Here's What 40 Celebrities Looked Like in the 1970s vs. Today

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The 1970s were marked by debaucherous nights spent partying at Studio 54, groovy fashion, iconic celebrity couples, disco, slang that's begging for a comeback, and some of the century's finest music and movies.

Unsurprisingly, several of the most talented celebrities who were working in the 1970s are still dominating Hollywood today—selling out stadiums, racking up Oscar nominations, and starring in streaming hits. And did we mention they look pretty darn good doing it?

Here's what 40 celebrities who have been household names for 50+ years look like today versus in the 1970s—from iconic performers, like Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross, to acting legends, like Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro.

Mick Jagger

The Rolling Stones frontman told The Irish Times in late 2023 that while he occasionally does wonder how long the band, which continues to sell out stadiums, will be able to keep performing, he tries not to dwell on it. "I do think about it. But I write all the time. You've just got to keep writing," he said. In October 2023, The Stones released their first album with new music since 2005.

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Barbra Streisand

The EGOT winner recently divulged 900+ pages worth of details about her decades-long career in her 2023 memoir, My Name Is Barbra. Ahead of the book's release, she told the BBC that she was looking forward to settling down. "I haven't had much fun in my life, to tell you the truth," she said. "And I want to have more fun."

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Diana Ross

Ross got her start as a member of The Supremes, which became Motown's bestselling girl group, before breaking out on her own in the 1970s. To what has she credited her decades-long career? "The love and joy of performing. The harmony of life. The love of family," she once told the LA Times.

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Christopher Walken

After spending his early career working in theater, Walken broke through in the early 1970s with his first major movie roles, before nabbing his first Oscar in 1978. Although Walken has had a decorated film career, he's still up for trying new things: The 2020s marked his first time helming a TV series, with leading roles in both The Outlaws and Severance. "I don't play golf or tennis. I don't have children. I don't like to travel. So I go to work," he told Newsweek.

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The legendary songstress has remained a constant fixture on the tour circuit since her debut in 1965. In 2023, she said she refuses to let age define her. "I just can't believe I will be 80 at some point, sooner than I wish," she told Good Morning Britain. "And I will still be wearing my jeans and I will still be wearing long hair and and I will still be doing the same stuff I've always done."

a person singing into a microphone
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Diane Keaton

In an interview with the The Hollywood Reporter, Keaton said the role that sticks out to her most from her lengthy career—which includes classics like The Godfather, Annie Hall, and Something's Gotta Give—was Woody Allen's 1972's Play It Again, Sam. "I was in it, I had lines. I was just totally surprised by that," she said.

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Morgan Freeman

Freeman, who got his acting start in theater and children's programming in the 1960s and 1970s—before making the leap to film in the 1980s—recently opened up to The Times about the way racism affected his early career, before acknowledging that he believes Black actors are now "moving ahead in leaps and bounds."

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Diane von Furstenberg

In an interview with Forbes, the fashion designer famous for creating the wrap dress silhouette in 1974, said that while she once wanted to be remembered as an icon, she now prefers the term oracle. "I am now at the philosophy part of my life. I want to pass on what I've learned."

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Elton John

Although the "Rocket Man" singer retired from touring in 2023, the recently minted EGOT winner told The Hollywood Reporter in 2023 that he has no plans to stop releasing new music, sharing that he's eager to get back into the studio because he hasn't recorded "a proper record" in quite some time.

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Bob Dylan

Dylan, widely regarded as one of the best songwriters of all time, has been on what fans have lovingly dubbed "The Never Ending Tour"since 1988. In addition to touring and releasing new music, Dylan won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016.

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Willie Nelson

After releasing a slew of country standards to moderate success, Nelson turned to outlaw country in the 1970s, following his move to Austin, Texas. Nelson, who has continued to tour and release music into his 90s, told E! in 2023 that he doesn't have anything "major" left that he wants to accomplish and instead is taking life "one day at a time."

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Sylvester Stallone

In his 2023 Netflix documentary Sly, Stallone reflected on his "mind-blowing" career longevity. "I consider myself like the last of the dinosaurs," he said of his nearly 50-year-long career. "And I’m very proud of that."

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In 1978, the songstress dropped out of the University of Michigan to pursue a musical career in New York City. After becoming one of the world's biggest solo acts through the 1980s and 1990s, Guinness World Records certified Madonna as the biggest-selling female recording artist of all time, with over 400 million units sold.

