60 Vintage Photos So Beautiful We Can't Look Away
Young and happy -- Sharon Tate in the 1960s
Photos from the past have the power to inspire and intrigue, but this collection of beautiful shots have something more going on just beneath the surface. Each of these rare historical photos tells a story about a person, sure, but they can also transport us to a time and a place.
Featuring icons from the past that we all dream about, these photos are sure to induce a haze of nostalgia over everyone who sees them. They'll take you back to most magical decades, when anything was possible and life was less chaotic.
Make sure to take a closer look at each of these photos, and spend plenty of time enjoying these rarely seen nostalgic moments in history.
One of Sharon Tate's favorite photos of herself
Sharon Tate had everything stretching out in front of her. She was the star of films like Valley of the Dolls, a marriage to a successful director, and a house in the hills. But in August 1969 her dream turned into a nightmare when members of the Manson family barged into her home to kill her and her friends in order to send a message to a Hollywood producer.
The world was shaken by Tate's death, but no one more than her family. Sharon's sister Debra, who was only 16 at the time, told People about the moment that her parents broke the news to her about the death of her sister:
My boyfriend at the time called to say he had heard on the radio that there was a fire at a house in Benedict Canyon and that one of the victims was Sharon Tate. My mom flung open the shower door and said, ‘Sharon’s dead.’ She was crying and wailing and shaking and her knees buckled and I remember the horror that comes with watching my little sister’s world crumble. It’s very horrifying when your parents fall out from beneath you.
Cookie anyone? -- Debbi Fields -- ball girl and cookie maker
In 1968, at the tender age of 13, Debbi Fields became one of the first "ball girls" for the Oakland Athletics. While her father worked as a welder for the Navy and her mother stayed home to take care of their five kids, Debbi was earning five dollars an hour to retrieve grounded balls.
Fields says that she used the money that she made from the Athletics to buy ingredients to make cookies, the one thing that she actually liked to eat when she was a child. While speaking with The Muse, Fields explained why she was drawn to baked goods:
My mother raised five children without the luxuries we have today—like a washer and dryer! Cooking was a chore she especially resented, and that showed in her meals. Since the food wasn’t as great as it could be, I used to refuse to eat. The only thing I was actually willing to eat? Cookies. I would bake my own using imitation chocolate, margarine—nothing real, because we couldn’t afford to have that in the house.
Fields didn't start her business for another nine years, but this early exuberance for cookies always stuck with her.
The infamous singing duo, Sonny and Cher in 1965
We think of Sonny and Cher as the couple that went to stardom as a singing duo, but that's not how it all started. They went from America's sweethearts to bitter rivals, to celebrities who were uniquely successful from one another, without the ability to extract themselves from their past as a duo. Initially, heir relationship began as platonic. They met in 1963 when Cher was 16 and Sonny was 27 and formed an immediate friendship before moving in with one another in a small apartment.
Both Sonny and Cher say that their early relationship was devoid of sexual tension, and it was only later that they got together. In 1975, Cher explained:
It wasn’t a fiery, sexy thing with us, but rather paternal, like we were bound together, two people who needed each other, almost for protection.
At the time, Cher was singing backup on songs like "Be My Baby," while working on their double act "Caesar and Cleo." In 1965 they scored a hit with "I Got You Babe," but it wasn't until 1969 that the two tied the knot and made their relationship official.
"Jungle" Pam Hardy -- 1973
Take a closer look at this photo, you're not just looking at some hot rod groupie, this is Jungle Pam, queen of the funny car circuit. But she wasn't born "Jungle" Pam, rather she spent her early years as Pamela Hardy, a studious young woman with sights on going to college until a spur of the moment decision to join "Jungle" Jim Lieberman on his drag racing run.
Pam says that one day she was walking down the street when Jim pulled up next to her in his Corvette. He asked her to hang out, she hopped in the car and they were together from there on out. At her first funny car race she fell in love with the sounds and smells of the cars, the track, and the world buzzing around her.
A few years after Pam joined Jim on the track, he was killed in a car accident when he collided with a bus. The death of Jim proved to be the end of Pam's racing career. Even so, it was a wild ride.
Frank Zappa and his parents in 1970
We often think of Frank Zappa as the king weirdo of the psychedelic rock scene, but as much as his music is characterized with a playful nature that verges on being ascorbic, he was much more a family man than people know. This photo shows him spending some family time with his parents, who were nothing like their son.
Zappa's father worked for the Department of Defense, so they moved around the country for years until they settled in California when Zappa was 15 years old. He had trouble forming friendships and never performed all that well in school but he was gifted with music and had a penchant for making chemicals explode. The same part of him that enjoyed creating science experiments had fun raising his own kids. His son, Ahmet, told the Guardian:
I think what my father appreciated was the science experiment of life. He had these kids, and they had their own experiences. He wanted us to discover the world for ourselves. My parents told us how they felt but never imposed their beliefs on us, although I appreciate I got a healthy sense of democracy from them. When it came to discipline my dad never spanked us. If he said to you, 'You're acting like a jerk,' that was the worst thing ever.
Valley of the Dolls -- Sharon Tate -- 1967
Most well know for starring Sharon Tate as Linda, a hairspray lacquered beauty who steals every scene with plenty of cleavage and cheekbones that look like they're sculpted out of marble. But she's not the only star in the film. Patty Duke ad Barbara Perkins fill out the rest of the film as Neely and Anne, the film has become iconic for its representation of '60s fashion.
The film follows the three women as they become addicted to pills while in the entertainment industry, and unfortunately its kitschy delights were overshadowed by Tate's murder just two years later at the hands of Charles Manson's followers. At the time of her death, she was eight and a half months pregnant. She had just gotten married a year before to her director, Roman Polanski.
