45 Eerie and Revealing Photos From The Groovy Era
By | September 13, 2022
The crew of the Challenger, moments before their final flight on January 28, 1986
This collection of chilling photographs from the Groovy Era shows a darker side to the past than you may already know.
History photos at first glance can appear to offer a pleasant vision of another time and even bring a warm feeling of nostalgia to the soul. However, if you take a closer look at these photos you'll see that they contain stories that are deeply haunting.
These eerie photos are impossible to look away from. Some may break your heart and take your breath away, but each and every one of them needs to be seen to be believed. Warning, these photos and stories are for mature audiences only.
On January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger was set to take off with Christa McAuliffe, was a teacher chosen for the flight by NASA’s Teacher in Space" program on board as one of the astronauts. What should have been a crowning achievement for NASA became one of the most horrific events of the 20th century.
Space travel is dangerous, there's no way around it. Astronauts face mortal danger from the moment they strap themselves in to when they return to Earth. Anything can go wrong, and in the case of the Challenger it was a simple leak that did them in.
Referred to as an explosion, the Challenger actually fell apart in a mass of flames that was caused by a seal in the shuttle’s right solid-fuel rocket booster. The seal sprung a leak and hot gas poured through through, collapsing the fuel tank and tearing itself apart, causing the huge fireball that people across the world witnessed.
Muhammad Ali talks a suicidal veteran down from a high rise, 1981
When this young man named Joe decided to jump out of a window on January 19, 1981, Muhammad Ali was months away from his final bout, a ten round fight that ended his career with a loss. Ali may have not been at the peak of his physical condition on this day, but he was mentally prepared to be a true savior of the common people.
Joe, a veteran, climbed out the window of this Miracle Mile building and worked up the nerve to jump to his death as Ali rode up the street in a Rolls-Royce. He noticed people on the sidewalk calling for the young man to jump, so Ali went into action.
He left his car on the street and made his way into the building before leaving out a window close enough so Joe could hear him. He told the young man that they were brothers and that there was bond between them. He helped Joe back inside before driving him to a veteran's hospital for treatment.
James Dean at a gas station in 1955 was just before his fatal car accident
On September 30, 1955 James Dean took his final drive in his Porsche 550 Spyder. His plan was simple. He was going to put the pedal to the floor and speed to Salinas, California, where he'd take part in an auto rally. For just a little while he wasn't going to worry about being James Dean, he was just another guy who liked to drive fast.
By the fall of 1955, Dean had put together a small collection of Porches that he used to tear up the asphalt, but his most bold love was reserved for the car in which he'd spend his final moments. However, there was something cursed about his favorite car.
A neckbreaker, a death machine, whatever you want to call it, this car was built to go fast, to hug curves, and to spend your final moments in. Driving to Salinas up Highway 466, Dean smashed head first into a Ford Tudor. He was killed instantly, cursed to be perpetually 24 yers old and preserved in amber as a Rebel Without a Cause.
A photographer realized 30 years later that he took a photo of Robin Williams miming in Central Park
Robin Williams was one of the greatest comedic minds of the 20th century, from his early work as a standup straight through to the '90s, he was an untouchable force for laughter. However, there was something dark brewing in his head, something that wouldn't let him go.
Long before Williams took his own life, and even before he was a household name, he was working as a mime in Central Park. That's where photographer Daniel Sorine saw him in 1974. Sorine couldn't stop snapping photos of Williams, he explains:
What attracted me to Robin Williams and his fellow mime, Todd Oppenheimer, was an unusual amount of intensity, personality and physical fluidity. When I approached them with my Pentax Spotmatic they allowed me to invite them into my camera instead of me having to chase after them.
Four years after this photo was taken Williams was cast as the star of Mork & Mindy.
