Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue: The Bikini Invasion Of '64

By Rebeka Knott
Left: Babette March on the cover of the 1964 Swimsuit Issue. Right: Christie Brinkley on the cover of the 1980 issue. Source: Sports Illustrated.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue had its humble beginnings in 1964 as a five-page feature in the nation's pre-eminent sports magazine. Never mind that it didn't make logical sense for Sports Illustrated to report on women's recreational swimwear, the Swimsuit Issue filled a need. And many household names later -- Cheryl Tiegs, Carol Alt, Christie Brinkley, Elle Macpherson, and others -- it's fair to say that the publication contributed to the supermodel concept.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue has been credited not just with creating supermodels, but also with popularizing the bikini as a valid -- and not scandalously European -- beach option. The year 1964 kicked off the British Invasion in music; in subscribers' mailboxes, the Bikini Invasion was underway as well.

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