Banner Image: defotoberg / Shutterstock
The ‘70s are long gone, but the memories of this funky decade linger on. We still like to rock some of the fashions, watch the old movies and occasionally boogie down to a disco song.
And, of course, the decade was filled with actors, singers and other celebs that kept us entertained while we debated things like equal rights and the oil crisis (hmmm, have times really changed?).
Some of the big names of the day had careers that lasted well beyond the era. Others, not so much. Either way, they’re fun to remember.
So let’s take a stroll down this bell-bottomed lane and see who you remember best.
The Male Sex Symbol: Burt Reynolds
Burt Reynold and his porn-stache, they both starred in box office hits like Deliverance, The Longest Yard, White Lightning, Smokey and the Bandit and Starting Over. They even posed nude for Cosmo!
Yes, theirs was a long and illustrious career. And unlike many other Hollywood couples, they never parted ways. Awwwww.
The Pin-up Girl: Farah Fawcett
She later went on to become a more serious actress, but in the ‘70s, Farah Fawcett shot to stardom as private investigator Jill Monroe on the hit TV show Charlie’s Angels. She called it quits after just one season but never disappeared.
How could she when she appeared in what’s considered the best-selling poster of all time. In the now-iconic shot, she actually wore her own bathing suit (not the bikini they wanted her to wear) and did her own hair and makeup.
In 2011, the red swimsuit and famous pinup shot were donated to the Smithsonian. Yes, she’ll always be the poster child for feathered hair.
The Comedian With the Catchphrase: Jimmy Walker
Dy-No-Mite! It was one of the hottest catchphrases of the ‘70s. Comedian Jimmy Walker became the breakout star of the sitcom Good Times although the show was originally meant to focus on the actors playing his parents, John Amos and Esther Rolle.
What are ya gonna do? The Guy had personality! And once he started saying “dy-no-mite” in every episode, the show was kind of over for the other actors.
The Other Variety Show Stars: Tony Orlando and Dawn
When Sonny and Cher left the airwaves, Tony Orlando and Dawn picked up where they left off.
Tony and his backup singers Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson were known for hits like “Knock Three Times,” “Candida” and “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.”
Like many variety stars of the era, they eventually faded into obscurity along with their sarcastic banter.
But can you name which popular Netflix series that Telma Hopkins has appeared in recently? Dead to Me! Check out her smoking karaoke performance in episode 5: Don’t Leave Me This Way.
The TV Detective: Robert Blake
Robert Blake played a scruffy, plainclothes police detective in the hit show Baretta. Turn ons: his beat-up Chevrolet Impala and Fred, his pet cockatoo.
He was also big on catchphrases like: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” “You can take dat to da bank,” and “Dat’s the name of dat tune.”
Oh, and he often referred to his girlfriends as his “cousins.” Um, that seems wrong.
The Star of the Scary Movie: Linda Blair
Linda Blair wasn’t just the star of A scary movie. She was the star of one of THE scariest movies EVER, The Exorcist.
Yeah, yeah, she went on to other films like Born Innocent and Sarah T. - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. But she’ll always be best remembered best for spinning her head around and spewing vomit. Now that’s a legacy.
The Funny Man: Steve Martin
Steve Martin’s acting career lasted far beyond the 1970s. But back then, he was more well known for his absurdist comedy, his white suit and his already-grey hair.
He hosted Saturday Night Live a whopping 15 times and his “Let’s Get Small” routine is one of the show’s absolute classics. Some guys never go out of style.
The Quarterback/Spokesperson: Joe Namath
This Super Bowl champion wasn’t just a quarterback for the New York Jets. He had so much charisma and personality that he simply couldn’t be confined to the field.
Nicknamed “Broadway Joe," he was also known as a sex symbol, actor and spokesperson. Sure he threw for a ton of yards. But his best work was probably in this pantyhose commercial for Hanes Beautymist. What an artist.
The Force of Nature: Charo
Charo was actually a legitimate flamenco guitarist, but in 1970s America, she was known as the “cuchi, cuchi” girl. That was her famous catchphrase.
With her big blonde hair, her big Spanish accent, and her big personality she became a fixture on talk shows. She was also a continual guest star on shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.
Which made it all the more surprising when she won Billboard’s Female Pop Album of the year in 1995. What else can we say? Other than cuchi, cuchi!
The Action Star: Richard Roundtree
Richard Roundtree was better known as Shaft, the private investigator from one of the most famous blaxploitation films ever.
Equally famous was the soundtrack of the movie Shaft! by Isaac Hayes. In fact, “The Theme From Shaft” won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
And just like the songs says, Shaft was a “private dick, sex machine and a bad mother...shut your mouth!”
Can you dig it?
The Serious Actress: Faye Dunaway
She has an academy award, three Golden Globes, a BAFTA and an Emmy. There’s no denying this lady’s credentials.
In the ‘70s, Faye Dunawayshe starred in a string of famous films such as The Three Musketeers, Chinatown, Towering Inferno, Three Days of the Condor and Network, for which she won the Oscar for Best Actress. Bravo!
The Model and Actress??: Bo Derek
As she ran down the beach in the sex comedy 10, model Bo Derek became the ultimate Hollywood fantasy girl. Married for a time to director John Derek, she also starred in box office busts like FantasiesI, Bolero and Ghosts Can’t Do It.
And if those titles don’t sound too familiar, it’s probably because the acting and directing rated a lot lower than 10. Oh well.
The Tennis Star: Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King reached number 1 in World tennis and won 39 Grand Slam Titles and was one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all time,
And her fight for gender equality and social justice made her even more of a champ. She pushed for equal pay and conditions for women’s tennis and was the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Association.
But one of her biggest games of all time was the famous “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs. People across America and the world watched as she beat the aging Riggs and won new respect for women’s tennis.
But even women not interested in sports were glad to see her take down that loud-mouthed macho pig. Score one for the ladies!
The Teen Heartthrob: Leif Garrett
He was a kid actor turned singer. And if you listened to the radio in the ‘70s, you probably remember singing along to his remake of “Runaround Sue.”
But his most famous starring role was probably in teeny bopper fantasies, which lead to his frequent appearance in magazines like Tiger Beat. His photos were promptly cut out and enshrined on thousands of bedroom walls. Siiiigh.
The It Couple: Danny and Sandy
In 1978 John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John hit the big screen as our favorite high school couple, Danny and Sandy. Innocent Sandy from Australia falls for bad boy Danny Zucko and eventually sheds her poodle skirt for teased hair and skin-tight pants; way more fun than being a prude.
The film was a smash, and some still think of it as the ultimate high school musical. What can we say, Grease? We’re hopelessly devoted to you.
Hang In There Baby
We could go on about this far-out decade, but it’s time to get back to the present. Hope you had some fun. Keep on truckin’, friends.
You might also be interested in: Do You Remember These 16 Celebrities From the ‘60s? [The It People from the ‘60s]