1970s Female Icons: Where Are They Now?
The entertainment world was booming in the 1970s, and much of that success can be attributed to the powerful, diverse and wonderful women who were present on screen, on the stage and on the radio.
These truly iconic women became household names, and through the years they’ve kept themselves pretty busy. Some have remained on similar paths to those they forged in the ‘70s, while others have enjoyed new beginnings. So, what are they up to now?
Melissa Sue Anderson
Known for her breakout role playing Mary Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie between 1974 and 1981, Melissa Sue Anderson was only 12 years old when the show premiered. Throughout its run, Melissa was the only member of the cast to be nominated for an Emmy.
It's a rare experience to have your name become synonymous with an internationally beloved fictional character, but that’s precisely what Carrie Fisher built her career on. Starting in 1977, Fisher took on the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars, and fans young and old have been clamoring for more ever since.
Another woman who hit the fictional-character lottery is Barbara Eden, who starred as the loveable genie, Jeannie, in NBC's hit I Dream of Jeannie. With over 100 episodes, the series made its mark on ‘70s television and beyond.
The first of an iconic trio, Jaclyn Smith starred as Kelly Garrett on Charlie's Angels from 1976 through 1981 when the show finished. She was the only one of the three angels to stick it out until the end.
Perhaps the most widely known of the three angels, Fawcett had already landed several television roles before Charlie's Angels premiered. It was her depiction of angel Jill Munroe, though, that secured her place as a household name and international sex symbol. She even inspired a unique hairstyle, the "Farrah-flip."
Decidedly disproving the age-old myth that women aren't funny, Goldie Hawn found fame initially through the acclaimed sketch comedy show Laugh-In. Throughout the ‘70s, she starred in many films and earned the title of "bankable star." Whatever she touched turned to box-office gold.
The first non-Hollywood starlet on our list, Linda Ronstadt has had a prolific musical career that spans genres. First establishing herself as an artist in the 1960s, Ronstadt was also voted the Top Female Pop Singer of the 1970s. Earning 10 Grammys, three American Music Awards and an Emmy, her list of accolades is seemingly endless.
Mia Farrow got her start in the fashion world in the ‘60s, but in the ‘70s she really found her rhythm when she entered the wonderful world of Hollywood. Famous especially for her performance as the famous literary character Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby, Farrow became known as an ingenue.
Known as a brunette bombshell and sex symbol in the 1970s, Raquel Welch worked hard to prove that her talent and drive were worth much more than her pretty face. She came to be known for her bold portrayals of strong female characters and for breaking the traditional-actress mold.
Like many other women on this list, Cybill Shepherd started as a model and then transferred over to film once she'd found some success. We're lucky she found her way to the screen, because her talent is something we wouldn't have wanted to miss. From Taxi Driver to The Heartbreak Kid, Shepherd's stardom grew exponentially in the '70s.
Starting off her career in the spotlight as a model for Vogue, Candice Bergen began to find success in the world of film in the late '60s. Things worked out — she starred in multiple films in the '70s and broke out even further in the '80s when she landed the role of Murphy Brown on the sitcom of the same name.
In terms of stars who really inspired everyone with their performances in the '70s, Faye Dunaway certainly ranks high on that list. Her career launched in a big way in 1967 with Bonnie and Clyde, but Dunaway didn't stop there. The following decade was a busy one for her as she starred in blockbusters like Roman Polanski's instant classic, Chinatown.
Billie Jean King
A standout on a list full of musicians and actresses, Billie Jean King, renowned tennis star, deserves a place here without a doubt. Her legendary status was secured when she won "The Battle of the Sexes" — a tennis match she played against fellow pro, Bobby Riggs.
Barbra Streisand is one of those celebrities who never seems to slow down. Her music career, as both a singer and an actress, was secured in the 1960s, but the '70s delivered even more success for this ambitious star. Her six-decade career has won her awards of every variety, including a Kennedy Center Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Pam Grier is a force to be reckoned with, and she rose to prominence in the blaxploitation sub-genre that emerged in the 1970s. In films such as Coffy and Foxy Brown, Grier positioned herself as a true star who wasn't afraid to cross boundaries.
There are few other actresses whose names are associated with high-quality acting the way Meryl Streep's is. Her career has been a masterful one, and her awards and accolades are almost too numerous to mention. In the ‘70s alone, she won a Tony, an Emmy and an Academy Award.
