Rare Behind The Scenes Photos Of Young Hollywood In The Groovy Era
By | August 18, 2022
Katharine Ross and the handsome Sam Elliott were married back in 1984 and are still married.
Whether you’re a super spy for the British government or a campy television star who spends all day dressed like a bat, at some point you’ve got to relax and have a little fun. These far out and goofy photos show that our favorite celebrities know how to have fun - especially when they’re on the job.
If you like stories and photos about guys like Paul Newman, Burt Reynolds, or even Cheech Marin then we’ve got a collection of pictures that will bring you right back to halcyon days. So crank up some groovy tunes, and put on your Tom Petty shirt because it’s time to check out what the stars of the ‘60s, ‘70s, and even the ‘80s were up to when the cameras weren’t rolling. Scroll on!
Sam Elliot may be one of the few stand up guys remaining in Hollywood. Elliot and Ross first met in 1978 while filming the horror movie The Legacy. The film, which is a classic English haunted house movie may not be memorable, but at the very least it brought us all the love of these two sweethearts. Both Elliot and Ross are Hollywood big leaguers - Ross was Elaine Robinson in The Graduate - and even though there was an instant spark between the two of them, they waited until 1984 to get married.
Elliot and Ross are still together and when they’re not in Los Angeles they’re living in Oregon, which is a pretty good place to get away from the hubub of the city.
Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen during the recording of "We Are The World" in 1985.
“We are the World” helped bring $63.1 million to relief for Africa after it was released on March 7, 1985. And while the single produced by Quincy Jones did so much good for the forgotten continent its recording wasn’t necessarily the campfire sing along you might imagine. Jones anticipated trouble with the 45 mega stars in attendance, which is why he put a sign on the door to the recording studio that said “Leave your egos at the door.”
According to music manager Ken Kragen, one of the rock bands present - he wouldn’t say who - threatened to walk on the recording because they were worried about how it would make them look, but when Bruce Springsteen said he was sticking around for the recording it made all of the other rockers want to stay. You don’t want to look bad in front of The Boss.
Michael J. Fox and Huey Lewis on the set of "Back to the Future," 1985.
Who’s that nerd hanging out with Marty McFly? What’s that? It’s Huey Lewis!? That’s right, when it came time to shoot Back to the Future Huey Lewis didn’t just provide the songs “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” to the film, but he also appears in an uncredited role as one of the judges for Marty McFly’s high school talent show audition.
In 2017 Lewis said that when he was approached to write songs for the movie he’d never done it before and was just winging the material. He explained:
They asked if I could write a song for the movie told them that I never wrote for film. They say that it didn’t matter and it worked out incredibly well. Who would have ever guessed that would have worked out? It was an amazing experience.
"Party All the Time" Eddie Murphy and Rick James, 1985.
By 1985 Eddie Murphy was already on top of the world. He was selling out stand up tours, he was the star of Saturday Night Live, and he had three huge movies under his belt - 48 Hrs, Trading Places, and Beverly Hills Cop. However in 1985 Murphy did what no one expected and recorded the song “Party All Time Time” with funk master Rick James.
Recorded at James’ home studio of Buffalo, New York of all places, the song eventually made its way to #2 on the Billboard charts. In 2014 the song re-entered the cultural consciousness thanks to the fans of Scottish soccer team St Johnstone F.C., who’ve taken on the tune as their unofficial song.
Freddie Mercury and Elton John chatting backstage at Live Aid in 1985. (Photo by Richard Young)
Live Aid wasn’t just one of the most important rock n roll charities to ever be created, it was also the largest confluence of rock stars since Woodstock in 1969. While Elton John gave a truly breathtaking performance during the concert - which included a duet with George Michael on “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” - it in no way matched the pure, raw energy of Queen’s short set.
In just 20 minutes Queen took the audience on a journey across their entire career, with singer Freddie Mercury doing everything he could to give the crowd something to remember. The show was so breathtaking that Elton John is said to have shouted, “You stole the show!” At the band when they got off stage.
What teenage crushes were made of...Susan Dey, 1972.
If you grew up glued to your TV in the groovy ‘70s then you definitely had a crush on Susan Dey, otherwise known as Laurie Partridge. Before she joined America’s favorite pop-rock family, Dey was a model. However she quickly caught the eye of the producers for The Partridge Family and they hired her without so little as a screen test.
