25 Revealing Stories About The Gorgeous Stars Of The 1960s
Brigitte Bardot is a beautiful lady in red
We don't have all the figures, but it's likely that Brigitte Bardot is one of the most photographed women of all time. When she came onto the scene in And God Created Woman she sent shockwaves through the cinema, but that adoration came at a price.
While speaking with The Guardian, Bardot explained that she gave up acting not because of the lack of parts, but because she couldn't escape from people who all wanted something from her:
I know what it feels like to be hunted. The majority of great actresses met tragic ends. When I said goodbye to this job, to this life of opulence and glitter, images and adoration, the quest to be desired, I was saving my life. This worship of celebrity… suffocated me.
A young Ann-Margret on the set of the 1962 film, State Fair
It's almost as if Ann-Margret appeared out of the ether as a fully formed star, ready to woo the audience with her Laplandian charm, but she worked hard to become one of Hollywood's most endearing and enduring stars.
Initially signed to a recording deal with RCA by George Burns, she received a seven year contract with Fox in 1962, the same year that she appeared in State Fair. As with many things in Ann-Margret's life, luck played a large factor in this casting.
While at the San Luis Obispo Film Festival she explained that she initially went into the audition for the role of a goody two shoes, and walked out of the audition being cut as the bad girl.
Actress - dancer Julie Newmar, 1960s
It's rare that an actress of Julie Newmar's stature becomes such a big hit in Hollywood, but standing over six feet tall her presence was one that audiences welcomed whether she was playing Catwoman or dancing with Fred Astaire.
However, her height also made it hard for her to bust any truly amazing moves. While speaking with the Observer she explained that when it came to dancing with some of Hollywood's shorter, famous men she had to think outside the box:
I did a dance with Fred Astaire in the movie Bandwagon. I got to waltz just from left of camera to right of camera, and I’m taller than Fred Astaire. Fortunately, I was wearing a long skirt, so I waltzed with bended knees.
Cybill Shepherd looking good, 1968
Cybill Shepherd has done it all. She started out as a teenage beauty queen before transitioning into life as a model all before she was out of high school. She famously took a lead role in The Last Picture Show after director Peter Bogdanovich saw her on the cover of a magazine while he was standing in line at the supermarket.
Shepherd chalks her good fortune up to look, but she doesn't consider herself to be adrift on the tides of kismet, but rather a rebellious woman who's had to work hard to not be a jerk. She told the Today Show:
Beauty is as beauty does. I just lucked out... It had nothing to do with talent... I had to repeat gym because I was so — I was rebellious. I was a rebel girl. I was a bad girl for a long time.
Danish actress Annette Stroyberg, 1960s
An actress defined more by her relationship with director and ex-husband Roger Vadim than anything else, Annette Strøyberg only appeared in four films but she clearly left as much of a mark on Vadim as she did on the fans of her work.
Following Vadim's divorce from Brigitte Bardot he met Strøyberg on the set of Les Liaisons dangereuses and the two hit it off immediately. They worked on one more film together before their relationship fell apart and they moved on from one another, or so it would seem.
In 1986, Vaduz published Bardot, Deneuve, Fonda -- My Life With the Three Most Beautiful Women in the World. Even though she didn't make the title, Strøyberg makes consistent appearances. As her final film was released in 1963, her presence in the book was her last blip on the pop culture radar for many fans of her work.
Barbara Roufs helps a driver start his engines
Taken by photographer Tom West, this shot of Barbara Roufs shows two of the things that he most liked to shoot in the world - a great car and a beautiful woman. One of his West's greatest models was Barbara Roufs, the 1973 PDA Queen.
West and Roufs worked together quite a bit, he was a race car photographer and she was a trophy girl, and they became friends. Unfortunately after he moved east the two lost touch. It wasn't until the '90s that he found out the startling news about his former muse - Roufs took her own life in 1985.
While we lost this gorgeous model too soon, we'll always have her glorious shots to remember her by.
Elizabeth Montgomery doing the twist, 1960s
There's no actress from the '60s that quite as iconic as Elizabeth Montgomery, better known as Samantha Stephen on Bewitched. The series was huge, and it appealed to everyone which is a hard thing to do for a show about a witch and her weird family.
