Ever hear of the notorious ‘Jiggle TV’ era of television? Well, it took place during a time when TV shows were transitioning from dealing with traditional women, who were modest, put-together homemakers to independent ladies who weren’t afraid to step on a few toes as they fought for respect in a male-dominated world while rocking low cut blouses and high rise miniskirts.
Popular series like Charlie’s Angels, Battle of the Network Stars, and Wonder Woman introduced the jiggle to the masses, but not everyone was happy about it. The expression ‘Jiggle TV’ was first introduced by Paul Klein, an NBC exec who absolutely despised the way the network’s biggest competitor, ABC, pumped out a whole string of shows that drew in large numbers of viewers by relying heavily on sexy, semi-clad women.
Instead of covering up their stars, ABC continued to produce such content well into the 1980s. The idea was if they could turn the audience on then they could make sure that they continued to tune in. Jiggle TV wasn’t exclusively just a sitcom thing either. The movement latched its tendrils into all sorts of media. Looking back on this arguably groundbreaking era of television it’s pretty obvious that the industry got away with a lot of things that would more than likely be censored today. Stay tuned to see what we’re talking about.
Lynda Carter As Wonder Woman
When Wonder Woman premiered on TV in 1975 she surprised audiences with her breathtaking beauty. Lynda Carter, the actress who played the Amazonian goddess knew that she had to use her sex appeal to make the show as successful as possible. When she caught wind that the critics were speaking negatively about her character, the way she looked, and what it said about society, she fired back fiercely at her naysayers.
She argued that Superman similarly exploited his masculine sex appeal so it was purely sexist that Wonder Woman would be judged so harshly just because of her big breasts and tight costume.
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Charlie’s Angels First Season
The first season of Charlie’s Angels is required viewing for Jiggle TV history buffs. It’s the only season of the series that features the voluptuous Farrah Fawcett as the blonde bombshell Jill Monroe. That character convinced millions of male viewers between the ages of 14 to 65 to tune in to ABC every week from 1976 to 1981.
While the Angels may have changed a bit throughout the series, the sexy style never did. Throughout its five-season run, staggeringly gorgeous actresses like Cheryl Ladd and Jaclyn Smith joined the ranks as private investigators who make going undercover to solve crimes look more like a party. Anyone that grew up during this period surely had their eyes glued to the tube.
Marcia Brady Hooked Up With Her Brother
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia…
Fans from across the globe were magnetically drawn to the fresh-faced, wholesome eldest daughter of the Brady family. Marcia Brady might have been a bit of a goody-two-shoes, but that made her that much more alluring to viewers.
That being said, offscreen Maureen McCormick was the polar opposite of her Brady character. She shared in her autobiography that all the while she was working on the show, she was taking drugs and partying hard whenever the cameras weren’t rolling. She once even slept with her TV brother, Barry Williams, while they were filming in Hawaii.
The Second Season Of Saturday Night Live
Back in the late 1970s, SNL was the supreme authority on all things cool. The sketch comedy show was slick and poignant and featured a cast of edgy comics who were not afraid to dish out hefty servings of irreverent comedy on Saturday evenings.
The show introduced the world to Bill Murray, but his presence wasn’t the only reason why so many young comedy fans tuned in every week to catch the show. SNL wasn’t afraid to touch on hot-button issues. It was a seriously fresh show for its day and not only that but it also featured some smoking-hot young actresses that we couldn’t help but long for.
Laraine Newman and Gilda Radner were a couple of the most hilarious cast members on the show and they also served as eye candy for anyone that found themselves at home on a Saturday night.
Battle Of The Network Stars
It doesn’t even matter if you’re a sports fan or not, Battle of the Network Stars was a completely different kind of beast. The audience got a chance not only to see their favorite TV stars competing for head-to-head- in semi-Olympic games that put their skills to the test, but it was also a pretty glaring example of the kind of programming popular in that era that focused heavily on girls in tight clothing carrying out unnatural acts that would probably make their mothers blush.
In fact, this was purely intentional. The series was created with those goals in mind. There is no way that the producers of that series didn’t know what they were doing when they first pitched this show to the network.