Jacqueline Kennedy reaches for help after JFK was shot in 1969
When Lee Harvey Oswald fired a series of shots from a book depository in Dallas, Texas, he changed the course of American history. This photo shows one of the most iconic and harrowing moments of the 20th century, with Jacqueline Kennedy arching over the back of the President's open air limousine as her husband bleeds out in the car.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of conspiracy theories about what happened this day, but one of the strangest is the thought that this photo shows the First Lady attempting to escape a moving limo. That's not the case says Former Secret Service Agent Clint Hill, he states that she wouldn't leave her husband even he was taken to the emergency room. While speaking with CBS in 2013 he explained what really happened:
Mrs. Kennedy had ahold of the president and wouldn’t let go. I pleaded with her to please let us help the president, but she wouldn’t let go. She didn’t want anybody to see the condition he was in because it was horrible. So, I took off my suit coat and I covered his head and as soon as I did that, she let go. We rushed him into trauma room one, doctors came running from all over the hospital, trying to do everything they could to revive him.
Judy and Jerry Griffin met at Woodstock in 1969, this is the only photo taken of them
If there's something sinister in this pair of photographs, it's only in the positioning. These couple has been in love for decades, and their bond only grows stronger as the days go on.
Judy and Jerry Griffin didn't meet at Woodstock, they actually met on the way to the three day festival of peace and love. As circumstances would have it, these two strangers ended up in a van with one another, which would be sketchy in any other story but it worked out for these two. They spent the entire ride to Woodstock getting to know one another, and stayed together for the full three days.
At the festival, the couple took a single photograph together, but they never saw the shot until decades later when it showed up in the trailer for Woodstock: Three Days That Defined a Generation. According to Jerry, the couple had only known each other for 48 hours when the photo was taken.
The last known photo of all four members of the Beatles together, taken on August 22, 1969
August 22, 1969, was a rough day for the Beatles. They were finished with "Abbey Road" and now all that was left to do was promote their final album, something that none of them were happy about. The Fab Four met at John Lennon's estate and posed for their final photograph session. It doesn't look like anyone was enjoying themselves.
Aside from Paul McCartney, everyone looks tired. Even with the unkempt look in by '69, the band doesn't look prepped to advertise their final effort. Once the photos were taken each member of the band split, not reconvening until mid September when they officially broke up in a business meeting of all places.
John's parter, Yoko Ono, was on hand for the final photoshoot and the breakup in the meeting, and she remembers that all she could think once everything was said and done was:
My god, those three have entertained him for the last ten years. Now it's just me!
Johnny Cash looks out of it while he eats cake in a bush
Johnny Cash is known worldwide as the dark cowboy of country music. He was one of the first true outlaws of the genre, and his drug usage rivaled that of any artist on the planet. There was nothing that he didn't take, even if the chemicals he loved threatened to destroy his relationships and end his life.
So what's going on with this strange photo? It looks like it was snapped discretely by someone close to Cash while he was on one a binge. How else would someone be able to get such an embarrassing shot of the Man in Black? You call up the Columbia Records PR department is how.
This shot is actually a promotional photo for his 1976 album "Strawberry Cake." The story goes is that Cash saw an unhoused man in New York City and the image reminded him of all of his success. He went on to say that he knew who the man was he would “send him a piece of Strawberry Cake.”
Martin Luther King Jr. removing a burned cross from his lawn
This goes to show that no matter how much good you put out into the world there will always be someone who wants to dampen your light. Martin Luther King Jr. wasn't just at the forefront of the civil rights movement, he was a figure who changed the way people think about race and class.
He won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to desegregate the south, and he's one of the most important people that's ever been born, but that work made him an enemy of racists and human monsters across the globe.
Taken on April 26th, 1960, it's obvious that King and his two year old son have gotten used to this kind of treatment from the world at large, which is really the most chilling thing about this shot.
Albert II, the first humanoid launched into space before his once and only flight
Before space travel was deemed safe enough for humans, scientists tested out the harshness of traveling into the great unknown on primates. With these animals, researchers were able to learn quite a bit about leaving Earth, but why not just use a human? Sadly, the reasons animals were used in these experiments is because researchers knew that it was unlikely that they would survive.
Little consideration was taken for emotional and physical toll that these space animals were put through, something that likely weighed heavily on the researchers and scientists that worked with them.
