Beach Beauties Of The '60s: When Bikinis Were Wild And Stuffed

By | October 18, 2017

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Left: Lobby card for 'Pajama Party.' Right: Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon in a scene from the movie 'Beach Party.' Sources: eBay; Bettman/Getty

In the early 1960s, sex was hiding in plain sight -- not sex, depicted graphically, but the fun and games of young people on the beach in barely-there swimsuits. Annette Funicello was the alpha-babe, but Shelley Fabares, Susan Hart, Barbara Eden, Ursula Andress and Raquel Welch all had their moments in the sun. Beach movies and the national mania for bikinis made seductive stars of young shapely actresses and entertained the fantasies of teenage boys -- all the while carrying on as if this was good clean fun.

Of course, it was good clean fun by today's standards. But back then, it was racy. You saw a lot of skin on screen in the early '60s. And then later in the decade, as the cultural changes really kicked in and the bikinis got even smaller, you saw even more.

Cast your memory back to the girls of summer in the '60s -- Annette Funicello frolicking with Frankie Avalon; Gidget on her surfboard; various gorgeous gals succumbing to Elvis Presley's charms. Southern California was the place to be, with Beach Boys tunes about "Surfer Girl" and California Girls" blaring on the radio and tan teenagers hitting the waves or dancing on the sand. 

Annette Funicello, Queen Of The Beach Party Beauties

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Left: Annette goes in for the kill on the 'Bikini Beach' poster. Right: Annette on the cover of the 'Muscle Beach Party' soundtrack album. Source:;

Annette Funicello, a wholesome beauty with the perfect coif and cute bikinis, ruled the beach party scene. (She was a former Disney Mouseketeer, so perhaps she got the benefit of the doubt when it came to "wholesomeness.") She was iconic among beach bunnies of her time. Starring with Frankie Avalon, they started off in 1963 with Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Beach Blanket Bingo and How To Stuff a Wild Bikini