Judy Landers on the Johnny Carson Show - 1974
Judy Landers was a mainstay on television throughout the '70s and '80s, appearing on everything from Happy Days to Charlie's Angeles and, of course, The Love Boat. Beloved for her bubbly personality and her gorgeous looks, Landers knew how to turn whatever show she was on into a party - that's why she was such a great get for variety shows and late night TV like The Tonight Show.
After numerous appearances on The Tonight Show she admitted that she had a crush on Johnny Carson. This 1974 appearance is famous for the unflappable Carson getting totally flustered and responding, "When did the crush leave you?"
Today, Landers is living the life of a house wife with her husband former Major League Baseball pitcher Tom Niedenfuer and her two children. She produces family films and television with her sister, Ruth.
Comedian Steve Martin looking pretty groovy in 1969
This may look like a wild and wooly stranger, but you're not looking at some banjo carrying desperado, this wild and crazy guy is Steve Martin, one of the greatest entertainers of all time. He's been making people laugh for years, first with his stand up and later in films like The Jerk and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but before he hit it big he was just another west coast folky.
From an early age, Steve Martin was a performer. He had his eyes set on the big time, and in order to hone his skills he took jobs performing at Disney Land and Knotts Berry Farm in various comedy troupes. He says that this kind of west coast upbringing made him who he is:
I was very happy with where I grew up. I really loved it, the beach, being near Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. I was able to become a performer there. It was all part of my young, youthful history. I started working at Disneyland when I was 10. I got to dress up and go into this amusement park that was well kept.
Farrah Fawcett was the '70s golden girl!
It's impossible to think about the 1970s with our thinking of Fawcett in her red one piece, smiling out at us from her poster with that million dollar smile. Even if she never did anything after that poster, she'd still be the golden sun of one of the greatest decades of the 20th century.
Farrah Fawcett turned her sun-soaked California good looks into a career with starring roles on Charlie's Angels and The Burning Bed, a role that one her serious acclaim. However, Fawcett left Charlie's Angels after a single season, forever cementing herself as the star of jiggle TV that got out early and continued to reign supreme.
She was a meteoric talent, someone who took a few short years and turned that into the rest of her career. It's a talent that so few stars have.
New York "Cabbie" -- Robert De Niro's taxicab driver's license, 1976
Before he was the star of Taxi Driver, Robert De Niro was actually a taxi driver. He took the role after starring in Mean Streets, so it's not like he was hurting for cash and had to take up a job, at the time, De Niro liked to go method.
To get into the head of a Vietnam veteran who was trolling the streets of New York City and dreaming of cleaning up the city through a wave of violence De Niro picked up fairs and studied his riders for 12 hour shifts for a month straight.
De Niro says that while he was prepping for the gig he was only recognized one time, and it was by a fellow actor. According to Andrew J. Rausch, the author of The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, the actor exclaimed, "Well that’s acting. One year, the Oscar [for The Godfather Part II] – the next, you’re driving a cab!”
Photo Op -- Marilyn Monroe pouring her husband a drink, 1958
This shot comes from Life magazine's pictorial, "A Night with the Millers," that supposedly shows what it was like to live with Marilyn Monroe and her third husband, playwright Arthur Miller. The odd couple met in 1951 on the set of As Young As You Feel. The night after they met Monroe wrote in her diary:
Met a man tonight … It was, bam! It was like running into a tree. You know, like a cool drink when you’ve had a fever.
The unlikely couple married in 1956 and were immediately dubbed by the media "the Hourglass and the Egghead,” with one magazine dubbed their union “the most unlikely marriage since the Owl and the Pussycat.” Monroe and Miller only lasted for about five years before they split for being incompatible. Even though the couple's love was short lived, they remain one of the most fascinating unions of the 20th century.
A buff Charles Bronson and his beautiful wife, Jill Ireland -- 1971
Pictured here with his second wife, Jill Ireland, Charles Bronson was a serious man's man. His early life was wracked with poverty. He grew up in coal country and was so broke that he often had to wear his sister's clothing to school. This not only instilled in him a sense that he needed to work, but it made him tough.
His early acting career was somewhat fruitless, with his big break coming when he was 39 years old and received a role in The Magnificent Seven. Eight years later, Bronson married Jill Ireland and formed one of the most lasting relationships in Hollywood. The couple co-starred in a series of films together, and often drove to the location with their children to make sure that the family stayed together.
When not on set the couple disappeared to Vermont where Ireland raised horses and trained their daughter, Zuleika, to follow in her footsteps.
A brunette version of Brigitte Bardot from the 1960s
Fans of Brigitte Bardot know that it's rare to see her as a brunette. Even though she was born with brown hair, in 1956 she bleached it for an Italian film and never went back. She may sounds like a fashion plate, but in actuality she never set out to change the fashion industry.
Bardot often wore her own clothing in movies, and she didn't know much about makeup, but her naturally good looks and charisma won over audiences and created trends regardless of how little work she actually put into looking good. According to Bardot there's one secret to her style:
The Bardot style is simply my own style; in other words, it’s not a style at all. I dressed in the same way as I did my hair: depending on what took my fancy, and what I felt like at that moment.I wore elegant gowns designed by the top couturiers as well as gorgeous gypsy outfits that were unconventional, things I came across by accident and then became fashionable!It makes me laugh! In any case, it was prettier and sexier than what we see these days.I’m proud I created a style that doesn’t go out of fashion—because I was never fashionable!
Miss Hurst Golden Shifter (Linda Vaughn) and the Hursettes
Linda Vaughn was a dental technician when she entered a beauty contest and came out on top, giving her the confidence to enter the Miss Atlanta Raceway contest in 1961, a contest which she won. Her role as Miss Atlanta Raceway brought her to various tracks around the south from Charlotte to Daytona while showing off her bod.
The biggest boon of her career came when she won the title of "Miss Hurst Golden Shifter" out of 200 other entries. This win was the beginning of Vaughn's career as a racing aficionado and leader of the Hursettes, a trio of large chested gals who lounged around races like the Daytona and Indy 500.