Either to make it easier on the animals or easier on the researchers who had to handle them, the test primates were anesthetized before blasting off, and had sensors attached to them in order to get their readings. Albert II nearly survived his mission after being placed in a V2 rocket on June 14, 1949. Sadly, the parachute on his recovery capsule malfunctioned and he didn't make it.
Jamie Lee Curtis and her mother Janet Leigh in matching outfits at Studio 54
Can you imagine partying with your parents? A better question would be: Can you imagine going to Studio 54 with your mom? It was a palace of debauchery, and it's not the kind of place where you'd want your mother to see you getting down.
As Will Smith once said, "parents just don't understand." But really, should they understand? Sure, they've been in the same situations as we have, but should we want them to want to hang out with us on an all night party binge at a place like Studio 54? No way. Jamie Lee Curtis doesn't feel that way. She notes that after her parents divorced she felt like her father had turned his back on her, this led to her becoming incredibly close with her mother. She described their intimate relationship to the Huffington Post:
Like any other save-the-marriage baby, I failed. [Her mother] suffered public embarrassment as [Her father] chose a 17-year-old replacement, a German actress with whom he was working, and she felt the slings and arrows of tabloid gossip and innuendo. She told me that she did the memorable scene on the train in The Manchurian Candidate the day she found out that Tony had filed for divorce.
It sounds like if anyone needed to cut loose at Studio 54 it was Janet Leigh.
After undercover cops arrested her, this exotic dancer showed off in court, Florida 1983
Exotic dancers, strippers, sex workers, however you want to slice it, they've never had it easy with law enforcement. They're looked down as lesser members of society, even when someone is partaking in their services. It happens today, and it happened in 1983 at the Pinellas County courthouse.
This photo, taken by Tampa Bay Times staff photographer Jim Damaske, looks like a woman telling the judge what she thinks of him, but that's not the story at all. She was arrested for wearing a pair of bottoms that were too revealing for her job as a stripper and arrested. In order to prove that her clothing was revealing she flashed the judge.
Damaske was on hand for the trial, and after this photo with the AP line it was picked up by Playboy and became one of the most popular images of the year. There's no word on whether or not the woman in question was able to prove her innocence, but she whether she knows it or not she's a star of the photojournalism world.
Freddie Mercury and his ex-girlfriend and lifelong friend Mary Austin
Freddie Mercury once sang, "Who wants to live forever?" And it's clear that he lived his life according to that ethos. This shot with his best friend Mary Austin reveals that the two were not only important to each other, but that they kept each other sane.
After meeting in 1969, Austin and Mercury quickly became lovers, then they married, and after Mercury came out they remained best friends until he passed away. As friends and lovers, they played an important role in each other's lives. Austin was Mercury's rock. She made sure he didn't drift too far into rock stardom, and he was Freddie Mercury, Mr. Fahrenheit.
It makes sense that Mercury and Austin remained lifetime friends. They were in a relationship for ten years and their split was amicable, you don't just cast someone off after spending that much time together.
An East German soldier helping a lost boy sneak across the Berlin Wall
We'll never know who this east German soldier is, but we'll never forget the bravery he put on display when he saved this poor boy from being orphaned on the wrong side of the wall.
Taken on August 13, 1961, this photo shows a boy who was abandoned by his father at Check Point Charlie, believing that he should grow up with his mother's family in the East, rather than with him in the west. It's mind boggling that he waited until the official day that the Berlin Wall went up (then it was only ragged barbed wire), but in any case the soldier took pity on the boy and helped him cross.
Everything else about this photo is a mystery. The soldier was definitely removed from his post, but no one knows what happened to him afterwards.
Princess Diana sits alone on a yacht, July 1997
Princess Diana's final summer was lived somewhat gloriously, although not with the freedom that she hoped to have. In July, one month before her death, Diana traveled to St. Tropez in the South of France with her boyfriend Dodi Fayed, a billionaire.
At the time, Diana was contemplating what to do with her life after spending years as a member of the royal family. Her close friends say that she was hoping to get away from being "Princess Diana," they say she just wanted to be alone for a while and enjoy her private life.
This shot of Diana, quietly contemplating her life on a diving board, sums up her final years. She was a woman living in rarified air, but she couldn't go anywhere or do anything outside of the watchful eye of the paparazzi.
