The 1970s shaped film and music for decades to come. From The Godfather to Grease to solo pop artists, the decade has produced some of the most famous artistic works of all time…and the greatest celebrities.
Have you ever wondered where those stars are today? Some continue to act in films and shows, while others have left the big screen for a more modest life. And a few of these singers are still making music. Check out the most famous celebrities of the ’70s–when they reached fame, and where they are today.
Susan Dey Started Her Career In The ’70s
Susan Dey was best-known for her role as Laurie Partridge in The Partridge Family. Before she joined the show, she modeled. She was 17 years old when she scored her role in The Partridge Family with no prior acting experience.
Throughout the ’70s, Dey’s acting career expanded. Her first movie role was the 1972 airline hijack film Skyjacked. In the 1980s, she landed roles in TV shows. She starred in both Echo Park (1986) and L.A. Law (1986-1992).
Today, Dey Still Acts
Susan Dey’s acting career petered out in the 1990s. She co-starred in the show Love & War but was eventually replaced because she had “no chemistry” with the male lead. In 1993, she produced and acted in the TV movie Lies & Lullabies.
Her most recent television appearance was in 2004 when she showed up in Third Watch. Today, Dey serves as a board member of the UCLA Medical Center. She has been married to her second husband, TV producer Bernard Sofronski, since 1988.
Jane Fonda Created The Most Successful Exercise Tape Ever
Jane Fonda was an actress and model who remained popular throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. She first appeared on the big screen in the 1960 movie Tall Story. In the 1970s, she won two Academy Awards for her roles in Klute (1971) and Coming Home (1978).
In 1982, Fonda released her first exercise video, Jane Fonda’s Workout. It became the most successful exercise tape of all time, selling over 17 million copies. She would go on to make 22 exercise tapes.
Today, Fonda Acts And Is An Activist
Fonda took a break from acting in the 1990s. In 2005, she returned to the big screen with the romantic comedy Mother-in-Law. Four years later, she appeared on Broadway for the first time since 1963.
Fonda has found success in her recent TV roles, including The Newsroom (2012) and Youth (2015). Her last film appearance was a 2018 HBO documentary called Jane Fonda in Five Acts. Aside from acting, she mainly works towards political activism, feminism, and philanthropy.
Barbi Benton Was A Famous Model, Actress, And Singer
Barbi Benton was a famous model in the 1970s. She began modeling at age 16 when she was still in high school. From there, she launched into acting. She frequently appeared on the Western comedy show Hee Haw. She also acted in the 1970 comedy film The Naughty Cheerleader.
Benton also had a brief musical career. She recorded country eight albums, the most famous being Brass Buckles (1975). One of her more famous songs was the 1976 title “Ain’t that Just a Way.”
Today, Benton No Longer Appears Onstage
Today, Barbi Benton no longer acts, models, or sings. In the 1980s, she ended her career to focus on her family. In 1979, she married real estate developer George Gradow. The couple had two children, Alexander and Ariana, both born in the ’80s.
That didn’t stop Benton from spending her money, though. The family divides their time between their two homes in Aspen, Colorado and Los Angeles, California. Props to Benton for giving up her show career for her children.
Dolly Parton’s Music Kicked Off In The ’70s
Dolly Parton released her first country album, Hello, I’m Dolly, in 1967. But her career didn’t really kick off until the ’70s. Throughout the next 20 years, she would have 25 songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard country music charts.
In the mid-1970s, Parton transitioned her musical style from country to pop. Her 1976 album All I Can Do attempted to make her songs more mainstream. Apparently, it worked. She has won five Academy of Country Music Awards, four People’s Choice Awards, and three American Music Awards.
Today, Parton Still Produces Hit Songs
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Dolly Parton returned to her country and bluegrass roots. She still produces music today. Some of her more recent hit singles include “Together You and I” and “Better Get to Livin’.”
In 2007, Parton launched her own record company, Dolly Records. She has performed in duets with many other artists, including Kacey Musgraves and Carrie Underwood. She has even performed on stage as recently as 2019. Clearly, nothing is stopping Parton from creating more music.
Joni Mitchell Influenced The Music Industry
Joni Mitchell is one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century. Even if you don’t know the name, you may recognize her hit single, “Big Yellow Taxi.” Both The New York Times and Rolling Stone cite her 1971 album Blue as one of the best of all time.
Mitchell was entirely self-taught. Her folk and pop music skyrocketed in popularity in the ’60s and ’70s. In 1975, her voice became deeper, and she experimented with jazz and blues rhythms.
Today, Mitchell Only Makes Scarce Appearances
Joni Mitchell has continued her music career throughout the decades. When she got bored with one musical genre, she experimented with another. In 2000, she released her album Both Sides Now, which became one of her most famous. Her last album, Shine, was released six years later.
