The '70s, also known as the age of disco and notable for its political and social upheaval, was a similarly turbulent time in the world of celebrities. There were a lot of parties (Studio 54 being the most notable example) and a lot of famous people dating and then splitting up (including, most famously, Cher and Sonny, as well as the continuing saga of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton). Interest in celebrity, particularly thanks to those two couples, was rising, and newspapers and magazines made the most of the love lives of the rich and the famous. The red carpet wasn't a curated affair as it is now—it could be a chance to debut your new partner, certainly, but it was also casual and a bit chaotic sometimes. From a fashion standpoint, that's fun, because it meant we got a lot of interesting fashion at events in this decade.
All of this is to say—if you forgot how wild the '70s were, let us refresh your memory. Below, 32 images of the best, wildest, most dramatic, and most controversial red carpet moments from the 1970s.
Scott Baio and Brooke Shields, 1978
Before you begin wondering to yourself, Wait, when did Scott Baio and Brooke Shields date?? you should know that this relationship was apparently just for show. The two were both child stars and achieved mega-stardom in their teen years, but Shields later wrote in her memoir, There Was a Little Girl: The Real Story of My Mother and Me, that their dates were for the cameras. Baio confirmed this, calling his friendship with Shields just that—friendship. You got us again, orchestrated Hollywood relationships!
Cher at the Premiere of 'Last Tango in Paris,' 1973
In this year of 1973, Cher's "Half-Breed" would be released (if you missed it, it's a song about a half-white, half-Cherokee woman grappling with her heritage). Interestingly, Cher is not an Indigenous person; one could argue (and people have argued) she was playing a role in a song she didn't write, but still! This poncho and turquoise jewelry is likely costume-like in relation to the song, but it's a time capsule red carpet moment that would probably not go unaddressed if it were to happen today.
Jackie Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Tito Jackson, Michael Jackson, and Joe Jackson at the Image Awards, 1971
Before some of its members would on to be singing superstars, the Jackson family was a group of performers. Sometimes called the "Royal Family of Pop" or "First Family of Soul," the group was formed in the '60s and achieved prominence in the '70s (Janet Jackson and Randy Jackson would join the group later)—in this picture we see original group members Jackie Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Tito Jackson, Michael Jackson, and Joe Jackson. Here the nascent group is in the process of becoming famous.
Liza Minnelli and Jack Haley Jr. at the Premiere of 1974's 'That's Entertainment!'
Singer and actor Liza Minnelli married director Jack Haley Jr. in 1974 (fun fact according to People: Jack Haley, Haley Jr.'s dad, played the Tin Man alongside Minnelli's mom Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz). The union was short-lived, and the pair divorced in 1979—this photo is from early in their relationship. But Minnelli would go on to say after he passed away in 2001, "Jack was the first one to remind the general public of our heritage...I fell in love with him the first time I met him, and I have loved him with all of my heart ever since."
Jon Peters and Barbra Streisand at the Golden Globes, 1977
In the 1970s and 80s, Barbra Streisand had a high-profile relationship with Jon Peters, who was a film producer and former Hollywood hairstylist. The two never married, but they were spotted on red carpets together. They also worked together, with Peters producing Streisand's remake of A Star Is Born. Fun fact: They met because she needed a stylist for a specific haircut she wanted in For Pete's Sake. In the '80s, Streisand told People, "We were butting horns because I was passionately involved in Yentl, and neglecting him. We had also been too dependent on each other. And you come to resent dependency. We needed to be apart."
Bianca Jagger and Andy Warhol at the Afterparty of 'The Ritz,' 1976
Wardrobe malfunctions: Not just a modern thing! Here, activist and former actor Bianca Jagger (then married to Mick Jagger) sits with pop art legend Andy Warhol at a film afterparty, not realizing that her dress slit goes all the way up to her waist when she's seated—and haven't we all been there! Bianca was one of Warhol's muses and the two were close, sometimes seen at the Studio 54 nightclub together (you may remember the image of Bianca astride a white horse for her birthday, which happened one year later in 1977).
Bianca Jagger and John Travolta, 1978
Bianca Jagger really was a part of the cultural elite in the '70s and '80s. Here she is at the Saturday Night Fever premiere chatting with a little up-and-comer named John Travolta. Perhaps you've heard of him? While Travolta, obviously, would go on to have an impressive acting career in the '80s and beyond, Bianca would divorce Mick Jagger in 1978 (citing adultery, since he was dating model Jerry Hall). She would go on to have a long career as an activist, and she also did some acting.
