Hey, Remember – Pin-up Girl Posters

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Men of a certain age will remember a time back during their youth when their ideal decorating taste in their bedroom consisted of posters and/or photos of their favorite female celebrity or pin-up.

Maybe it’s still their favorite way to decorate their surroundings.

The women would come from all avenues of entertainment. Actresses, models, singers, any kind of popular entertainer or lovely lady who would help lift the spirits of fighting men, add a touch of sexiness to ‘man caves’ and dormitories and help guide teens through puberty.

While the 1970s and 1980s there was a craze of ‘pin-up posters’ and during the 1940s the pin-up became world renowned, the ‘art’ of the pin-up and the admiration gentlemen and teens would place seeing an image of a beautiful woman on paper would reach even further back.

Let’s first find out what a ‘pin-up’ poster is and then look at the long history of how they came to be.

A pin-up model is an image that is mass-produced and is intended for informal display. In other words, “pinned-up” on a wall. Generally male teen bedrooms, rec rooms, mechanic garages, aircrafts, college dorms, ‘man caves’, submarines, tree houses – pretty much any domain, that had walls and was inhabited by males, pin-ups could find a place of prominence to be oogled at.

The photo would be ‘pinned up’ for viewing pleasure – simple enough.

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Rita Hayworth in one of her classic pin-up photos

The pin-up image itself could be a poster, photograph, postcard, calendar, lithograph. It could be cut out of a magazine or newspaper. Pin-ups could be glamour models, fashion models, actors, singers or any type of entertainer or personality. The range is pretty all encompassing.

A pin-up can also be called ‘cheesecake’, ‘cover girl’, ‘centerfold’, ‘bathing beauty’, ‘a dream girl’, ‘a siren’, ‘a sex pot’, ‘a showstopper’, ‘a sex kitten’, ‘a looker’….

Typically, the pin-up and their pose is meant to exude some sexiness, desire and titillation for the viewer. Throughout its history, popular pin-ups would epitomize what was considered to be the feminine ideal of their eras. Slender, curvy, busty, shapely hourglass figures, the looks of pin-ups evolved through changing times. No matter the era they’re from, they’ve accomplished their goal when they manage to make jaws drop.

Toulouse-Lautrec-Moulin-Rogue-posterNow if we had the time and resources I could probably track back to caveman times and discover early man had painted images of women on their cave walls. But I’ll leave that to professional archeologists. Let’s just start that it is well known nude models were a popular inspiration in classic painting.

French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec became popular for drawing gorgeous nude girls. In 1891, he was commissioned to create a six-foot tall advertisement for the famed Moulin Rouge. The poster would be displayed near the entrance.

Featuring a cancan dancer energetically kicking high, the poster caused a sensation. About 3,000 copies were printed and it made their way around Paris turning heads at the striking image. It made Lautrec a success overnight, while also capturing the exciting atmosphere of the night club. The poster became internationally known and became the symbol of 1890s Paris. The image is now regarded as iconic and a genuine work of art.

It wasn’t just France that images of women were causing a stir. The 1890s gave birth to ‘The Gibson Girl’ from the pen of illustrator Charles Dana Gibson.

Gibson was famed illustrator and created images of women. His illustrations ran in countless magazines and newspapers around the country.

Women were becoming more independent, active and better educated than any time in the past. Gibson’s illustrations was said to have represented her and encapsulated the image of ‘The New Woman’. They would be known for capturing the image of the ideal American woman for both women and men. Gibson saw his creation as repressing the composite of “thousands of American girls”.

Gibson’s illustrations became influential on the feminine style from the 1890s to the early 1900s. They would be students, writers, working women, athletes. Gibson’s female drawings soon became known as ‘Gibson Girls’.

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Charles Dana Gibson’s famed ‘Gibson’s Girls’, often cited as the earliest pin-up images

Gibson’s illustrations might look rather quaint today. Maybe some would think they’d look appropriate on a sewing kit It was said Collier’s Weekly paid him $50,000, which at the time was the largest amount of money ever paid to an illustrator. He would often be credited as being the first to create the pinup image. Along, with having the famed drink (a martini with an onion, no olive) named after him.

Advertisers would begin to start drawing and photographing sexually suggestive, but not explicit, women for their ads. The saying ‘Sex Sells’, started to take root.

From its inception, Hollywood would create ‘stars’ and help popularize fashion trends. Audiences would be captivated by the silver screen and watch and dream of the beautiful actresses they saw on movie screens. The silent era of film had its share of popular female stars during the 1920s.

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Colleen Moore & Louise Brooks with their bob hair style

Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Lillian Gish, Myrna Loy, Clara Bow, Lillian Bond, became famed actresses during the decade. 

As it would do many times in the future, Hollywood would inspire a popular hairstyle in society. Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore became two of the most fashionable actresses during this period and helped popularize the short bobbed haircut that would help define the look of the flappers in 1920s.

With stars come fans and fans want more information and stories about their favorite actors. This demand brought about movie magazines devoted to Hollywood stars. Photoplay, Motion Picture Magazine, Film Fun, Screenland, Picture Play. The magazines covered stories of the popular movie stars during the time. Most of the stories were controlled by Hollywood studios and its public relations. It was a partnership between the two to help promote their stars and to help sell magazines.

And you can bet if a fan saw a photo of their favorite star in one of these magazines, they would save it and hang it up!

The 1920s marked an era of youthful rebellion. Prohibition pushed the risky attitudes of the time. The flapper generation ran rampant and the fashion allowed ladies to show more skin with dresses that got shorter.

1920s youthful rebellion, the jazz age bobbed haircuts the flapper generation was wild and the ladies showed some skin. Roaring Twenties clothing styles changed. Dresses got shorter, the atmosphere of rebellion thanks to Prohibition, the trend of revealing clothing

WWII, BETTY, RITA & PIN-UPS GAIN PROMINENCE

WWII would mark a very significant benchmark to the pinup image. Some of the pinup decor would become some of the few joyous images from the war years. This was to considered the ‘Golden Age’ of the pin-up girl.

There wasn’t a lot to be happy about during WWII. Men went to fight overseas, women worked in factories and everyone was doing their part to win the war and striving to go back to a normal life.

WWII-soldiers-airplane-Pinup-Girl-photosSoldiers overseas would hold onto anything that reminded them of home and provide them some comfort. Pin-up photos and art did the trick, while also giving fighting men something beautiful to look at.

One can argue that the very idea of a ‘pin-up girl’ is objectifying women, but the fact is those images is what kept a soldier’s morale up in a very dark, uncertain times.

For the first time in history, the U.S. military sanctioned the creation and distribution of pin-up pictures, magazines and calendars to troops in order to raise morale. Pin-ups were also used in recruitment materials and posters advertising the purchase of war bonds.

From 1942 to 1945 Yank magazine became the most widely read publication in U.S. military history. Two million copies were sold and read during WWII. Yank – The Army Weekly featured stories about WWII, humorous cartoons poking fun at army life and pin-up girls. The magazine was the popular reading choice for servicemen overseas. It helped remind them what they were fighting for back home and helped boost morale.

I’ve read that decades later WWII veterans would hold onto issues of Yank magazine and images of the pin-up girls that helped get them through the ordeal of war. The pin-up girls represented much more to them than just a pretty girl with great legs.

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The art of pin-up girls also exploded. Artists like Alberto Vargas burst onto the art scene in the 1940s with depictions of pin-up girls in Esquire, which became known as The ‘Vargas Girls’. Vargas would later work on art for Playboy. Art Frahm painted humorous and campy pin-up girls. Often referred to as “Ladies In Distress”, his pictures consisted of beautiful young women in embarrassing situations showing some skin.  

Pin-up art wasn’t just limited to being printed on paper. Pin-up girls made their way to adoring planes for soldiers. Soldiers would paint images of pin-up girls on the sides of their aircraft and often give the plane a female name, much like figurehead on ancient ships. This ‘ nose art’ that was emblazoned, beautiful images of women would be help create a personal bond between the men and the machines. These pinup images became synonymous with WWII fighter planes.

A fascinating short film titled ‘Pin-Up Girl by Russell Patterson. It takes a look at the popularity of pin-up art and the popularity of it during WWII

There were countless pin-ups during the war years. Veronica Lake, Shery Britton, Jane Russell, Ester Williams, Ava Gardner, Susan Hayward, Dorothy Lamour, Jean Trent, Yvonne DeCarlo, Ann Savage, Linda Darnell. Women who are still very well remembered, others that aren’t that well known today. Magazines and calendars were filled with thousands and thousands of women who posed for pin-ups, they couldn’t all become stars.

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Jane Russell seeing her photo on a military aircraft

There are two women who stand out among all the rest during the war years and are always attributed to being ‘the WW2 era pin-ups’. The first being Rita Hayworth. 

A few months before Pearl Harbor was attacked LIFE magazine ran a black-and-white photograph of Rita Hayworth that would set millions of mens heart ablaze.

It began when a press agent from Columbia Pictures Magda Maskel suggested photographing Hayworth in a black lace nightgown that Maskel’s mother had made. LIFE’s Hollywood correspondent Richard Pollard and photographer Bob Landry met Maskel at Hayworth’s apartment. Kneeling on a bed made up with satin sheets, while wearing the silky nightgown, Hayworth went through a series of poses.

At one point, Pollard instructed Hayworth, “Rita, take a deep breath.” And that was the moment when the famous image was snapped.

Rita-Hayworth-Life-magazine-famous-pinup-1941-ww2Four months later America went to war and soldiers were taking copies of the Hayworth photo with them. Eventually, the picture became one of the most famous and most reproduced American pin-up images ever.

By the end of the war 5 million copies of the photo were sold. The press dubbed her ‘The Love Goddess’ and the U.S. Navy voted Hayworth as “The Redhead We Would Most Like To Be Shipwrecked With”.

 

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Hayworth surrounded by some of her military admirers

In 1946 Hayworth learned her famous pin-up picture had been plastered on the nuclear bomb scheduled to be tested at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean’s Marshall Islands. She was horrified. The target area of detonation was nicknamed ‘Gilda’, after Hayworth’s famous 1941 film.

Rita-Hayworth-pinup-photo-on-Atom-Bomb-1946-Although the gesture was meant to be complimentary, saluting Hayworth’s ‘bombshell’ status, Hayworth was deeply offended by the idea she was an unwilling part of the detonation of a nuclear bomb.

