by Maria Schulz
My girls have gone through many poster phases during their lives, from Team Edward vs. Team Jacob (The Twilight Years) to One Direction (the British boy band invasion years).
It got me thinking about all of the posters that were such a hot commodity in the past, and how much they meant to the people who hung them up on their walls.
The first poster I remember hearing about when I was a kid was the famous one of Betty Grable, who stole many a WWII GI’s heart with her famous “million dollar legs.” The bathing suit probably helped too.
Later on, when I was in high school, one of my teachers had a crush on Marilyn Monroe. That was obvious, since he would wax poetically about her whenever people talked about Twiggy or Cher having the ideal body type.
His fanboy-dom became clearly apparent when he was teaching Books Into Film. He meant to bring in Mice and Men but his students got to watch the beginning of a dirty moving starring Marilyn Monroe because he grabbed the wrong movie from his home collection. From what I heard, his reaction was hilarious, embarrassing, and a little bit sad. But that’s another story.
My brothers, parents and I had some very eclectic posters hanging around the house. We had everything from velvet posters with some very hip 70s sayings, to instructional posters, to movie posters. There was a little bit of everything in our kitschy house, including celebrity posters.
Of course, everyone remembers his or her first celebrity crush. By taking a (very) unscientific poll, and based on my very (unreliable) memory, I’ve decided to round up all of the “pin-up-worthy” people who stole hearts back when I was too young and naïve to understand why.
Who could forget her red bathing suit or that big toothy grin? Although, I’m pretty sure I was the only one who focused on her grin. I knew a ton of boys who loved this poster, and even some girls. Could mere mortals ever look that good?
My brothers and I were the consummate 1970s TV watchers, and we enjoyed the cheesiest shows around. That being said, it’s no small wonder that Charlie’s Angels was one of our favorites.
My brothers would fight over who was prettiest. Farrah? Kate? Jaclyn? I always rooted for Jaclyn, because she had brown hair and I figured that us brunettes should stick together. Rooting for Farrah was like rooting for John Cleese against that little girl in the Monty Python skit.
My brother Tony always loved Kate Jackson best. It made me appreciate his individuality. Farrah may have had her little red bathing suit, but Kate looked pretty darn smashing in her turtleneck and ascot.
Vince Van Patten
My friend, Suzanne, claimed in her comment on my post, Thank You, Davy Jones, that she loved Bobby Sherman, but Vince Van Patten was supposed to marry her. That’s funny, because I knew a lot of girls who said the same thing.
I hate to admit this, but he never interested me. I always got him confused with his father, Dick Van Patten, and sometimes Tatum O’Neil. Maybe I needed glasses back then, too.
C’mon…he was cute, and funny, and he took Marcia Brady to the dance after she wrote him that nice letter. He rescued her from the scorn and derision of all of her unlucky classmates who couldn’t get a date with a celebrity. Plus he was a member of The Monkees! Who wouldn’t love Davy Jones?
Well, me. I mean, I liked him…but I wasn’t really ready for that kind of commitment. I mean, my wall space was at a premium.
I had several grammar school friends who stared dreamily at their Leif Garret folders and their Leif Garret pencil cases during the years that he was super popular and on the TV show Family. They would get into heated fights about who was better looking: Leif Garret or Vince Van Patten?
Then they would turn to me and I would make believe I was asleep at my desk so I didn’t have to admit that I didn’t like either of them. Of course they didn’t think I was faking, since I fell asleep at my desk so often, there’s a picture of me sleeping in my yearbook.
Way, way back in the day, my parents joined a music club that let new members pick about 20 records for 1 cent. They told us that they would pick a bunch of albums and that we could pick one each too. My parents picked records by Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Perry Como, the original Broadway recording of The Man of La Mancha, The 5th Dimension, and Sonny and Cher. My older brothers picked The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, The Monkees, Johnny Winter and Edgar Winter.
My brother Chris picked Bobby Sherman and that made me cry my eyes out. Why? Because I waited all that time to pick, and I had a really good pick, but I couldn’t get the album I wanted because I wanted to pick Bobby Sherman!
My parents grew exasperated by my crying jag (I mean, how come a 4 year old can’t understand disappointment? Grow up already!) and then told me to pick another album or I couldn’t get anything. So I picked “Big Bird Sings!” My brothers laughed and laughed and laughed.
I’ve never forgiven Bobby Sherman.
Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields
I asked my friend, Lisa, which poster she had on her walls growing up, and she immediately said, “Christopher Atkins.” When I pressed her, she said, “Well, come on! Don’t you remember what he looked like?” It’s been many, many moons since I saw Blue Lagoon, but yes, I still remember.
