60 Photographs With Untold Stories From Hollywood's Past
Jack Nicholson was terrified of running into Michelle Phillips' ex-boyfriend
When we see celebrities onscreen or hear their music it’s like we know them, but really, fans are just getting a piece of someone whenever they experience their work. These photos show the interior lives and moments when stars weren’t trying to be on.
Whether it’s a picture of a young Tom Cruise about to get dumped, or Princess Diana dancing at the White House, the stories behind these photos speak to fact that celebrities are never who we think they are. No matter which star of the groovy era you like, there’s something on here that’s going to blow your mind. Read on.
Before Jack Nicholson was the most recognizable Lakers fan in the world, he was just a character actor doing his best to stay afloat in Los Angeles. Prior to 1969 he mostly appeared in B-movies by Roger Corman, but that year he took a supporting role in Easy Rider that quickly earned him the role that defined his career in Five Easy Pieces.
At the time he was seeing Michelle Phillips of the Mama’s and the Papas, and even though the two got on like gangbusters he was so afraid of her ex, Dennis Hopper, that he slept with a hammer under his pillow. It seems that even though the two men worked together on Easy Rider they weren’t good enough friends to date the same person.
Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan smiling (out of the wrestling ring) in the 1980s.
The in ring rivalry between André the Giant and Hulk Hogan captivated audiences throughout the ‘80s. From 1980 to 1983 the two wrestled more than 20 times for the WWF and NJPW (New Japan Pro Wrestling), their feud reignited for Wrestlemania III in 1987. The entire time the two guys were palling around and making a ton of money along the way. However, Hogan was often worried that if he gave too many notes on the matches that he Andre would smush him in the ring. He explained:
I’d been on Andre’s bad side before, and I did not want Andre to know I wrote a bunch of notes about the match because that went against everything Andre believed in. That went against our art form. I wrote it down to give Vince an idea of what we’d do; we argue, he throws a punch, I block it, hit him with two, go for the slam, then he slams me once, slams me twice, stands on my back, and I’m thinking, ‘Holy sh*t, he’s doing exactly what I wrote down.’ It really caught me off-guard…
I never talk about the match like a lot of these guys do, because sometimes when they talk about the match, it doesn’t work but they keep doing what they talked about. I said to Vince, ‘I wrote this down simply to give you a base if you need to talk with Andre about anything. But if you show him what I wrote down, I’m dead.’ If Vince had showed Andre that I wrote the match out, he was going to have a red-and-yellow blood spot in the middle of the ring.
Ann-Margret back in the day, she didn't let a nasty motorcycle accident stop her
The Swedish born, American sexpot is most known for appearing in Viva Las Vegas with Elvis and even an episode of The Flintstones as Ann-Margrock, but her real passion is tearing up the asphalt on her motorcycle. She’s been riding motorcycles since the ‘60s when she first appeared on a motorcycle on screen in The Swinger, but she didn’t just ride in film.
Margret continued riding Triumphs and Harleys, she was even asked to leave her bike home while she was touring with The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. As an experienced rider she’s had her fair share of falls. In 2000 she wound up in a motorcycle accident and suffered three broken ribs and a fractured left shoulder.
The one and only Elvis Aaron Presley.
Everyone has a favorite Elvis song, but do you have a favorite Elvis karate move? The King started studying karate in 1958 and even though he took his studies very seriously he was always Elvis when he was in the dojo. Master Kang Rhee of Memphis, who trained the King, said that Elvis often wore boots while he practiced, and that he insisted on using practicing with live weapons. He wrote:
When Elvis...practice[d] self-defense demonstrations, he insisted on using real firearms. Most everyone used wooden guns, but not Elvis.
In his book, Elvis’ Karate Legacy, he wrote that Elvis had a crisp technical ability and that the practitioners in Memphis were impressed with the amount of time he put into the art.
A behind the scenes photo of Catwoman and The Penguin from Batman television series, 1960s.
The original Batman TV show is one of the most fun shows that’s ever been produced. Whether you watched it during its original run or when it was in reruns, it provided surreal, campy fun. As kooky as the episodes were, according to Robin actor Burt Ward it was one of the most dangerous shows that an actor could work on. He explained:
It was a very dangerous show to make. I was in the emergency hospital the first four of the six days of filming. [I had] second-degree burns, my nose [got] broken by a two-by-four landing on it from explosions. Let me tell you something, it was a lot of fun, it's really very simple. It was a fantastic show to do, everything was as great doing as you see it on television.
Olivia Newton-John looking groovy in the 1970s.
In the 1970s Olivia Newton John was the poster girl for being good. With her classically attractive looks and blonde hair, she was a target for critics who wanted to find something to dislike about her specific brand of ear candy. When Rolling Stone interviewed her in 1978 they read her a quote from Randy Newman where he said, “For the life of me, I can’t understand the vast appeal of a song like ‘I Honestly Love You.’ I mean, it’s boring, even.”
After hearing the quote Newton-John didn’t bat an eye before responding:
Well, obviously if I thought there was some truth in that, it would upset me,” she said. “I actually believe ‘I Honestly Love You’ is a great song. Whether he likes the way I sing it or not, that’s his personal taste.
It annoys me when people think [that] because it’s commercial, it’s bad. It’s completely opposite: if it’s commercial, people like it, and that’s what it’s all supposed to be about.” At the same time, she is not a pop puppet or a showroom dummy. “I wouldn’t sing anything I hated. I have to like it, or I wouldn’t sing it.