Orson Welles, who was married to Hayworth at the time, recalled her anger when hearing about the news, “Rita used to fly into terrible rages all the time, but the angriest was when she found out that they put her on the atom bomb. Rita almost went insane, she was so angry…She wanted to go to Washington to hold a press conference, but Harry Cohen wouldn’t let her because it would be unpatriotic”.

On the June 30, 1946 radio broadcast of Orson Welles Commentaries, Welles took to the airwaves and shared his disappointment of the upcoming atom bomb test and his wife’s image being used as an unwilling participant in it, “I want my daughter to be able to tell her daughter that grandmother’s picture was on the last atom bomb ever to explode.”

But, the woman who would become the most popular pin-up during the war years, even more than Hayworth, and become synonymous with being ‘the’ WWII pin-up, was no doubt actress and dancer Betty Grable.

It was in 1943 when Grable posed for the iconic photograph at Fox Studios. The session was meant to be just a regular photo shoot for publicity pictures. Photographer Frank Powolyny then captured the iconic image.

Wearing her one-piece bathing suit, giving an over-the-shoulder pose (as a result of Grable being visibly pregnant at the time), the photograph would be released as a poster and quickly became the most requested image for soldiers stationed overseas. Grable would knock Rita Hayworth (who posed in another memorable and beloved photograph) from the top of the list of most famous pin-ups in WWII. Servicemen voted for Grable as their favorite pin-up girl.

From that point Grable’s image adorned barracks, lockers, airplanes. It became the escapist image for a world deep in war. If you think Farrah was big, it was nothing compared to the impact Grable had. Life magazine cited her poster in its ranking of “100 Photographs That Changed the World”.

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Betty Grable’s famous photograph taken in 1943

The world fell in love with Grable’s famous gams. Hosiery specialists of the era noted she had the ideal proportions of the female leg. To drum up even more publicity, her studio insured her glorious limbs at Lloyds of London for $1 million. It was also rumored that even some German and Japanese soldiers secretly had the image.

There are some stories that under interrogation, English speaking Germans during the war were forced to answer questions about American football and Betty Grable to prove they weren’t spies. Even General Omar Bradley had to prove his identity by answering questions about Grable before being allowed to pass a security post.

Grable was honored that her photo came to mean so much to servicemen, but didn’t take her image too seriously. She did her part to sell war bonds and even auctioned off her nylons at war bond rallies. She would later say she felt one of her greatest accomplishments in life was bringing happiness to our soldiers.

On February 17, 1943, at a ceremony at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater, along with her handprints and signature, Grable left a ‘leg-print’ in cement – being eagerly assisted by servicemen. It might seem a bit silly to think about today, especially considering the world was at war at the time, but, the country probably was craving some moments of levity and fun.

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Here’s a newsreel that recorded Grable’s imprinting at Grauman’s. Her leg imprint is still there for visitors to admire.

Later Grable would say about her success, “I became a star for two reasons, and I’m standing on them.”

The 1940’s era is the one that is most associated with the Pin-up. When one thinks of “a classic pin-up” image it is typically from this time period. It is the 1940s look, hairstyles and clothing of the period that encapsulate the quintessential ‘pin-up look’. Modern day pin-ups like Dita von Teese would recapture the style and aura that the 1940s/50s pin-up exuded.

THE PIN-UP CALENDAR BECOMES A STANDARD & THE BIKINI MAKES IT DEBUT

At this point pin-up calendars became an annual tradition for men to buy. The popularity of pin-up calendars goes back to the 1930s. Pin-up girls started popping up everywhere – on decks of cards, in cigarettes packs. Calendars became another piece of pin-up decor men had and gave them a reasonable excuse to look at a pretty lady, as they checked the date of the day!

Many of the pin-up calendars weren’t simply photographs of models, but paintings and drawings of beautiful women by artists. There were many artists who specialized in creating pin-up art during the mid part of the century. Some notable ones were Zoe Mozert, Gil Elvgren, Alberto Vargas, George Petty and Al Buell. A lot of beautiful artwork came from the brushes of these artists for advertisements, magazines and calendars.

One company who had a long-running pin-up calendar tradition was the Ridgid Tool Company. Starting way back in 1935, Ridgid would release a yearly calendar with racy pin-up girls alongside one of their Ridgid products, done by the talented George Petty. The tradition continued when the calendar moved onto real photographed ladies (including an unknown 24-year-old Raquel Welch in 1964, Kelly Monaco, Nikki Ziering, Brooke Burke and Cindy Margolis who appeared as Ridgid Girls).

What better way to advertise their wrench than having a lovely lady posing holding it? The Ridgid Calendar became a fixture to see in automotive garages across the country. Even for those who didn’t have a lick of interest in tools, wanted to get their hands on a Ridgid Calendar of their own!

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Some of the artwork and models from the long history of the Ridgid pin-up calendar, that was produced from 1935 to 2016

After 81 years of Ridgid Girls guiding you through the year, Ridgid announced in 2017 they would no longer release ‘a pin-up style’ calendar, saying, “The 2017 is not a pin-up style calendar. Instead you’ll find mantras chosen by tradespeople like you and unique artwork designed by tattoo artists and illustrators.”

Needless to say, the news was disappointing to fans of the Ridgid pin-up calendar. I’m not sure how the new Ridgid calendar has been received or if the sales of the new format compare to its old ‘pin-up style’.

Fortunately, for pin-up calendar fans you can find plenty of other ‘pin-up style calendars’ every year. It remains a very popular category for calendars.

Since we’ve now hit the topic of pin-up calendars, it’s a good time to take a break and enjoy the hit 1960 song ‘Calendar Girl’ by Neil Sedaka. The song takes inspiration from pin-up calendars and the adoration that were placed on each lady of the month.

Record producer Joe Vigilone, writing for AllMusic, describes the song as “a G-rated calendar of pin-ups such as Betty Grable and Marilyn Monroe, using verbal rather than visual imagery.” It is quite a catchy song!

Aside from calendars, there were plenty of opportunities to see pin-up more than just twelve times a year.

With the popularity of the bikini – which is usually attributed to first arriving in 1946 – it was a perfect piece of sexy swimwear for pin-ups to model in.

It took awhile for the bikini to catch on in the world. Early on the two-piece swimwear was controversial and many areas banned women from wearing it. In 1951 even Pope Pius XII declared the bikini was sinful.

Ursula-Andress-Dr.-No-James-Bond-film-white-bikini-1962Gradually, the bikini got more and more mainstream exposure and steadily became more accepted. As it had done with other fashion trends, when Hollywood featured their stars wearing it in popular films it helped make it acceptable.

Ursula Andress’ iconic white bikini in the first James Bond film 1962’s Dr. No would rank as the top bikini moment in film history. Her appearance walking out of the ocean wearing her white bikini was not only a classic moment in cinema, but also in the life of the bikini.

Not to mention Raquel Welch’s fur bikini in 1966’s One Million Years B.C. (I’ll be getting more indepth with that iconic piece of clothing). Years later in 1983, Carrie Fisher sported her metal bikini in 1983’s Return of the Jedi, making it one of the most sexily iconic film costumes ever.

All three women would become pin-up favorites wearing their unique bikinis.

In 1964, The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue debuted and its cover featured a woman wearing a bikini. There was also the popular 1960 song ‘Its Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’ by Brian Hyland. It might’ve take awhile, but the bikini became a popular piece of swimwear and would become one of the standard pieces of clothing pin-ups would wear.

MARILYN & PLAYBOY

Playboy-first-issue-Marilyn-Monroe-1953-coverPlayboy magazine published its first issue in December 1953. Hugh Hefner once told an interviewer he got the idea for Playboy from seeing that famous pin-up of Betty Grable.

Its premiere issue had Marilyn Monroe not only on the cover, but also on inside. The cover touted ‘Full Color’ nude photo of Monroe for the “first time in any magazine”. Sure enough, the popular star was completely unclothed, something her fans had not seen before, well at least most of them.

Before her success on the big-screen Monroe worked as a model. Trying to get acting gigs she would do pin-up type poses. The story goes it was in May 1949, when Monroe was behind in her rent and had her car repossessed when she got the offer to do some nude photos.

She agreed, however wanted the photographer Tom Kelly to promise pay her and that his wife was with them the whole time, to ensure that nothing inappropriate would happen. She was paid $50 for the two-hour photoshoot that would become known as the ‘Red Velvet’ series.

Monroe even signed the release documents as ‘Mona Monroe’. Later asked why she didn’t write her own name she said, “I don’t know why, except I my have wanted to protect myself. I was nervous, embarrassed, even ashamed of what I had done and I did not want my name to appear on that model release.”

Marilyn-Monroe-nude-calendar-Playboy-photoIt was within a year of posing for the photos, when Monroe started making waves in Hollywood with film appearances in The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve. Kelly eventually sold the nude Monroe photos for $900 to the Western Lithograph Co. and they were later published and included in the 1955 ‘Golden Dreams’ pin-up calendar.

Hugh Hefner bought the rights to Monroe’s nude photos from Western Lithograph for a reported $500. He then ran the nude photos of the now famous Marilyn Monroe in the first issue of Playboy.

In the issue it said, “There were actually two poses shot au natural back in ’49, just before the gorgeous blonde got her first movie break. When they appeared as calendar art, they helped catapult her to stardom. We’ve selected the better of the two as our first Playboy Sweetheart.” The title of ‘Playboy Sweetheart would later change to ‘Playmate of the Month’.

When the nude photos resurfaced. Monroe owned up that it was indeed her posing nude –  and the revelation didn’t hurt her career a bit. Monroe was never paid more than the $50 for the photos by Kelly in 1949. She supposedly told a friend, “I never even received a thank you from all those who made millions off a nude Marilyn photograph.”

Marilyn of course would dominate the 1950s as the sex symbol of the decade. Today looking back at her in her films and photographs, her beauty and talent hasn’t faded a bit. Among all the memorable photos that were taken of her and all the sexy costumes and dresses she wore, the most famous is probably her white dress flying up above her knees from the film The Seven Year Itch.

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Some of the iconic images of Monroe

Playboy would go onto feature nude women for decades. Its signature feature was ‘the Playboy centerfold’, which was a fold-out photo of a nude Playboy Playmate. The Playboy centerfold was designed to be ripped out of the magazine and hung on the wall – essentially being a pin-up image.