Neil Armstrong's family watching him launch to the moon, July 16, 1969
It's an understatement to say that July 16, 1969, was a stressful day in the Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins house. As the three astronauts strapped themselves in for the first moon landing, their wives and children were tasked with waiting back on Earth and crossing their fingers that nothing went wrong.
Armstrong’s family attended the shuttle launch at Kennedy Space Center, and as amazing as it must have been to see history in the making, it's hard to imagine that they were able to watch without knots in their stomachs. After all, anything could have gone wrong.
Armstrong and his crew landed on the moon four days later, and four days after that the Apollo 11 crew returned to Earth.
Tough guy Charles Bronson walks hand in hand with wife and co-star Jill Ireland
To pretty much every guy who's ever watched a movie, Charles Bronson is the be all, end all of tough guys. He's appeared in war films and westerns, but his legacy cementing run in the Death Wish series is the way most people remember him.
While most onscreen men's men are just actors, Bronson was a real life taught guy. He grew up in coal country with barely any money to his name, so much so that he often had to wear his sister's clothes to school. When he finally made some decent scratch and married Jill Ireland he carried the weight of coal country with him.
Bronson made sure that he and Ireland worked together as much as possible, and whenever he had to travel to set he piled his entire family into an RV and set up camp wherever he was shooting. That's true family love right there.
The Manson girls in simpler times
Before the Manson Family was synonymous with one of the most hair raising killing sprees of the 20th century and effectively ending the peace and love generation, they were just a super weird drug cult that everyone in Los Angeles knew about and wanted to avoid.
Charles Manson led young men and women (but mostly women) into the desert so they could drop acid and listen to him play guitar for hours on end. It sounds abysmal, but it's hardly the kind of group that you'd think would kill two houses full of people on consecutive nights.
The control that Manson exerted over his followers wasn't just through suggestion, he was able to use LSD to make sure that much of his coercion went off just how he wanted. Once his followers were high enough he could get them to follow his every whim, and sadly that's just what he did.
Kids take a dip in the Swimmobile, Detroit 1960s
Is there anything better than going for a swim on a hot summer day? When the asphalt is burning and the sun is peeling your skin from the moment it stretches over the horizon, there's nothing like jumping straight into the cold cold water of a swimming pool.
Sadly, thousands of inner city kids don't have the opportunity to use a swimming pool, and in the 1960s many young people didn't live near a facility where they could cool off. Enter: The Swimmobile, a vehicle built specifically to offer watery respite throughout the summer.
During the summer in the '60s, the swimmobile would make its way through the streets of Detroit and give kids something to do and helped them cool off. There were obvious set backs (sloshing, waiting for the swimmobile to come by) but this is seriously genius.
Ann-Margret was born to be wild
Ann-Margaret clearly has no fear. While she was lumped into the "blonde bombshell" wave of the 1950s and '60s, she was never just some Marilyn Monroe wannabe. She was a singing, dancing superstar of her own merits, and she went toe to toe with Elvis in multiple films.
This shot shows the star defying death in her favorite way, on the back of a motorcycle. While speaking about her loving of riding, she said that it started early, and helped her see much of her homeland.
After seeing Marlon Brando riding a hog in The Wild Ones, she said that she had to find one of her own. After badgering her uncle she was finally able to get her hands on his Indian and use it to tool around the Swedish countryside.
A soldier rescues two children during a skirmish in Vietnam
The Vietnam war was the first time Americans were able to see what was happening real time during combat, something that had never occurred before. Viewers at home didn't just get a look at how their boys were doing, they saw the horror that the soldiers were living every day.
Pain, destruction, and a never ending parade of napalm and fire, the servicemen who fought in the Vietnam War were thrown into the deep end in 1955, and they didn't get out for another 20 years.
One of the most harrowing parts of the Vietnam War was the fact that soldiers were fighting in villages and towns throughout the country, leaving children orphaned and afraid. Our soldiers did whatever they could to make sure no child was left behind, but they couldn't save everyone.