People waiting in line for the premiere of "Star Wars" in 1977.
Today it seems like a forgone conclusion that a new Star Wars movie will make the GDP of a small country over the course of its opening weekend, but in 1977 20th Century Fox had trouble getting the movie in theaters let alone worrying about how much money the movie would make. Before its release the studio behind Star Wars (Fox) had to strong arm theaters into running the picture. Essentially, if a theater wanted to show Other Side of Midnight they had to show Star Wars.
Even though theaters weren’t stoked about showing a kiddie movie like Star Wars, they were rewarded for their bravery when the movie took off like the Millennium Falcon into light speed. Chuck Viane, the former head of distribution at Disney, was working in Chicago at the time and he says that the theater’s decision to show Star Wars turned their business around:
Back then, movies played in exclusive runs in select cities. I bid for Star Wars and won it exclusively for the St. Park, a struggling theater we had just bought in Minneapolis. I don't recall whether it was the first week or weekend, but the St. Park grossed $250,000, more than it had made in the prior three months.
"Whoever controls the media, controls the mind." -Jim Morrison, 1967
Jim Morrison was only 23-years-old when The Doors played “Light My Fire” on the Ed Sullivan show. Even though they offended Sullivan and made sure they never played his show again by refusing to change the lyrics of their song, the band catapulted themselves to super stardom. Morrison was troubled by the song’s success, but the track afforded him an excuse to stay out and carouse every night.
Morrison didn’t handle stardom well. He tripped on LSD and and drank until he blacked out. Supposedly he was such a bad drinker that Janis Joplin got annoyed with him at a party and smashed a bottle of Southern Comfort over his head. As often as he misbehaved, Morrison loved to perform. He felt it was duty to take the audience on a trip with him. He told Albert Goldman from Life Magazine:
We’re really politicians. You could call us erotic politicians… a Doors concert is really a public meeting called by us for a special kind of dramatic discussion and entertainment. [The audience] go home and interact with their reality, then I get it all back by interacting with that reality.
Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees receives an award for being "Best Dressed Personality of the Year" from actress Tsai Chin at Carnaby Street in London, 1969.
Barry Gibb has always been a fashion plate. From his early years with the Bee Gees to his sparkly jumpsuit phase during the band’s disco years and even into his current era as a silver fox. His outfits are definitely great, but it’s his confidence that really sells the outfits. However, while speaking with the NME in 1969 he noted that his brother Robin didn’t have the same luck with his style. Apparently his brother was getting some heavy flak about his long hair:
He won't talk about it. He's just got this mental block on the whole subject. Yet he's conservative in other ways. He wouldn't dream of stepping out of his front door without a suit and tie and the whole bit. Yet he WILL NOT get his hair cut, and I don't think anyone in the business should criticize him for it.
Did someone say pink? This very groovy 1973 Volvo ad must have
For some strange reason, maybe a dare, the folks at Volvo decided to follow up the the P1800 coupe, a two-door coup made famous in Cold War era spy show The Saint, with a squat, weird little station-wagon type car. There’s nothing wrong with the 1800ES. If you had a small family that needed to be driven around in the early ‘70s this was the most stylish car you could do it in.
However, you probably only saw these bad boys in these ads because Volvo didn’t make very many of them. There were less than 8,100 manufactured and put on sale in Europe and North America. The car was phased out in 1973 and it was rarely seen on the road after that.
A young Don Rickles in his Navy whites. He enlisted in the United States Navy after graduating from high school and served during World War II.
While we tend to think of Don Rickles as one of the greatest entertainers of his life time, and a comedian who always had a zing at the ready, Rickles also served in the Navy during World War II. He enlisted as a Seaman First Class and served from 1944 - 1946 on the USS Cyrene in the Philippines.
During that time Mr. Warmth definitely kept his fellow troops entertained, but he notes that he wasn’t exactly excited to go away to the service. Rickles said:
I was in World War II; I cried when they took me in the Navy. That's the last time I cried.
Carrie Fisher and John Belushi in between one of their wild parties on the set of "The Blues Brothers" film, 1980.
Coming off the success of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher could have done anything she wanted. Rather than make a star play Fisher agreed to join the cast of The Blues Brothers as the vindictive ex-fiance of Jake Blues. While on set the stars didn’t retire to their hotels or trailers after a long day of shooting, instead they holed up in their own blues bar and raged until the next day. At the bar the guys played music, snorted cocaine, and partied hard. Fisher remembered:
There was some girl who would hang out at the Blues Bar. She cleaned the fish tank and provided mescaline. There were always these people that were enabling the party to continue.
Janis Joplin hanging out and catching some rays during the summer of 1970, just months before her untimely death.
Janis Joplin is remembered as a hard partying rocker chick that was never without a bottle of Southern Comfort in her hand. Her big voice and even bigger onstage attitude was exactly why people were drawn to her, but in her offstage life she was actually a solitary person. After her death Kip Cohen, manager of the Fillmore East, told Rolling Stone that she didn’t like to perform if she didn’t have to:
I remember once she came backstage to see Santana and I said the audience would love it if she just went on unannounced to introduce the group. And the idea of the ‘real’ Janis walking on stage and doing something other than performing, singing, scared her to death. She couldn’t do it.
She had a tremendous amount of assurance when she got it all together onstage, but offstage, privately, she seemed to be very frightened, very timid and very naive about a lot of things.