Playboy would continue its monthly publication until 2016, when they stopped featuring nude women. Oddly enough, around the same time, Ridgid ended its annual pin-up calendar. Do you get the sense there was an overall shift happening and societal perspective changed towards images of sexy women used as pin-ups and centerfolds? With the decline of magazine sales and the ease of seeing nudity on the internet, Playboy would cease publishing its magazine and go to an all-digital format.

BETTIE, PIN-UP MODELS, MAGAZINES & MARILYN CLONES

There were of course other standouts amongst the pin-ups of the 1950s besides Marilyn. You can’t talk about pin-ups in the 1950s without talking about Bettie Page.

The story of Bettie Page has been told many times (if you’d like some insight into her and her career I suggest checking out the 2012 documentary Bettie Page Reveals All).

The very abridged version is Page is often called “the Queen of the Pin-Ups”. In 1955 she was named “Miss Pin-up Girl of the World’ and is often credited as one of the most photographed and collected women in history.

At the start of her modeling career she posed for risqué photos and became an extremely popular fetish model for camera clubs during the period. It didn’t take long before she became more nationally known and appeared on everything from record albums to playing cards.

With her toned physique, dark hair and ‘Bettie bangs’, Page stood out amongst pin-ups. Her legacy would be of an icon of feminine power and sexual expression. Page continues to influence and inspire. You can find her impact on everything from fashion to comic books.

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Bettie Page and Betty Brosmer were pinned up on many walls in the 1950s

Betty Brosmer was the highest paid pin-up model of the 1950s. She held the title “The most gorgeous body of the 50s” and is considered by many as the first ‘Supermodel’. Brosmer was nicknamed ‘The Impossible Waist’ due to her amazing body measurements, 38-18-36 (inches).

She appeared in thousands of magazines, including LIFE, Fortune, Look. She was featured in magazine advertisements, roadside billboards, milk cartons and trade catalogs. She was also the first model to own the rights to many of her photos and negatives. Brosmer actually became the first model to get a piece of the earnings from her photographs.

Vikki Dougan was an American actress and model who began grabbing headlines in the mid-50s by becoming known as ‘The Back’.

Vikki-Dougan-The-Back-dress-1950s-pinupA publicist concocted the idea of highlighting a single body part of Dougan’s to help promote her. As Jane Russel was known for her bust, Betty Grable famous for her legs and Brosmer with her small waist, Dougan’s long, toned back would be her calling card.

Dougan’s image was carefully crafted by publicity man Milton Weiss. He had three backless dresses made for her and had her wear the plunging creations at all her public appearances.

She gained attention mostly from her pin-up shots and the press coverage of her wearing the backless dresses that went, very, very low. One quote at the time, said Dougan was praised for her “marvelous exits”.

Dougan went onto pose for Playboy and became something of a rival to more popular bombshells at the time. It was said Dougan was banned from some Hollywood parties and events because her backless dresses were drawing too much attention and were making Jayne Mansfield, Zsa Za Gabor and Maimie Van Doren jealous. They didn’t appreciate Dougan taking away their spotlight.

She gained added attention from Hollywood tabloids by dating a crop of famous men including Frank Sinatra, Glenn Ford, Mickey Rooney, Orson Welles, Henry Fonda and Warren Beatty. The acting roles she had hoped would happen didn’t materialize. Her popularity waned and by 1959 she had disappeared from the Hollywood scene.

Since not being a big established name-star and her brief time in the spotlight, for decades Dougan became something of a ‘pin-up footnote’. She wasn’t really being discussed much or remembered.

However, in recent years Dougan has enjoyed something of a resurgence of renewed attention. The vintage photos featuring her backless dresses and publicity stunts have been shared on social media. A whole new generation have fallen for her and have become mesmerized by ‘The Back’.

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Vikki ‘The Back’ Dougan had everyone watching her leave in the 1950s

A very popular photoshoot is from 1957, of Dougan walking on Hollywood Boulevard in one of her head-turing backless dresses and crowds of bystanders being stunned, shocked and staring at her. Her dress is eye-catching today, so imagine what the reaction was in 1957.

In 2021, Dougan then age 90 reflected on her stint as ‘The Back’ – “It is not symbolic of who I am. It really wasn’t me. I was playing a part. I didn’t even think there was anything even sexy about showing a back. It just didn’t occur to me.”

Jessica-Rabbit-character-Who-Framed-Roger-Rabbit-1988-inspired-Rita-Hayworth-Veronica-LakeMany websites and blogs have mistakenly attributed Dougan as being the inspiration for the character of Jessica Rabbit in the 1988 hit film Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This is untrue. These rumors have been around for years and many websites still say Jessica is based on Dougan.

However, Roger Rabbit producer Don Hahn has said Jessica Rabbit was modeled from Rita Hayworth in Gilda and Veronica Lake. While Jessica’s dress might resemble one of Dougan’s creations, he claims she was not the basis for the character.

Struggling actressess, models and burlesque dancers often found work posing for pin-up photos.

Diane Webber, Donna Mae Brown aka ‘Busty Brown’, Greta Thyssen, Marge Mellor, Elaine Stewart, Donna Lynn, Marie Devereux, Joan Rydell, Dorian Dennis, June Palmer, Diane Webber, Judy O’Day, Gloria Pall, Virginia Rogers, Shirley Levitt…

They might be names unfamiliar to most, but mid-twentieth century ‘pin-up connoisseurs’ know them well. They were just a handful of women who found a degree of fame in the pin-up world posing for photos and some even appearing in risqué films.

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Joan Bradshaw, 1957

One very striking photoshoot took place in 1957 on the streets of Hollywood of model and actress Joan Bradshaw taking her poodle Fifi for a walk.

The photos capture Bradshaw looking stunning in the bright California sunlight and captures the era, with the 1950s Hollywood buildings around her. The photos might not have necessarily been designed for a pin-up magazine, but I always thought they were glorious and beautiful.

Bradshaw’s showbiz career was short-lived. Much like a lot of the lesser known actress/models that have gone through the pin-up phase, their names and stories have mostly been forgotten, but some of the striking photos they did still remain.

An interesting thing for retro/vintage magazine collectors is the wealth of pin-up magazines that were being published around this time. I haven’t been able to find a full comprehensive list, but it seems like hundreds of mags were around whose sole purpose was to feature sexy pin-up girls.

Vintage-Pinup-magazines-1940s-1950s-1960sPicturegoer, Harem, Gala, Wink, The Vagabond, Man, Charm, Carnival, Adam, Flirt, Follies, Hit Show, Beauty Parade, Best For Men, Whisper, Cover Girl Models, Sir!, Parade, Eyeful, Girl Illustrated, Foto-rama, Pose!, Movie Pin-ups, Tab, Titter, and on and on and on. It’s pretty staggering the number of pin-up mags existed. Maxim, FHM, all those men’s magazines that would dominated the 1990s….they were nothing new!

Now, I’m not sure of the details of any of these rags or how long they were around for. I’m sure collectors know all the details of the timeline of their histories. My guess, is that they didn’t enjoy long runs or have wide readerships. That these type of pin-up magazines would just sprout up run for a few months, maybe a year, disappear, then another title would arise. But that’s just speculation.

But to me, this shadowy history these vintage pin-up magazines have is the allure to them and makes them pretty fascinating. They’re an interesting pin-up time capsule that seems to have come to rest in attics and garages.

Anita-Ekberg-pinup-Movieland-magazine-1950sThe popularity of Marilyn spawned the famous ‘Marilyn clones’. Other film studios wanted their own Marilyn Monroe, so they tried to make their own busty blonde bombshell. Sheree North, Barbara Lang, Barbara Nichols, Anita Ekberg, Mamie Van Doren and Diana Dors, who was dubbed ‘England’s Marilyn Monroe’.

They all tried to parlay their own success being in a sense ripped from the Marilyn cloth. And they all had varying degrees of success in their pin-up images.

Jayne Mansfield was probably the best known ‘Marilyn clone’. She was better known for her publicity stunts, such as wardrobe malfunctions in public and her personal life, than she any of the films she appeared in. She certainly got a lot of attention, being featured on countless magazine covers.

Aside from her many sexy photo poses she did, there was also a very odd Jayne Mansfield artifact from 1957 – ‘The Jayne Mansfield Shaped Hot Water Bottle’. What is it you ask? Well, it was a plastic bottle shaped like Mansfield. With hands behind her neck and wearing a bikini, it had a screw-on hat cap and measured about two-feet. Priced at just under $10, I’ve read about 400,000 of these Mansfield bottles were sold.

Jayne-Mansfield-shaped-hot-water-bottle-pool-pose-1957Now, I’m not exactly sure how you were meant to use them. The design certainly doesn’t look like it would be too easy to carry it along on a camping trip or use at the dinner table. And I can’t imagine it being to convenient to use lying in bed filled with hot water trying to warm yourself up on a cold winter’s night. But maybe some of Jayne’s fans used it for exactly that!

I suppose the Mansfield bottle was just a humorous gag type of gift. In a sense, they were almost like three-dimensional pin-up art! And it did give Jayne an opportunity to pose for some fun photos with her merchandise in a pool.

After Mansfield died in a 1967 auto accident the Mansfield bottle became something of a collectors item.

It’s also worth noting how famous pin-ups had become internationally known around this time. They weren’t just limited to the U.S., but ladies were bringing exotic looks from all around the world to the attention of men and pin-up fans. Ekberg (Swedish), Dors, June Wilkinson, Hazel Court, May Britt, Anne Heywood, June Wilkinson (Most photographed nude in America) and Joan Collins (English), Elke Sommer (German), Ursula Address (Swiss), Brigitte Bardot (French), Gina Lollobrigida, Sophia Loren and Claudia Cardinale (Italian), all gained a level of admirers and became crushes for men.

Pinup-Popular-1950s-1960s-European-Sommer-Andress-Ekberg-Bardot-Collins-Loren-Lollobrigida-Cardinale
Sommer, Andress, Ekberg, Bardot, Collins, Loren, Lollobrigida and Cardinale were some of the popular international pin-ups

RAQUEL AND HER CAVEGIRL BIKINI

As with decades past there were many beautiful women who gained fame and became popular pin-ups. Julie Newmar, Chris Noel, Sharon Tate, Ann-Margaret, Joey Heatherton, Barbara Eden, Jane Fonda, but one lady dominated the decade more than any other. There was one famous photograph that epitomized the 1960s pin-up. It was of course, Raquel Welch in her cave girl bikini from the film One Million Years B.C.

