Who remembers checking the magazine racks to see if the latest issue of Tiger Beat or 16 had hit the stands so we could get the latest gossip on the Partridge Family, the Jackson 5, and the stars of CHiPs? We swooned over our favourite teen stars and were enticed to buy magazines with their smiling faces plastered on the cover and taglines like “Hawaiian Special: A Beach Date with Donny” and “John Travolta – Shy? Unbelievable but True” and “Win David Cassidy’s Love”.
When we were teens our perfect man was a dreamboat who could sing, dance, and act. The Monkees were among our first teenage crushes who fit the bill. Their TV show aired in the 60s, but lived on in reruns through the 70s which kept them alive on teen magazines for years.
Some of these stars have long since faded from the limelight, but when we see their old TV shows on the listings, we’re drawn to watch. Sometimes we even hit the Internet and look for reruns just to see our heartthrobs as we’ll always remember them, forever in their celebrated youth. We’re still entranced when Donny Osmond sings Puppy Love or David Cassidy makes our hearts skip a beat with I Think I Love You.
On Friday nights every female over the age of 10 would be in front of a TV set watching The Partridge Family. The singing family hit the airwaves in 1970 and lasted four years, but they live on in rerun city thanks to MTV and retro TV stations. David was a teenage girl’s dream come true. He was on TV, he sang, he played the guitar, and he had hair long enough to look cool but not long enough to be dismissed as a hippy. We weren’t even fazed when he tried to shed his squeaky clean image and got naked on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. His Tiger Beat fame long behind him, in his final years David mostly hits the magazines with news about his DUIs and bankruptcy. He passed away from liver failure in 2017, age 67.
He sang, he danced, and he played multiple musical instruments. He had a cute pageboy haircut, a squeaky clean image, and a winning smile showing off glistening teeth. In the 70s Donny appeared with his brothers on variety shows, the occasional Osmond Brothers special, and the cheesy Donny and Marie Show. His rendition of Puppy Love still makes female fans in their 50s swoon. At age 20 he shocked and betrayed his fans by getting married, which ended up being a career killer for the entire family. He pretty much dropped out of sight except for a few guest appearances on shows like The Love Boat and these days Donny and Marie perform at the Las Vegas Flamingo. And hold on to your hats all you naysayers. Donny is still married to his teenage love.
He brought the character of Vinnie Barbarino to life in Welcome Back, Kotter and then sang and danced his way into a movie career. John Travolta was a break out character on a TV show that was supposed to be all about a high school teacher, but the writers had to quickly change the storyline focus when Vinnie Barbarino took off in a way no one imagined. He was cute, he was goofy, he was loveable, he sang, and he danced. The other sweathogs faded into the background whenever Vinnie was around. John Travolta is one of few 70s stars who has acted steadily and can still pack his long time fans in to a movie house when he has a new flick out.
It didn’t matter how well Fonzie sang or danced, we were glued to the TV when Happy Days came on. Every episode he slow danced with a different woman at Arnold’s and we all wished to be in his arms. He entered a dance-a-thon with Joanie and a ballroom dance contest with Mrs. Cunningham. He did his own dance routine to the catchy Do the Fonzie, sung by Suzi Quatro aka Leather Tuscadero. Fonzie’s singing prowess was confined to a few Happy Birthdays and a couple of musical numbers featuring the Happy Days cast. On a show that pretty much coined the word “hunk” Henry Winkler as Fonzie was the biggest hunk on TV. He was cool. He rode a motorbike (Fonzie rode, Winkler didn’t). Women were lining up to kiss him. Thumbs up Fonzie!
Eric Estrada is best known for his role as Poncherello, a motorcycle riding cop on the TV series CHiPs. Erik sang and danced in a few disco episodes in-between busting bad guys and keeping the highways of Southern California safe. Even more than his acting, Estrada is remembered for a serious motorcycle accident that happened while filming CHiPs and when he stomped off the set in a salary dispute, briefly replaced by a former Olympian who used to be known as Bruce Jenner. Estrada is still hanging in there with a few guest appearances on TV shows and he’ll always be remembered for his bright white teeth that grinned at us from every 70s teen magazine.