Born in Los Angeles to star Robert Montgomery, Elizabeth was prepping for stardom from an early age and performing for anyone within her line of sight. She recalled:
Dad tells me I often climbed on his lap after dinner and remarked, ‘I’m going to be an actress when I grow up.’ I don’t know whether he encouraged me or not, but he told me he would humor me and would tell me to wait and see what happened when I grew up. I’ll be real honest and say that Daddy did help me get a break in TV and I’m really grateful for his assistance and guidance. He’s my most severe critic, but also a true friend as well as loving father.
Fashion model, Verushka wearing a very Space Age outfit, 1960s
Long before the supermodels of the 1990s, decades even, there was Veruschka, a German with a mononym who stood six feet tall and who was rumored to be a countess in eastern Prussia. She was as much of a freaked out space alien as she was a model, all David Bowie chic and Twiggy thin.
Verushchka created the look of the '60s. She was skinny and tall and pale, with a penchant for clothing that accentuated her long and lean structure she was a transformative presence on runways and in magazines.
At the height of her success Veruschka was making ten grand a day before leaving the world of modeling after a disagreement with the editor-in-chief of Vogue over her personal style. Ah, the life of a model.
Italian actress and body double for Sophia Loren, Scilla Gabel, 1961
To be the body double of one of the most famous women on the planet was a double edged sword. Scilla Gabel found early success when she worked as Sophia Loren's body double in a series of films shot in Italy, but by 1955 she was tired of the life of a doppelgänger and set out on her own.
In '55 Gabel began a lengthy career as one of Italy's most recognizable leading ladies, but she's always been thought of as Loren's clone. It's not a bad life, but it can't be great for your self esteem. It's not clear if Gabel and Loren ever had a friendship outside of their working relationship, but what we do know is that these two women are forever connected.
Italian Tunisian actress Claudia Cardinale in 1968
Anyone who's ever seen the mind blowing Italian masterpiece 8 1/2 knows the entrancing beauty of Claudia Cardinale. Born in Tunisia, this Italian actress grew up speaking French, something that gave directors pause when they worked with her. It's not that she spoke a different language. It's the way that she sounded when she spoke.
Cardinale initially wanted to be a teacher, but when she won the “Most Beautiful Italian Girl in Tunisia” contest in 1957 her life's trajectory was changed forever.
She found instant success in both Europe and America, although she says that the wives and girlfriends of her co-stars were always a little weird around her, especially while filming a love scene with Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West. She told the LA Times:
You know when I did the scene with him in [the bed]? His wife was looking. It was [the] first love scene we did together, and his wife was furious.
Jacqueline Bisset who played Miss Goodthighs in the James Bond movie, Casino Royale, 1967
Jacqueline Bisset has always been a striking on screen presence, but it was her role as Mrs. Goodthighs in 1967's Casino Royale that proved that she had the comedic wit to match her bodacious bod. As much as we love this parody Bond film, it almost brought Bisset's career to a startling end.
In the middle of filming, Bisset's co-star Peter Sellers fired a prop gun directly into her face. The discharge from the prop weapon caused temporary blindness, and she received minor injuries from dropping a bottle of wine on her foot. Even when you're in a parody it's dangerous to be around a super spy.
Jayne Mansfield and Lana Turner, 1960s
The late 1950s and early '60s were ruled by blonde bombshells, those gorgeous and buxom actress who were given peroxide hairdos in order to mimic to success of Marilyn Monroe. Two of the most beloved bombshells of the era were Jayne Mansfield and Lana Turner, even though Turner proceeded Mansfield in the industry by decades.
Turner was somewhat of a blueprint for Mansfield even if she had a much longer career. Both women had to constantly bleach their hair to get it that nearly white shade of peroxide blonde, and they both witnessed the decline of the studio system. Unfortunately, Mansfield passed away before she could reap the benefits of working outside the system, but Turner managed to keep her career afloat and find success throughout the '60s and '70s.
Natalie Wood monkeying around, 1960s
There's never been a star quite like Natalie Woods. She was one of the few child stars who was able to transition effortlessly to adult roles, allowing the audience to watch her grow into an adult as she acted in some of the most important films of the 1950s and '60s.