Andre the Giant towering over his friends while seated on an ATV
Andre the Giant loved riding around on his ATV. Not only was he a fan of doing everything in extremes, be it drinking, eating, or driving fast, but he also had life long issues with body pain due to his immense size. The ATV wasn't just fun, it helped him get around when he didn't feel like walking.
Of course, he loved using the trike for pleasure no matter where he was, be it his own property or on the set of The Princess Bride. According to Carey Elwes, Andre didn't bring his ATV to England for filming because he didn't want to be a pest, but after a while it was clear he needed some help.
Elwes says that the production manager asked how Andre got around on his farm, and once he heard that the giant traveled via ATV he had one shipped to set pronto.
Madonna studied at the University of Michigan for a year
Madonna always wanted to be a star. Long before she was Queen Madge, Madonna was going to try her hand at the world of dance. She attended a dance program and the University of Michigan where she performed well enough to receive attention from her professors, but she was never going to be a mid-western gal.
After a year at the University of Michigan, Madonna had had enough. She traveled to the city so nice they named it twice and got a job at Dunkin' Donuts while searching for dance gigs. Her job as a donut slinger didn't last long, she was fired for playing with the "jelly squirter machine." We'll never now if she could have been a really ace baker. At least she made something of herself in the performance world.
Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall pose in drag for Brigitte Lacombe
Audiences are used to seeing Mick Jagger on stage, dancing through multi-hour performances with the Rolling Stones. People might even be used to seeing him in films like Freejack, but no one's used to seeing him like this - especially in 1996.
Back then, Brigitte Lacombe was at Jagger and his partner Jerry Hall's estate to snap some shots of Hall, when she asked if Jagger would pose with her he agreed, but for one photo and one photo only.
Lacombe says that when Mick arrived for he shoot he was in full make up and gown. Why? He thought it would be fun.
Shirley Muldowney posing with a custom car. She survived two explosions in two years
Shirley Muldowney never thought of herself as a female racer, she just liked to drive fast. She began drag racing when she was 18 with a 1958 Chevrolet in New York state. She was the first person licensed by the NHRA to drive a gas-powered drag racer, but she had to go back and forth with the group for years about her license.
For much of Muldowney's early career she drove funny cars, but two back to back engine explosions made her change her mind. In August of 1972 she was burned in an explosion at Ohio's Dragway 42, but that didn't keep her off the two lane black top. An incident the following year at the 1973 U.S. Nationals was bad enough to convince her to stop racing funny cars altogether and move into dragsters.
Her worst crash occurred in 1984 at the NHRA Grandnationals at Sanair International Dragstrip in Montreal, Canada. When her front tires failed as she was tearing down the raceway she suffered a broken pelvis, two broken legs, broken hands, broken fingers and a partially severed right thumb. It took six hours for the doctors to scrub her wounds clean before surgery could begin. This accident would end most careers, but Muldowney was racing again by 1986.
Back to black (and red and white) - Amy Winehouse, age six, dressed as Minnie Mouse
It's hard to imagine that Amy Winehouse, the singer with booze soaked vocal cords was ever this young. She seems to have been perpetually older than she looked, but thinking of her as a youngster, dressed up for Halloween is absolutely heart breaking. Winehouse was wild even as a child, she explained:
I wasn’t a tearaway but I definitely wouldn’t conform to anything. I was bad with authority and didn’t want to be told what to do. I’ve never been an idiot – I was a smart girl but I’d do stupid things like go around Asda and nick stuff because my friends told me to. I was a good girl as a teenager.
When she found fame as a singer she immediately started slipping into drugs and alcohol. With Back In Black, she became a huge star and began staying inside and using alone as a way to keep away from the paparazzi, it's sadly a classic story. For many of the people in her life, Amy's all night solo benders were just Amy being Amy. Sadly, on July 23, 2011, Winehouse never woke up.
Debbie Harry in Los Angeles, 1977
Blondie front woman Debbie Harry has long claimed that she encountered Ted Bundy one late night in the 1970s when she was trying to hail a cab. She said that while trying to get home one night a guy in a white car pulled up and offered a ride, even after she said no there was no need he continued to harass her until she made a fast escape.