Jimi Hendrix enlisted in the Army in 1961 and was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division where he was stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.
Before he was drenched in purple haze, Jimi Hendrix was wearing all green while briefly serving in the Army. After running afoul of the law for bopping around in stolen cars Hendrix was given the option of going to jail or enrolling in the Army, he chose the latter. After spending a year with the 101st Airborne Division Hendrix was caught pleasuring himself by his superiors and was discharged.
It’s not clear if Hendrix was trying to get caught so he’d be kicked out, or if his superiors were strictly against self pleasure, but whatever the case on May 31 he was set free to unleash his raw guitar power on the world.
Marilyn Monroe on the balcony of the Ambassador Hotel in New York. (1955)
In 1955 Monroe was on the top of the world. She’d just appeared in The Seven Year Itch, she was out of her rocky marriage with Joe DiMaggio and rather than go out and party or get up to trouble she decided to study her craft. At the time she was studying under Lee Strasberg at the Actor’s Studio and she took her studies very seriously.
Strasberg didn’t see Monroe as another blonde actor. In actuality he felt that her sensitivity helped her find something real in her roles that other actors couldn’t pinpoint. She studied with Strasberg privately for three years before she joined regular classes. Strasberg went onto say that Monroe and Marlon Brando were two of the greatest actors he ever taught.
Leon Russell and a beardless Willie Nelson, 1979.
After restarting his career in Texas, Willie started touring non-stop with his band the Rolling Smoke Revue. According to Rolling Stone, Nelson and his crew all traveled under pseudonyms - Nelson was known as “Fast Eddie,” and his manager was “Poodie,” and his bodyguard was “Snake.” Even though Willie is most often thought of as a bearded, long hair stoner, he admitted in the late ‘70s that he shaved in the summers because the weather was too darn hot.
Russell and Nelson toured together and ended up recording the album “One for the Road” in 1979 that featured classics like “I Saw The Light” and “Don’t Fence Me In.” It's a snapshot of life on tour with these two country dynamos.
Watch where you point those things, it's the Bullet Bra, 1955.
Following the end of the war clothing changed and style exploded. Women had a glut of underwear and lingerie styles to choose from and the most memorable bra from the era is the bullet bra - a pointy bra that looked as if it was made to blind passers by. These bras were so popular because the created the ultra feminine shape that women were looking for at the time.
The bras had a massive conical shape and padding that ended with a “false point.” Because the human body doesn’t form into a point women often stuffed their bras so they could fill out the conical shape. Aside from fitting oddly, the bras didn’t exactly conform to normal clothing by human women. Oh what people will do for fashion.
Clint Eastwood reading to Manis the orangutan on the set of "Every Which Way But Loose" (1978)
What a strange career Clint Eastwood has had. After playing a cowboy for decades he reinvented himself as a tough guy who took out bad guys and tossed off one-liners, and then he filmed a movie with an orangutang - but that almost didn’t happen. Burt Reynolds was set to star in the film, which totally makes sense, but when he changed his mind about the role Eastwood took it on and added new depth to his career. He discussed how no one expected him to make his bare knuckle boxing monkey movie:
It was not quite the thing people were expecting. No one was particularly excited about it. It had nothing to do with Dirty Harry. I saw it as some camp deal. There was something about the screenplay that was unusual. I mean, it was about this fringe society where there was bare-knuckle fighting… It turned out to be this PG kind of movie one that could reach down to an audience I hadn't been appealing to with the tougher pictures.
Don Knotts was a McColloch's Go-Kart Ambassador in 1961.
Is there anyone who’s ever looked as comfortable at a go-kart track than Don Knotts? In 1961 he was at the beginning of a nine year run on The Andy Griffith Show and believe it or not, Knotts was meant to be the straight man, but by episode two the duo had switched their personas and the series was off to the races. On set and off Knotts was hilarious, his daughter said that he was so funny that he was cracking people up on his death bed. She said:
Here’s the thing about my dad, he had this funniness that was just completely, insanely natural. When he was dying, he was making us laugh in hysterics.
He was literally dying, but he did something or said something that caused my stepmother and me to go into fits of laughter, which is why I ran out. I thought to myself, ‘I don’t want to be standing there in front of this man, my dearly beloved father, who’s dying, and laughing.'
'Aunt Esther' purse ad from the 1970s
Have you ever needed to just smack someone upside the head? Are you constantly confronted with suckers and turkeys who won’t get out of your way? Or are you getting mugged all the time? If so you need to pick up an Aunt Esther purse that has enough space to hold your personal belongings and enough extra leather to knock out anyone who gets in your face.
Aunt Esther was most well known for telling it like it is on Sanford and Son and for having a contentious relationship with Fred. It’s not clear how many of these purses were sold or how many concussions came from these purses, but there hopefully the actress LaWanda Page got some kind of kickback.
Tanya Tucker standing in the dugout during a Kenny Rogers celebrity softball game in 1977.
Maybe Tanya Tucker doesn’t immediately come to mind when you think of outlaw country, but when someone was slingin’ country hits before they could drive they’re more than qualified to be counted among folks like Willie and Waylon. Taken before she was 20 years old, this photo definitely shows Tucker leaning into the outlaw lifestyle.
Not only is she rocking a cold beer and throwing some serious shade, but she looks so cool with her Farrah Fawcett hair and the knee-high socks. Who cares how she was on the field as long as she looked cool while she was out there?
High wasted hip hugging bell bottoms of the '70s.