Vaughn managed to branch out from the pageant and racing worlds and make a name for herself on film and television. She appeared in the racing movies Gumball Rally and Stroker Ace, and even went on to host The Exciting World of Speed and Beauty in the '90s.
Batgirl -- Yvonne Joyce Craig -- 1967
Much of Yvonne Craig's early life was filled with rehearsals for what she felt was her true calling, ballet. She studied with ballerina and instructor Alexandra Danilova before becoming a member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as its youngest member. However, when she moved to Los Angeles to further her dancing career she found herself drawn to acting.
Craig had that charmed kind of career where she was cast easily, mostly as ingenues on TV shows throughout the '50s and '60s, but it's her role as Batgirl that she'll always be remembered for. While speaking with Closer, Craig explained that when she was offered the role she didn't really know what Batman was, but that did't stop her from studying until she figured it out:
[The producers] called me and said they were thinking of adding a girl to Batman. I had never seen the show, even though everyone was crazy about it. Even when I was shooting Batman, I had a black and white TV. I’m a book reader and not much of a TV watcher, so I just didn’t pay attention. The producer, William Dozier, said, ‘I’m sure you’ve seen our show,’ and I said, ‘Actually, I haven’t, but if I get the part I’ll spend the summer watching re-runs so I know how I’ll fit into the scheme of things.’
Elvis Presley and "soul-mate?" Ann-Margret - 'Viva Las Vegas', 1964
After starring in three films together it makes sense that Elvis and Ann-Margret developed some serious chemistry, but he was with Priscilla at the time and didn't want to break things off. Even though he was in a seemingly star-crossed relationship with his young bride, from the moment he set eyes on Ann on the set of Viva Las Vegas they were seriously into each other.
Throughout the filming of Viva Las Vegas, Elvis and Ann grew closer and closer and became more attracted to one another, at the time they felt like soul mates. Even longtime friend and bodyguard of Presley said that when the two were together they were like a "house fire."
That being said, The King decided to be a man of his word and broke things off with his co-star, breaking his and her heart in the process.
Alyssa Milano as 'Samantha Micelli' on the classic '80s sitcom, "Who's the Boss?"
Audiences first noticed Alyssa Milano when she played Samantha on Who's The Boss? opposite Tony Danza. As huge as this was for her young career, it played a part in one of the most mortifying moments of her life. While speaking with Entertainment Weekly Milano explained that after the airing of the season one episode where she has to buy a bra people on the streets stopped her repeatedly to bring it up. She said:
This was at a time that we could only say ‘bra’ once. We could only say it once, and then we had to come up with different things... I’d walk down the street and get recognized. People would be like, ‘That bra episode! You’re getting older, you’re growing up!’ It was so mortifying.
The M*A*S*H clan -- Loretta Swit, Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson -- 1972
The TV series, M*A*S*H, found comedy in the struggle of the Korean War for 11 years between 1972 and 1983. Set at an military hospital base and starring a team of doctors who tended to the wounded while cracking wise and cutting each other up, the series was able to make light of war while addressing serious issues, it's a tight rope walk but they managed to do it.
Mike Farrell who played B.J. Hunnicutt on the series, says that he really knew that the show as connecting with people after particular episode that turned him from character actor to someone who was mobbed on the street, albeit in a polite way:
The episode that really affected me was the one where Gen. MacArthur comes to camp. Everyone's getting ready to prepare for his arrival and they're trying to hide me. MacArthur drives by without paying any attention to anyone until he drives down the road and salutes me, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. I was in Beverly Hills the next day, walking down the street and bus drivers and cab drivers were honking horns at me and people were waving at me in the street. That was from one stupid image of Klinger. I realized we're not just working on this little soundstage. This thing goes all over the world and people are actually watching us.
Alexandra Bastedo, a British actress, in the series "The Champions"
Star of The Champions, one of the weirdest British shows about the occult to come out of the 1960s, Alexandra Bastedo is one actress who's work has definitely flown under the radar throughout the 20th century in spite of her appearances in films like Batman Begins and EastEnders, however her real calling was as an animal rights activist.
As the founder of Alexandra Bastedo Champions (ABC) Animal Sanctuary, Bastedo oversaw the day to day at the animal sanctuary at her home in West Chiltington, West Sussex where she helped dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, pigs and goats live a life free from harm. Sadly, she passed away in 2014 at the age of 67.
Fun-filled movie "Beach Party" (1960s) with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon
For a few brief years the beach movie was one of the most beloved genre of films for teenagers giddy on their chance to get out of the house and go to the theater all by themselves - and it all started with Beach Party.
Produced by Roger Corman's American Pictures International, Beach Party started a series of seven pictures based around teens getting into trouble and usually soling some kind of mystery on the beach. Corman's films were cheap and operated on shoestring budgets to ensure that the company made a profit. While discussing the intense shooting of this movie, Frankie Avalon notes that he just had to tear through it as quickly as possible. He said:
We were constantly filming. We were doing 28 setups a day. I would say to Bill Asher... 'I don't think my character Frankie would say this.' And he'd say, 'What are you talking about? Just say the line. Let's have fun with it.
One night in 1989 -- What's the scoop? Christina Applegate and Brad Pitt at the MTV Movie Awards
Was anyone ever as young as Christina Applegate and Brad Pitt at the 1989 VMAs? As cute as this couple is they were apparently not so hot for each other. While Pitt is super duper hot, Applegate ditched him during the festivities for another guy, leaving Pitt to go stag for the rest of the show.
Applegate has admitted that she ditched Pitt in the middle of their date, but she's never said who she left him for, preferring to stay tight lipped about what had to be a pretty embarrassing moment for young actor. However, Sebastian Bach of Skid Row claims that he's the guy Applegate hooked up with at the VMAs. He alleges:
She was interviewed recently on, like, Entertainment Tonight, or something, and they said, 'What was the dumbest thing you ever did?' And she goes, 'One night I ditched Brad Pitt for this other dude.' And that dude would be me. So there was a time on this earth when Sebastian Bach was, like, a hotter lay than Brad Pitt.