Now, I’ve written extensively about Raquel Welch and went into detail about her famous ‘Cavegirl poster’. You can read all about it at my look at Raquel’s – ‘Her Career, Being Difficult and Some Gossip’. If you’re a Raquel fan you should enjoy it!

The short version is that 26-year-old Raquel was cast in the 1966 prehistoric fantasy film. Her costume as the character of Loana, was bikini made of fur and hide. It was described as ‘mankind’s first bikini’.

While still in production, a publicity photo of Welch wearing the outfit was taken on set and released to help start promoting the upcoming film. Very quickly the photo of Raquel caused a worldwide sensation.

Raquel-Welch-popular-pinup-poster-One-Million-Years-BC-cavegirl-bikini-1966
Raquel Welch posing in her costume in One Million Years B.C. in 1966, – the photo would become iconic

By the time Raquel was finished shooting the film she was already being recognized. She said, “There was this [bikini] picture that came out that caused all the stir. I had been away shooting the film int eh Canary Islands, and it was very remote. By the time I got back, everybody seemed to know who I was. I couldn’t have been happier, really, or surprised. How was this possible?”

Raquel-Welch-popular-pinup-covergirl-magazine-cover-1960sBy the time the film was released, Raquel Welch was already a star. The image of her wearing that famed fur bikini became a best-selling poster and it would become an iconic photo from the 1960s and in pin-up history.

Hugh Hefner once tried to explain why the image of Raquel as a cave girl became so iconic – “I do think that there are certain images, both in film and stills, that have that kind of magic impact on us. It freezes a particular moment – a magic moment – that becomes part of our pop culture history and has a tremendous impact on us. It runs the gamut from Betty Grable’s pin-up to Raquel Welch’s Million Years B.C. poster.”

Welch would dominate the decade as ‘the 1960s sex symbol’. She would become one of the most well-known ‘beautiful women’ of all-time and she would appear on thousands of magazine covers throughout her career.

Welch would go onto a long career and work on other projects, but her wearing that fur bikini is the most indelible image she has been a part of. She would later say, “That was the crazy, wonderful silly, but still classic film that made me into Raquel Welch. And gave me the opportunity to make over 30 films I made in my career. It started me off.”

FARRAH CREATES THE IMAGE FOR THE 1970s

As the 1960s were ending and the 1970s began, posters were already a popular decoration choice before Farrah Fawcett came along. However, the majority of posters that covered bedroom walls were more hippie-related and anti-war slogans and images.

The ‘1970s Pin-Up Poster Craze’ began with a company called Pro Arts Inc., a poster distributor in Ohio. Run by brothers Ted and Mike Trikilis and their uncle. By 1976, Pro Arts was a modest success. They had begun in the late 1960s making new age, psychedelic and antiwar posters. They gradually moved onto making black-light posters and some celebrity posters. They had posters for Kojack, Baretta, The Bionic Woman, The Six Million Dollar Man and their most popular at the time was the Fonz from Happy Days.

They would find great success when the idea came of doing a poster of Farrah Fawcett. At the time, Fawcett wasn’t the star of Charlie’s Angels yet. She was more known as the girl in the Well Balsam Shampoo ads, the girl with Joe Namath in the popular 1973 Super Bowl Noxzema commercial, the Cougar car television commercials and the wife of Lee Majors.

Would anyone want to buy a poster of her???

The 1970s the sexual revolution and sexuality becoming looser was the perfect time for the pin-up

Farrah-Fawcett-Well-Balsam-shampoo-adTed Trikilis lived next door to a college student. One day his young neighbor told him, “If I was running your company, I would make a poster of Farrah Fawcett”, to which Tikilis replied, “Who’s Farrah Fawcett?”

The student explained he and fellow students thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world and since there wasn’t a poster of her, they’d clip shampoo ads from newspapers to hang on their walls.

Maybe some people would buy a poster of her…?

Pro Arts reached out to Fawcett’s agent, explained they wanted to create a poster of her. Fawcett’s agent immediate question was, “What will she be selling?”

After it was explained that she would be selling herself and if she would be interested. When told of the offer, Fawcett said she felt the poster idea was “cute”, but also because she wanted to be involved in the process. She said in 1977, “The reason I decided to do a poster was, well, if you don’t sign a deal to one, somebody does one anyway, and then you get nothing.”

By mid 1976 a deal was signed. Fawcett maintained control during the creation. She was unhappy with the first two photographers she worked with, so she suggested Bruce McBroom, whom she worked with previously.

Farrah-Fawcett-1976-pinup-poster-bathing-suitAt her Los Angeles house on Mulholland Drive on hot summer day the photoshoot took place. Rather than take the directions of Pro Arts wanting her to create a “sexy” image, she decided, “I’ll just do it the way I want.”

Fawcett later said about posing for the photo, “I guess the fact that it was a one-piece bathing suit, and I was happy – I wasn’t in a sexy pose like Brigitte Bardot. I mean, certainly it’s sexy because that’s my figure, and my nipples were showing. But that’s me.”

She selected her own one-piece swimsuits from her closet. Pro Arts had wanted her to wear a bikini, but Fawcett declined, preferring a one-piece to hide a scar on her stomach she got during childhood. After several suit changes, Fawcett went back to her closet a final time and changed into the form-fitting red swimsuit. It’s more like a burnt orange color really.

Farrah-Fawcett-poster-shoot-Bruce-McBroom-red-swimsuitFawcett also did her own makeup and styled her hair herself, squeezing lemon into it for highlights. Some pin-up aficionados claim you can spot the word ‘SEX’ subliminally weaved in Fawcett’s hair. And this long before Photoshop! It’s a pretty big stretch, but I suppose if you’re imaginative you can start to see anything. The striped blanket behind Fawcett was McBroom’s who used it as a seat cover in his car. He thought the stripes would match nicely with the color of her swimsuit.

It was said Fawcett’s agent hated the photos, so much that he did not want to pay McBloom for his work. It took some convincing, until he relented and agreed they’d continue with deal.

There were twenty-five photos from the shoot. Farrah had starred two of her favorites. After much deliberating and opinions around the office, Pro Arts settled with one of Farrah’s suggested photos.

We all know the image that Fawcett choose. Farrah with her stunning white teeth, tousled blonde hair and nipples clearly outlined  by the red swimwear.

Start the presses!

Farrah-Fawcett-1976-famous-iconic-pinup-poster
Farrah Fawcett posing for her poster photo in 1976, the image would become synonymous with the 1970s

Charlie’s Angels debuted in the fall of 1976, which fortunately for Pro Arts had the poster to coincide with its success. At a point you have to wonder did the poster help Charlie’s Angel’s or did the show help the poster, or did they just both benefit from the other?

When the poster hit stores, it ignited ‘The Farrah Phenomenon’. Farrah’s poster became a sensation. Sales went through the roof and demand for the poster was astronomical. The poster started to get national attention and catapulted Fawcett to becoming a one-name celebrity. Her superstardom can be attributed not only to starring in Charlie’s Angels, but her 1976 poster.

It would become an unexpected artifact that calls up an entire era.

Farrah Fawcett’s image made its way onto t-shirts. There were those iron-on t-shirts with images that everyone wore throughout the decade. If you wore the alluring photo of Farrah to school on your shirt, you were made to turn it inside out.

The number of baby girls named ‘Farrah’ spiked during the period. The ‘Farrah hair’ became the rage, as women wanted the style for themselves.

Farrah-Fawcett-poster-Saturday-Night-Fever-1977 fad crazeThe poster image made an appearance in the classic 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. In his bedroom Tony Manero is surrounded by popular poster images from the era. There’s Serpico, Bruce Lee and what do you know Farrah is featured! What better way to encapsulate the decade than having John Travolta dancing to the Bee Gees and Farrah adorning his bedroom – and his father soaking in the image.

“I remember that a lot of women used to come up and ask me to sign the poster for their husbands, their boyfriends and I thought, ‘I don’t know if I would do that.”

Trikilis became almost as popular as Fawcett. He was interviewed on talk shows and newspapers. The Washington Post wrote a 1979 story about him and the poster phenomenon calling him ‘King of The Posters’.

Farrah-Fawcett-Charlies-Angels-1976-skatboardThe most popular number I’ve seen listed as to how many Farrah posters sold is around 12 million copies. Although some articles say the number is closer to the five or seven million range. I guess they weren’t keeping track of poster sales as precise as they should have been back then.

Still, at $1.50-$3 a pop there’s no arguing her poster did extraordinary business. It became the best-selling poster of all time, a record that is unlikely ever to be challenged.

McBloom reflected on the popularity of the image, “Why it was so iconic I don’t know. If you think back, no one knew who Farrah Fawcett was. Charlie’s Angels didn’t out until six months later. But this poster came out and sold millions of copies….I think the reason it was such a success is that Farrah had such a fresh face. She was the girl next door. So if you were a teenager, you could bring this in the house and put it up in your room – as long as Mom didn’t look too closely.”

When Farrah landed the role of Jill Munroe on Charlie’s Angels she was paid $5,000 per episode for her one season run. In comparison, the royalties Fawcett received from her poster sales (around 40% of the sales) ended up earning her $400,000. Learning how much more money she made from that single poster, it’s no surprise that she was reluctant to sign up for another season of the show.

The designer of the swimsuit Norma Kamali immediately recognized it as one of hers when she first saw the poster. She was “horrified” at Fawcett’s decision to wear it, simply because she hated the design of it and couldn’t understand why Fawcett decided to wear that particular one.

Farrah-Fawcett-1970s-sex-symbol-icon-poster-Charlies-AngelsWhen the poster hit and everyone was scrambling to buy a ‘Farrah bathing suit’ they were out of luck. Kamali no longer made that same exact version. “What I did was I fixed it. There were things about it I really didn’t like, and I made it better and different.”

Kamali does appreciate being part of Farrah’s iconic image. “All I can say is her beauty and gorgeous smile would make anything look good. I was truly fortunate, and am honored to be a part of her legacy. So in my continued thank you’s to folks who helped give recognition to my work and therefore helped me feel inspired to carry on, I thank you Farrah!!”

Similar to Betty Grable, Fawcett died at a relatively young age. She was 62 when she died in 2009 after a long battle with cancer. As when Grable died, headlines of her death would mention the iconic poster she had done that represented an era.

In 2011, two years after Fawcett’s death, her swimsuit was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Alongside it is a copy of the poster, a Farrah Fawcett jigsaw puzzle and a script from Charlie’s Angels.