While something like that can spell disaster for lesser actors, Dey thrived on television and she went on to star on L.A. Law as well a series of feature and television films, but we’ll always remember her for her time in that far out family band.
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix in 1958.
Before he was Jimi Hendrix, this guitar virtuoso was playing gigs with anyone who would have him. After being discharged from the Army he played guitar with bands up and down the chitlin circuit, and he played with his own group - the King Kasuals. Hendrix started playing guitar at the age of fifteen, and he played for hours at a time until his fingers bled.
Even though he’s remembered as a master of the electric guitar, his first axe was an acoustic. He finally ended up getting a guitar after joining a band and deciding that he needed to crank up the volume - and the rest is history.
Bill Murray in "Stripes" (1981)
King of the mutts and the underdogs, John Winger from Stripes is truly the grown up class comedian that inspired every teenage cut up looking for a North Star in the early ‘80s. The film was originally intended to be Cheech and Chong join the army, but after the actual Cheech and Chong requested complete creative control director Ivan Reitman pivoted and reached out to Harold Ramis to get Bill Murray on board.
Supposedly once filming began much of the script was thrown out due to Murray’s improvising, with many of the wildest scenes in the film being completely made up on the spot. Now that’s the kind of filmmaking we can salute!
Peter Tork and Jimi Hendrix, 1967.
Even though it might seem Jimi Hendrix and The Monkees are the worst paired artists in the history of rock and roll, it actually made sense for these two acts to tour in 1967. The Monkees were one of the hottest acts in America, and Hendrix’s Are You Experienced wasn’t released until the summer of that year. Everyone in The Monkees - especially Peter Tork - were champions of far out artists like Hendrix and they just wanted to help the guy out.
According to a Rolling Stone interview with Tork, he and Hendrix hung out at his house in Studio City where they jammed out and hatched plans for a musical takeover. It's not what you expect from one of the guys that sings "Daydream Believer."
Houston rockers Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard of ZZ Top, 1970.
It turns out before the long beards, the Eliminator, and the hit songs the buys from ZZ Top were still sharp dressed men. While Billy Gibbons and the name ZZ Top was kicking around throughout 1969, the signature line up didn’t get together until 1970 when Gibbons replaced his earliest bass player and drummer with Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.
Even though they were signed to a contract from London Records, the band still had to eek out a living by playing whatever shows they could, and they wouldn’t hit it big until 1973’s Tres Hombres, an album that fully made use of their countrified blues sound.
Jackie Earle Haley as the baddest bear 'Kelly Leak' from the movie "The Bad News Bears" (1976)
After watching The Bad News Bears, everyone wanted to be Kelly Leak. He smoked, he rode a motor cycle, and he had that cool jacket with the fringe. Aside from just being straight up cool, Leak also happens to be the best athlete in the area which is why he plays both left and center field. When you saw this movie - either in theaters or maybe even on VHS - it definitely inspired you to be a little bit of a rebel.
Seriously, after watching this movie who didn’t want to go out and get a Harley Davidson and start riding around a baseball field?
Christopher Walken on the set of the 1978 film "The Deer Hunter."
The Deer Hunter is a tense Vietnam era film about a group of friends from the rustbelt who are drafted into the war and have their lives changed and ripped apart by personal issues. In his role as Nick Chevotarevich, Christopher Walken gives an articulate and nuanced performance that sees him go from the lynchpin of a friend group to a man suffering with amnesia.
Walken’s turn in the film was so spectacular that it garnered him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1979. His won was much deserved, and it’s hard to imagine this film without him.
Fleetwood Mac, photograph by Sam Emerson. (1976)
Has there ever been a group so capable of squeezing infinitely listenable hits out of personal pain and suffering than Fleetwood Mac? Throughout the 1970s and ‘80s this quintet changed partners more than some ballroom dancers. Throughout all the drama they somehow managed to create a series of album that defined a generation.
The lightning rod for much of the drama was front woman Stevie Nicks who joined the group with her then partner Lindsay Buckingham, but as the band continued on she found herself entangled with drummer Mick Fleetwood and a couple members of The Eagles. It must have taken a miracle to get this band out of the ‘70s.
Jayne Mansfield with her family... and husband #2, Mr. Universe.