Bell bottoms got started in the Navy, but by the 1970s these pants were no longer just for guys in the military. Made from denim and flared at the calf, these jeans were somehow both form fitting and loose at the calf. They may have been far out and weird in the ‘60s, but by the next century they were just a way of life.
While bell bottoms were being turned out in every style and fabric imaginable, denim bell bottoms were the coolest. Figuratively speaking that is, these denim babies definitely didn’t breathe. But hey, they looked great.
Heather Locklear and Tom Cruise dated each other for six months in 1982.
In 1982 Tom Cruise wasn’t yet the biggest star in the world, he’d only appeared in a couple of movies at the time, but he was still a major babe. After meeting Locklear at an audition the two went out for a few months, but according to the Melrose Place actress Cruise was super embarrassing to hang out with. She said:
You know in 'Risky Business' where he does that dance in his underwear and does the splits? We were dancing at a club and he went into that! He starting doing the splits… You just kind of stand there and don't know what to do. Do you dance around him? So, I was like, 'I'll just sit down…’
Here's a groovy Raleigh Chopper bike in this 1971 photo taken by Bill Zygmant, the model is Annie Walker.
If you grew up in the groovy era in England then you probably tooled around on a Raleigh Chopper, one of the coolest bikes ever produced. There were definitely bikes like the Chopper manufactured in America, but none of them achieved cult status the way this bike did. It’s so cool that even in an era before the internet riders across the pond were lusting after these babies. The bikes are still out there for collectors, but they’re not cheap. Collector Daren Sykes told Cycling Weekly:
The most expensive I’ve seen went for over £7,000 and that was a boxed MkI 10-speed still wrapped up in its box. The most I paid for one was for a 10-speed, brand spanking new. I did a deal with a guy in America, for nine MkIIs and four MkIs for the bike.
Italian actress, Luigina "Gina" Lollobrigida was one of the highest profile European actresses of the 1950s and early 1960s.
Gina Lollobrigida has lead a truly amazing life. As one of the most famous actresses in Italy she’s brushed away the American film industry, traveled the world, and she’s managed to carry on a decades long feud with Sofia Loren. On her 90th birthday she said that there’s nothing daunting about reaching such a high age, she’s just more prepared to make tough choices. She told the Hollywood Reporter about her newfound clarity:
30 plus 30 plus 30. Getting older for a woman is a handicap, but the tough experiences I have had have given me the courage to face the difficulties.
Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson in 1969.
This flute playing madman has been rocking with Jethro Tull since the early ‘60s, but they didn’t settle on a name until 1967. Even though they came up in an era that favored experimentation, London pub crowds weren’t exactly putting down their pints to listen to a six piece weirdo blues band. The group found it hard to find gigs so they took to changing their names from things like “Ian Henderson's Bag o' Nails” to “Navy Blue.” Finally, in 1968, their booking agent gave them the name “Jethro Tull” and it stuck. Of course, their first single was credited to "Jethro Toe." Luckily they had a few decades to get the name thing ironed out.
Joan Jett, Deborah Harry, David Johansen and Joey Ramone in a PUNK Magazine photograph from 1977.
New York in 1977 was the place to be. Bands like The Ramones, Blondie, and the New York Dolls were blowing up the scene and changing rock and pop forever. So much has been said of that era, but Anthony Bourdain - who was 21 at the time - put it best:
The music and the musicians who started playing and hanging out with each other at CBGB were an appropriate reaction to the general feelings of hopelessness, absurdity, futility, and disgust of living in New York at the time… When the as-New York-as-it-gets Ramones took the stage, they immediately banished all music that preceded it, dooming it to irrelevance.
John Ritter in a groovy shirt and flashing his pearly whites, 1970s.
It was always nice to watch John Ritter on television; no matter what he was doing there was always a mischievous smile on his face that let the audience know that he was having fun in front of the camera. Even though he was just on Three’s Company he didn’t act like he was unhappy to be on a sitcom. Instead, he actually knew how good he had it. Ritter once joked:
Most people don't know that I am an accomplished dramatic actor... But I've performed in several Shakespeare productions including Hamlet, except in this version, Hamlet lives in an apartment with two women, and has to pretend he's gay so that the landlord won't evict him.
Kim Basinger in the Bond film "Never Say Never Again," 1983. Basinger suggested other girls for the role in the casting session
Before she took on the role of Domino Petachi in Never Say Never Again, Kim Basinger had only performed in two films, and before that she was a model. Even though she’s naturally stunning, Basinger said that she didn’t think the producers would want her for the film so she crammed all the Bond she could before going into the meeting, but she still didn't think she was right for the part. She told Interview magazine:
I did a lot of research. I remember going to that meeting with the producer. It was Micheline, Sean’s wife, who had suggested me for this role. I had a meeting with these people, and I sat there and suggested a lot of other girls in the business for the part because I said, ‘I do not look like that, okay?’ But the producer said, ‘No, Sean wants to meet you in London.’
Once she made it to London she was still unsure of herself, but before she knew it she was in the Caribbean with Sean Connery in his final Bond film.
Marilyn Monroe sitting in the shade on the set of the film "Some Like It Hot" (1959)
Some Like It Hot is one of those movies that couldn’t be made today. Two jazz musicians on the run from the mob posing as women - and one of the musicians uses his misbegotten friendship with blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe to sleep with her. Yeah have fun trying to get that into the theaters in the 21st century. Despite its less than PC themes the movie is one of the funniest comedies of all time.