Not shying away from the most serious of serious films, Talia Shire gained audiences’ respect through her roles in huge blockbuster successes — in The Godfather series and as Adrian Pennino in Rocky. She received Academy Award nominations for these complex roles.
Starting her acting career at age 6, Jodie Foster's big break came when she was 14 and appeared in Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, which was released in 1976. Foster continued to act as she grew up, and her talent never faltered one bit.
Another model-turned-actress, Cicely Tyson has been associated with her portrayal of strong female characters for seven decades now. She had a slow start to her career but gained acclaim in a 1972 film, Sounder, for which she was nominated for both an Academy Award and Golden Globe.
Making her film debut in the 1970 romcom Lovers and Other Strangers, Diane Keaton really hit the ground running when she appeared in 1972's The Godfather. Since then, she's been a beloved Hollywood star who has had a jam-packed career boasting diverse roles.
Rene Russo's big break came in an unexpected moment — while she was attending a Rolling Stones concert in 1972. An agent noticed her and signed her to a modeling agency. Throughout the rest of the decade, she transformed into a top model, appearing on a variety of magazine covers.
Born Angela Tremble, Debbie Harry rose to fame as the lead singer of the new wave band, Blondie. They released their first album in 1976. Only formed two years prior to this mega-successful album release, Blondie shot to stardom.
Mary Tyler Moore
As a woman who had the country laughing for the entirety of her career, Mary Tyler Moore gained traction on The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s. Once it became clear that audiences wanted more Mary, she was given a sitcom of her own, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which ran from 1970 to 1977.
Like Ronstadt, Jane Fonda had already found success in the 1960s, but the ‘70s were when she really started shining. Earning her first Academy Award for her portrayal of Bree Daniels in 1971's Klute, Fonda's career continued to skyrocket.
The second angel on the list, Kate Jackson starred as Sabrina Duncan in Charlie's Angels and was the first of the three women to be cast. Believe it or not, the title of this now internationally recognized franchise was conceived by Jackson herself.
Initially pursuing dreams of success as a singer, Sissy Spacek had plans that didn't quite pan out as she hoped. So, she refocused her energy on acting. It turns out her plan B was a pretty decent one, as her talent was recognized nearly immediately in 1973's Badlands.
An actress with a style all her own, Carol Kane earned her first Golden Globe nomination in 1975 for her role in Hester Street. This performance drew Woody Allen's eye, and he cast her in one of his most successful films to date, Annie Hall.
Another musical sensation who will remain an icon for decades to come, Diana Ross was already a hit thanks to the Supremes when the 1970s kicked off. However, that decade marked her brave entrance into the solo-artist world. Her first album contained the number-one hit, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." We all know it!
Born Susan Alexander Weaver, Sigourney technically also got her start in Woody Allen's Annie Hall, though her role was a non-speaking one. After being cast in Alien, though, her career sailed to superstardom. Soon after, she was dubbed the "Queen of Sci-Fi."
Singer-songwriter Donna Summer became the "Queen of Disco" in the 1970s. “Love to Love You Baby" and “I Feel Love" are a couple of her big disco hits. She stole the world's heart with her versatile vocal range and attention-grabbing fashion sense, making high slits and plush furs popular.
Yvette Marie Stevens, better known by her stage name Chaka Khan, became the Queen of Funk in the 1970s. With a career spanning more than five decades, the legendary diva has wowed fans with her vocals and iconic outfits of fur bras and fringe suede pants.
English actress Jacqueline Bisset has been a long-time show stopper. The brunette with sparkling green eyes starred in an impressive list of films, including Airport, Day for Night and Murder on the Orient Express. Many fans also call her a fashion icon of bell-sleeved tops and flares.
If you're a big Fleetwood Mac, you'll remember the band's jaw-dropping vocalist, Stevie Nicks. The singer mesmerizes audiences with her sweet raspy voice and mystical fashion. In the 1970s, her signature looks featured flowing skirts, shawls, platform boots and top hats.
Gloria Gaynor also became a disco queen in the 1970s, creating era hits like "I Will Survive," "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Let Me Know (I Have a Right)." Many disco enthusiasts have called her Summer's biggest competitor, but they're both brilliant in their own ways.
This final woman on our iconic women of the '70s list may be last, but she's certainly not least. Olivia Newton-John's appearance as Sandy in the 1978 musical film Grease led to her recognition and admiration across the USA and beyond. To this day, new generations of viewers are still falling in love with Sandra Dee and singing along to the film’s catchy tunes.