For those of you who never saw Blue Lagoon with Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins, you really missed something. I don’t mean the movie, which by the way was terrible. What I do mean is those two beautiful youngsters frolicking on the beach for hours.
It was sort of like watching Michelangelo’s David and his perfectly sculpted gal pal suddenly alive and well, prancing on the beach. Except these two had perfect tans and sun-streaked hair. They also wore very little and had apparently never heard the words, “want another cookie?”
I remember going into an old high school friend’s bedroom and seeing giant posters everywhere of Mick Jagger. “You like him?” I asked. “I LOVE HIM!” she replied, shocked that anyone could feel differently.
My brother Jude was into music, so he always had photos of such bands as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Cream and The Grateful Dead around his room.
I could definitely understand loving their music. But loving Mick Jagger for his looks? As far as I was concerned, he was so scrawny and danced so poorly that it didn’t seem possible that anyone could love him for his looks.
Many moons later, Mick Jagger has been immortalized in song (Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger) and is still singing and dancing to packed audiences. At 70 years old, Mick Jagger is enjoying over 50 years of fame and I’ve never enjoyed two minutes. So I’m thinking my friend realized something I completely missed.
When Bucky Dent hit his 3-run shot against the Boston Red Sox in 1978, I was thrilled. I never expected him to come through like that, and I think even he must have been surprised.
But once again, my cluelessness and lack of girly-ness were the main reasons I was shocked when he landed on his own pin-up poster, in a pair of short shorts and holding a bat over his head.
There was no room on my walls for that photo. I had team pictures and group shots of the 1978 Yankees. I even had pictures of my favorite Yankee, pitcher Ron Guidry, on my wall. I was a baseball purist!
Even though Bucky Dent was pretty cute.
Andy Gibb’s hair was almost as cool as Farrah Fawcett’s. Look at how feathered his layers were! I really appreciated his hairstyle. But loving him for his looks? Nah. One thing I always wanted in a man was someone who was not prettier than me. Andy Gibb definitely did not fit the bill.
However, there were girls in my class who would actually cry when looking upon his beautiful face on their folders or notebooks. In fact, if you pointed out that his songs were kind of…well…awful, they would get angry enough to come after you with a flaming torch.
I didn’t have to try too hard to avoid telling them anything about it, though. They were busy fighting with the other girls over who was better: Andy Gibb or Leif Garret. Apparently, Bobby Sherman and Vince Van Patten were old news by the late 70s.
That’s okay, though. More Bobby and Vince for Suzanne.
After Elvis Presley passed away, the school year dawned and one of my classmates came decked out in Elvis pins that said, “RIP Elvis!” “The King!” and “Wise Men Say.” All of her pins, folders, pencil cases, stickers and other paraphernalia featured the young Elvis, not the older, fatter, velvet-suited Elvis.
She managed to utter these fateful words: “Elvis Presley was the coolest guy ever. Cooler and smarter and more talented and more handsome than anyone else, EVER!”
This caused quite an uproar, as the Andy Gibb camp came out in force, soon to be joined by the Leif Garret contingent. There were even some Vince Van Patten fans and Bobby Sherman fans that couldn’t let her get away with that.
All right, so maybe I was a little weird. I apparently came to the James Garner party much later than most people did, since my walls were sporting photos of him from Maverick – the show from the early 80s, as opposed to the one in the late 50s.
It’s the strangest thing—I could never find school folders, pencil cases, or binders with shots of James Garner from The Great Escape, Support Your Local Sheriff, or even The Rockford Files. Crazy, right?
I had pictures of James Garner up on my walls, but my brothers never caught on. I suppose they thought I was just celebrating my love of sitting home every Friday night with my parents, watching The Rockford Files. They never did realize that I liked him, LIKED HIM, in that way that made you the most obvious and perfect target for brothers.
Why? Because I also had photos of The Yankees, The Blues Brothers, Roy Orbison, Billy Joel, horses, puppies, kittens, The Virgin Mary, Jesus, and a ballerina. I believed in covering all the bases.
What made James Garner pin-up worthy material? Well, look at him! Nobody is ever going to say he’s prettier than me.
Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Milk and cookies always went well with Charlie’s Angels, The Rockford Files, a baseball game, or when trying to make believe you can’t decide who is better: Andy Gibb, Leif Garret, Vince Van Patten, Bobby Sherman, Bucky Dent, Elvis Presley, or James Garner (well of course it’s James Garner).
So, Hungry Lifers…did you have a Farrah poster? Which poster did you have? As a kid, did you get fooled by the Instructions in the Event of a Nuclear Attack? Please leave a comment and let us all know. Thanks!