Jack Lemmon is on fire in the movie, and Marilyn Monroe has never been more fascinating to watch on screen. According to co-star Tony Curtis, he and Monroe had a fling while on set. Although he doesn’t think she was all that into him. He wrote:
When I was in bed with Marilyn, I was never sure, before, during or after, where her mind was. She was an actress. She could play a part. She could give the part what she thought a man wanted. I never asked for more. What I experienced with her was unforgettable.
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant in the television sitcom "Gilligan's Island"
The age old question, who would you rather be stuck on Gilligan’s Island with, Ginger or Mary Ann? At the moment we’re leaning more towards Ginger. Ginger was a far out character who was the life of the party on the island, especially when the professor got his coconut radio going. She was the actress of the group, which was easy for Louise to do because she’d been spending her time on Broadway before she was hired for the show.
In fact, her Broadway credentials garnered her special placement in the credits. She was listed last in the season one credits of the series, which was apparently a big deal for Louise.
Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood on the set of "For a Few Dollars More, " Van Cleef's character was almost played by Charles Bronson
While we think of Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti western trilogy as the pinnacle of the western genre, it was almost just a one and done thing. Eastwood filmed A Fistful of Dollars in Italy in order to get out of TV, but the whole thing was a gamble, he didn’t know what was going to happen. Initially the producers wanted Charles Bronson (and about 20 other actors) for the part, but Eastwood took it on.
Producers asked him to film a sequel almost immediately after they wrapped production but he balked because he didn’t know how the film would be received. When he saw a rough cut of the Italian language version of the film he called director Sergio Leone and said he was in. Once again, Leone reached out to Bronson to appear in the sequel but the actor turned it down. The director called up Lee Van Cleef and the history was made.
Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) with their shoe phones on "Get Smart"
There was a glut of super spy content in the 1960s, and while you could go to a myriad of places for taut action and suspense, Get Smart was the spy show that you could throw on with your family and crack up for 30 minutes. According to executive producer Leonard B. Stern, star Don Adams loved to shoot action sequences, it’s just that they were always edited out of the final product. He explained:
I personally tried to avoid any display of violence especially where it concerned Don [Adams]. He loved to be in action sequences and very often we filmed it, but edited out, so he was gratified he did it and by the time it was put together and on the air he had forgotten about it. I didn’t want him to be exploiting an aggressive attitude and I think it does a disservice to comedy if you sense the reality. You gotta believe the heavies are real and can be dangerous but you don’t have to constantly display it.
If you've seen one 40 foot tall purple gorilla you've seen them all. Grape Ape appeared on the Saturday morning cartoon "The Great Grape Ape Show " in 1975.
When it comes to weird cartoon characters Hanna-Barbera really runs the game. Not only do they have a team of groovy teens that solve mysteries with a dog, but they threw a 40 foot purple ape on screen on Saturday mornings and made it work. The series followed Grape Ape while he hung out with his normal sized dog buddy Beegle Beagle.
Beegle drove a small yellow van around while Grape Ape sat on top and somehow didn’t crush his little buddy. The series only ran for one season, but Grape Ape continued to appear on shows like the Tom and Jerry/Grape Ape Show and Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics / Scooby's All-Stars. No matter where you saw Grape Ape you have to admit that he did a grape job.
Nancy Kwan took over the lead role in "The World of Suzie Wong" after five weeks of filming (1960)
It’s pretty hard to replace a lead actor on a film - especially when the production is more than a month into filming. The adaptions of The World Of Suzie Wong was five weeks into production when Nancy Kwan was called into to take over the lead role and refilm all of the scenes that the director had in the can with France Nuyen.
Nuyen played the part of Kwan on Broadway, and she was a no brainer when it came to the production. At the time Nuyen was dating Marlon Brando and he was driving her crazy by carrying on an affair with Barbara Luna (Five Weeks in a Balloon). Nuyen started stress eating and she could fit into the silk outfits that she had to wear for the film’s interiors. Rather than stop production and allow her to get back to her fighting weight, so to speak, she was kicked off the film and Nancy Kwan, her understudy from Broadway, was brought in.
After Kwan joined the cast all of the exteriors in Hong Kong were reshot, and a PR layout in Esquire completely redone. After the film was released Kwan was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
The Monkees with their award for outstanding comedy at the 1967 Emmys.
Even if they were regarded as a passing fad at the time, The Monkees have proved that they’re the real deal and that they staying power. They started their reign at the 1967 Emmys when they took home a couple of those gold boys, not for acting or music, but for direction and one for “outstanding comedy.” Critics may not have understood what The Monkees were doing at the time, but the series had some of the most surreal comedy this side of the pond. Creator Bob Rafelson explained his idea to the Hollywood Reporter:
I wanted the show to be radical for the time with super-fast editing, cuts and balloons with dialogue coming out of people's mouths. From my point of view, we were taking what Truffaut and Godard were doing and applying that to TV. But it had to be madcap like my original inspiration, the Marx Brothers.
Natalie Wood poses for the camera at an amusement park during her brief retirement in the 1970s
After her career highs as a young woman in the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s Natalie Wood took a much deserved break in the ‘70s. She rekindled her relationship with Robert Wagner and the two had a child in 1974. Her sister, Lana, says that this period of Natalie’s life was the most relaxed she’d ever seen her. She wrote about this period in her memoir about Natalie:
Her marriage was considered to be one of the best in Hollywood, and there is no question that she was a devoted, loving—even adoring—mother and stepmother. She and R. J. had begun with love and built from there. They had overcome each other's problems and had reached an accommodation with time and the changes time brings. As with anybody else who has settled into making a long marriage work, they were far more determined than most people to make it work.