Brooke Shields and Andy Warhol at Studio 54 to Celebrate 'Exposures,' 1979
If you're unfamiliar, Brooke Shields made headlines when she was spotted at Studio 54 (a riotous club known for its wild parties) at the young age of 14. She was there to celebrate Warhol's book, and would insist that she wasn't out partying as a tween, but she has since spoken out against a troubled childhood. About Warhol, she later said, "We had met countless times before, all of us at Studio 54. I was very, very young at the time, and I was excited by the people, not the fame or the experience. He and Keith [Haring] had a beauty and an innocence to them that we recognized in one another, because I wasn’t old enough to be jaded."
Bette Midler and Stevie Wonder at the Grammys, 1975
Bette Midler, who has just presented Stevie Wonder with a Grammy for Best Album of the Year, embraces the star (it's a small detail, but I love that her hair accessory is a vinyl record). Fun fact: Wonder was on-hand to present Midler with the awards when she won the 1990 “Record of the Year” Grammy! The two apparently remained friends, with Midler writing for Wonder's 70th birthday, "Congratulations to a #NationalTreasure, and thank you for lighting up our lives for all these years. You are one of a kind, young man."
Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr. at the NAACP Image Awards, 1977
Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davis Jr. knew each other for a long time; From 1988 to 1990, she toured with Frank Sinatra and Davis Jr. for Frank, Liza & Sammy: The Ultimate Event before Davis Jr. would sadly pass away from cancer in 1990. They were not just professionally linked but also good friends, and there are many photos of the pair showing effusive support for each other. When speaking about him, Minnelli has said, "To have the privilege of knowing him as a friend is not only a joy but it's been a lesson to me in what entertainment is all about."
Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Golden Globes, 1977
Well before he was an '80s action icon, Arnold Schwarzenegger won Most Promising Newcomer to Films for the film Stay Hungry. Which...that ended up being pretty prescient, actually, because leaving aside the hit-or-miss aspects of some of Schwarzenegger's '60s and '70s films (if you want a laugh, put on Hercules in New York), he did have a ton of talent that would be realized in movies like The Terminator—which, if you're curious about the chronology, would come out in 1984.
Jessica Lange at the Golden Globes, 1977
If you're only familiar with Jessica Lange from her roles in American Horror Story, the acting legend has been working since she won the Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture (Female) award for her role in King Kong. (The award no longer exists, but per the official website, "Between 1948 and 1983 Golden Globes were awarded in a special category of 'New Star of the Year' conceived to recognize young actors making a mark in their early roles.") The 20s-something would go on to win an Oscar and Golden Globe seven short years later.
Robin William Wins a Golden Globe for 'Mork And Mindy,' 1979
Before Good Will Hunting, before Aladdin, before Dead Poets Society and Mrs. Doubtfire, there was Mork for the late actor Robin Williams. It's hard to overstate how popular the Happy Days character was—and in its spinoff iteration, Mork & Mindy (it's even funnier that Williams, a standup comedian at the time, auditioned as a "fluke"). Here, he wins a Golden Globe for the performance (Williams also won a People's Choice Awards awards that year), and he's said it was one of the most popular characters he's ever played.
Barbra Streisand and James Caan at the Premiere of 'Funny Lady,' 1975
At their film premiere, a sequel to Funny Girl, Barbra Streisand poses with James Caan (Sonny Corleone in The Godfather and, much later, Buddy's dad in Elf). Streisand said of her costar, "It comes down to who the audience wants me to kiss. Robert Blake, no. James Caan, yes. And he has to be able to talk as fast as me.” Despite that rather salacious quote (and some good chemistry), the two apparently didn't date; The film was a hit, and was one of Caan's most popular roles to date.
Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn at the Premiere of 'Robin and Marian,' 1976
This film, Robin and Marian, was a very late role for Audrey Hepburn (and the first in seven years). Apparently she took on the role, in part, because her children were excited that she would star against the former James Bond actor. This was aimed to be a comeback of sorts after her semi-retirement in the '60s; The movie was well-received and somewhat successful (and Hepburn was praised for the depth she brought to the role), but it was one of her last starring roles in her career.