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Steve Martin

Martin, who spent the 1970s garnering laughs on the stand-up circuit, said that he was contemplating retirement until he created The Only Murders In The Building with longtime friend and collaborator Martin Short in 2021. "When this television show is done, I'm not going to seek others," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "I'm not going to seek other movies. I don't want to do cameos. This is, weirdly, it."

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Meryl Streep

In 1978, Streep was nominated for her first Academy Award (she now holds the record for the most Oscar nominations at 21). Despite this, Streep once told the Wall Street Journal that she worried that her acting gigs would dry up long ago. "As I was hovering around 40, I thought each movie would be my last," she said. "And all the evidence of other 40-year-old women at that time would lead you to believe it was over."

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Dustin Hoffman

By the time the 1970s rolled around, Hoffman was already a lauded performer with lead roles in The Graduate and Midnight Cowboy. He took home an Academy Award for his portrayal of a father amid divorce in the 1979 classic Kramer vs. Kramer and has continued to grace the big screen since, with roles in both acclaimed films and family-friendly fare, like the Kung Fu Panda franchise.

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Stevie Wonder

After signing with Motown Records at just 11 years old, Stevie Wonder has become an indelible part of the music landscape over the past 60 years. He is a fixture at the Grammys, winning 25 of his 74 nominations.

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Bruce Springsteen

In a 2022 interview on The Howard Stern Show, the Boss said that he has no plans to step away from music anytime soon. "I look at [Johnny Cash, Pete Seeger] and go, 'Yeah, I don't know if I'll [always] be doing three-hour shows, but I have so many different kinds of music that I can play and do,'" he said. "I can't imagine retirement."

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Dolly Parton

Parton, who left The Porter Wagoner Show in 1974 to launch her solo career, told Insider in 2023 that she's not stopping anytime soon: "I may live to be 100 or I may die tomorrow, but whenever that is, I will know I died trying, and I will know I've done everything I could to make the most of everything."

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Paul McCartney

After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, McCartney said he wasn't sure if he could keep performing because the group's success was "a tough act to follow." He said he felt like he was starting all over again when he formed the band Wings, but the risk certainly paid off: Wings became one of the most successful acts of the 1970s and paved the way for McCartney's indomitable solo career.

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Helen Mirren

The 1970s marked Mirren's transition from stage actress to silver screen star. "I started off as a classic theatre actress and that was all that I wanted to be," she told Forbes. "I didn't want to be a film actress, but that sort of came my way and it has been an incredible journey. I feel I'm in a constant state of learning and I just want to do as much varied things as possible, which is what I've done."

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Bob Weir

Weir, a founding member of the Grateful Dead, has kept the band's legacy alive through sold-out stadium tours with Dead & Company. He credits his 50-year career in part to his intense workout routine. "This is something guys my age can do, and it will make an immense difference in what they call your golden years if grace and happiness are goals of yours," he told Men's Health in 2019.

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Jane Fonda

After winning two Oscars in the 1970s, Fonda announced she was taking a step back from the big screen in 1991 after marrying CNN founder Ted Turner. Once the pair split in 2001, Fonda returned to acting with hits like Netflix's Grace and Frankie. She also remains a fixture in the activism world and told the Harvard Business Review that the one thing she has left to do in her career is write a book that would "make a difference."

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Al Pacino

Although Pacino starred in one of the biggest film franchises of the 1970s, the Godfather star said he turned down a part in another one of the decade's blockbuster successes. "They gave me a script that was called Star Wars," he said during an interview with the 92nd Street Y. "I said, 'I got the script, they offered me so much money, but I don't understand it.'"

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Lionel Richie

Before embarking on his storied solo career, Richie rose to fame in the 1970s as a member of the Commodores, one of Motown's biggest acts. In 2022, the American Idol judge told PEOPLE that his ultimate goal was to be known as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. "I passed my goal a long time ago when someone said to me, 'You have 40 years of records that will survive you.'"

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Warren Beatty

Beatty, the only person to be nominated for Oscars in acting, directing, writing and producing for the same film—a feat he accomplished in both 1978 and 1981—hasn't starred in a film since 2016's Rules Don't Apply. Nevertheless, he still makes occasional appearances on red carpets and the film festival circuit.

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Harrison Ford

Ford spent the '70s making a name for himself in the Star Wars franchise before taking on his starring turn as Indiana Jones in 1981. He portrayed the archaeologist in five movies before officially retiring from the franchise in 2023. "I love to work and I love this character and I love what it brought into my life," he said at the 2023 Cannes premiere of his last Indiana Jones film.