Farrah-Fawcett-icon-famous-1976-pinup-poster-red-bathing-suitMcBroom said in an interview about the popularity of the photo, “Why it was so iconic I don’t know. If you think back, no one knew who Farrah Fawcett was. Charlie’s Angels didn’t come out until six months later. But this poster came out and sold millions of copies….I think the reason it was such a success is that Farrah had such a fresh face. She was the girl next door. So if you were a teenager, you could bring this in the house and put it up in your room – as long as Mom didn’t look too closely.”

It’s interesting to see the other photos from that photoshoot that day and wonder, “If Farrah had chosen that photo for the poster, would it have been as big of a success?”

With the monumental success of the Farrah poster, it opened up the floodgates for others to try to replicate the success. Including, Farrah herself, who would go on to pose for more pin-up posters. Not surprisingly, none would reach the iconic status of the original.

THE PIN-UP POSTER CRAZE BEGINS

Because of the popularity of Farrah’s poster, it interested other celebrities to do their own poster. Pro Arts signed deals with Lynda Carter, Cheryl Tiegs and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. All three became extremely popular, selling millions of copies.

Lynda-Carter-Cheryl-Tiegs-Dallas-Cowboy-Cheerleaders-Pro-Arts-poster-popular-pinup
Lynda Carter, Cheryl Tiegs and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders would each have their own best-selling posters

Lynda Carter’s ‘belly button’ poster was Pro Arts best selling poster of 1978 and also graced the back cover of her first solo album. While even non-sports fans bought up the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders poster. The exposure made them the most popular sexiest part of football.

The ‘Poster Craze’ was in full force. Kids would go to their local K-Mart or Wooworths, or later go to the mall and hit Spencer Gifts and flip through the poster rack for the newest additions and make your choice. One could redecorate their surroundings with great ease. Just tear down the poster you were tired of down, and pin up your newest love. Who would be the lucky lady to be hung in your bedroom and you’d have visions of her swirling around in your head?

Along with a sexy pose, pin-up posters often included the woman’s signature imprinted somewhere on the image. Maybe that was meant to give them an air of authenticity and personalization for the teen who was staring at the poster in his bedroom.

At this point, Pro Arts Inc. wasn’t the only poster company trying to get in on the pin-up poster fad. There were other poster companies with designs of riding this ‘pin-up windfall. Companies like Western Graphics, Dargis, Starmakers, Funky, One Stop Posters, would all join in on the poster craze at some point and it wasn’t too difficult to find beautiful personalities to do their own posing.

vintage-pinup-posters-1970s-Loni-Anderson-Bo-Derek-Angie-Dickinson-Suzanne-Sommers-Cheryl-Ladd
Loni Anderson, Bo Derek, Angie Dickinson, Adrienne Barbeau, Suzanne Sommers & Cheryl Ladd made their way to millions of bedroom walls

Catherine Bach, Bo Derek, Morgan Fairchild, Loni Anderson, Lola Falana, Susan Anton, Adrienne Barbeau, Erin Moran, Suzanne Somers, Lindsay Wagner, Angie Dickinson, Ann-Margret, Karen Black, Linda Ronstadt, Stephanie Kramer, Kristy McNichol, Margaux Hemingway, Caren Kaye, Olivia Newton-John, Diana Markoff, Raquel Welch returned with a new poster and Farrah’s Charlie Angels co-stars, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd would all go on to do their own pin-up posters.

On March 1, 1978, Cheryl Ladd was a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and the subject  of her pin-up poster came up.

“When are you coming out with your poster, that’s a big thing now?, Carson asked. Ladd replied that her poster has come out. She described it saying, “I’m in a black top and red running shorts. Wind blown, very healthy all-American, Coca-Cola, not too much….no skin.” Before she left Carson asked her to send him a poster.

I have found some of the women talking about their pin-up posters and being a sex symbol, but really not that many in comparison to how many pin-up posters were being sold during this time. You would think every woman who had their own pin-up poster during this era would have some reflection of having their own poster, being a crush for teens and having their image displayed in bedrooms all around the country, but I couldn’t find many comments about it.

I suppose for most of the women who posed for their own personal poster during this period, it wasn’t a major career highlight for many of them. It was simply part of their career and a project to gain some income and get some exposure – so to speak.

But I did find a few actresses who reflected back on their pin-up poster, being part of the ‘poster craze’ and how theirs came to be.

Lynda-Carter-pinup-poster-1978-photoshoot-bellybutton
A photo from Carter’s famous poster shoot

Lynda Carter has talked about her memorable pin-up poster, and doesn’t look back on it too fondly. Her then-husband, who was also her manager, suggested she do a poster.

She said, “It’s uncomfortable because I just simply took a photograph. That’s all my participation was in my poster that sold over a million copies, was that I took a photograph that I thought was a dumb photograph. My husband said, ‘Oh, try this thing tied up here, it’ll look beautiful.’ And the photographer said, ‘the back-lighting is really terrific.’ So dealing with someone having that picture up in their…bedroom or their….living room or whatever I think would be hard for anyone to deal with.”

Adrienne Barbeau, who co-starred in the hit 1970s television series Maude and would later go onto to become a popular B-actress in horror and cult films, has said her husband at the time John Carpenter suggested she do a her pin-up poster. Much like Carter, we have to thank her husband for getting her pin-up poster. I wonder what percentage of pin-up posters were due to husbands telling their wives to pose for it.

Barbeau posing in a purple corset became quite a popular poster at the time.

“I attribute the success of it to the photographer, a fell named David Alexander. he shot the James Taylor album where he’s curled up in a box. And he shot a Linda Ronstadt cover. And when I walked into his studio he handed me the bustier and said, ‘Let’s try this’. And I loved it.”

Adrienne-Barbeau-1978-pinup-poster
Barbeau posing with her pin-up poster, 1978

Barbeau would use the poster image as the cover for her 2006 memoir, where she talked more about her 1978 poster. “…and I found that that poster nearly outsold the Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Ladd, Suzanne Somers and Cheryl Tiegs posters of the day. I wanted to show America a new image of myself. I wanted to say that I am not the girl next door, that I am me. It was the seventies…I had been on Maude for five seasons, and I wanted to capitalize on my sensuality. I had great fun with that poster, and it became one of the best-selling posters right behind those women. You know, I did attempt to follow that poster with another idea. I posed, kind of like a sexy All-American girl, just wearing a Rocky t-shirt. But I did not like the background, so it did not happen after all. I guess that one successful poster was bound to be the big hit that it was for many reasons.”

Susan Anton was a former Miss California. She would go onto appear in a series of commercials for Muriel Cigar. She became a popular television fixture on television. Guest-starring on television shows, talk shows, game shows, singing on variety shows, and went on to star in the 1979 film Goldengirl. In 1981 the 5’11 Anton began dating the 5’2 Dudley Moore. The odd match generated a lot of media attention. 

Anton also gained pin-up status appearing in a few best-selling posters during the period. 

Susan-Anton-Pinup-poster-dated-Dudley-Moore-“Show business wasn’t exactly what I aspired to pursue when I was little. But I’ve managed to find myself in fortunate situations. And I think it was the right time. This was when you had girls like Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Tiegs and Lynda Carter making their marks.”

Anton would often be compared to Fawcett. “We both had big smiles and big hair. But I was always so grateful for Farrah’s success. I met her briefly and I wished I had the chance to get to know her. She helped pace the way for the new blonde bombshell. At that time, the blonde sex goddess was not in favor as it once was, but she made it happen again in a big way.”

Catherine Bach was getting tons of attention playing Daisy Duke on the hit show The Dukes of Hazzard. Well, of course the studio thought she needed a poster, so they scheduled a photoshoot. As Bach recalled, they wanted her to look a certain way, telling her “we want you to put on a bikini, oil your body, [and] slick your hair back. And can you paint your nails burgundy? They wanted me to look like every other girl.”

Catherine-Bach-Daisy-Duke-1979-pinup-poster-Dukes-of-Hazzard“I felt like audiences wanted something else. They wanted an all-American country girl.”

Bach thought the whole idea was “disgusting” and what they wanted resembled nothing of the actual character she was playing. So, she told them she was going to do her own thing. T

“[The producers] said, ‘If you’re not going it our way, we’re not paying for it. I said, ‘No problem, I’ll do it.’  So I took those shorts, a little red and white top I made….I did my own makeup and got some daisies…A friend of mine shot that poster from start to finish, in an hour.”

Bach’s self-made poster sold over 5 million copies. And because it was so popular, it led to a $1 million insurance policy on her legs. Again, this extravagant insurance policy for a set of legs stunt, just like Grable had. I guess doing it is a surefire way to get some publicity and get people talking about a stars gams. I had heard Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart had done a similar insuring her legs for a $1 million as well.

“I didn’t look at it as being a pin-up. On a personal level, my husband at the time didn’t like me working. So I was going through this hard time emotionally trying to be independent and assertive.”

Loni-Anderson-sexy-bikini-pinup-poster-1978Loni Anderson became one of television’s most loved blonde bombshells thanks to her role on WKRP In Cincinnati. She posed for several posters during her reign as a 70’s sex symbol. It’s been said she caught the attention for the role of receptionist Jennifer Marlowe after producers saw her red bathing suit pin-up poster.

“Everybody asks me, ‘What made you do a poster?’ I would say, ‘Because someday my grandchildren will look at this. And I’ll be able to tell them that I really looked like that. What you saw is what you got.”

In 1983, Anderson spoke of being viewed as a sex symbol, “Sex symbol to me, well, I can’t even fathom it. It’s just larger than life. It’s something I don’t think of myself as. That’s a big thing for somebody to put on your and to think that about yourself, well, you wouldn’t be a real person anymore.”

Now sure, during the ‘Poster Craze’ there weren’t just sensual photos of women adorning posters. You could find pictures of King Kong, Kiss, Bruce Lee, Reggie Jackson. And even some popular male stars had their own posters. So teen girls could pin-up John Travolta, Andy Gibb, Scott Baio, Shaun Cassidy, Parker Stevenson or Dirk Benedict.

Pinup-Girl-Posters-1970s-1980s-retro-vintage
A sampling of just some of the pin-up posters that were around during the 1970s and 80s and were hanging in teens bedrooms. Which one did you have?

But the real meat and potatoes of pin-up posters from the era were unquestionably dominated by sexy images or women printed on paper, rolled up and once opened found their way to the wall of a male adolescents bedroom.