The daughter of Russian immigrants, Woods landed her first role at four years old when she was spotted by a production company and placed in 1943's Happy Land. Soon afterwards she appeared in the 1946 Orson Welles film Tomorrow Is Forever. But even as a child actress she said that she was like a little adult. She explained:
I spent practically all my time in the company of adults. I was very withdrawn, very shy, I did what I was told and I tried not to disappoint anybody. I knew I had a duty to perform, and I was trained to follow orders.
Natalie Wood, 1964
After her breakout role in 1955's Rebel Without A Cause Wood began taking on more serious roles, but it was the release of West Side Story that turned her into a household name. By the early '60s she wasn't just famous, but she was a part of a famous couple.
Wood married Robert Wagner in 1957 and the two immediately turned heads. They were such a power couple that their presence became a thing of note for the press on slow news days. She explained:
We drove a Corvette across the country. Radio stations would announce we had just passed through, and people would wait for us in every little town.
One of Cher's many groovy outfits, 1960s
Cher is known for many things: her unbeatable discography, an amazing stage show, a weird Twitter presence, and her outfits. Since the 1960s she's been wearing some of the most garish and glamorous costumes that the world has ever seen, but she doesn't put those things together on her own.
The secret weapon for Cher's clothing arsenal is Bob Mackie, a clothing designer that she met in an early appearance on the Carol Burnett Show. The two formed such a bond that he became her designer for the initial iteration of the Sonny and Cher Show and he's been working with her ever since. Mackie explained the joy of costuming Cher to Harpers Bazaar:
She would have up to 20 costumes for an hour-long show. It might be on camera for 30 seconds or 10 minutes, but she wore lots and lots of clothes so she became this amazing clothes horse. I could get a piece of beautiful matte jersey and we could make her a dress in 10 minutes because her body was incredible to work with. She looked good in so many things, the more interesting and exotic, the better. She said one time, 'I’m like your Barbie!!'
Priscilla Presley looking pretty groovy, 1960
The 1960s were a strange time for Priscilla Presley. After years of being courted by Elvis when she was only a teenager, she moved to Memphis where she lived with the King while finishing high school. At the same time he was making sure she dressed the way he liked and wore makeup the way he wanted.
Presley later described herself as "Elvis’ living doll, to fashion as he pleased," and she meant it. He dyed her hair the color he wanted and had her correct her posture, it was only then that the two were married.
On May 1, 1967, Priscilla and the King married in Las Vegas and pretty much immediately sired Lisa Marie.
Raquel Welch rocking a leotard in the 1960s
Even today, Raquel Welch is a sex symbol for the ages. She's gorgeous and sultry with a pout that invites the audience to ask what she's thinking about. She's just absolutely drop dead sexy. However, Welch says that she doesn't feel that way, and that more often than not she feels like a fraud. She told Cigar Aficionado:
I think I was always more intimidated by my image than anyone else. I mean, there's a tremendous loss of self, because you really are in a job where this image has been created. You get tired, you wake up ugly, you don't have anything new to say to people and you feel like a lemon that's had all the juice squeezed out of it.
Sophia Loren in fishnet stockings, 1962
It feels like Sophia Loren has been with us forever. She first came to prominence at the age of 15 when she was selected as one of the last three finalists of the Miss Italia 1950 beauty pageant, and won the title of “Miss Elegance 1950."
Loren went to international acclaim in 1958 with Desire Under Elms and Heller in Pink Tights, and from there she started wowing us and didn't stop. When asked if there was anything she would do differently in her multi-decade career she gave a surprising answer, not really:
In a long, long career like I had — and by the way, I have — it’s very difficult to be able to criticize some of the moments that you do by yourself that you never tell to other people. It’s a very normal thing to do because you cannot every time have a big victory – no, there have been moments, maybe weak moments, where you did something that you are not really very happy about. If you asked me what it is, I don’t know...
The gorgeous Lori Saunders of Petticoat Junction, 1960s
Petticoat Junction was one of the three shows on television in the 1960s that brought audiences into the lives of a rural family who's a bit kooky but incredibly loving. The show was a huge hit, but Lori says that in order to get people to watch the first season all of the actresses had to do a huge public press blitz complete with thigh high boots and dancing, not exactly what you'd expect form Petticoat Junction. She told Closer Weekly:
We did a matinee and two evening shows with singing and a little dancing — basically a big blitz for Petticoat. We were wearing these white, thigh-high boots and we were so tired of them. After the show, we took them off and dumped them in the ocean!