We knew him from Here Come the Brides and the short lived Partridge Family spin off Getting Together. We listened to his songs on the radio and he was hugely popular in all the 70s teen magazines, but then he dropped out of sight to work in law enforcement. Can you believe this 70s teen idol is now in his seventies?
Another Happy Days alum, Scott occasionally got to sing, play the drums, piano, and guitar. He’s best remembered for having that cute feathered back hairstyle that was popular in the 80s … on a TV show that took place in the late 50s and early 60s! Scott literally grew up before our eyes on Happy Days, beginning as a smart aleck kid and marrying Joanie in the final episode.
Over the next ten years Scott appeared as the title character in Charles in Charge and then became Dr. Jack Stewart on Diagnosis Murder for the first two seasons until it was cancelled. Inexplicably, CBS picked up Diagnosis Murder again later in the year and ordered 13 episodes. By that time Scott Baio had moved on to other projects and didn’t renew his contract. He appeared in a reality TV show, Scott Baio is 45 and Single, causing even more confusion about what year he was actually born in – anywhere from 1960 to 1962. He was in a 2016 Superbowl commercial for Avocados From Mexico. “Does anyone want to feed Scott Baio? It’s included in the admission price.” Proving that some things from the 70s live on forever, Scott still has the same hairstyle.
And everybody – try not to get too excited.
On December 3, 1987…
I. Saw. Scott. Baio!
The only man on this list who I got within spitting distance of. I was at Universal Studios and they were giving out free tickets to TV shows taping that day, and one was Charles in Charge. So technically I saw the entire cast. And it meant driving back to my friend’s house after the sun set, back in the days before GPS, and I got myself turned around. But to see Scott Baio? Worth it! Ha ha!
In 1977 a TV show called The Hardy Boys, based on the Franklin W. Dixon books we all enjoyed as kids, hit the TV. The stars were a couple of unknown actors, Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy. If that last name sounds familiar, he’s the half-brother to David Cassidy of Partridge Family. That name alone made teenage girls fall in love with him. The general consensus was the better looking Cassidy was Shaun and the better singer was David. That didn’t stop Shaun from pursuing a singing career and he hit the radio airwaves with his rendition of Da Do Ron Ron and a few musical numbers he debuted during Hardy Boy episodes.
Shaun is better known for the way he wiggled his hips while singing instead of the actual songs. Aside from a few guest appearances, Shaun Cassidy moved away from TV and focused his career on Broadway and Las Vegas.
In the late 70s a new man in town began to grace the covers of the teen magazines, the star of BJ and the Bear, Greg Evigan. He played a trucker who traveled America’s highways with his pet monkey, the Bear. The two of them definitely had that “aw so cute” factor that females found irresistible. Prior to his TV success, Greg appeared in musicals, so making the transition to singing on TV shows came naturally to him. About 10 years after BJ and the Bear ended, Greg appeared as a private eye on PS.I. Luv You and sang the show’s theme song. He’s kept busy over the years acting steadily, best known for My Two Dads in the 80s and a short stint on the hit 90s series Melrose Place playing an evil doctor.
The list rounds out with another popular icon from 70s teen magazines, Leif Garrett. He had steady acting gigs as a child but is probably best known for the short-lived TV series Three for the Road about a father and his two sons traveling America’s highways in a motorhome while looking for adventure. But come on now. The real reason we were watching this show was to see another 70s cutie, Vincent Van Patten! By this point in his acting career, Leif decided he’d rather be a singer and signed up with the same company that was producing records for Shaun Cassidy. In order to move along his new career choice, Leif was often photographed with his guitar on the popular 70s teen magazines as if to drill in the point: musician not actor.
He became a big news story following a 1979 car accident where his passenger was paralyzed and sued him for over $7 million. No longer featured on the teen magazines, Leif moved over to other media as stories of alcohol and drug abuse hit the news, and his 70s fans would say: “Oh yeah, him. Forgot all about him.” Leif is still singing and sometimes shows up on those “meet Hollywood” events where fans can pay a few bucks to get their picture taken with their favorite stars from years gone by. He has a book called Idol Truth: A Memoir coming out in November 2019. (Disclosure: if you click the link, you’ll be taken to Amazon. If you make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)
Hope you enjoyed this blast from the past! Now it’s time to hit Youtube and find our favorite teenage pin ups from the 70s.
They’ll always be our heartthrobs!