There were also random pop iconic image posters from the 1970s that didn’t feature a particular celebrity. There were countless sexy images of ‘women parts’ on display, many times accompanied by some cutesy phrase, that became very popular and would adorn the walls of college dorms.

The-Tennis-Girl-poster-1977-sexy-famousOne could say, some were more tasteful than others. The 1980’s seemed to narrow down the sexy woman pin-up poster image to science. Incorporate sports, beer or cars into the image, along with a short humorous phrase and you’d have a top seller on your hand.

The ‘Tennis Girl’ poster, an image of an anonymous female tennis player not wearing any underwear, became extremely popular in 1977. The British image started as part of a tennis calendar, then made its way to attaining single ‘poster status’. It sold over two million copies Even today, some online outlets sell it to nostalgic poster and tennis fans.

Ironically, despite all the popularity of pin-up posters during the period and the big business it was, all these wall papers were inherently disposable. Like their earlier counterparts, the posters were meant to be pinned or taped to walls. Not many people were framing the beloved image they bought. When the time came, they would just be torn down and disposed of. Probably making room for a newer pin-up to take its place.

THE 1980s – PERSONALITY POSTERS BECOME THE NORM & THE RISE OF SUPER MODELS

In the 1980s pin-up posters didn’t slow up. In fact, they accelerated!

What was once thought to be a novelty for a career, having your own pin-up poster became another another aspect to it.  It became an indisputable trend. Attractive women, whether they were actresses, models, singers, fitness personalities, anyone that had the looks jumped on the poster train and made their way to poster racks, then to bedroom walls.

Like the 1970s, television created many stars during the decade or simply being a good looking performer on the tube could end up getting them a pin-up poster of their own!

Primetime soap operas, not only scored big ratings, but also introduced attractive women to the pin-up world. Viewers of Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing and Falcon Crest, would become smitten for Charlene Tilton, Shalane McCall, Morgan Brittany, Lisa Marie Presley, Lisa Hartman, Morgan Fairchild, Ana Alicia, Michelle Lee, Donna Mills, Joan Van Ark, Linda Evans, Mandy Winger.

Joan-Collins-sexy-pinup-poster-1980s-lingerie-stockings-DynastyJoan Collins would return to popular sex symbol status thanks to her showy role as the unforgettable bitchy, duplicitous Alexis Carrington Colby in Dynasty.

Collins was 50-years-old when she was cast in the nighttime soap and her character gained much of the attention in the popular show. Audiences loved her and like earlier in her career, Collins became a beloved sexy pin-up girl. Now more mature and dressed in expensive jewelry and more classy clothing, Collins got a career boost.

The most notable pin-up that grew from her appearance on a primetime soap opera was undoubtably be Heather Locklear. She came to attention with her role on Dynasty and starring in the cop show T.J. Hooker. Locklear would become a popular crush through much the 1980s.

A quick search through images of Locklear through the 1980s will result in endless images of her in all manner of dress. Bikinis, aerobic attire, gowns, blue jeans. There was no shortage of photos of Locklear to choose from when it came to choosing a pin-up image for your locker or bedroom wall.

Heather-Locklear-1980s-popular-pinup-sexy-bikini-Pin-up posters were popping up all over the place. Phoebe Cates, Teri Copley, Tanya Roberts, Vanity, Devin DeVasquez, Apollonia, Brigette Nielsen, Audrey and Judy Landers aka the Landers sisters Jill Goodacre, Lydia Cornell, Samantha Fox, The Barbie Twins, Sybil Danning.

Having your own pin-up poster was the rage. It almost seemed like a given for any attractive woman in show business to promote themselves with their own pin-up. It almost became like a business card in a sense.

Victoria-Principal-1980-sexy-exercise-pinup-poseOne very popular and crushed on woman during the 1980s was Victoria Principal. Thanks to her role on Dallas, she sent many hearts a’blazing. However, Principal was one of the few women during the decade did not pose for her own pin-up poster.

There were plenty of sexy photos of her in magazines and she wasn’t shy of posing in bathing suits and exercise outfits, but she didn’t have an official 20×28 rolled piece of eye candy for her fans to buy at the mall.

Having your own personal pin-up poster was such the norm at this point, Principal was even asked about its absence on an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Why hasn’t she done a pin-up poster? Principal explained, she felt it had gotten to be an old trend and she would’ve done it at the start of the fad. At the time, it just seemed to be well covered ground she’d be joining in.

Whether she had or didn’t have an official pin-up to hang on your wall or not, Principal was one of the favorite sexy women during the 1980s. Principal was not only acting, but gradually she expanded into fitness videos and books, and then creating her own extremely lucrative skincare line of cosmetic products. Male fans remember still remember her dazzling looks making them weak kneed during the 1980s.

Another extremely popular pin-up girl, who unlike Principal didn’t shy away from the poster business, and still is well remembered and immortalized on posters was Heather Thomas.

Thomas already got some attention in her film debut as the blonde bombshell in the 1982 teen/sex comedy Zapped! starring Scott Baio and Willie Aames. The use of a body double for Thomas’ nude scenes in the film resulted in controversy and angering Thomas. I won’t go into that here, if you’d like to learn more about it you can check out in my review of Zapped!

Needless to say, it was clear fans were smitten by Thomas and thought she was quite a captivating lady. She would soon have a bigger role and gain even more fans when in 1985 she was cast as Jody, the sexy stuntwoman in the ABC television show The Fall Guy.

Heather-Thomas-1980s-sexy-pinup-poster-collection-The-Fall-Guy
Heather Thomas and her selection of pin-up posters from the 1980s

Thomas had quite a few pin-up posters come out during the 1980s. She was a very, very popular pin-up! It’s pretty good odds if you were around during the ’80s and were hanging pin-up posters on your wall, you had at least one of the poster featuring Heather Thomas.

Exercise and fitness became a trend during the 1980s. Everyone was popping in exercise videotapes, joining gyms and trying to lose pounds and get themselves into shape.

Fitness had a whole slew of spokespeople, each promoting their own exercise programs and routines. The VHS boom coincided with this and caused an avalanche of fitness videotapes. From best-selling to low rent and obscure, the VHS exercise tapes filled racks through the decade.

To this day you can walk through garage sales, swap shops and antique stores and I’d say it’s pretty good odds you’ll find a random, old 1980s VHS exercise tapes gathering dust

Kathy-Smith-1984-popular-pinup-poster-fitness-exerciseThe point I’m getting at is some of the more attractive fitness personalities were gaining exposure and fans and they themselves ventured into becoming genuine pin-ups with their own posters.

Fitness and beauty were coming together creating some memorable and popular pin-up posters. Dorit Stevens, Rachel McLish and probably most famous of all Kathy Smith, who came out with several.

Smith’s particular ‘Believe in yourself’ poster became very popular. It seemed like it sold just as well as any television personality. Seeing her grip dumbbells, wearing a tight workout outfit, exercise belt with her long blonde hair, gave you motivation to get off your duff and exercise, while also keeping you mesmerized by her beauty. It was a win-win!

The 1980s became the decade of the ‘Super Model’. Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue was as popular as ever and had actually become a newsworthy event. Yes, new networks would do segments on its release!

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue began back in 1964. With little sports to cover in the winter months, Sports Illustrated came up with the idea of devoting space to photo spreads of models in bathing suits. Over time its Swimsuit Issue became the most popular and profitable issue of the magazine every year.

Sports-Illustrated-Swimsuit-Cover-1983-Cheryl-TiegsWIth the success of course Sports Illustrated expanded its ‘Swimsuit’ content. An annual calendar was done, television documentaries, video tapes TV specials, trading cards, screen savers. The Swimsuit Issue became a market on its own.

The annual issue would get a massive amount of attention. With both excitement and controversy, the Swimsuit Issue would be the best-selling issue every year and become a talking point amongst pin-up fans. The question of who would score the coveted cover became a status symbol and it would make the models stars worldwide.

That’s where the title of being a ‘Super Model’ would come in. The term had been around for decades, but it was during this time when an assembly of women would become known as ‘Super Models’. They were like an elite group of goddesses that became known on a first name basis.

I suppose being a Super Model, simply meant you were extremely identifiable. Super Models weren’t just limited to posing for a few photos in a magazine and walking the catwalk, they became genuine recognized brand names.

Models were now being the spokeswomen for cosmetic lines, endorsing products with their names on it, appearing in roles in movies, television, music videos.

Sports-Illustrated-Super-Model-Tiegs-Brinkley-Klum-Alt-Banks-Hunter-Porizkova-Pestova-IrelandWith all the attention in the media, Super Models quickly became a popular category in pin-up poster racks. Christie Brinkley, Carol Alt, Paulina Porizkova, they became the 1980s Super Models and would all have their own pin-up posters.

Later would come Cindy Crawford, Kathy Ireland, Heidi Klum, Elle Macpherson, Stephanie Seymour, Rachel Hunter, Tyra Banks, Claudia Schiffer, Christy Turlington, Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, Caprice, Linda Evangelista, Frederique. Even if they didn’t have their own personal pin-up poster for sale, there were enough glorious photos of them in magazines fans could pin up them up to walls without any problem.

Haulin-Ass-Sexy-Pinup-Poster-retro-vintage-1980s-I should also mention, there were also a glut of just plain ‘sexy’ pin-up posters, that didn’t necessarily feature a personality or known woman, but just female body parts on display with cutesy captions.

One notable ‘sexy poster’ is the ‘Haulin’ Ass’ poster from 1985. It gained a lot of attention and sold a lot of copies.

One odd inclusion on the bottom of that particular poster, alongside the company and photographer information that was typically included on pin-up posters, there was the text reading “FOR A FRONT VIEW OF THE GIRLS SEND $6.00 TO….”

I’m not sure if anyone took them up on the offer or what exactly they received for their six bucks. I am rather curious,

THE 1990s, MEN’s MAGS, POPULAR PLAYMATES & BAYWATCH

The 1990s would really be the last era where poster girls would physically be “pinned up”. The digital revolution was getting near and this decade would be one of the last gasps of printed girls on paper. 

That direction of unidentified women on posters seemed to grow into the 1990s. The category of ‘Man Cave’ mentality took root and the pin-up posters didn’t necessarily have to be of a ‘personality’. It could just be a random girl holding a bottle of beer to make its way to a dorm wall.

The clichéd additions of beer, cars and sports found more prominence and women on display could be more anonymous and unseen (other than their body parts which were always the focal point). It wasn’t about an individual woman posing like earlier pin-ups, but more general sex, beer and silly captions.