In her unfortunately too short of a life, Jayne Mansfield did it all. Not only was she a nightclub performer and singer, but she was a playmate and the star of movies like Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Girl Can’t Help It. Somehow in the midst of all this stardom she managed to have a family as well. It’s truly inspiring.
In 1962 Mansfield and her then husband Mickey Hartigay traveled to Italy where the two of them worked on her autobiography before they divorced. Following their divorce Mansfield discovered that she was pregnant with their daughter - TV’s Mariska Hartigay!
June Carter and Johnny Cash in 1968
1968 was a big year in the life of Johnny Cash. Not only was he finally able to be open about his relationship with June Carter following the dissolution of his marriage with his first wife, but Cash played his immortal concert at Folsom Prison. The Folsom Prison shows were groundbreaking not only because they were the first of their kind, but because they inspired the men Cash was playing for in a way that had never been done before.
According to Marshall Grant, one of the original members of Cash’s backing band, many of the men who watched the show turned their lives around after seeing them play. He told Rolling Stone:
John had a real feeling for the down and out, for the prisoners. For anybody like that. He came from very humble beginnings in Arkansas. So even though he acquired a lot of things in life, he still felt for these people and he made it very obvious, too. He was so real with it. And that’s what brought him to prisons. And a lot of them turned their lives around because of our willingness to go entertain them that told them that we cared.
KISS wearing their manager Bill Aucoin's suits for a photo in New York, 1974.
Is there any better juxtaposition than these four wild rockers in their Kabuki makeup and business suits? But according to KISS lore, this photo almost didn’t happen because even though the band owned every crazy get up imaginable, only drummer Peter Criss owned a suit. When it came type to take photos for the album the band asked managed Bill Aucoin for a little fashion help.
All those suits…Peter had a suit but no one else did so I went to my closet and got the suits…I think the most expensive thing about that album was the initial album covers.
Good thing they were all the same size.
Michelle Pfeiffer in "Grease 2" 1982.
Before she was teaming up with the Penguin and wearing latex in Batman Returns, and even before she was trading barbs with Al Pacino in Scarface, Michelle Pfeiffer was starring in Grease 2 as Stephanie Zionne. In the film Stephanie is trying to navigate her time as a pink lady while she breaks up with her T-Bird boyfriend. Oh, and she’s got a crush on a mysterious motorcyclist.
While Grease 2 never achieved the cult status of its predecessor, it did act as a showcase for Pfeiffer, who appeared alongside a few other faces that have managed to stick around over the course of the next three decades.
Pam Grier was the epitome of Groovy, 1970s.
If you were alive in the 1970s then you know that there was no one cooler than Pam Grier. During that most groovy of decades she was in kickin’ movies like Foxy Brown and Black Mama White Mama while dating comedy legend Freddie Prinze, and after they broke up she dated Richard Pryor, was there ever a more ‘70s set of relationships?
Grier’s career was on fire throughout the ‘70s, and in spite of the fact that she wasn’t around much in the following decade, she made a big comeback in 1997 with her starring role in Jackie Brown. Viva la Pam Grier!
Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in the film "The Way We Were" 1973.
The Way We Were is a timeless love and falling out of love story for the ages. It follows Katie Morosky and Hubbell Gardiner as they try to work through their differences in the first half of the 20th century. The first time they meet they two of them are on the opposite side of a political divide, and as the film moves through two more decades the characters are always finding themselves together in one way or another.
Even though the two actors were, like their characters, completely opposite of one another, they worked well together. Streisand said:
I just loved working with [Redford]. Every day was an exciting adventure. We played well together--in the moment, slightly different, slightly unknowing, always interesting. He's a man of depth who has what it takes to be a great movie star: mystery behind the eyes. You wonder, What is he really thinking?”
Susan Sarandon, her first movie appearance was in the movie "Joe," 1970.
There’s something to be said for people who just show up. Susan Sarandon didn’t have any designs on being a famous actress while growing up in New York City, but in 1969 she went to a casting call for the movie Joe starring Peter Boyle as a factory worker who hates hippies. She wasn’t auditioning - her then husband was - but the casting director saw something in her and hired her for a role.
It wasn’t the most auspicious start for an actress but after Joe Sarandon went on to appear in a series of television films before 1975’s Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The original MTV VJs in 1981/ J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter.