"Blonde" Brigitte Bardot -- 1950s
Even today Brigitte Bardot is considered to be one of the most beautiful women on the world. She was only a teenager when she had her first acting role, and just into her 20s when she starred in And God Created Woman, the Roger Vadim directed sexual drama that created Bardot's coquettish character that's followed her into her 80s.
When the film was released audiences and critics were drawn to Bardot's sexuality, with many reviews stating that she was the only reason to see the movie. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times wrote:
Bardot moves herself in a fashion that fully accentuates her charms. She is undeniably a creation of superlative craftsmanship. But that's the extent of the transcendence, for there is nothing sublime about the script of this completely single-minded little picture...We can't recommend this little item as a sample of the best in Gallic films. It is clumsily put together and rather bizarrely played. There is nothing more than sultry fervor in the performance of Mlle. Bardot.
Hot couple -- Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley in 1983
If there's any proof to the age old adage that musicians get chicks regardless of how attractive they are it's the marriage of Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley. We're not trying to body shame Billy Joel or anything, its just that these two look like they're from completely different planets.
Joel and Brinkley were married for a little over a decade, but finally called it quits in 1995. Even though their marriage ended their friendship remained intact, and Brinkley says that the two have been known to sing Christmas carols together over the holidays. She told People:
Many years after our divorce, Billy would still come to my house for the Christmas singalong and play the piano, and all our friends would come over and sing Christmas carols. Singalongs are one of my favorite things to do. And you know that’s what makes everybody happy.
"Europe or bust!" 1975 campaign -- British model Beverley Pilkington
In 1975 the people of Wales and the UK were asked to decided whether or not they wanted to remain a member of the European Community (sound familiar?) and a massive ad campaign went out to make sure that England didn't adopt a separatist and isolationist line of thinking, and instead stuck things out at as a part of the EC.
The Yes campaign made a meal out of their "Europe or Bust" shirts that were definitely pointed at the world's love of the chest, but there was also a No campaign that had a less sexy slogan, "Out and into the world."
There was an overwhelming vote for yes, with more than 17,000 votes going towards the winning decision.
The sexy Barbi Benton, 1970
After appearing in Playboy at the very young age of 18, Benton had a relationship with the magazine's scion Hugh Hefner for seven years. Not just another pretty face, Benton went on to pop up on shows like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Hollywood Squares, and The Girls Next Door.
In the 1970s she spent four seasons on Her Haw before releasing her first solo album, appropriately titled "Barbi Benton" featuring the Top 5 single "Brass Knuckles."
After enough television appearances to make a struggling actor have an aneurism, Benton retired from show business to raise her children in Los Angeles and Aspen.
Martial arts expert, Bruce Lee in "Enter The Dragon" 1973
Enter The Dragon is an undeniable achievement in genre filmmaking. Considered to be Bruce Lee's masterwork, the film almost didn't happen due to Lee's disapproval of the script and desire to make it the best film possible. He initially believed that he had creative control over the script, but when it was clear that Warner Bros. was placating the actor he wrote a letter to the company voicing his distaste for the way they did business. Lee wrote:
I am sure you agree with me that quality, extreme hard work, and professionalism is what cinema is all about. My twenty years of experience, both in martial arts and acting has led to the successful harmony of showmanship and genuine, efficient, artful expression. In short, this is it, and ain’t nobody knows it like I know it. Pardon my bluntness, but that is me! You see, my obsession is to make, pardon the expression, the f*ckingest action motion picture that has ever been made. In closing, I will give you my heart, but please do not give me your head only. In return, I, Bruce Lee, will always feel the deepest appreciation for the intensity of your involvement.
Even with the letter, Warner Bros. refused to use Lee's script changes so he did what any self respecting actor would do, he walked. Lee spent two weeks in a cold war with the distribution company until they blinked and told the producers to use Lee's script changes.
Bruce Springsteen in a phone booth, East Camden, NJ, 1978
In 1978, Bruce Springsteen was on one of the most important tours of his life. From May 1978 to January 1, 1979, Springsteen played 115 shows and hit major markets, college towns, and everywhere in between to preach the gospel of The Boss.
Seeing a Springsteen show today is like going to a marathon. There are multiple sets, entire albums are played, and the audience leaves after picking themselves up off the floor. In '78, Springsteen's sets hadn't quite reached that length, but they were intense. Many critics at the time described these shows as religious experiences, with Los Angeles Times critic Robert Hilburn writing:
I realized the faith I was beginning to put in Springsteen the December day in 1978 that I drove 400 miles to Tucson, Arizona, to see him in concert [for personal reasons, not as a professional assignment]. The show was part of a short western swing near the end of the Darkness tour that skipped Los Angeles.... [a] swell of emotion came to me during Bruce's concert in Tucson ... seeing Springsteen push himself so hard on stage and listening to the eloquence of his songs made me forget about doubts and think about my own dreams again.
Chaka Khan in the 1970s
Chaka Kahn found success singing with the band Rufus in 1972, but the singer and straight up icon was making a living with music before she was a Grammy winning artist. Not a person to give anyone or anything credit for her success but herself, Kahn says that she's more inspired by the things in life that try to hold her down rather than stories about lovers.
When asked about her inspiration by Interview Magazine she was quick to lay out how growing up in Chicago shaped her and showed her what she didn't want to do:
My mother was into opera and my father was into jazz, so there was a lot of jazz in the house where I grew up. I was born and raised in the University of Chicago area and had an uneventful middle-class Catholic childhood. I had a heavy Catholic upbringing and Catholicism is terrible—it’s the reason there were slaves. Mass every morning at seven o’clock during Lent... It was a great relief when I finally realized what I was into and got out of it, and although it may have helped make me the strong person that I am, I hate to give it credit for anything in my life. It’s a totally negative, man-made religion. Anyhow, I also hated school so I quit when I was 16 and joined a group so I could make some money.