Looking through vintage pin-up posters during the 1990s you’ll see what I mean.

This isn’t to say there were stand outs in the 1990s who could be said were on the more popular end. Oh, there were plenty! Like generations before, the male gaze zeroed in on specific women who would be come pin-up favorites and rule the decade.

Jennifer-Aniston-1990s-pinup-sexy-topless-photo-Rachel-hairstyleIn the 1990s, television was still making plenty of pin-up stars. Like the 1970s and 80’s, hit shows with an attractive woman in the cast raised attention and generated famous pin-ups of the decade.

Jennifer Aniston was one of television’s biggest stars of the 1990s thanks to her starring role in Friends. She won a huge male fanbase and would typically rank high on the ‘hottest women of the 1990s’ lists with her distinctive hair style that became known as ‘The Rachel’.

Aniston’s hairstyle became the most distinctive and popular hairstyle since Fawcett’s shag look in the 1970’s.

Now however, there were more than just three television networks. CBS, NBC and ABC were now joined by the CW and FOX. Thanks to the young demographics these two new networks were trying to win, hit shows featured pretty actresses that would win the hearts of fans.

Jennifer Love Hewitt, Alyssa Milano, Jessica Alba, Sarah Michelle Geller, Charisma Carpenter,  Katie Holmes, Christina Applegate, all got early exposure thanks to shows on CW and FOX. They would go on to become beloved pin-ups for a young generation.

There were a lot of lovely ladies adorning the walls of men in the 1990s. Mariah Carey and Shania Twain were two of the most popular – and ‘hottest’ singers – and gained fans for their looks along with their music. By the end of 90s, Britney Spears became one of the most crushed on singers of the 90s generation. The movies were filled with dreamy women – Denise Richards, Monica Belluci, Salma Hayek, Penelope Cruz, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Shannon Elizabeth.

Shania-Twain-sexy-pinup-country-singer-1990s
Shania Twain not only lit up the music charts, but also set hearts a’beating

Some of the most popular pin-ups of the decade came from the pages of Playboy. After having prestigiously being awarded ‘The Playmate of The Month’, it would be the catalyst to jumpstarting a showbiz careers. Models would move onto acting roles, hosting duties or just blown popular personalities.

Anna-Nicole-Smith-VictoriaJenny McCarthy, Anna Nicole Smith and Victoria Silvstedt all landed Playmate of the Month titles in the ’90s. McCarthy would move onto acting roles and hosting duties. Silvstedt would become the Guess?  spokesmodel, model internationally, branch into acting and also become a host personality.

While Smith, with her buxom Jayne Mansfield-like physique would become a popular Guess model (preceding Silvstedt and Claudia Schiffer) in a series of ads and be a spokesmodel for other companies. Her personal life would eclipse her professional and she’d become more of ‘personality’, even starring in her own reality show years later.

Both McCarthy and Smith would continue an association with Playboy throughout the years, appearing multiple times in the magazine. It wasn’t just a ‘one and done’ photoshoot for them. Both would become two of the more popular pin-ups of the decade.

Yet, if we had to be pressed to award the title of ‘The Pin-Up of the ’90s’, it would probably have to goto Pamela Anderson.

Pamela-Anderson-vintage-pinup-poster-cowgirl-1994Anderson’s career climb is somewhat interesting, and ironically started with appearing in a pin-up poster.

In 1989 Anderson attended a Football game in Vancouver, Canada. Sitting in the crowd wearing a Labatt’s Beer T-shirt, the stadium camera randomly panned to her, she appeared on the Jumbotron and the crowd went crazy.

Seeing the loud and positive reception the unknown Anderson received from her brief appearance, Labatt’s hired her as a spokesmodel. Her then boyfriend came up with the idea of making a calendar of his girlfriend and her ‘Blue Zone Girl’ pin-up became a hit.

Anderson, like McCarthy and Smith, then appeared in Playboy photoshoot. From there she landed a role on Home Improvement as the ‘Tool Time Girl’, which led her being cast on Baywatch playing the buxom lifeguard C.J. Parker. The rest is history.

Baywatch was a syndicated television show that played worldwide. With its subpar acting, ludicrous plots and low-cut bathing suits, it managed to become a sensation during the 1990s. At its peak it was drawing millions of viewers every week. It holds the honor of being “the most watched TV show in the world”.

I don’t think it won any Emmys during its run.

Baywatch-Babes-sexy-actress-hot-popular
A collection of the ‘Baywatch Babes’ that starred in the series during its run

Baywatch was essentially an updated ’90s version of 1970s ‘Jiggle TV’. Along with star David Hasselhoff rescuing swimmers, Baywatch introduced a bevy of sexy women to audiences. Aside from Anderson, during its run Baywatch featured Carmen Electra, Yasmine Bleeth, Nicole Eggert, Traci Bingham, Gena Lee Nolin, Erika Eleniak, Donna D’Errico, Brooke Burns, Krista Allen, Nancy Valens, Kelly Packard….there were a lot of lovely ladies on the Baywatch beach.

Sure it wasn’t Shakespeare, but Baywatch not only packed in viewers with its sensuous army of lifeguards in their signature red bathing suits, but it was also a ‘pin-up factory’. Each ‘Baywatch Babe’ gained fans and to varying degrees used their Baywatch status as a launchpad. Some of the women were more successful than others. Electra was probably the most popular out of this crop of Baywatch Babes.

More than Electra and any of her Baywatch co-stars, Anderson was ‘the IT Girl’ throughout the 1990s. Not only posing for Playboy (who she did multiple times, including being in the last nude issue of the magazine), she had her own pin-up posters, countless photo shoots for magazines, not to mention her weekly running in slow-motion on Baywatch made her an international star.

Pamela-Anderson-pinup-sexy-Baywatch-1990sShe would go onto to star in the feature film Barb Wire in 1996. Famously, a sex tape of her and then husband rocker Tommy Lee was stolen from their home and released. It was certainly not the kind of exposure Anderson welcomed. The scandalous story was told in the 2022 Hulu series Pam and Tommy.

The odds are pretty good that teens and young 20-somethings and probably every healthy red-blooded heterosexual man during the 1990s had a pin-up of Anderson hanging around somewhere.

Playboy and Penthouse were still popular, but more mainstream ‘Men’s Magazines’ were hitting the racks during this time, notably, Maxim and FHM. Loaded, Stuff, Nuts and Zoo would join this men’s mag trend. The big draw to these mags were the sexy photos of actresses that every issue contained. Rather than having the stigma of posing nude in Playboy, now women could do sexy pictorials and stayed clothed – or at lease semi-clothed.

It was an eagerly anticipated game for readers to see which sexy woman would grace the cover in a provocative pose and have a new spicy layout inside.

The latest actress gracing the cover of these magazines were the main draw and seemingly almost every beautiful actress, model, celebrity or personality during this time took to their pages and posed in bras, bikinis or some sort of sexy getup.

FHM-Magazine-Sexiest-Women-List-Hatcher-McCarthy-Lopez-Berry-Spears-Alba-Brook-Robbie
Some of the ladies who managed to win the top spot of FHM’s ‘Sexiest Woman of the Year’ – Teri Hatcher, Jenny McCarthy, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Jessica Alba, Kelly Brook, Margot Robbie

FHM was originally a UK mag, but expanded with worldwide additions. It became known for its annual feature, ‘The 100 Sexiest Women In The World’. It was simply a list of beautiful ladies with accompanying photos. It wasn’t the most complex news item, but it kept male readers happy. Some women who scored the coveted top spot – Claudia Schiffer, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Britney Spears, Kelly Brook, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox, Margot Robbie and Gal Gadot.

Vida-Guerra-popular-pinup-model-2000s-FHM-magazineFHM featured a lot of models through its run. One lady became a standout amongst the FHM ladies and stood amongst the pack – Vida Guerra. Making her debut in the magazine in 2002, Guerra grabbed the spotlight for readers who demanded to see more and more of her. She would return to the pages of FHM multiple times and soon became an indemand model appearing in other publications.

Like most of the old-fashioned paper periodicals, Men’s magazines would be faced with declining sales and readers. Many of these magazines that had a successful run in the 1990s were nearing extinction in the new century. It’s kind of a similar lifespan as to all those ‘peek-a-boo’ pin-up magazines that dotted around in the 1950s and 60s. They had they’re time, played a role in pin-up history and gradually faded away becoming relics of a bygone era.

Maxim and FHM have tried grasping for relevancy. Both went all digital and have gone through overhauls trying to expand its contents and be a bit more classy other than being a place to look at the popular pin-up of the month, articles about beer and bad jokes.

THE 2000s, DOWNLOADING & ‘PAGE 3 GIRLS’

Valery-Barykin-art-pin-up-modern-day-retro
Artwork by Valery Baykin

The new millennium arrived and marked a major change….for pretty much everything! We reach the birth of the internet!

Physical paper was no longer fashionable. Paper was more likely to go into a recycling bin than something you hang up on your wall. It was sort of the anithesis of what makes a ‘pin-up’ a ‘pin-up’. How exactly are you supposed to use a pin on a jpeg? The evolution of the pin-up was about to take a major leap.

Classic pin-up poster would still be a thing. I don’t think they’ll ever completely go away. However more attention would get drawn to digital images. Pin-up fans wouldn’t have to flip through a magazine to google at their favorite lady. Now, they’d use Google to find images of them on their computers.

I suppose the best place to start with the 2000s pin-up and the one the woman who is most identified with this new internet era is Cindy Margolis and was credited as being “the most downloaded woman on the internet”.

Cindy-Margolis-1996-Napa-CalendarIf you told someone ten years earlier that you were ‘the most downloaded woman on the internet’, they’d probably would look at you with quite the confused stare.

Margolis began modeling career in the more traditional, less technological way.

It began when she taking a college business course. She took her idea of making a line of greeting cards. She designed them, posed as the sexy model on the cards and soon interest and curiosity brewed over who was this lovely lady. She got the attention of agents asking about her and offering her modeling work.

She modeled in ads, calendars (She was featured in a 1986 Makita Power tools calendar – Ridgid wasn’t the only the company doing tool calendars), landed a part as Fembot in the comedy Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,  got a gig as being one of the famed models known as ‘Barker’s Beauties’ on the hit game show The Price Is Right.