If you wanted your MTV then these were the VJs who were going to give it to you. When the burgeoning music video channel started in 1981 this fabulous fivesome were on the air around the clock playing hits by bands like The Buggles (obviously), Pat Benatar, and even Iron Maiden. On MTV’s launch day - August 1, 1981 - the channel played 208 videos with 11 of them by Rod Stewart.
Out the five initial VJs everyone had a favorite, personally I’m a Nina Blackwood kind of guy, but if you prefer Mark Goodman that’s cool too, just as long as you aren’t into Alan Hunter we can be friends.
Joe Pesci, an Italian American actor, comedian, and musician. The first film he starred in was the low-budget crime film "The Death Collector," 1976.
You may not remember The Death Collector, the 1976 film mafia film, but in many ways it’s the flashpoint for some of the most important gangster movies and TV shows of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and 2000s. Not only is this the first appearance of Joe Pesci, who’d been working as a barber and a live stage act throughout the later ‘60s and early ‘70s, but it’s also one of the earliest appearances of character actor Frank Vincent.
While the movie didn’t go anywhere, it was seen by Robert DeNiro who suggested to his pal Martin Scorsese that he use the duo in Raging Bull. The two would go on to appear in films like Goodfellas and Casino, forever altering the landscape of modern gangster cinema.
Johnny Cash proposed to June Carter this month back in 1968.
Johnny Cash and June Carter first met in 1955 backstage at the Grand Ole Opry. At the time Cash was married to his first wife, Vivien, but that didn’t stop the Man in Black from falling head over heels with the young June Carter. Cash and his first wife divorced in 1966, and while on stage in London, Ontario Cash proposed to June.
On March 1, 1968 the two wed in Franklin, Kentucky. Even though Cash continued to live hard June stuck by her man and the two became true #relationship goals for every fan of outlaw country. The two stayed together until their respective deaths in 2003.
Just your typical K Mart store parking lot back in the '70s. Chances are you used to shop there too!
We’ve got a blue light special on aisle Groovy! Is there any department store that’s more embedded in the 1970s than K-Mart? It was truly the one place where you could get everything, from heavy flannel to snacks, and even a six pack of Tab. And if there’s one thing that we wish we could bring back from the greatest era of shopping it’s the in store music from this far out department store chain.
There was just something soothing about walking through the aisles of a K-Mart. Maybe it’s because you were bound to run into someone you knew from around town, or maybe it was just all the deals. Whatever the case, viva la K-Mart!
Prince was the opening act for The Rolling Stones in 1981.
Prince may be regarded as one of the defining rock acts of the 20th century, but in the early ‘80s he was still cutting his teeth and having to prove himself every night while opening for The Rolling Stones, then on the “American Tour 1981” to support their album “Tattoo You.” Stones fans were not in the mood to see Prince play and they actually booed the band off stage. Bassist Mark Brown remembers:
Next thing I noticed was food starting to fly through the air like a dark thunder cloud. Imagine 94,000 people throwing food at each other; it was the craziest thing I had ever seen in my life. I got hit in the shoulder with a bag of fried chicken; then my guitar got knocked out of tune by a large grapefruit that hit the tuning keys…
Thankfully things turned around for Prince and The Revolution.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1988.
Look at these funky, fresh faced, Southern California rockers. Before they were the kings of modern rock radio the Red Hot Chili Peppers were blending the aggressive sounds of punk rock with the virtuosity of funk and jazz to create their own blend of party rock music. The 1988 lineup of the group - Anthony Kiedes, Flea, Hill Slovak, and Jack Irons only recorded one album together - The Uplift Mofo Party Plan - but that record set the template for the rest of their career.
By the end of ’88 the Chili Peppers would no longer be the fresh faced youngsters that you see in this photo, with Irons leaving because of personal problems with the members and Slovak passing away. That being said, it seems like nothing can slow down this band.
The cool and groovy Mr. Telly Savalas back in the 1970s.
Who loves Kojack, baby? Everybody. But did you know that Telly Savalas wasn’t just the coolest detective on the streets? Even though he spent 10 years as the bald, lollipop loving detective (first from 1973 - 1978 and again from 1985 - 1990) Savalas also appeared in the original Cape Fear and Birdman of Alcatraz for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Academy Award.