Claudia Cardinale, a beautiful Italian actress of the 1960s and 1970s
While it's easy to categorize Claudia Cardinale as an Italian bombshell, her early life shows that's not really the case. Even though both of her parents of Italian, she was born and raised in Tunisia, a French protectorate. Even though she had a heavy French accent, you won't hear that or her husky voice in her earliest work. Her voice was dubbed over in those early films.
It wasn't until her role in Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 that audiences heard her real voice. In a conversation with the LA Times Cardinale explained that she and Fellini were good friends and often decided about what would happen in the film based on their rides to the set each day.
Cardinale still works quite a bit in France and Switzerland, and says that she prefers to work with young directors who are just making their first films.
Every Which Way But Loose (1978) -- Clint Eastwood and his "sweet" pet orangutan, Clyde
Famous for playing disgruntled detectives, quite cowboys, and moody old men, it might surprise you that Clint Eastwood's biggest box office draw (in which he appears but doesn't direct) is the buddy film Every Which Way But Loose.
In 1978, it was a huge risk for Eastwood to star in a comedy. He was known for his serious roles in westerns and dramas, and not necessarily for his comedy acumen, but when he was given the script with the hopes that he would pass it on to his buddy Burt Reynolds he jumped at the chance to co-star in a film with an orangutan.
It's not clear why Eastwood wanted to get into hijinks with a primate, but the gamble paid off handsomely for the actor and it managed to humanize him after a series of films that made him feel like a distant loner.
Cool couple or are they? Britt Ekland and Peter Sellers in the '60s
After knowing each other for a little more than three weeks Peter Sellers and Britt Ekland married in a flurry in 1964. He and the Swedish bombshell may look like they're in love, but there were serious problems lurking under the surface for this lovely couple.
In private, Sellers was domineering and jealous, something that he knew about himself. He often said, "If I can’t really find a way to live with myself, I can’t expect anyone else to live with me."
The two met after Sellers saw a photograph of Ekland in a newspaper and looked her up. His gamble worked out and the two were nearly inseparable from there on out, well for a few years. Ekland says that Sellers was incredibly hard to deal with but that she understands that much of his problems stemmed from a mental issue. She said:
He obviously suffered from or was bipolar, severely bipolar. He was a very tormented soul who should have had more help. But instead he was unable [to] because he was such a valuable asset.
The Infamous Dale Earnhardt Sr and his 1976 (one-race-only) #30 car
Hands down, no questions asked, Dale Earnhardt Sr. is the most important driver in NASCAR history. His racing career began in 1975 when he was only 24 years old. He quickly earned the nickname "The Intimidator" thanks to a string of seven Winston Cup Championships. His aggressive driving style coupled with his controversial moves on the track made him one of the most fearsome competitors of any era.
Earnhardt bumped cars, he passed like it was going out of style, and he didn't let anyone mess with him on or off the track. His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr. says that while he was intimidating, he wasn't a bad guy, he was just someone you wanted to please.
You wanted to please him all the time, make him happy and you wanted to, whatever you did, you wanted it to somehow get a response from him.
Danny, Sandy and Kenickie on the set of "Grease" 1978
In 1978, Grease was the word on everyone's lips. The film achieved something that few musicals can do, it was an immediate hit that surpassed what anyone thinks of a musical adaptation and it was - and remains - everywhere.
Sure, the film stars straight up adults playing teenagers, and its '50s iconography is a little stodgy for the 1970s, but something about this movie just works. It's inherently watchable and so so fun. When the film premiered it was pandemonium, both with fans and the stars. Olivia Newton-John said of the film's coming out party:
I just remember it was crazy. There were lots of people in the bathrooms doing strange things that I hadn’t seen before. It was wild and fun and a very exciting night.
Bewitching Elizabeth Montgomery in the '60s
Elizabeth Montgomery may look as cool as a cucumber in this photo, but she admits that before her first big break she nearly had a panic attack. In 1952 she beat out a series of actresses to play her father's daughter on his series Robert Montgomery Presents, something that must have been a breeze, but she says that before the cameras started rolling she nearly ran from the studio screaming:
Everyone was on pins and needles as the hour for the show approached. Dad called me into his dressing room for an old-fashioned, last-minute pep talk. I assured him everything was under control so far as I was concerned. I don’t know whether he could tell that I was shaking all over. But when the cameras came alive for the show, I had no trouble concentrating on my part and the program went off without a hitch.
Elvis posing with Joanne Wilson, a polio child for March of Dimes - 1950s
We all remember Elvis as a hunk of burning love, but he was more than just a pretty face with a voice from the heavens, he was an ardent supporter of vaccinations. In 1954, the New York City Department of Health launched a huge campaign to promote vaccination against polio.
In order to get people on board with Jonas Salk's polio vaccination Elvis Presley agreed to appear in a photo opportunity in a quick snapshot taken before an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The photo shows the New York City Commissioner of Health holding Elvis' arm as Assistant Commissioner Harold Fuerst administers the polio vaccine. By 1963 - less than ten years later - the number of polio cases in the area was zilch, goose egg, zero, and for that we can thank The King.
Party-time at the U.S. Whiskey A Go Go - historic nightclub in West Hollywood (1964)
The Whiskey A Go Go towers over the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles as one of the most important rock clubs in history. Since its doors opened in 1964 it's been the home of bands like The Byrds, The Doors, and even Mötley Crüe. The club is so deeply entwined with the DNA of popular culture that even artists like The Beatles and Led Zeppelin asked to see the place when they came to Los Angeles.
When the club first opened in 1964, it wasn't the rock 'n' roll free for all that we think of. Initially it was a kind of dance club where acts like Johnny Rivers of "Secret Agent Man" fame played three sets a night. Between his sets the audience danced to records played by a DJ. Initially, that DJ was a young woman who spun records in a glass booth hanging above the dance floor, making her the first go-go girl. The club's original owner, Elmer Valentine described the scene to Vanity Fair:
So she's up there playing the records. She's a young girl, so while she's playing 'em, all of a sudden she starts dancing to 'em! It was a dream. It worked.