Now, Bundy was operating in Washington state for most of his "career," and no one ever tracked him to the east coast, let alone New York City, but Harry is insistent that she saw who she saw.
Even if she didn't see Ted Bundy, New York City was a spooky place so it's entirely likely that she had a face to face conversation with some creep or serial killer. We're glad she survived.
Conoco Oil sprays down a woman for your engine's health
This is a strange ad in any era, but in the 1950s people were so worried about having their minds warped and being exposed to anything sexual that it's absolutely bonkers that this exist.
It's hard to imagine this illustration passing a content board today, so how it made its way into magazines across America is mind boggling. Not only does it suggest that women love getting sprayed with water (they don't), but that it turns them on in when a random lab coat wearing scientist sprays them down (it doesn't).
If you read the fine print you'll see that this is an add for a synthetic additive that helps engines run longer, but we doubt that anyone ever got that far on the page.
Raquel Welch twists away her worries at a USO show in a war zone
It must have been impossible for Raquel Welch to get an alone time on her trips with the USO. Aside from going place to place with bodyguards, the paparazzi was all over her whether she was in a war zone or not.
When Bob Hope was performing with his USO crew during Vietnam he knew exactly what the guys wanted to see - babes like Raquel Welch. Unfortunately, this brought beautiful gals like her directly into the line of fire more often than not.
Welch came along with Hope for his 1967 USO Christmas shows, and her performance was the most exciting portion of each day. Welch didn't just put on a performance, she invited solders on stage to dance with her and they took her up on the offer with gusto. It was a great way to gorget about the every day nightmare of the war.
Do you feel lucky punk? Clint Eastwood wasn't comfortable dancing with Princess Diana
It seems surreal that Princess Diana ever danced with Dirty Harry while in the same room as Tom Selleck, but that's he '80s for you. In 1985, Princes Diana was the guest at the White House along with Selleck, Eastwood, and John Travolta, and for some reason she was nervous about the night.
As Travolta tells it, Diana personally made sure that he was there and he couldn't wait to dance with her, but he was pretty nervous about the whole endeavor. He says that Nancy Reagan of all people told him to lead the princess around the room. He explained:
I’d seen her dance with Charles beforehand so I knew that she was strong. But she looked like she was leading [him]. I didn’t know or expect that I was to dance with Lady Diana and it was the president’s wife, Nancy Reagan, that said, ‘It is her wish.' She turned around and dipped her head in that Lady Diana way and we were off for 15 minutes dancing.
Ronald Reagan with Serena go to the net with Venus Williams at Nancy Reagan's Celebrity Tennis Tournament, 1990
The Williams sisters have long been fearsome competitors on the tennis court, but they didn't just get that way as adults. Serena and Venus were tennis virtuosos from a young age even though they had to practice in the dangerous inner city of Los Angeles.
The sisters took part in Nancy Reagan's tennis tournament in 1990, a tumultuous year in the city, but these girls were able to rise above the problems of their city to get somewhere special, to become the best at the game.
It's strange to see the Reagans here with the Williams sisters, not only because of their rarified status and President and First Lady, but because it's odd to think of them mixing with people at a fundraiser for members of an underserved community.
That's Lynda Carter hanging out in a groovy chair with some groovy hair
Lynda Carer has always been talented, but casting directors were drawn to her long brown hair and taut stomach. To hear her tell it that's the only reason she was cast as Wonder Woman. Obviously audiences saw something more in her. Even though she found fame as a superhero, Carter wanted to be a singer when she first got started.
Carter sang in different gigs during and after her time with the lasso of truth but she never really got to be the famous singer that she saw herself as, but by strapping into Wonder Woman's outfit she was able to be an inspiration in such a larger way than she would have been as a rock star.
After Wonder Woman was canceled in 1978 Carter continued performing and had continued success on television, she even found a way to work her singing voice into her act. When you're the most powerful woman in the world you can do that sort of thing.