If you were watching TV throughout the groovy decades of the ‘60s and ‘70s then you definitely saw Savalas on one of your favorite shows. Heck, he even had a number 1 single in the UK with a cover of Bread’s “If.”
The Irish-American actress and singer, Maureen O'Hara. O'Hara was a famous redhead who starred in the movie "Lady Godiva of Coventry," a 1955 American Technicolor historical drama film.
This fiery redhead may be from Ireland, but her roles in films like Rio Grande and The Quiet Man permanently ensconced her in the American West. It’s likely that many audience members didn’t even know O’Hara was actually from Ireland. While she played all kinds of characters, she was best when she was being a brassy broad, probably because that’s the kind of person she actually was.
In O’Hara’s autobiography Tis Herself, she discusses her many roles, but her most indicative quote comes from her thoughts on Comanche Territory. On page 131 she writes:
The film in which I mastered the American bullwhip. By the time the picture was over, I could snap a cigarette out of someone's mouth.
Christopher Walken, 1970s.
Even in the 1970s Christopher Walken had the intense stare of a man beyond his years. After working on the stage throughout the 1960s, Walken made a move to the silver screen in the early’70s where he continually worked as a supporting actor. Even though he wasn’t front and center in many of the films in which he appeared, Walken always made sure audiences remembered him.
Was it his unnatural good looks or the way in which he delivered his lines that turned him into a star? A combination of both? Maybe in the case of Christopher Walken it’s just best not to know and to go along for the ride.
Funny 1970s ad for Sony Higher-Fi components.
If you truly wanted to listen to tunes of the most hi-fi order in the 1970s this was the way to do it, with a killer reel to reel, a turntable, and a gnarly set of speakers. When it was time to play your music so loud that it made your neighbors headbang your only choice was to pick up some equipment from Sony.
Not only was Sony one of the few brands that you could trust back in the day, but their ads were funny, sharp, and they spoke to people who really liked to rock? Was this your set up? Or did you have something even better?
Wilt Chamberlain, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Andre the Giant on the set of "Conan the Destroyer."
It takes some big guys to make Arnold Schwarzenegger look like a shrimp, and they both happened to be on the set of Conan the Destroyer. During the filming of this movie Wilt the Stilt co-starred with Arnold as a royal bodyguard, while Andre made an uncredited appearance as the creature Dagoth.
Keep in mind that Schwarzenegger is 6’2 and this was when he was arguably at the peak of his physical prowess. It’s absolutely crazy that he looks so small in this photo, and it makes you wonder just what was in the water when Wilt and Andre were growing up.
Sally Field back in 1977, the same time she met Burt Reynolds while filming “Smokey and the Bandit”
Even though Sally Field had been performing on television since 1965 when she starred as Gidget and the Flying Nun a year later, it wasn’t until her turn as Carrie in Smokey and the Bandit that she became America’s Sweetheart. Who else do you think could be so sweet on film while helping Burt Reynolds bring a truck load full of beer across state lines?
Supposedly the studio behind the film, Universal Pictures, wasn’t hot on Sally Fields because they didn't believe she was attractive enough for the role. However Burt Reynolds insisted that they cast her and the rest is movie history.
Tom Petty rockin' out on stage.
There has never been and never will be anyone as cool as Tom Petty. Even when Petty and his band, The Heartbreakers, were struggling to make ends meet throughout the late ‘70s they never stopped rocking. In 1976 the band released their first album and while it didn’t take off in America, the band was hailed as the second coming of The Beatles in England.
When discussing the band’s early tours of the UK, Petty said:
The audience just jumped up and charged the stage and were boogieing their brains out. It was such a rush. Wow, we had never seen anything like that, man.
Phil Collins, 1965
Long before he could feel it coming in the air tonight (whatever “it” was), and even before he was drumming with prop-pop powerhouse Genesis, Phil Collins was actually a child actor all throughout the 1960s. He appeared as the Artful Dodger in Oliver!, the musical version of Oliver Twist, and he’s even in A Hard Day’s Night.
You have to look closely to find Collins in the film, but you can find him during the performance sections. Despite the fact that he was being cast regularly, Collins felt the call of Lady Rock and he started playing drums in various bands across London. In 1970 Collins joined Genesis and a rocket was strapped to his career.