Carol Wayne and Johnny Carson
Whenever Carol Wayne dropped by the set of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson as a guest, you knew it was going to be a great episode. She was always a refreshing presence whenever she appeared as the curvaceous Matinee Lady in Carson’s Art Fern’s Tea Time Movie sketches where she delivered seductive one-liners full of innuendo that would have made even Hugh Hefner a little hot behind the collar.
Wayne was a fixture of Television back in the 1970s, but her most memorable appearances were those on The Tonight Show. Johnny Carson appeared to genuinely enjoy working with her as a comedic partner. Although she died in the early 80s, Wayne’s legacy continues to live on.
Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland
Really though, has there ever been a hotter couple than Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland? That remains to be seen.
This London-native fox was a big hit with viewers and guys always seemed to be attentive whenever she showed up on Television regardless of whether she was appearing on The Man From UNCLE, Star Trek, or Mannix.
When she wasn’t arousing viewers on the small screen, Ireland made numerous appearances in films often alongside her husband, Charles Bronson. Chuck and Jill starred in more than 10 films together, which just goes to show how deep their love for each other really ran. These two celebs were inseparable and their romance was nothing short of inspirational.
Yeoman Barrows On Star Trek
Actress Emily Banks stole our hearts and minds when she portrayed the one-off character, Yeoman Brown on Star Trek in the memorable episode ‘Shore Leave’. She and the rest of the Enterprise crew were astounded by the illusions on the Shore Leave planet where she was seduced by Doctor McCoy. She may have only made one appearance as Barrows, but her character went on to become a bit of a nerdy sex symbol.
What was it about Barrows that was so enthralling? Was it her devious smile? Or maybe it was her curvy physique in that red uniform? Perhaps it was both of those things. But either way, Star Trek wouldn’t have another sex symbol of her caliber until the introduction of Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager decades later.
Helen Slater As Supergirl
Christopher Reeve was pretty easy on the eyes in his own right. After all, he portrayed the definitive Superman back in his day, but it’s Helen Slater who really gets our blood pumping faster than a speeding bullet. Slater landed the role when she was just 18 and she was 19 when the film wrapped up shooting.
You might be wondering how she scored that role at such a young age. Well, Slater claims that she got the role from being bold. When she went in for her screen test, she wore a cape and skirt and walked into the room wearing glasses as Linda Lee. She was fearless, but a lot of that confidence came from her days honing her craft back at a Performing Arts High School.
Robyn Hilton And Johnny Carson
If you’ve ever seen Blazing Saddles then you already know how sexy Robyn Hilton is. Not only is she drop-dead gorgeous but she also has a voice that has the power to drive men wild. Even Johnny Carson wasn’t immune to her wiles.
When the legendary talk show host interviewed Hilton, he was absolutely dumbfounded by the Playboy model and actress, but really, can you blame the guy? She’s such a heartthrob that even the unshakable Johnny Carson was clearly shaken. It’s not every day that a talk show host openly flirts as he did, and it was a remarkably humanizing thing to witness.
Sally Field On The Set Of Gidget
When Gidget first hit the airwaves, that tiny surfer girl quickly won over our hearts, but it wasn’t the character per se as much as it was the young woman that played her. Sally Field was a nobody before she rose to fame portraying Gidget, and when she was auditioning for the role she reportedly didn’t even know what it was for. When she landed the role in 1965, Field was only 19-years-old. She went on to have noteworthy roles in shows like The Flying Nun and The Girl with Something Extra. In 1962, she made her film debut as an extra in the film Moon Pilot. In 1976, she won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her role in the television film Sybill.
Field went on to have a fairly prolific film career appearing in films such as Smokey and the Bandit, Steel Magnolias, Norma Ray, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Forrest Gump. Field’s acting career is still going strong to this day. Most recently she appeared in the Netflix miniseries Maniac and the AMC series Dispatches from Elsewhere.
Alright, well, we’re just about out of time for this video, but hopefully, you’ve enjoyed going on this little journey down memory lane with us. Really though, television has changed quite a bit over the years. If you were to show somebody 40 years ago TV from today, they would probably find it to be fairly shocking, but that’s not to say that the major networks weren’t doing everything they could to push the envelope of what was culturally acceptable back then.
Are you a fan of shows that were part of the so-called Jiggle TV movement such as Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman or are you less easily swayed by such things? Let us know in the comments section below.
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