Cindy-Margolis-number-one-famous-pinup-1990s-2000sIn the 1990s she started releasing posters featuring herself looking lovely and sexy. Her poster sales were certainly popular and she began becoming more recognizable and becoming a pin-up personality.

Now, I haven’t been able to find the exact number, but have read Margolis appeared on between 70 to 100 pin-up posters! That is a lot of rolled up paper! Her posters were certainly successful and she began making a name for herself, it was said she outsold many classic pin-ups in history.

Now, I’m not sure of all these pin-up stats that surround Margolis. They seem a bit questionable to me. Even having the title of ‘Most Downloaded Woman Ever’ could be hard to define (as we’ll see in a minute). But they are eye-catching branding to use, which Margolis did. Her posters were emblazoned with a logo that read “America’s No. 1 pin-up.”

Cindy-Margolis-pinup-poster-sexy-bikini-most-downloaded-womanMargolis said about her ‘Number 1 Pin-up status, “It is true that I have outsold Farrah Fawcett and Marilyn Monroe posters, but I always like to preface [that] by saying, ‘Sure, I’m America’s Number One Pin-up, but I’ve had 100 posters and they each had their one great all-time poster’. So if you do the math, yes I did outsell them, but they definitely go down in history their one poster. I don’t want to [downplay their achievements] for a minute. They’re my idols. I just did documentary for the BBC and they documented all the great pin-ups of the millennium and just to be in the same company as Betty Page, Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Farrah Fawcett, and all those, was an honor of course.”

The entertainment show Extra! did a segment on Margolis and featured a link to one of these new things called a ‘website’, where visitors could see her posters. The reaction was enormous, with the site got tremendous amount of traffic of people downloading her pictures. I’ve read the stats of people downloading her pictures at least every 10 seconds for 24-hours straight.

The next day Margolis started her own website. Featuring plenty of posters, pictures and Margolis wares at computer users fingertips. Again, a whole lot of visitors came to the site. Which led to in 2000, Cindy was recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records awarded Cindy the title of “The Most Downloaded Woman Ever”

Cindy-Margolis-Pin-up-Most-Downloaded-2000sBut things weren’t without controversy and there was a fight for that coveted title.

Exotic dancer turned online nude model Danni Ashe, argued that she was the legitimate holder of that title, claiming she easily had more downloads of her images than Margolis. She said at the time, “I’ve known for a very long time that I was being downloaded more than Cindy Margolis. I got fed up, and I finally had time to pursue it.”

This began a more detailed examination of the distinctions between the two women’s websites. Ashe’s was more adult themed content, with more explicit images and her posing nude, Margolis was always covered in bathing suits and bikinis. There was also the distinctive difference that Ashe’s website was a ‘pay site’, while Margolis’ was free of charge.

Cindy-Margolis-Danni-Ashe-Most-Downloaded-Woman-Pinup-Internet-2000s
Margolis vs Ashe

According to Guinness, Ashe had more than 240 million downloads in 1999, while Margolis’ recorded 53 million downloads, based only on downloads through America Online.

The back and forth continued for some time, until in late 2000 Guinness decided to split the ‘Most Downloaded Woman’ into two categories – one for free sites and one for pay sites.

This compromise didn’t suit Ashe who said, “No matter how you look at it, no matter how many lame arguments Cindy wants to make, my numbers are bigger and she’ll just have to get used to it.”

Margolis’ reign as being the internet Queen would soon dwindle as the web expanded and more and more content, including pornography took root. “There’s so many celebrities now on the Internet and I feel that I was such a pioneer. Now everybody, your dog can have a website.”

Pin-ups didn’t go completely to cyberspace just yet. There were still the old conventional paper pin-ups still being popular. Maybe not in large numbers like there used to be, but they were around. In England there remained the popular tradition of ‘Page 3 Girls’ in tabloid newspapers.

The Sun introduced the feature in 1970. The idea was very simple – publish a topless picture of a model on page three of the newspaper. It wasn’t a very complicated idea.

After the introduction of the ‘Page 3 Girl’, sales for The Sun doubled. It also led to a whole lot of controversy and anti-pornography protests, which helped raised the profile of The Sun at the same time. With sales doing so well with a topless Page Three Lady, The Sun wasn’t about to drop her.

Seeing how a photo of a nude woman sold newspapers, it led to competing tabloids like the Daily Mirror, the Sunday People, and the Daily Star to start doing their own ‘Page 3 Girls’ in their publications.

Thanks to their daily exposure (so to speak), many of the Page 3 Girls enjoyed a certain amount of celebrity, obviously mainly in the UK, but some branched out to worldwide attention using their ‘Page 3’ fame as a stepping stone in their careers. Katie Price, Helen Flanagan, Kelly Brook, Geti Halliwell, Samantha Fox and Lucy Pinder who was voted as “Having the best breasts in the world”.

Samantha-Fox-Kelly-Brook-Lucy-Pinder-Page-3-Girls-topless-tradition-newspaper
Former ‘Page 3 Girls’ – Samantha Fox, Kelly Brook & Lucy Pinder

After decades of being a custom for decades of seeing a topless lady in your morning paper, the Page Three Girls finally met their end in 2013. The ‘No More Page 3’ campaign pressured the newspapers to end the topless feature. After 44 years, the glamorous Page 3 Girls would be clothed in bathing suits or underwear.

2010s, NOSTALGIA, ROCKABILITY & THE FUTURE OF THE PIN-UP

There have been a lot of places where pin-ups could be found in years past that have been extinguished. Posters, magazines, newspapers. Yes, sure there are a few holdouts and rare examples, but the reach of what was once the popular homes for pin-ups to inhabit, dating back to the early part of the 20th century, have become essentially extinct.

The content audiences have been offered has become fragmented. The world is consuming entertainment from such a wide range of sources there’s little opportunity to become a central figure famed pin-ups once had. The limitations of media allowed for bigger celebrities when they broke out.

There are popular tv/streaming shows today, but the audience numbers don’t come close to the popularity of say when Charlie’s Angel’s was at its height in the ratings in the 1970s. With only three television networks, EVERYONE knew who Farrah was! Can a television star become such a cultural touchstone as she achieved? I don’t know….but I’d say the odds are pretty good today you weren’t watching the same thing last night as your co-workers.

Raquel-Welch-Farrah-Fawcett-icon-pinupOnce upon a time, a film or tv star or a model could become famous from a single photo. There could be something special about it, something to build a career on and possibly have it become a historic representation of the era and the entire world would see it and remember it. Photos had a power to not only titillate an entire generation, but collectively draw the world’s eyes to it.

Today, the world is looking at such a variety of avenues filled with content, I’m not sure if a single pin-up image could have the power as it once did.

Modern-Day-Pinup-Magazine-There was a shift in attitudes towards pin-ups. A ‘pin-up photo’ might’ve once been viewed through more forgiving glasses in the past. Something harmless, light entertainment, innocuous. But the perspective of what a  ‘pin-up’ was and represented shifted to being something that objectifies and exploits women.

Yet, that stigma that once was associated for posing for a ‘pin-up’ photo has gone through another overhaul. The argument has arisen that ‘the pin-up’ is not something that has to be problematic and demeaning for women, but can actually be empowering.

Despite criticism, pin-ups are enjoying a bit of a modernized resurgence. There’s even a magazine called ‘Modern Day Pin-up Magazine’. Something of a contemporary twist to all those vintage pin-up magazines that were popular generations ago.

You might not be able to find pin-ups in poster racks anymore, but they’re out there. They’re being displayed on social media platforms rather than bedroom walls. Instagram, Tik-Tok, Snapchat, modern day pin-ups are finding their own more personalized audience and fans. Keeping the pin-up tradition alive and often times emulating the fashions of bygone eras with a dash of the 21st century. Do a quick search and you’re bound to find women enjoying embracing vintage style and doing posing.

Dita-Von-Teese-stage-show-burlesqueDita Von Teese is the undisputed ‘Queen of Burlesque’ and is probably the most popular modern day pinup model. Her popular stage shows, have combined the golden age of pin-up imagery, burlesque with a modern day sensibility to create a high class, extravagant shows.

With a combination of 1950’s pin-up styles, costumes, sets and props, her performances have made Von Teese popular around the world. She’s become a contemporary Gypsy Rose Lee.

Many modern day pin-ups are trying to keep the era of burlesque and classic striptease alive. The classic kitschy pin-up has been given given a ‘rockabilly’ edge. Tattoos, piercings, striking makeup, fashion and hairstyles have have all been blended together to create a unique look to many modern day pin-ups.

There’s also no longer one fixed set of proportions or having a particular ‘look’ to be a pin-up. Today, pin-ups come in all shapes, styles, ages and sizes. With all that its been argued that today’s pin-up is a feminist.

Today, anyone can snap their own selfie and post their own pin-up image for their followers to see. With software programs, they can retouch them and get the exact results they’re looking for.

They probably aren’t going to be on the world recognized scale of Betty, Marilyn, Raquel or Farrah. And their pin-up might not be paper photos hung on bedroom and garage walls, but will rest in the digital form being downloaded.

Marilyn-Monroe-Korea-fans-soldiers-autograph-pinup-posterI don’t think pin-ups will ever completely disappear. Teengers and men will always appreciate looking at pretty girls. To have a photo of the pin-up is even better. Whether those images are hung with pins, tape or displayed as a screensaver, pin-ups will always exist.

Today nostalgic poster fans still revere those images from their youth. They might even try to recapture that sense of wonder and lustfulness by trying to find a copy of the pin-up poster that hung over their bed in their teen years. Ebay, antique shops, garage sales are now the resting ground for pin-ups of the past waiting to be found by the fan who will once again appreciate it by pinning it back onto a wall.

It will be awfully hard to find one without pin holes in it though.

Pin-ups still hold a special fondness in fans hearts. Getting to meet their adolescent desire in the flesh at fan conventions today is an end to a very long road. Once back in their teen years they dreamed of having this woman in their bedrooms to themselves, but now it’s enough to shake her hand, get her to autograph her pin-up and have a photo taken with them.

Pin-ups don’t necessarily just have to be a sex object. They can represent an era or be a fantasy. She can be a portal that takes you back to your youth every time you see her in that classic pose. They’ve not only brought the feelings of desire, but also hope and solace during the war years. They’ve kept watch over soldiers. Pin-ups can be pieces of art charting the fashion, the styles, capturing images throughout modern society. The Greeks had marble statues, in the 20th century we worshipped alluring women on paper.

They can also be awfully gorgeous to look at!

 

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