler snagged a Grammy Award for Best New Artist for her debut album. The record contained three Billboard Top 40 hits: “Do You Want to Dance,” “Friends,” and her most popular song “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” Then in 1979, Midler showed off her talents on the big screen. She made her film debut in “The Rose,” and was nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars, per Vulture. Midler continued to shine in her career, earning 14 Grammy nominations as of 2021 — both for her songs, like “Wind Beneath My Wings,” and her performances in Broadway shows like the 2017 revival of “Hello, Dolly!” And Midler even wrote a children’s book, “The Tale of the Mandarin Duck,” as she explained on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
Diana Ross hit the high notes
The soulful singer Diana Ross first rose to fame as part of the Supremes in the ’60s. The group helped define the Motown sound with songs like “You Can’t Hurry Love.” One of the members, Florence Ballard, “not only chose the name the Supremes, but also sang lead vocals on many of their first songs,” Harper’s Bazaar detailed. But in 1967, she left the band leaving room for Ross to truly shine.
The group rebranded as Diana Ross and the Supremes but two years later, Ross also left the band, effectively ending the iconic group. Then, “In 1970, she released her first solo studio album, which housed the hit single ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.'” The song wasn’t an original but Ross turned it into a classic — her version topped the Billboard pop chart, The Wall Street Journal revealed. Following the success of her first single, Ross married her manager Robert Ellis Silberstein. The couple had an adorable meet-cute in the ’60s and went on to have two children together, including Tracee Ellis Ross.
Continuing her hot streak, Ross jumped into film and starred in the 1972 film “Lady Sings the Blues.” And later in the decade, she played Dorothy in the film version of the musical “The Wiz.” But Ross then focused on music and continued to record solo material. In 2021, she released two singles “Thank You” and “If the World Just Danced,” Rolling Stone reported.
Paul McCartney went his own way
One month before the Beatles released “Let It Be” in 1970, their final album together, singer Paul McCartney released his first solo album. The eponymous debut was “notable for the fact that he performed all instruments and vocals himself, aside from some backing vocals performed by Linda, it’s an album rich in experimentation,” according to McCartney’s official website. The album also featured the beautiful song, “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which Rolling Stone ranked as his best solo work ever. McCartney wrote the song on his piano “as he watched the band that had been his life’s work fall apart, and how much he relied just then on the support of his new wife, Linda.” McCartney used a fake name to record the track at Abbey Road Studios with the help of his wife. “We decided we didn’t want to tell anyone what we were doing or go to any companies. It was just swell,” McCartney said at the time.
The singer-songwriter then formed the group Wings, with successful hits like “Band on the Run” and “Live and Let Die.” Later, McCartney continued to tour the world, playing favorites from his incredible discography. In 2020, McCartney released “McCartney III,” the third album in his “trilogy of home-made and self-titled albums,” it said on his website.
Liza Minnelli was an all-around superstar
As Liza Minnelli told Variety, “I was born and they took a picture.” The performer was referring to her life as the child of two famous parents, Judy Garland and Vincente Minnelli. This meant the young girl grew up “on movie sets and in concert halls.” And at just over a year old, Minnelli made her movie debut in “The Pirate,” which was directed by her father and starred her mother.
The incredibly talented Minnelli pursued a career on Broadway and in 1965 she won her first Tony award at 19, making her “the youngest person to win the leading actress in a musical Tony.” By the end of the decade, Minnelli’s role in “The Sterile Cuckoo” earned her an Oscar nomination. In 1972, Minnelli combined her love of musical theater and film by appearing in the movie version of “Cabaret.” She won Best Actress at the Oscars for her role in the film directed by famous choreographer Bob Fosse. One of her co-stars in the film, Joel Grey, wasn’t surprised by the win, since he saw Minnelli perform in Los Angeles years before. “She was this fresh, bursting, bright-eyed talent,” he said of the future star. “You could see that connection to her mother and father,” he added.
Continuing her career, Minelli became an EGOT winner with “four Tonys, two Grammys, an Emmy and an Oscar” as of 2020 — and the star admitted that she would still return to acting for the right opportunity.
Diane Von Furstenberg outlasted fashion trends
Belgian fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg — birth name Diane Halfin — lived in Switzerland when she was 19 years old. In Geneva, she first met Egon von Furstenberg, who she described as “a wonderful, beautiful, cheerful, knowing‐everything, having‐been-everywhere, 19‐year‐old authentic prince,” The New York Times reported. “At 22, and three months pregnant, she married von Furstenberg and headed for America” with a clear vision. According to Diane, she didn’t want to simply be a princess. “I had to be someone of my own, and not just a plain little girl who got married beyond her deserts,” she said.
Diane then started a fashion empire in the U.S. She launched a cosmetics line, eyewear, perfume, lingerie, and a beauty book all with her name on it. But Diane’s most successful fashion piece was “the ubiquitous von Furstenberg wrap dress.” As detailed by The New York Times, Diane’s “body-hugging wrap dress” was “so emblematic of 1970s fashion that it hangs in the Smithsonian Institution.”