Extremely groovy color photo of Jim Morrison onstage in 1968
When Jim Morrison took the stage with The Doors it was like bringing the audience to a spiritual awakening. He flailed and howled in a drunk, drugged out haze in order to coax his followers into a spiritual reverie, but that didn't always work he way he wanted it to.
In his early years, Morrison was hypnotic. His performances lulled the audience into a trance. He brought his fans through heaven and hell in order to reach musical rapture, but a few years into the band's success he lost himself in the both. His performances went from chaotic to disastrous.
This shot shows Morrison early in his career when he was still the lizard king, Mr. Mojo Rising. Little did he know that he was only a few years away from dethroning himself.
Gloria Paul -- accomplished dancer, actress and singer in England in the late '60s and '70s
Just by looking at this photo it may seem like Gloria Paul has everything. This English beauty began her career as a ballet dancer before quitting her professional dance company to try her hand at acting. Her bet paid off and she quickly found herself in films like Goldfinger and For a Few Dollars More before transitioning to television where she appeared in the Benny Hill Show.
Paul continued acting in England until the '90s when she suffered a freak accident. While she was taking a shower in her home, the water heater fell through the ceiling and landed directly on her. She was paralyzed from the waist down. This accident ended her career and forced to her to retire completely. In a recent interview Paul said that she's lucky to have friends who've stuck by her side even now that she's not on screen:
After the accident I discovered that people truly wished me well and I’ve been very lucky in my choice of friends. As the saying goes: 'You discover who your true friends are in bad times,' and at bad times, they were always at my side. I had a good nose for friends, and when I need them they’re there. With my job, you know a thousand people, but in life one must be selective. You shouldn’t judge people too quickly, it takes time.
Helen Mirren performance in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida" -- Royal Shakespeare Theatre (1968)
Helen Mirren has long bee considered one of the sexiest actresses of the 20th century. When she was a part of the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1960s, the Guardian referred to her as "The Sex Queen of Stratford," which is nice and all but they didn't really mention her acting. That headline made Mirren averse to dealing with the media from early on.
Mirren has had to deal with this kind of thing from the onset of her career thanks to her decisions to take on bold work rather than the same fluff that every other actress works with. That doesn't mean she doesn't understand the audience's desire to see someone beautiful onscreen. In 2015, she explained:
On the cinema screen, your face is 10ft high and 6ft wide. It’s huge. And I, as a cinemagoer, like to see beautiful faces up there – it’s a pleasure. But there’s also story and entertainment, and one wants variety in that. You also want, as an audience member, to see people that you recognize and can identify with.
Action-packed movie, Bullitt (1969), with Steve McQueen and Jacqueline Bisset
Bullitt is more than just a car movie, it's an action movie that changed Hollywood forever, paving the way for movies to be shot on location. Most well known for its car case, the film was innovative and exciting, taking audiences on a ride that they didn't expect.
At the forefront of this film was Steve McQueen, already a huge star and someone that put butts in seats. With Bullitt, he went from star to something else completely. Co-star Jacqueline Bissett noted that he was great to be on set with, and nothing like the star people believed him to be. She explained:
Steve was a major star at the time but very patient with me and we would go out for meals with the director and producer when we’d break for lunch... Watching those cars jumping in the air on the streets of San Francisco was amazing. There were also some scenes where I had to drive Steve around in a yellow convertible and remember thinking God almighty, I don’t want to mess this up with a race car driver next to me!
Blonde Bombshell, Jayne Mansfield in "The Girl Can't Help It" (1956 comedy)
The Girl Can't Help It may have been seen as just a vehicle for Jayne Mansfield, but when it was released in 1956 it had the unintended consequence of essentially bringing rock n roll to the world.
The film definitely made Mansfield a name, but the score was the star of the film. Featuring Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, and Gene Vincent, when the movie came to the UK it inspired teenagers like John Lennon and Paul McCartney who began working in the rock n roll stylings of Cochran into their skiffle routines.
As far as Mansfield, she went on to star in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? in 1957, which was easily the biggest film of her career.
The "Man in Black" Johnny Cash on "The Jimmy Dean Show" (1964)
Johnny Cash was the originator of the outlaw country lifestyle. Even with his pop tinged songs, Cash lived the life of a rough and tumble rock and roller even when he was singing about going down in a lake of fire. This intense cowboy draped in all black was one of the coolest cats in the music industry for years, but he was also a wild man.
According to Johnny Western, a guitarist who started hanging around Cash in 1958, Cash was staying in a motel one night next to fellow country legend Carl Perkins, and he was so out of his mind on drugs and alcohol that instead of leaving his room and walking over to see Perkins he smashed the wall down with a chair. Western said:
When Johnny was really pilled up once, in one big motel, Carl Perkins was staying in the next room, but there was no dividing door between the rooms, so he took a metal chair and smashed the wall down so they could walk back and forth. That cost a couple of thousand dollars. We were doing stuff that Mick Jagger and those guys picked up on later on. It was just that kind of a lifestyle.
"Stripper" Natalie Wood in Gypsy, 1962
In 1962, Natalie Wood was just beginning her rise to stardom. Sure, she was the child star in Rebel Without A Cause, but it's harder than you think to turn that kind of stardom into real deal success.
Wood spent the '60s showing that she was more than a teenage sweetheart for the likes of James Dean to fawn over by appearing in huge musicals as well as this offbeat film about the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Not only did Wood bare a lot of skin in this film, but she actually used her own voice rather than have it dubbed like in West Side Story.
The critical response to the film was a little sad, but they loved Wood (how can you not?) even if she didn't show as much skin as they wanted.