Bill Paxton, Liam Neeson, and Patrick Swayze played brothers in "Next of Kin"
The dirt and sweat of these three young men, they look like they just walked out of the Ozarks. Who are they? What do they want? There's nothing to be concerned about with these three, they're just in costume as the three brothers at the heart of Next of Kin.
This movie has it all: mob hits, Appalachian justice, and Liam Neeson talking with a sort of kind of southern accent. The film is tense, but it's clear that these three had a heck of a time on set - even if they had to be covered in grime throughout the filming.
The material girl in a fried egg world, in 1974 Madonna starred in the short film "The Egg"
In 1974, Madonna was a one way from becoming a "Material Girl," or even singing about her lucky star, but she was still looking for a way into showbiz. In this still from "The Egg," a short film by Wyn Cooper the young pop star is getting ready to suffer for her art.
In the short, Madonna lets Cooper fry an egg on her stomach (or at least that's what it looks like), and she appears in a strange one-piece bathing suit thing. It's sort of like a John Waters movie but with an even smaller budget.
This strange piece of ephemera is only for true Madonna fans or lovers of art house cinema, but it's still an interesting piece of the pop star's legacy.
It wasn't all blood sweat and tears on the set of "Battle of the Network Stars"
In the 1970s the viewing public wanted more. They wanted to know more about their favorite stars, they wanted to see them out of their costumes and unscripted. To satiate this need the big three networks gave the fans The Battle of the Network Stars.
The summer time series featured stars at their most human. Like in any good competition they broke off into teams and trash talked. Actors from ABC, CBS, and NBC, went to war against one another in swimming competitions, the tug of war, and various carnival inspired feats of athleticism.
For viewers, it was a look into the lives of their favorite stars, but in its own way the series was as much of a facade as scripted television.
Jamie Lee Curtis' first gig after Halloween was an episode of The Love Boat
History has shown us time and time again that when someone goes up, that's just the moment before they go back down. Jamie Lee Curtis has weathered this helter skelter kind of career for decades, but her first taste of the worry and dizzying confusing came directly after the huge success of 1978's Halloween.
At the time, Curtis didn't know what was waiting for her after her trip to Haddonfield, Illinois, and the only job offer was as a short walk on role on The Love Boat playing herself, or as she put it to the New York Times, "I played my mother's daughter."
The humiliation, the constant swinging from success to failure, it was all there in Jamie Lee Curtis' first roles. Unlike many people in the industry she's clearly learned to roll with the punches.
Bill Gates was given a ton of independence by his parents
Before Microsoft, before his philanthropy work, and even before he showed Connie Chung that he can jump over a chair from a standing position, Bill Gates was just a normal kid with a lot going on in his head. His father was an attorney and hoped that he would pursue a law degree, but they didn't lash him to the wheel so to speak.
Gates has been open about the fact that his parents gave him plenty of room to breathe even while guiding him through his teenage years, and instilling in him a sense that he was a part of something bigger, and not just living a solipsistic lifestyle on a hill.
Most importantly, Gates' parents trusted him to make smart decisions. His father says that when his son dropped out of college he was worried, but that he figured that someone as smart as his son had a game plane. He explained:
By then, I wasn’t much of a factor in those decisions. [Gates] had his own ideas about how he wanted to achieve his goals. He seemed to know what he was doing.
Yvonne Craig squeeze into her Batgirl costume during season three of "Batman"
If you were parked in front of your TV in the 1960s then you know Yvonne Craig. She slipped and slid in and out of personas, be it a green dancing girl on Star Trek, or the mysterious young Batgirl on TV's Batman. As a working actor in the '60s (and she was seriously working), she changed small things about herself from role to role, but she was always Yvonne Craig.
She may have only appeared in 26 episodes of Batman, but she was integral part to the third season of the show. She gave the series some much needed feminine energy, even if the program was already doomed by the time she first donned the cape and cowl.
Sophia Loren, America's Italian bombshell
There's no denying that Sophia Loren is one of the most gorgeous women of the golden age of cinema, but her young life was anything but charmed. Her father, Riccardo Scicolone abandoned his young family with zero financial support, leaving Loren and her mother to fend for themselves.