Princess Diana dances with an uncomfortable Clint Eastwood at the White House in 1985.
What could these two be talking about? The don’t have much in common aside from the fact that they’re both in the White House. According to People Magazine, Nancy Reagan specially invited Tom Selleck, Neil Diamond, Clint Eastwood and John Travolta specifically so they would dance with the princess. John Travolta said that he was told to ask Diana to dance when the band kicked into the Saturday Night Fever hit “You Should Be Dancing.”
When it came to Eastwood, the two mostly made conversation while they danced. According to Tom Selleck, Clint Eastwood was uncomfortable dancing with the princess and he told her that at 24 she was too old for him. However, Eastwood later said of the dance, “She made my day.”
Who remembers this ad from the 1970s? Columbia Records introduced The Columbia House brand in the early 1970s. Did you buy them too?
Ah, Columbia House Records, that great scheme that kept young people in 8-tracks, cassettes, and even CDs well into the 2000s. In the ‘70s Columbia house offered more than a dozen albums for dollar, which seems like a crazy deal, and while they didn’t make any money off the single dollar, they made bank from something called “negative billing.”
The whole thing with negative billing is that once you sign up for Columbia House (or another service that uses this option) they keep sending you stuff and charging you for it until you cancel your membership. Smart subscribers knew how to cancel their subscription the moment they had that sweet, sweet Boston LP in their hands. Or, they knew how to subscribe under a different name. Not that we’d know anything about that.
Ozzy, Sharon, Aimee, Jack and Kelly Osbourne in a sweet family photo, 1986.
By 1986 Ozzy had fully cemented his legacy as the finest madman of rock n’ roll. He bit the head off a dove and a bat, he might have had rabies, and he was four years removed from peeing on the Alamo. Life was good. At the time he was doing his best to live a semi-clean life. He was working out, taking vitamins, and even visiting a chiropractor. However, while speaking with Spin in ’86 he admitted that the overhaul in his life affected the kind of songs he sang:
I suddenly realized that when I was a drug addict, I used to write things like ‘flying high again,’ ‘snowblind,’ all this sh*t. And the other night, I thought, ‘F*ckin’ ‘ell, I sing one song for it and then straight after I sing one song against it.’ But the thing is, that’s OK. Because that was where I was when I wrote that, so why shouldn’t I do it? It’s part of my life. It’s part of what I am and what I will be. I might start singing f*cking religious songs. I don’t think so, but if I choose to, why not?
Stevie Nicks, 1976.
Out of every rock star, Stevie Nicks is the one most likely to fall in and out of love. She’s dated members of her own band, two Eagles, her producers, and she even tried to court Tom Petty at one point. She’s open about her life, and sings about it every chance she gets. When asked about a song she wrote called “Secret Love,” Nicks admitted that she couldn’t remember who it was about, but that she wrote it in the mid-70s so it’s definitely about someone who’s in your record collection. She told The Guardian:
I'm not sure who I wrote it about. I wrote it in 1976. It's so old, I honestly cannot remember. In '75, '76, we were beautiful, fast, sexy, love was everywhere and we were moving from person to person. That's it. Love was around every corner.
The Sultry Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot back in the '50s.
In the 1950s Brigitte Bardot was a bonafide “it girl.” She starred in at least two movies a year, a schedule which wasn’t exactly to her liking. Bardot liked to film in France because she knew the country and its people, whenever she had to leave it always took too long for her to acclimate. According to her biograohy, while she was filming Les bijoutiers du clair de lune (The Night Heaven Fell) in Spain she was miserable until she discovered the miracles of sangria and flamenco dancing.
During nights off from filming she started going out and dancing barefoot to flamenco guitars and drinking sangria even when she had an early call. She even started playing flamenco guitar, she strummed it while she waited for her cal on set. Supposedly the locals referred to her as “Guapa,” pretty girl.
Punk Rock blondie Debbie Harry back in the '70s.
New York City in the 1970s was full of characters. Glammed out guitar players and weirdo poets and painters all walked the streets looking for inspiration, but Debby Harry was the one performer who was always a rock star. As the singer for Blondie she captivated audiences with her stark good lucks and siren call of a voice, but the songwriting was there too. When the band broke big in 1978 with “Parallel Lines” it’s as if the group was just waiting for it to happen, like it was an inevitability. Even though they’re known for tracks like “Dreaming” and “Heart of Glass,” Harry describes Blondie’s early shows as chaotic at best. She told Interview Magazine:
We had a date at CB’s before we left, as our kick-off before we went on this amazing tour. The fire department came and then the bomb squad came. [Moody laughs] It was real chaotic. It was wonderful. I mean, the place was overcrowded, so they shut us down twice but we managed to keep on playing.
Demi Moore in 1981, the same year she posed nude for "Oui"
For those not in the know, Oui Magazine is basically the French version of Playboy. It was originally published under the name Lui, but after Playboy purchased and turned it into the actual French version of Playboy they changed the name to Oui. Before she started acting Moore was a model for the Elite Modeling Agency who sent to work in Europe as a pin-up.