Olivia Newton-John as 'Sandy' in "Grease" (1978)
Everyone loves Grease. Today there are sing alongs, rooftop parties, and thousands of people still dress up like the T-Birds and Pink Ladies during Halloween, but there's one part of the Pink Lady costume that many young women probably don't follow through on.
The film follows Olivia Newton-John as she changes from sweetheart Sandy to a hottie with her hair teased to the heavens and tight leather pants. It turns out to get into those pants took an entire production team. To get her into the super tight pants she had to be sewn in by the costume department.
That's bad enough, but she had to stay in the jeans for the entire shoot day because it was too much work to take them off and put them back on.
Hollywood's "Golden Couple" Paul Newman and wife, Joanne Woodward in 1965
One of Hollywood’s most enduring marriages began on January 29, 1958, when Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward wed in Las Vegas, Nevada. The actors met in New York City while performing in the Broadway production of Picnic, a romantic drama. Following the success of the play both Newman and Woodward moved to Los Angeles where they both became contract players.
Following their marriage in 1958 the couple traveled to London where they honeymooned at the Connaught Hotel. Woodward essentially dropped out of the entertainment industry to be Newman's wife, but in 1968 she starred in Rachel, Rachel, Newman's directorial debut.
Woodward received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, one of four total nominations that the film received. Newman told the press that he directed the movie for her after she gave up her career for him.
Pretty in pink, Jaclyn Smith, 1976
No other Angel lasted longer than Jaclyn Smith. In the 1970s she joined Farrah Fawcett and Kate Jackson to form the trio of the all-female team of detectives who solved crimes with the help of their disembodied employer. The series had sex appeal and a progressive thrust that helped it attain legendary status in just a few short years.
Smith says that from the moment that the series went on the air that it was a hit and her life changed forever, something that she hadn't fathomed. As successful as the series was, Smith says the most important thing that happened was her friendship with her fellow stars, especially Jackson who helped her work her way through the life of a television star. She said:
Kate [Jackson] had done a series, and Farrah and I had not, so she was sort of the strong leader, saying ‘You don’t do this and this and this…’ You learn a lot from that first season – it was an education. We were Southern girls: Farrah and I were from Texas, Kate’s from the South, and there was sort of a bond among the girls where it wasn’t really competitive at all. We just really liked each other, we got along, and we fought as much for our free day and unstructured time as for screen time.
Karate lesson? Ron Howard (Richie) and Pat Morita (Arnold) -- "Happy Days" (1974)
When Happy Days premiered in 1974 no one thought it would be the juggernaut that it became. What started as a series about a large group of friends became overshadowed by Henry Winkler's portrayal of Fonzie, something that the network attempted to capitalize on by changing the name of the show. Speaking about the proposed change, Ron Howard noted that there was no way he would have let that happen:
They did come to me and said, 'Well the network would kind of like to change the name of the show to Fonzie's Happy Days.' And I said, 'Well, I don't think I wanna be in that show. I wanna be in 'Happy Days' and I think Henry should have, you know, every opportunity to do everything — that's fantastic — but you know, I signed on for this other thing and I just really don't wanna do that. I think I'd go back to film school.'
Howard continued, saying that when Gary Marshall heard about what happened he personally made sure there was no name change and that Ron Howard stayed on the show.
Elvis Presley and wife, Priscilla, flying off together (late 1960s)
In 1967, A 32 year old Elvis Presley married his 21 year old bride, Priscilla after an on and off courting session that began when he was stationed in Germany and she was a teenager. The King is said to have "trained" Priscilla to look and act how he wanted, all the while carrying on affairs with other women, and turning a blind eye to his young wife's extra marital relationships.
Five years after marrying, the couple filed for divorce after deciding that they just weren't happy together. On the day the judge granted their petition the couple walked hand in hand out of the courthouse, still friends after calling things quits. In 2016, Priscilla explained why she still felt that Elvis was the love of her life:
I needed to find out what the world was like, really, it was one world. But the greatest thing about our relationship was that we still loved each other.
"Dreamland" -- Sophia Loren on a visit to Disneyland in 1963
You can't just be any old star to get special treatment at Disneyland. Even in 1962, Disney and their theme park were doing well enough to tell actors like Vincent Price to kick rocks if he wanted to get in for free, but not Sophia Loren.
One day after she won an Oscar for Two Women in 1962, she asked to visit Disneyland and the park relented. She spent the day in the park with her personal attendant going on the rides and checking out the attractions with a trail of photographers following her.
According to one worker that day, she was accompanied by her husband Carlo Ponti, an Italian film producer, and rode as many rides as she could, entering through the exit like royalty.
The beautiful and sexy Ann-Margret rocked the 1960s!
Ann-Margret was the Swedish queen of 1960s American cinema. Not just a blonde bombshell, she sang, danced, and acted - often alongside Elvis. She was one of the few gals who could hold her own against The King.
She wasn't just a pretty face, after requests poured in for her to visit Vietnam, she hopped in a plane with Bob Hope and brought the wildest dreams of the soldiers fighting far from home to life. However, she notes that she didn't exactly receive the greeting that she thought she would:
I received sheets of paper that had 3,000 signatures of our guys wanting me to come over there. I went in 1966. It was just Johnny Rivers and the bassist and drummer and me. We went everywhere. And then in ’68 it was the Bob Hope Christmas show, and there were 85 people. So it was different feeling.
The cast "gang" of "The Outsiders," 1983
Francis Ford Coppola's The Outsiders is one of the greatest coming of age films of the 20th century. He and his cast of stars before they were stars accurately capture life on the wrong side of the tracks, but to get into character the actors had to go more method than they wanted to.
