He went on to star as Frederic in The Pirate Movie (1982), an update of Gilbert and Sullivan's operetta The Pirates of Penzance. He hit #71 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with the song "How Can I Live Without Her?", which appeared in The Pirate Movie. The film has become a cult classic. Renowned for his boy next door looks, Atkins created a buzz among girls of all ages who loved to see him on screen. Though it led to typecasting, the athletic Atkins did not disappoint his fans, and was shirtless in almost all his movies and television appearances. Atkins commented, "What do you mean as soon as I get a job where I don't have to wear a loincloth, I will be wearing a speedo swimsuit! Will I ever have an acting job when I don't have to be shirtless?
In A Night in Heaven (1983), also starring Lesley Ann Warren, Atkins played Rick Monroe, an outspoken and overconfident student working his way through college as a male stripper. For one season (1983-1984), Atkins had a recurring role on the hit CBS prime time soap opera, Dallas as "Peter Richards," who had an affair with Sue Ellen Ewing played by Linda Gray.
Atkins has been the cover boy of innumerable teen magazines and has appeared in several television commercials representing big brand names such as Coke and Adidas, all of which capitalized on Atkins' youth and appearance. He appeared on the cover of the September 1983 Playgirl magazine, and posed nude for a pictorial. He posed nude for the magazine again in December of the same year but was not fully exposed in either issue.
Atkins famous curly blond hair has grown darker over time to solid brown, straight hair. (The curl was the product of permanents.) He married Lyn Barron, from Sydney, Australia, in 1985 (now divorced), and they have two children: Grant (b. December 10, 1985) and Brittney (b. May 1, 1987). He owns his outdoor sports company and has patented his own fishing lure.
His daughter Brittney Bomann has appeared in five films. His son Grant plays baseball for UNC Charlotte.
He was also nominated for five Razzie Awards for The Pirate Movie, A Night in Heaven (won), Listen to Me (won), Worst Actor of the Decade and Worst New Star of the Decade.