In 2010, Mitchell left the music scene because of her health struggles with Morgellons syndrome. That said, she has still made appearances to accept awards and join other stars for reunions.
Robert Redford Was Well-Established By The ’70s
Robert Redford first appeared on stage in the 1950s and moved to TV in the 1960s. In 1973, he starred in one of his best-known roles, The Sting, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. From then on, he would become a household name.
Redford won Golden Globe Awards for his acting throughout the decade. In 1980, he directed his first film, Ordinary People. It became one of the most influential movies of the decade and won four Academy Awards.
Today, Redford Runs Sundance Film Festival
Redford continued to act and director through the 2000s, earning many awards along the way. In 2008, he hosted the first-ever Sundance Film Festival. He had bought a ski area and transformed it into an independent movie site, named after his character from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Redford is also the owner of Wildwood Enterprises, Inc., which produced movies such as The Conspirator. In 2016, he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his feats in the film industry.
Barbra Streisand’s Acting Won Awards In The ’70s
Like many actors, Barbra Streisand kickstarted her career on Broadway. Throughout the 1960s, she ascended from the stage to TV appearances to movies. Her first Academy Award stemmed from her role in the 1968 film Funny Girl. In 1976, she won a second Academy Award for A Star Is Born.
Streisand also achieved success in her music career. She started with her debut album, The Barbra Streisand Album, in 1969. Since then, many of her singles hit the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, including “The Way You Were” and “No More Tears.”
Today, Streisand Focuses On Her Music
Today, Barbra Streisand has sold over 150 million records worldwide from her 11 albums–a new record for female solo artists. Meanwhile, her movie roles seemed to have petered out. Her last film role was The Guilt Trip in 2012.
Streisand continued to appear on TV and on tours until 2017. She seems to have focused on her music more, with her most recent album being Walls in 2018. She still occasionally pops up on TV to accept awards and make guest appearances.
In The 1970s, Cher Became “The Goddess Of Pop”
In only a few years, Cher became known as the “Goddess of Pop.” She started as a duo group with her husband, Sonny & Cher, in 1965. Her solo career began a year later. By the 1970s, she became a TV personality with her show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, receiving over 30 million viewers weekly.
Alongside TV, Cher had more songs on the Billboard Top 100 chart than any other female solo artist. In 1975, she divorced Sonny Bono and focused on her solo performance.
Cher Can’t Stay Away From The Stage
Throughout the ’80s, ’90s, and 2000s, Cher continued to produce music and tour. In 2002, she announced that her Living Proof: The Farewell Tour was going to be her last before retirement. It became the most successful woman-led tour, grossing $145 million from 200 concerts.
However, Cher couldn’t stay away from the spotlight. She returned from retirement with the musical movie Burlesque. Today, she continues to make music and star in movies, such as the 2018 film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
Elton John’s Solo Music Took Off In The ’70s
Elton John entered the music scene as a pianist and singer in an R&B band called Bluesology. His solo career didn’t begin until his debut album, Empty Sky was released in 1969. One year later, his first hit single “Your Song” put him on the map.
John’s most successful period was between 1970 and 1976. Two of his albums, Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player (1973), Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973) are some of the best-selling albums of all time.
In 2020, John Paused His Farewell Tour
Today, Elton John remains one of the best-selling musical artists of all time. He has made over 30 albums and sold over 300 million records. In the United States, he had nine consecutive number one albums.
John continued to produce albums until 2018 when he started his three-year-long Farewell tour. The tour went on hold in 2020. In the meantime, he collaborated with other musical stars including Lady Gaga and the Gorillaz. He has yet to retire.
In The ’70s, John Travolta Was A Big Name
The ’70s were a crucial decade for John Travolta. The actor starred in some of his best-known roles during this period, including the movies Carrie and Grease. His 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever, won him a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor.
Travolta experienced a downturn in the 1980s where his movies did not perform as well. Then, in 1989, he returned to prominence with Look Who’s Talking, his most successful film since Grease. His next big hit was Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.
Today, Travolta Mainly Acts In B-Movies
While Travolta’s career skyrocketed in the 1990s, it dipped again in the 2000s. In 2000, he co-produced and starred in Battlefield Earth, which had been a dream project of his for decades. The movie performed poorly at the box office, and it seemed to start his trend of less-than-good movies.
Travolta continues to act, but his films are often considered B-movies. In July 2020, Travolta announced that he was taking a break after his wife passed away. Time will tell where his career goes.