In 1981 she appeared nude inside Oui after supposedly fibbing about her age to the publisher. The move didn’t hurt her career in any way, and only a few years later she was one of the biggest stars on the planet.
Robert Fuller, Julie London and Bobby Troup in "Emergency!"
Before there was Cops, and definitely before Rescue 911 there was Emergency! One of the first TV shows that took a realistic look at what it takes for paramedics, police, and firefighters to save lives on an every day basis. This tense series jumpstarted the “municipal services” genre of television that we still have today, and after six seasons the show went on to make six made for TV movies.
Weirdly enough, the series had a Saturday morning cartoon spin off called Emergency +4, which was about a group of kids who drove around in an ambulance with their pet to assist the paramedics Gage and DeSoto from the main show. Surprisingly this series ran for two seasons. As rough as that cartoon sounds, at least the show it was spun off from is still an exciting watch.
Sharon Stone showing some leg in 1983.
Believe it or not, but there was brief period in time when Sharon Stone wasn’t one of the most sought after actresses on the planet. In the early ‘80s she mostly worked in television with appearances on Remington Steele, The New Mike Hammer and Magnum, P.I. She played a lot of damsels in distress and femme fatales. How did she go from being a bit player to starring in huge movies? She used her brain. Stone told the Independent:
I decided because I was a very bookworm person that I had to use my intelligence of how to be sexy. So I was very good friends with the woman who was photo-editor of Playboy magazine and she was always saying that Hugh Hefner wanted me to be in Playboy. I thought, ‘you know what, this would be an intelligent step for me because if I tell people that I’m sexy, they’ll think I’m sexy’. So I showed her some black and white pictures that Man Ray had taken of his wife and said, ‘something like this’. And I got Basic Instinct, like five minutes later.
Soundgarden's singer/rhythm guitarist Chris Cornell, 1989.
When Chris Cornell passed away in 2017 it was like a punch in the gut to music fans everywhere. His soulful voice and twisting lyrics were such a respite to fans it’s terrible that he’s gone. In 1989 Soundgarden was just exploding onto the music scene, and Spin believed they were about to hit the big time if they could get over being compared to Led Zeppelin. As annoying as it can be to hear the same comparison over and over again, Cornell had a sense of humor about it. He told Spin:
When we first got stuck with that Led Zep tag three years ago, I thought it was O.K. Back then, everyone in Seattle was into the Smiths and the Cure and Led Zeppelin was very ‘70s, very uncool. We were outcasts from the goofy art rock scene, which was fine by me. I just figured, it could be worse, they could’ve compared me to Jim Morrison.
Who remembers the movie "Little Shop of Horrors," 1986?
While Little Shop of Horrors from 1960 will always be a b-movie classic, there’s something special about the remake from 1986. Even though it seems slick and commercial, there’s a real bite to the film that stuck with young audiences upon its release. Well, young audiences who were allowed to watch it. As satirical as the film was meant to be, the ending was chopped off because it was too depressing.
Frank Oz originally wanted Seymour to be devoured while trying to destroy his own creation. Then, he planned to have an army of Audrey II’s chew up the planet and destroy the human race. However, a happier ending was filmed to appease test audiences. What could have been.
Don Knotts (right) and Tim Conway (left) had a blast working with the kids in "The Apple Dumpling Gang" (1975)
The Apple Dumpling Gang is a groovy era children’s classic that everyone has at least passing memories of. It’s one of those movies that everyone was sat down in front of as a kid and left to giggle at the absurdities of Don Knotts and Tim Conway. While filming with the children, Knotts and Conway had to remind their young co-stars that they only had to say their own lines, and not those of the other actors. Knotts said:
Little kids aren’t too seasoned at that age. I remember [Susan] had trouble squinting at the light. Every time she had a scene she’d [squint] and [the director] would say ‘don’t squint honey, don’t squint.’
A young Steven Seagal a 7th-dan black belt in aikido.
Wow, who knew Steven Seagal had such great hair? Before he was an action star or a lawman, Seagal was a sought after martial artist who studied and taught akido in North Hollywood and West Hollywood, California. He grew up in Lansing, Michigan, but after his family moved to Fullerton, California when he was five-years-old he blossomed. His mother told People that as soon as Seagal was old enough all he did was listen to ear splitting rock music and train at a local dojo.
When Seagal was old enough he traveled to Japan to further his studies, although the year this actually happened is murky. He went back and forth from Los Angeles to Japan a few times and even opened a dojo in Osaka with his then wife and her family. Seagal says that at this time he was recruited by the CIA for special training. In 1988 he told the Los Angeles Times:
These guys were my students. They saw my abilities both with martial arts and with the language. You can say that I became an adviser to several CIA agents in the field, and. through my friends in the CIA, met many powerful people and did special works and special favors.
Who knows if the story is true? Even if it’s not it’s a lot of fun.
Burt Reynolds wasn't confident with his acting abilities when he filmed "The Longest Yard" (1974)
To a lot of cinephiles from the groovy era, Burt Reynolds is one of the finest and most fun actors of the day. He had an ease and a charisma around him that let the audience know that everything was going to be alright, and that they were in for a fun ride. Reynolds knew that he was good at setting people at ease, but he didn’t think he was a very good actor.
When it came time to film the more dialog heavy scenes in the film, Reynolds says that he was nervous, so director Robert Aldrich allowed him to do one take as written, and another “schtick take” just in case he came up with some magic. Reynolds says that more than half of his scenes are “schtick takes.”
