The Biggest Sex Symbols of the 1970s


French beauty Isabelle Adjani is perhaps best known to American audiences for her role in the 1988 film Camille Claudel, which won her an Academy Award nomination. But throughout the 1970s, Adjani made a name for herself as one of the sexiest young women on the big screen.

Roger Ebert wrote of her “facial perfection” in his review of Werner Herzog’s 1979 film Nosferatu the Vampyre, stating that she seemed to “exist on an ethereal plane.” This weekend is Adjani’s 60th birthday, and she’s still as gorgeous as ever. This is as perfect an excuse as any to dig into the vault and, well, post photos of a bunch of ’70s babes. The list is hardly complete, but we don’t think you’ll complain.

Bo Derek

All it took was a jog down the beach in the movie 10 to cement her sex symbol status for life.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham

Young, nude, and hopeful on the cover of Buckingham Nicks. The album was a failure, but the sexy lived on.

Faye Dunaway

Stylish, smart, and not afraid to take acting risks, Faye Dunaway’s ’70s sex symbol status is an example of how unconventional personalities were welcome amongst the ranks.

Julio Iglesias

Your mom or grandma are still swooning.

Farrah Fawcett

And the world is still envious of those waves.

Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson

Bad boy sex symbols until the end. Beatty may or may not have slept with almost 13,000 women, and his bro Jack Nicholson likes to make babies (five, to be exact). And then there’s that whole thing about secret tunnels to the Playboy mansion being connected to their homes.

Lola Falana

The African-American and Cuban actress and singer was the highest-paid entertainer in Las Vegas during the late 1970s and is known as the “First Lady of Las Vegas.”

Jackson Browne

Rewind time and give this guy an Andy Warhol movie. The singer has been called “one hell of a prototype sex symbol for the gay rock underground.”

Cheryl Ladd

Charlie’s Angels perfection.

Donna Summer

A reluctant sex symbol catapulted to sexy fame when she sang the moany-groany “Love to Love You Baby.” From Rolling Stone in 1976:

If Summer had had a hard time singing Love To Love You (only when Moroder cleared the studio and dimmed the lights did she finally capture the voluptuous feel she was after), listening to the thing presented an even stiffer test. “I didn’t want to hear it,” she said. “I heard a couple of oohs and aahs once and I – black people don’t get red – I was blue! I love the music, I just wished that I hadn’t sung it. But it doesn’t bother me anymore.” Summer can laugh at the controversy (“If I’d known seven years ago that all I had to do was groan, I would have been groaning!”) but her artist’s lament is serious: “I have so much more to offer.”

Freddie Mercury

“People can think what they like about my bisexual stage image. That’s what I want them to do. I want to keep the mystique.”

Burt Reynolds

From Cosmo‘s 1972 issue, all bear.

Dolly Parton

“’If there’s a Dixie bombshell out there that trumps all the rest, it’s Dolly Parton,’ the caption next to Parton’s photo reads. ‘The country music star turned heads for decades, and not just because of her famous figure. Parton’s toured and recorded since the late ’60s, and her career hasn’t waned nearly five decades later.’”

Barry White

Hair on point, voice as smooth as velvet.

David Cassidy

“David Cassidy was the biggest TV and music star when he let Rolling Stone photograph him naked in 1972. He also spoke frankly about his drug use and unhappiness with his bubblegum sound. ‘It pissed off everybody that was profiting from the business of David Cassidy,’ he said later.”

John Travolta

Giving everyone Saturday night fever.

Cher and Gregg Allman

All the hair and denim.

Pam Grier

Fans weren’t sure if they wanted to kiss her or get their ass kicked. And Grier did many of her own stunts. “Neither a racial role model nor simple stereotype, Pam Grier’s ’70s screen persona was multifaceted. Her characters fused feminist sensibilities, black nationalist radicalism, vigilante justice,” writes Mia Mask.

Goldie Hawn

Goldie (and Suzanne Somers) perfected the cute, bubbly blonde for film and TV.

Jacqueline Bisset

“One of Bisset’s earliest movie appearances was in 1967’s Bond spoof ‘Casino Royale,’ where she rounded out a cast that also included the ne plus ultra sexpot Ursula Andress. But the British Bisset staked her claim in the sex symbol sweepstakes in 1977’s ‘The Deep.’ For that shlocky but successful thriller, the actress was filmed swimming underwater in a clingy, transparent T-shirt. The movie’s producer Jon Peters later commented, ‘That T-shirt made me a rich man.’ By the time Newsweek proclaimed Bisset “the most beautiful actress of all time,” her status was cemented, resulting in a relatively lengthy sex-symbol run that extended into the “Me” decade with her appearance as a proto-cougar in 1983’s romantic comedy “Class” opposite a baby-faced Andrew McCarthy.”

Diana Ross

An interesting read on black female sexuality perceived by white men: “To white male critics in the 1960s, Diana Ross seemed to present an unthreatening image of black female sexuality, both in image and music.”

Beverly Johnson

The first African-American model to appear on the cover of Vogue in 1974 and still one of our favorite supermodels.

Grace Jones and Jerry Hall

Former roommates and total babes.

David Bowie

Enough said.