By the following decade, the Diane von Furstenberg fashion label lost popularity. But like many fashion trends, her brand became relevant again in the ’90s thanks to vintage shoppers falling in love with her dresses again. By 2009, Diane’s dresses were “worn by women like Jessica Alba, Madonna and Jennifer Lopez.” Her brand continued, and Diane helped other designers as the head of the Council of Fashion Designers of America for 13 years (via Harper’s Bazaar).
Patti Smith mastered her voice
The song that made Patti Smith famous wasn’t an original but a cover of a cover that she completely changed. In 1974, she recorded her first song “Hey Joe” at Jimi Hendrix’s Electric Lady Studio, NPR described. The track was, “originally written by Billy Roberts in 1962 but made famous by The Jimi Hendrix Experience,” via Genius. “Smith’s version inverts the patriarchal violence of the original as it is dedicated to Patty Hearst,” the teen who was kidnapped in the mid-’70s.
This ability to use words so beautifully came from her experience first as a poet. After initially just writing, Smith started to perform to combine “poetry and rock,” per NPR. And she “developed a high-energy performance style that was sometimes aggressive, sometimes ecstatic.” All these factors led to Smith earning the nickname, the Godmother of Punk. Outside of music, Smith dated photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. He was responsible for cover art on Smith’s debut album “Horses” in 1975. But sadly, the man she called her soulmate died of AIDS in 1989.
Despite the tragedy, Smith continued to make music, like her album “Dream of Life” in 1998. She also became an author, writing both memoirs and novels, per The New York Times. And going full-circle on her career, Smith returned to the Electric Lady Studio in 2021 to stream live performances, Billboard reported.
Debbie Harry kept on rocking
Led by singer Debbie Harry who was 31, the group Blondie released their eponymous debut album in 1976. “For years they toured the world” and the group went on to sell 40 million records, according to The Guardian. Blondie’s songs “One Way or Another” and “Heart of Glass” were both Billboard Top 100 hits in the ’70s, the second peaking at number one. And the start of the ’80s were even better for Blondie, who scored three more number one singles: “Call Me,” “The Tide is High,” and “Rapture.” In her personal life, Harry dated her bandmate, guitarist Chris Stein. And though the couple ultimately split up, they remained bandmates and Harry became the godmother to his two children.
Blondie broke up in the ’80s but later reunited in 1997. Then, in 2019, “Blondie was invited to perform in Havana, Cuba as part of a cultural exchange through the Cuban Ministry of Culture,” according to the group’s website. In 2021, Harry took on a different role from music — modeling. Though she already became a fashion icon from “getups she wore through the 1970s and 1980s,” Harry appeared in a campaign for the luxury brand Coach, via W Magazine. “I’m pleased and proud to announce that some of the early costumes I can sort of fit into,” Harry admitted, but also clarified, “I say ‘sort of’ — I’m giving myself a little break.”
Mick Jagger had all the right moves
After the Beatles debuted in America in 1964, it kicked off the “British Invasion” era, Rolling Stone recapped. And one of the biggest groups to follow in their footsteps was the Rolling Stones, led by frontman Mick Jagger. But, “unlike the Beatles, the Stones came on unsmiling and without manners — the kind of group parents had every right to feel uneasy about.” And in 1971, the group released one of their timeless albums “Sticky Fingers.” Staying true to their attitude, the cover “featured a risqué photograph from the mind of Andy Warhol of a male model in tight jeans seen only from the waist down,” NPR detailed, adding, “the songs were often just as provocative — booze, drugs, sex all there.”
The group continued to release albums while Jagger grew into his status as a rock legend. As GQ wrote, in the ’70s, “no one quite mastered the decade’s lean, louche style quite like Mick Jagger.” Later, the singer remained a pop culture icon for younger generations, inspiring the Maroon 5 song “Moves like Jagger.”
The band continued to play live shows, wrapping up their “three-year, three-leg No Filter Tour” in 2019 (via Billboard). And reportedly, the group earned $415.6 million for the tour, making it their second in the “top 10 highest grossing tours in Boxscore’s history.” In 2021, Jagger went on tour once again, but, sadly, drummer Charlie Watts died months before the first show, Rolling Stone reported.
Mark Hamill was out of this world
In an interview for Yahoo!’s “Role Recall,” actor Robert Englund revealed a shocking connection with Mark Hamill. Englund, who played the villain Freddy Krueger in “Nightmare on Elm Street,” explained that Hamill used to sleep on his couch in the ’70s. One day, “after a six-pack of Heineken,” Englund claimed he told Hamill, “Hey, Lucas is doing this space movie. Maybe you’re right for it. The lead guy’s like a teenager.” He was of course referring to writer/director George Lucas’ original “Star Wars” film. “So Mark got on the phone to his agent and I think he went up the next day. He nailed it, and the rest is history,” Englund explained.
At the time, Hamill had only been a TV actor. But the famous sci-fi film, and the sequels that followed, launched Hamill’s career into space. While filming the original “Star Wars,” Englund remembered Hamill would tell him gossip from the set. “Not only did he have a huge crush on Carrie Fisher, but I heard all the stories.” The movie also helped launch the careers of Hamill’s co-stars Harrison Ford and Fisher. As for Hamill, he excelled in voice acting work for the following decades, via IMDb. And in 2017, he reprised his role as Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.” Apart from acting, Hamill became a pro at social media, like when he had a viral tweet for just posting his name.
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