The 1970s Were Stevie Wonder’s Best Years
During the 1960s and ’70s, Stevie Wonder became one of the most prominent musicians ever. He first hit the Billboard Hop 100 with his 1963 single, “Fingertips.” In the 1970s, three of his albums–Innervisions, Fulfillingness’ First Finale, and Songs in the Key of Life–all won the Grammy Album of the Year.
Many say that Wonder’s “classic period” began in 1976 when he mixed R&B and jazz with electronic instruments. His music inspired other artists who embraced electronic sounds throughout the ’80s.
Today, Wonder Continues To Create Music
Wonder still produces music and performs, albeit sparingly. His last record was A Time to Love, released in 2005. In 2013, he began producing music for a new album that has not been released yet.
Today, Wonder has sold over 100 million albums. He was won 22 Grammy Awards, and in 2014, he earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Critics have called him “a genius,” and he is considered one of the best musical artists of all time.
Talia Coppola Shire’s Most Famous Roles Were In The ’70s
In the 1970s, Talia Shire (formerly Talia Coppola) was an easily-recognizable actress. She played lead roles in both The Godfather (1972) and Rocky (1976). She also acted in all of the sequels. After appearing in The Godfather: Part II, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Shire was the daughter of an Italian immigrant family who never acted before The Godfather. However, she is related to many other Hollywood figures. Her brother is director and producer Francis Ford Coppola, and her nephew is Nicolas Cage.
Today, Shire Acts In Lesser-Known Films
Talia Shire has continued to act to this day, although her more recent films are less well-known. They include Bed & Breakfast (1992), The Visit (2000), and Homo Erectus (2007). Her most recent film was Working Man which came out in 2020.
Shire has also married twice and had three children. She first married composer David Shire in 1970, and later, she married film producer Jack Schwartzman. She has three children and still acts in minor roles.
Clint Eastwood Was Incredibly Famous Back Then
Clint Eastwood first received recognition for his 1960s show Rawhide. But his films didn’t become a hit until the 1970s. The first Dirty Harry movie came out in 1971, and four sequels followed. That same year, he directed and starred in Play Misty for Me, which is often credited as the turning point of his career.
Eastwood continued to act and direct in Western, drama, and action films. He has a prolific portfolio of movies, TV shows, and even film scores that he composed.
Today, He’s Still Incredibly Famous
Clint Eastwood has directed over 30 films and has acted in even more. Today, he shows no signs of stopping. In October 2020, he announced that he would direct, produce, and star in an adaption of the 1975 film Cry Macho.
Eastwood has directed some major titles of the 2010s, including Hereafter (2010), American Sniper (2014), and Sully (2016). He seems to prefer directing nowadays, as he has had few acting roles since Trouble with the Curve in 2012.
Diane Keaton Became Famous For Woody Allen Movies
Diane Keaton was a prominent actress and director throughout the late-20th century. By the time she appeared on the big screen in 1970, she was already a Tony-nominated Broadway actress. She is best-known for her roles in The Godfather series and Woody Allen films.
In 1977, Keaton won the Academy Award for Best Actress in the Allen film Annie Hall. Her eccentric wardrobe in the movie landed her on the cover of Time magazine. Keaton continued to expand her acting career throughout the 1980s.
Today, Keaton Is A Widely Successful Businesswoman
In the late 1980s, Keaton moved from directing to acting. She directed Heaven (1987), Unstrung Heroes (1995), and Hanging Up (2000). She has also continued to act throughout the 2010s, mainly in comedies. Expect to see her in future roles to come.
Alongside acting, Keaton became a blogger for the Huffington Post in 2005 and continued her interest in photography. She is also a real estate developer who sold a $6.5 million Beverly Hills home to Madonna in 2003.
Susan Sarandon Went From Broadway To The TV
Susan Sarandon made her name known on both the big screen and Broadway. She kickstarted her career with the 1970 film Joe. Later, she moved onto the soap opera A World Apart and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In 1972, she debuted on Broadway by starring in An Evening with Richard Nixon.
Sarandon’s career flourished in the ’80s and ’90s. She was nominated for an Academy Award three times: in Atlantic City (1980), Thelma & Louise (1991), Lorenzo’s Oil (1992), and The Client (1994). In 1995, she finally won the Academy Award for Best Actress for starring in Dead Man Walking.
Today, Sarandon Appears On TV Shows
In the early 2000s, Susan Sarandon began starring in TV shows as well as movies. She has received six Primetime Emmy nominations for her TV show roles, such as You Don’t Know Jack (2010) and Feud (2017). She still stars in movies, too.
Sarandon is also a passionate political activist who advocates for civil rights. She also works on her own film projects. In 2006, she and her relatives visited the United Kingdom to see their Welsh ancestry, which was documented in the show Coming Home: Susan Sarandon.