Clint Eastwood and 'Clyde' (Manis) the orangutan staying busy on the set of “Every Which Way But Loose” (1978)
To paraphrase a wise man, don’t work with children or animals. Clint Eastwood didn’t really have a choice when he signed on to star in the comedy Every Which Way But Loose where he shared to screen with Manis the beer drinking orangutan. The pair make a great comedy duo on screen and it’s likely because their takes are so immediate. This is because if the takes went on too long Manis got bored.
We’ve never been around a bored orangutan, but it doesn’t sound pretty. Whatever he did, it couldn’t have been that bad because Eastwood agreed to come back for the sequel.
Howard Hughes designed a special bra for Jane Russell to wear in "The Outlaw," a 1943 American Western film
Throughout the history of cinema there are a number of inventions and contraptions that were used to get something special out of a performer. While filming The Outlaw Howard Hughes joined the long list of cinematic luminaries whose ingenuity changed film forever when he designed a special bra for sexpot star Jane Russell to wear so it would show off more of her bust. Russell says that she wore the Hughes contraption for a few minutes before she ditched it and stuffed a normal bra with tissue and tightened the straps. She later said:
I never wore it in The Outlaw, and he never knew. He wasn’t going to take my clothes off to check if I had it on. I just told him I did.
Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz outside of Desilu Studios in 1960, the year of their divorce
Founded in 1950, Desilu Studios served as a place for Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz to create shows they wanted to create them while making sure they got a cut of the money they thought they should be making. Even though the two divorced in 1960 the remained partners with the studio for nearly three more years.
In 1962 Ball bought out Arnaz’s stake in the company when he drinking began to get in the way of his business decisions. After Arnaz left Ball helped develop shows like Mission: Impossible and Star Trek. She sold the studio in 1967.
There was no script for "Viva Las Vegas" when Ann-Margret and Elvis got started (1964)
Even though Viva Las Vegas is regarded as one of Elvis’ classic films, it could have gone completely the other way. According to the film’s director, George Sidney, there wasn’t even a story when Elvis and Ann-Margret agreed to appear in the film. Initially the film was meant to take place in the Middle East, but after some brainstorming they decided to move the action to Sin City. He said:
That was one of those cases where we had no script and we had a commitment. Originally it was something about an Arabian or something... But we turned it around and we wrote the script in about eleven days... We changed the whole thing and decided to do it in Las Vegas.
Sophia Loren on a terrace by the Canal Grande in Venice. (1955)
Sophia Loren is easily one of the most recognizable actress of the groovy era. It’s not just her beauty, it’s her style, and her vibe that draws people into her. It’s impossible to look away from her when she’s on screen or in photos. Even though Loren obvious has that magical star power that people crave, she thinks it’s all in her attitude. She explained:
I think the quality of sexiness comes from within. It is something that is in you or it isn't and it really doesn't have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips.
Even Angelina Jolie felt out of place in high school
It’s nice to know that even Angelina Jolie, easily one of the sexiest women alive, made strange clothing choices when she was in high school. Initially she went to school at Beverly Hills High School where she felt uncomfortable around the children of vast wealth that surrounded her. Jolie says that it’s not until she transferred to Moreno High School, an alternative school, that she could finally be herself. She told Parade:
[Moreno High School is] where the bad kids go. I chose it. I was the punk outsider who nobody messed with. I was fearless. At 16, I graduated and moved out.
Eric Burdon, Stu Leathwood, Keith Ellis, Roy Wood, Jimi Hendrix, Noel Redding, Carl Wayne, John Mayall, Steve Winwood, Trevor Burton and Roy Morris hanging out in Zurich, Switzerland. (1968)
Do you think anyone is sober in this picture? Chances are that not a one of them could pass a field sobriety test and that’s okay when you’re a rock star, especially if you’re Jimi Hendrix. The guitarist and his band was in Zurich for a two night stand at the Hallenstadion opening for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, The New Animals, Traffic, and more. What a wild sounding show.
Following the concert a riot broke out among the fans as the moved towards the Zurich train station. Police fired rubber bullets and water cannons at the crowd to disperse them, but that was only the beginning - in four weeks the Globus riots occurred, which established a heavy anti-establishment tenor in Zurich.
Stevie Ray Vaughan was still figuring things out in 1979
1979 was a tumultuous year for Stevie Ray Vaughn. He was still putting together the trio that would back him up for the rest of his life, playing around Austin to critical acclaim, and he was arrested for drug possession at the end of the year. That night Vaughn and his band were opening for Muddy Waters, who said that the arrest disheartened him. In a biography of Vaughn, Waters said:
Stevie could perhaps be the greatest guitar player that ever lived, but he won't live to get 40 years old if he doesn't leave that white powder alone.
The arrest followed Vaughn for the rest of his life, and for a while it kept the band from touring overseas.
Tim Conway, Flip Wilson and Burt Reynolds doing a skit on "The Flip Wilson Show" in 1971.
The Flip Wilson Show was one of the most groundbreaking television shows of the groovy era. Not only was it one of the first shows featuring a black person in the title role, but it was a seriously weird and funny show, something that Wilson doesn’t get enough credit for. Wilson had a ton of sketches on the show, but he also had the clout to get a ton of stars to join him on screen, and he never made bones about having to flex his popularity to get what he wanted.
During its first two seasons The Flip Wilson Show was the highest rated show in America according to Nielsen, and it won a series of awards during its four seasons on the air including two Emmy awards.