Audrey Hepburn and King Vidor at the Academy Awards, 1979
Here, around the time of her box office bomb in Bloodline and one of her final films, Audrey Hepburn attended the Oscars (she was a mainstay at the awards show ceremony, and made her last appearance in 1992). Here she stands with King Vidor, her director for 1956's War and Peace, and who apparently loved her performance as Natasha Rostova. She was on hand to present an Honorary Oscar to Vidor, and said in her speech he was a man "I've long loved and admired."
Britt Ekland and Rod Stewart at the Premiere of 'Tommy,' 1975
The Swedish star (who also dated Warren Beatty, Ryan O’Neal, and Peter Sellers) had an immediate connection with singer Rod Stewart. They met at an L.A. party and dated for 2.5 years before Stewart left her to date model Liz Treadwell. Ekland would later write in her memoir, "I was more frenetically in love with Rod Stewart than with any other man, past or present. Our relationship was a fantasy from the beginning, like a comet in the sky, but one which I never thought would burn to earth.”
Cher at the Grammys, 1974
Feast your eyes upon some early revenge dressing! In this (now iconic) "butterfly outfit," Cher debuted her new relationship with record executive David Geffen very shortly after then-husband Sonny Bono filed for divorce. Cher and Sonny had lived their lives in the public eye, so—true to form—their divorce was as public and publicized as their coupling had been. Whether the butterfly was meant to be a reference to her new freedom or just a sign to her ex that she was just fine, thanks, it absolutely worked.
Princess Grace and Cary Grant at a Fundraising Event in Hollywood, 1971
After Grace Kelly got married to Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1956, she essentially retired from life as an actor, even though it's been reported she was offered roles and wanted to do them, but was unable to because of royal life. She showed up very rarely at red carpet events; This was one of those rare times, at a fundraiser with Cary Grant (the two starred in Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief together). She still continued to do charitable work, and fans were still obsessed with her even after her "retirement."
Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson at the 'Bluebeard' Premiere, 1972
If you're curious about what the parents of Dakota Johnson used to look like: Voila! (Wow, I feel old.) Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson first connected in 1972, got engaged and married in 1976, then went on to get divorced—then remarry—then divorce again in 1994. "I wish it was tomorrow," Griffith told People before they got married the second time. "He's wonderful [...] I believe some relationships are fated, and ours was probably one of them. I'll always love him. He was my first love."
Anjelica Huston and Jack Nicholson at the New York premiere of 'The Last Detail,' 1974
The it couple of the '70s, the duo met in 1972 and moved in together almost immediately. The two never married—although they discussed it—and reportedly tried to have children at one point, but Nicholson had some pretty public infidelity. Nicholson called Huston “the love of my life,” to People, but also said “there are other women in my life who are simply friends of mine. Most of the credit for our wonderfully successful relationship has to do with [Huston's] flexibility." The two remained friends after splitting, and that Christmas Nicholson gave her pearls with a note reading, "These pearls from your swine. With happiest wishes for the holidays—Enjoy—Yr Jack."
Julie Andrews and Then-Prince Charles at the Premiere of 'The Pink Panther Strikes Again,' 1976
What a fun little time capsule of a celebrity interaction: actor and singer Julie Andrews presents a pink panther dressed in naval uniform to then-Prince Charles at the premiere of The Pink Panther Strikes Again. Andrews, who was married to the film's director, Blake Edwards, and contributed voice acting to the film, was already acting royalty thanks to Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music in the 1960s. Fun fact: This was just a few years before Charles would start dating Diana Spencer in 1980.
Cher and Gene Simmons at the 'Kramer vs Kramer' Premiere, 1979
Yup, Cher and Gene Simmons (from the band KISS) dated! Cher was shockingly open about it, saying it was "the best relationship I've ever had with a human being," but added, "I'm going through a very liberated phase right now...I think I have a very masculine attitude to dating …Gene might spend time with another woman and stay the night, but he wants her to leave in the morning so he can get on with his day." She insisted, though, "Gene is the only one I'm crazy about. All my relationships are serious. I don't screw around." Surprise: Two years after their relationship started, Simmons left Cher for Diana Ross.
Dolly Parton at the Grammys, 1977
In case you thought Barbie-pink was a recent invention, look no further than icon Dolly Parton, who's pioneering the color here in the '70s. She was always a bit ahead of her time, choosing to dress (and sing!) to suit her own aesthetic—never mind the critics—and this flouncy bodysuit was no exception. Parton might not have won anything that year, but she's always been vocal about not making music for the awards—she makes music because its what she wants to do. Plus, she's a trendsetter!