Michael Caine Became A British Film Icon
Michael Caine is one of the highest-grossing actors of all time. He rose to prominence in the ’60s and carried that fame through the ’70s. He earned Academy Award nominations for Alfie (1966) and Sleuth (1972).
Known for his cockney accent, Caine quickly became a British film icon. In the 1980s, his success continued. He starred in both comedies and dramas. After acting in the 1983 film Educating Rita, he won the BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Award for Best Actor.
Today, Caine’s Career Is Making A Comeback
Caine’s acting career suffered in the 1990s, but he picked up more roles in the 2000s. In 2002, his role in The Quiet American won him awards and put him back on the map. In 2005, he began playing Bruce Wayne’s Butler in the Batman series.
Caine achieved more successful roles in the 2010s, including titles such as Inception (2010), Interstellar (2014), and Dunkirk (2017). Many of his classic films from the ’60s and ’70s have been remade as well.
Back Then, Richard Roundtree Was A Model And Actor
Richard Roundtree was a professional model and actor throughout the ’60s and ’70s. After he starred in the 1971 film Shaft, he became a famous actor in Hollywood. Most of his films were crime dramas and actions, such as when he appeared next to Clint Eastwood in City Heat (1984).
While his films were popular in the ’70s and early ’80s, they later began dropping off the map. But Roundtree found success in stage plays. He also continued modeling
Today, Roundtree Continues A Steady Career
Richard Roundtree dropped off the map during the 1990s while he was battling cancer. Once he beat it, he returned to acting. He starred in the 1997 drama show 413 Hope St. and the 2008 movie Speed Racer.
Roundtree’s most recent movies are the 2019 film What Men Want and the 2020 horror Haunting of Mary Celeste. He also appears in a recurring role in the show Family Reunion. Roundtree may not be as famous, but his career is still progressing.
Erik Estrada Was Once A Crime Show Star
Erik Estrada is an actor and police officer who combined both careers in the 1970s. He is best known for his role as Ponch in the TV crime show CHiPs (1977-1983). But his acting career started well before that.
Estrada’s first film was The Cross and the Switchblade (1970), where he appeared beside Pat Boone. He later appeared in the series Hawaii Five-O and the 1976 movie Midway. In 1979, People magazine called Estrada one of the top ten “Sexiest Bachelors in the World.”
Today, Estrada Is In Music Videos And Commercials
Today, Erik Estrada focuses on TV shows. He has starred in The Bold and the Beautiful, Armed & Famous, and the second season of The Surreal Life. He has also acted in music videos, such as Eminem’s video for “Just Lose It.”
As with many ’70s stars, Estrada’s fame dipped over time. But he still appeared in many households. In 2009, he began appearing on Burger King commercials. He continues to work as a police officer and participates in safe driving campaigns.
Olivia Newton-John Was A ’70s Music Icon
Olivia Newton-John is an actress, singer, and dancer whose career peaked in the 1970s. Between 1974 and 1975, two of her albums became the Billboard 200 number-one albums: Have You Never Been Mellow and If You Love Me, Let Me Know.
In 1978, Newton-John starred in her most famous role, Grease. Her duet with John Travolta, “You’re the One I Want,” became one of the best-selling singles ever. While her movie roles were sparse, her music took off.
Today, Newton-John Works More On Activism Than Music
Olivia Newton-John is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, selling over 100 million albums worldwide. She continues to create music, perform, and make guests appearances on TV. In 2015, she was inducted into the Music Victoria Hall of Fame.
Newton-John is also an activist for health and animal rights. In the 1990s, she was diagnosed with cancer, which influenced her music and sparked her advocacy. Although she frequently appears in the media, Newton-John rarely makes music nowadays.
Burt Reynolds Was One Of The Box Office’s Biggest Stars
Burt Reynolds was an actor, director, producer, and pop culture icon of the 1970s. Although he appeared on TV and in movies through the 1960s, his breakthrough role was the 1972 film Deliverance. Since then, he starred in many of the decade’s most famous films, such as White Lightning and Smokey and the Bandit.
Reynolds was the world’s number one box office star for five consecutive years, between 1978 and 1982. He appeared on TV shows and talk shows and even directed a few films.
Even Today, Reynolds’ Acting Career Continues
Burt Reynolds declined in popularity during the ’80s and ’90s. In 1997, his career revived because of his role in Boogie Nights. He continued to act and direct in more well-known roles throughout the 2000s and 2010s.
Some of his more recent roles include Cloud 9, End Game, and The Last Movie Star. In 2018, Reynolds passed away from a heart attack. Many shows, movies, and magazines have paid tribute to the star and his impact on Hollywood.