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Carol Burnett

Burnett spent the '70s entertaining audiences on her variety show The Carol Burnett Show, which ran for 11 seasons. At 90 years old, she's still making people laugh, with appearances in Better Call Saul and Palm Royale. The comedienne told Harper's Bazaar in 2024 that at this stage of her career, she just wants to have fun. "It's not like I have to be busy all the time."

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Susan Sarandon

Sarandon's long career was just getting started in the 1970s, with one of her most prominent early roles being her appearance in the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In the years since, she's garnered critical and commercial acclaim for her roles in Bull Durham, Stepmom, and Thelma and Louise. "I'm very fortunate to have lasted as long as I have in this business," she told Salon in 2021. "It is different to start at 20 than to come in at 26 and as a leading lady."

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Eric Clapton

After Clapton's band Cream broke up in 1968, he found success with solo hits like "Tears in Heaven" and "Wonderful Tonight." In 2000, Clapton became the only person to get inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. Not to mention he's been dubbed one of the best guitar players in the world by Rolling Stone.

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Goldie Hawn

By the 1970s, Hawn had already won an Academy Award for her performance in the screwball comedy Catcus Flower, which, remarkably, was her first film role. Although she stepped away from acting in 2001, she has returned to the screen a few times since, starring opposite her longtime boyfriend Kurt Russell as Mrs. Claus in a slew of Netflix movies. In 2023, she told Variety that it would take the "right" part to get her to emerge from retirement—and noted that she would love to collaborate with Russell again.

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Dan Aykroyd

Aykroyd will go down in comedy history not only for being one of the inaugural cast members of Saturday Night Live in 1975, but for having a role in some of the biggest comedy franchises. In 1980, he starred in The Blues Brothers, alongside fellow SNL alum John Belushi, before creating the Ghostbusters franchise, which debuted in 1984. Although Aykroyd is semi-retired from acting, he has made appearances in recent Ghostbusters installments.

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David Letterman

After retiring from The Late Show in 2015, Letterman returned to his interviewing roots with his Netflix series, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. "Any enormous uprooting change in my life has petrified me. Really petrified me," he told CBS Sunday Morning host Jane Pauley at the time of his retirement. "But once I've come through the other side, the reward has been unimaginable."

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John Travolta

After starting the 1970s by dropping out of high school to pursue acting, Travolta made his mark with a leading role in the 1975 sitcom Welcome Back Kotter. By the end of the decade, Travolta had also starred in two musical hits: Grease and Saturday Night Fever, scoring an Oscar nomination for the latter. Although Travolta's star power started to wane in the 1980s after a slew of critical and commercial flops, he rebounded with a role in Pulp Fiction in 1994.

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Brooke Shields

Shields' acting career took a controversial turn when she played a child prostitute in the 1978 film Pretty Baby. In a 2023 documentary of the same name, Shields got candid about the sexualization of young actors. "I would just constantly break character because I wanted to remain my personal self at the same time," she told NPR. "That was a form of self-protection and preservation."

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Schwarzenegger came to America in the late 1960s to take his bodybuilding career to the next level and spent the 1970s trying his hand at everything—from acting and starting his own bricklaying business to dabbling in college classes. While the former governor of California says he still works out every day, he's not a fan of aging. "I kind of smile because every day I do look in a mirror and I say, 'Yep, you suck,'" he said on The Howard Stern Show in 2023.

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Sam Elliott

Although Elliott has been acting since the early 1970s (he got his start in Westerns, thanks to that memorable mustache), his role in 2018's A Star Is Born marked the first time he was recognized by the Academy for his work, earning a supporting actor Oscars nomination. "The blessing of all of this is that, after 50 years, some of the best stuff in my career has, oddly enough, come my way," he told Vanity Fair.

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Carole King

King, who is only the third woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, told Rolling Stone that she was "grateful" for her long career, which became fodder for the Broadway hit Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.

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Robert De Niro

The 1970s marked the start of De Niro's collaboration with famed director Martin Scorsese, resulting in quite a bit of Oscar buzz: He was nominated three times before the decade was up and took home the trophy for Best Supporting Actor for his role in The Godfather Part II. In 2024, after receiving his ninth acting Oscar nomination for Killers of the Flower Moon, he told PEOPLE that he has no plans to retire.

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Joe Namath

The quarterback legend spent the 1970s dominating both the NFL and the small screen, earning him the nickname "Broadway Joe." Today, Namath continues to serve as an unofficial spokesman for the New York Jets, the team with whom he spent the majority of his football career.

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