Even after Loren won the award for “Miss Elegance 1950," when she was only 15 years old her father stayed away. Loren didn't see him for two more years, and then the two were estranged until his death in 1976. Loren says that she visited him once before he took his final breaths, making it there times in total that she and her father came face to face. She later told the Irish Times:
I never had a relationship with my father. I wish he would have been a different person, a different father and different companion for my mother but he was who he was and you don’t get to choose your parents. I was lucky though to have a great mother who loved both me and my sister with all her heart.
The eye-catching Jungle Pam turning heads on the black top
The drag racing world was never the same after Jungle Pam set to strutting up and down the black top. Her brief time in the racing world is still cranking up the heat on car fans, even if they don't really care about cars.
After meeting up with Jungle Jim Lieberman in Pennsylvania, the couple became the most talked about thing on the funny car circuit. Jim tore up the asphalt and Pam brought eyes to the races in a way that no one had ever done before. She wasn't just Lieberman's partner, she was the main attraction.
Shortly after Pam and Jim split, he passed away in a head on collision with a public bus in 1977.
Queen of the jungle Pat Benatar was almost a school teacher
The sexy and sultry Pat Benatar almost didn't become the anthemic songstress of the '80s thanks to her record label. After signing a deal with Chrysalis Records the label fired everyone in her band except for the bass player, and she was completely adrift and unsure about how to go forward with her music.
However, during a meeting a group of guitar players she not only met Neil Giraldo, the man who became her co-songwriter, but her partner and lover. While speaking with NPR, Benatar said that she felt a zing immediately when she made eye contact with him. She explained:
He didn't even bring a guitar with him; he was so ridiculous. He's putting on someone else's guitar, and I turned around and I was like, 'Oh my god.' I didn't know what to do. I was completely smitten. And I just leaned over to my manager at the time and I said, 'I don't even care if he can play. He's in the band.'
The couple met in 1979, they married in 1982, and they're still together.
Alice Cooper once lost a boa constrictor in a hotel
Alice Cooper has been performing for decades and he’s rarely been seen without a snake wrapped around his shoulders. What was once his onstage schtick has become a lifestyle. He doesn't just see snakes as props, he sees them as acquaintances and friends.
That hasn't stopped him from losing some of his most slithery friends in hotels across the country. In one instance, Cooper last a 12 foot boa constrictor in a hotel suite - something that didn't sit well with the staff, or Cooper, he hates losing his slithery little buddies.
Cooper says that Charlie Pride found the snake in his room the next day, which must have been absolutely horrifying.
Susan Sarandon chilling in Cannes without a shirt, 1978
This shot of the effortlessly cool and glamorous Susan Sarandon was taken during the 1978 Cannes Film Festival when she was promoting Pretty Baby, a film that put her through extreme physical and emotional pain. She went through hell working on the movie and wasn't afraid to tell people about it.
While speaking with the New York Times about her role in the film she described it as one of the most physical and daunting things she's ever done:
I have problems with my neck and my back. I've had bloody noses and just got over a black eye... You feel vulnerable. And you have to reveal a dark side of your nature, which is not a pleasant sensation. [Her character] hasn't much personality and no sense of humor. She's relentless. And to orchestrate the rage is difficult. I don't think most people would admit you can feel that much hatred. This play is like Greek tragedy, in which people felt these enormous emotions and acted on them.
Ric Flair picking up a couple packs of Coors
Ric Flair has always been cool, but in the 1970s he was on a whole other level of stardom. As the star of Jim Crockett Promotions ad the WCW, there was nothing that he couldn't do. As the "Nature Boy," Flair was one of the most devious bad guys in the wrestling business and people loved him for it.
Flair fame brought him money and power, but it also carried with it an ability to get free drinks at any bar in the south. More often than not he used alcohol - specifically beer - to treat his injuries, and nursed his hangovers with more of the devil's drink.
Flair's alcoholism was sadly the standard for many young men in the industry who self medicated rather than seek out a physician to take care of their issues - both physically and mentally. The Nature Boy's life has turned out pretty well, but for every Ric Flair there are hundreds of performers who didn't make it out of the '70s and '80s alive.