The groovy and pretty Sharon Marie Tate, 1960s
It's hard to know just what Sharon Tate could have done if she survived the '60s. As an actress she was often pigeonholed into the role of a dumb blonde, but she was so much more than that. She was funny and smart, a student of cinema there was likely nothing she couldn't have accomplished.
However, Tate thought poorly of her abilities, once claiming, "I’m a trick done with wigs, aliases, teachers and, I guess, a lot of money." Even so, in the films which she does appear she's truly fascinating to watch. It's Valley of the Dolls where she shows her most range as a character who uses her beauty as a means to get what she wants. Tate later explained that she felt close to her character, Jennifer, which is likely why she earned a Golden Globe nomination for the film.
The lovely Barbara Eden posing for a photo shoot outdoors in the 1960s 👙
I Dream of Jeanine is pure comfort viewing. Not only is it one of the most fun shows of the '60s with amazing set design and the perfect amount of camp, but you can tell everyone is having fun on set.
While speaking about her glory days on set, Eden said that from the moment the director called action it was pure magic. Although, she admits that she could get carried away every once in a while. She told Closer Weekly:
When that camera started rolling, It was just heaven. Larry [Hagman] said I scared him to death! I threw my arms around his neck and said, ‘Oh, Master!’ And he was like, ‘What is this woman doing?'
Ursula Andress AKA 'Honey Ryder' in the 1962 James Bond film, Dr. No
With one short scene and one very white bikini, Ursula Andress worked her way into the public consciousness forever. Dr. No did quite a bit for cinema, and whole establishing James Bond's big screen legacy is important, it also gave rise to the "Bond Girl," a sexy actress who shows up in a 007 to, well, be a sexy actress.
For many Bond Girls this kind of thing can be the kiss of death, but for Andress it was the beginning of an all new way of life. She explained:
It was a big moment for me. I think that simple bikini made a complete difference to my career. It made me into a success... It’s a mystery. All I did was wear this bikini in Dr. No – not even a small one – and whoosh! Overnight, I made it. It gave me financial independence and changed my life completely.
What could be more beautiful than a dear old lady growing wise with age. Every age can be enchanting, provided you live within it. -- Bridget Bardot
Fame never sat well with Brigitte Bardot. Even when she left the film industry there was no hope of ever making the public forget that she was one of the most gorgeous women on the planet, and the face that brought the world to St. Tropez.
While speaking with The Guardian, Bardot explained that there's no peace for her, even today, and that while she's happy to give her fans a photo or a brief conversation, she'll never have the privacy she so rightly deserves:
I don’t know what it means to sit quietly in a bistro, on a terrace, or in the theatre without being approached by someone... People will come up to me. They’ll be watching what Brigitte Bardot is eating, how she holds her fork. They will ask for yet another photo. I have never refused. But I still can’t stand being watched. Certain people … want to embrace me, to touch me.
Barbara Roufs, a groovy gear girl
It's rare that a pinup captures the pubic's imagination the way that Barbara Roufs has. You'll see her in a ton of photos from the early '70s, but that's it. It's strange that such a small amount of time in front of the camera can make someone such a cult figure, but I guess that's exactly how one becomes beloved by the underground.
With such a fleeting amount of time in the spotlight, it's sad that she never transitioned into a more expansive modeling career. Although, if she left the race track for the world of fashion then it's likely that we wouldn't have all the amazing drag racing photos that we have of her.
Barbara Roufs smiling in the winner's circle
It's likely that drag racing wouldn't have gotten as big as it did in the '70s without pin ups like Barbara Roufs and Jungle Pam. There beauty didn't just bring men to the sport, but it kept them buying tickets to each and every competition. Even if they weren't huge gear heads, everyone likes to see a babe parading around the two-lane blacktop.
Roufs dropped out of the racing world almost as quickly as she joined in, but we'll always have her groovy pictures to remind us of the amazing times that were to be had on the race track, even if you didn't care about engines, exhaust, or who crossed the finish line.