While speaking about the film with Kelly Clarkson, Rob Lowe revealed that the actors had to spend the night with strangers in order to find their characters. He says that he and a young Tom Cruise ended up on cots in a basement, Lowe still sounds annoyed:
When we were doing The Outsiders, we’re 18 and 19 years old. It’s Francis Ford Coppola, the director, who directed The Godfather and Apocalypse Now... and in his effort to make us more authentic as greasers, as sort of tough Tulsa, sort of wrong side of the tracks guys, (he) found a bunch of different actual greasers who were now grown-up adults and made us go spend the night and live with them... Tom and I ended up in the basement in two cots and we’re like, ‘We don’t know these people.' I mean, who vetted them? Really? Do you think Francis Ford Coppola spent a lot of time vetting these people? I can tell you, he didn’t. He was with an espresso and watching some fancy Fellini movie and went, ‘Yeah, yeah that sounds great’ and went back to his espresso.
The glamorous Elizabeth Taylor, 1956
We don't often think of Elizabeth Taylor as a "method" performer. Sure, we know about her marriages and her work as Cleopatra, but it's hard to think of her digging deep into a character. However, that's exactly what she did on some of her biggest films, although it wasn't always easy to get out of the role.
She notes that while filming Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf with her then-husband Richard Burton the couple had to work out a system of getting out of character so they could make sure they had a pleasant evening at home rather than continuing to tear each other's heads off:
We’d get it all out on the set and when we got home it was like taking off and overcoat and leaving it at the studio. We’d learn our lines in the car on the way home. Fortunately, we were both very quick studies. Then when we got home we had shed George and Martha and we had the kids. We had dinner with the kids every night and we played games with them, word games that we invented, and we’d become totally involved in the family. We became Richard and Elizabeth and it worked. We became a untied family and forgot all about the two [characters] who wanted to kill each other. And we survived.
"Electrifying" Jimi Hendrix and his turntable in 1970
Jimi Hendrix was a sonic genius, and even though he only recorded a few albums the genius that's present on each of them is hard to wrap your head around. Each further album is a shift into a new aural land and it's absolutely stunning.
Even though there's a lot going on with the Hendrix albums he was insistent that he really didn't do that much to make the songs shine, just lay down what felt right. He told Guitar Player:
On some records, you hear all this clash and bang and fanciness. But all we’re doing is laying down the guitar tracks, and then we echo here and there. We’re not adding false electronic things. We use the same thing anyone else would, but we use it with imagination and common sense. Like in ‘House Burning Down’ [Electric Ladyland], we made the guitar sound like it was on fire. It’s constantly changing dimensions, and up on top that lead guitar is cutting through everything.
Paul McCartney 1976
After the Beatles called it quits in 1970, Paul McCartney retreated to his farm in Scotland with his young family. At the time, he and his wife Linda had only been married for less than a year and here he was depressed and drinking while brooding about the lack of possibilities in his life following the breakup of his band.
Linda was raising their young child, Mary, while helping Paul get his confidence back as he slowly started working on new music. He ended up recording what became "McCartney" in secrecy on a Studer four-track tape recorder at his house in St. John's Wood.
The biggest song on the album is "Maybe I'm Amazed," an ode to Linda, the woman who helped him get back on his feet.
"Scream Queen" -- Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1970s
Take a look at this shot of Jamie Lee Curtis, filmed here looking cool, looking like a star, but before her big, accidental break in 1978's Halloween she was worried that she was about to be bounced out of Hollywood after her first series failed to hit.
Curtis says that at the time she was severely disappointed to be fired (who can blame her), and that she agreed to take Halloween because it was something to do - even if it was a cheap horror movie. She told the New York Times:
My mother was protecting me from being a child in the movie business. Later, I got a part on the ABC sitcom Operation Petticoat. I was fired, and I was devastated. Had I not been fired, I wouldn’t have been available for Halloween. As my Jewish family would say, it was bashert — meant to be. I didn’t give it a second thought that it was a horror movie, and my mom had been in a horror movie.
Pam Grier and Juanita Brown -- 1970s
Pam Grier has had a long and storied career, and even though she's beautiful and talented in a natural way she hasn't always gotten the roles that she deserved. But to hear Grier tell she's not broken up about losing roles, she knows she's good.
While speaking with the New York Times she said that she knows she's been kept out of films for ridiculous reasons, but she doesn't care. While speaking about how she was almost cast in The Witches of Eastwick she explained:
It would’ve been a breakout mainstream film for me. I tested. I think the studio was basically trying to make a deal with Bill Murray to star in it, and they couldn’t close it, so the next person was Jack Nicholson, who was dating Anjelica Huston. She was dark and exotic. So they tested her, and it didn’t work out. And then there was Cher, and they gave her the role. That was that one mainstream film that would have given me a broader audience. But there were no bad feelings.
Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw -- Lynda Carter and Marjoe Gortner -- 1976
One of the many forgotten movies of the 1970s stars Lynda Carter and Marjoe Gortner as a kind of free wheeling Bonnie and Clyde but with a country-pop music soundtrack and a newly minted Wonder Woman at the helm of the feature.
While Carter was rocking as Wonder Woman in 1975, she had no idea that it would be the role that defined her career so it makes sense that she took this role as a young woman who falls for an outlaw and ends up robbing banks and stealing cars along with him.
Like a lot of outlaw movies of the '70s, the film features a lot of Dukes of Hazzard-light car stunts and shootouts. It's definitely worth checking out if you like watching Lynda Carter tooling around in hot rods.
Lovely Jamie Lee Curtis -- Late 1970s
After fresh faced Jamie Lee Curtis took the role of Laurie Strode in Halloween she had no idea why people would want to watch such a stressful movie. After all, why would audiences want to freak themselves out?
Curtis says that she didn't really get it until she saw the movie with an audience full of people who were completely invested in Laurie's survival. She told the New York Times:
I remember going to see it in Hollywood, and in the middle of the movie, when Laurie is walking across the street to the house where P.J. Soles’s character has just been strangled, this woman stood up and screamed, 'Don’t go in there!' In that second, I understood exactly what John intended. The audience cared about Laurie.
This just shows the power of seeing a movie like Halloween with a large group of people, it absolutely beats watching a movie alone at home.