Peter and Jane Fonda at the Golden Globes, 1979
Peter Fonda and Jane Fonda pose for a rare sentimental photo here—Peter, who was a brilliant actor, was also known for a difficult personality. Jane has spoken at length about their challenging relationship. Peter would die in 1982, and Jane recalled a moment when she saw him weep: "Before he died I was able to tell him that I loved him and that I forgave him for, you know, whatever didn't happen...And I hope that he would forgive me for not being a better daughter. I got to say that to him."
Aretha Franklin, Circa 1970
Aretha Franklin won a lot of Grammys in her day (44 nominations and 18 wins, in total, spanning from the '60s to the '00s), but it's also worth pointing out how much natural style she had. She often loved a glittery or otherwise ornate gown that extended to the floor, with amazing accessories and the occasional over-the-top scarf and cape. So this fabulous red and gold gown is both emblematic of her aesthetic and one of the best deployments of it, considering she matches her shiny, shiny award.
Diana Ross and Her Children, 1970s
Diana Ross, musical superstar, taking two of her kids to the red carpet (stars: they're just like us!). This looks to be Tracee Ellis Ross and Chudney Ross (star of Black-ish and author/bookstore owner, respectively; She has five children total, including Rhonda, Ross, and Evan). Tracee was born in 1972, so this looks to be the late '70s? But it's such a cute throwback to see Diana proudly make the event a family affair. It's also very fun to see Tracee, who's a style icon, really channel her teen fashion in a bright blue gown, round glasses, and a shawl.
Sacheen Littlefeather at the Academy Awards, 1973
If you think Oscars drama is a modern thing—think again. When Marlon Brando won an Oscar, he declined it via Sacheen Littlefeather, Apache activist and actor, who got on stage to deliver prepared remarks. According to her New York Times obituary, "In the speech, Ms. Littlefeather brought attention to the federal government’s standoff with protesting Native Americans then going on at Wounded Knee, S.D., the site of a massacre by U.S. troops a century earlier." People were scandalized. Of the speech, Littlefeather would later say, “I was representing all Indigenous voices out there, all Indigenous people, because we had never been heard in that way before.”
Yoko Ono and John Lennon at the Grammys, 1975
John Lennon and a pregnant Yoko Ono are at the Grammys here (Lennon was co-presenting Record of the Year with Paul Simon), one of their first public events in a couple years. The two were private about their lives—not least because there was some pretty unfair criticism, mostly lobbed at Ono, about her "role" breaking up the Beatles. Fans were nevertheless happy to see the couple, and happy to see the singer in a good place. The pair would later go on to collaborate professionally throughout their marriage.
Sonny and Cher at the Oscars, 1973
Before Sonny filed for divorce in 1974, the two (who had apparently not been getting along for years) still presented a united front for the cameras. There to present Best Original Song, the two had trademark banter ("something something Cher's got her bellybutton showing something"), and you might not know about the drama unfolding behind the scenes. Also, worth noting, even though this feels like classic Cher, the Oscars are known for formalwear—so her ab-baring outfit would have been pretty shocking for the time.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the Oscars, 1970
Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were a source of endless fascination for people who follow celebrities (in fact, this pairing changed the way tabloids reported on celeb relationships). Here the two are at the Oscars, and—while their presence would have elicited interest no matter what Taylor was wearing—it's her jewelry that proved most interesting. The Taylor-Burton diamond (originally given as a ring then re-tooled into a necklace) was 69.42 carats, bought for $1.1 million, and later sold by Taylor for a rumored $3–5 million.
Cher and Fashion Designer Bob Mackie at the Met Gala, 1974
One of the most famous "naked dresses" of all time (in part because it hadn't really done before), Cher showed up to the Met Gala in a lot of sheer sparkles. Mackie, the designer, later told Vogue, "It created a lot of hubbub,” adding, "In those days, Time reserved its covers for world leaders or someone who invented something important, like a vaccine. Then there was Cher on the cover in that incredible piece of clothing, and newsstands sold out of it almost immediately. Some cities even banned it from being sold."
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Katherine’s a Boston-based contributor at Marie Claire who covers fashion, culture, and lifestyle—from “Clueless” to Everlane to news about Lizzo. She’s been a freelancer for 11 years and has had roles with Cosmopolitan and Bustle, with bylines in Parents, Seventeen, and elsewhere. It’s “I go to dinner,” not “Her huge ego,” but she responds to both.
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