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Fads and Trends From the 70s

By Edited Dec 8, 2013 3 3
Bell Bottom Pants
Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Redhead_Beach_Bell_Bottoms.jpg

I was a teenager in the 70s.  This was the decade of disco music, bell bottom pants, platform shoes and the pet rock.  

This article is about fads and trends from the 70s that really defined that particular time.  Some of them, like the pet rock,  were very short lived and faded away quickly, never to come back again.  However, they were so intense at the time that even years later almost everyone remembers them.  

Pet Rocks

Of all the fads I can think of, this is probably one of the most ridiculous.   It was huge for a short time.  People gladly forked over their money to buy one of these.  It would have been just as easy to find a rock for free and keep it for a 'pet', but you have to give a lot of credit to the marketing that was done at the time.  Many people just had to have one.

pet rock

The inventor was a young guy from California who got the idea by listening to people complain about their real pets.  He reasoned that a rock would make a great 'pet' for anyone.  After all, a rock makes no demands on the owner, and does not need to be fed, taken for walks or anything else.  You might have to pay for the rock, but after that, there were no other expenses that those who own animals have to consider.  

The rocks were sold in a carrying case, and came complete with instructions on how to care for the 'pet'.  Of course it was meant to be harmless fun, and people bought them by the thousands.

In fact, the guy who invented the idea became a millionaire.  This is one 70s fad that almost everyone can easily remember, even if they didn't give into the temptation to actually buy one.

Bell Bottom Pants and Platform Shoes

Bell bottoms first started appearing in the 60s, but by the 70s they were part of mainstream fashion.  Both men and women wore them.

The style was popular for both jeans as well as dress pants. In fact, the bell bottom was about all that young people would wear.  I don't remember wearing dresses much at all by this time, but like everyone else had several pairs of bell bottoms.  All teenagers wanted them, and no other style would do.  We just couldn't imagine wearing anything else.  

Now the platform shoes were a different story, at least for me.  The shoes did not appeal to me, and I certainly wouldn't be inclined to wear them.  It seemed they would be very uncomfortable to walk in for any length of time.  

However, millions of others loved them.  The shoes were hugely popular.  Over the years the platforms have made a come back, although they never reached the same popularity that they first enjoyed in the 70s.  

Bright colors were fashionable in that decade as well.  People often wore  bright pinks, oranges, and so on.  The bell bottoms and platforms were worn by such celebrities as Sonny and Cher, which only added to their popularity.  

Mood Rings

These rings change color, which is supposed to indicate the person's mood.  Thus the term 'mood ring' was used.  

mood ring

However, the color actually changes due to differences in body temperature, rather than the person's emotions.  It was good marketing though. I remember having one of these rings and wearing it often, just like many other teenagers at the time.  

The rings were very popular in the mid 70s, but like the pet rock, this was a very short craze.  

Disco Music and Dancing

One of the most popular movies of the decade was Saturday Night Fever.  It was a coming of age movie for that decade, much like Rebel Without a Cause was in the 50s.

It made John Travolta a huge star.  He was already featured in the tv comedy Welcome Back, Kotter, but the success of the film made him a super star.  

This led to the huge popularity in disco dancing and music.  The Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever soundtrack was one of the best selling of all time.  Almost everyone recognizes the iconic opening to the film, where John Travolta's character is walking the streets of New York while Staying Alive is playing in the background.  

The Village People, Elton John, Donna Summer, Led Zepplin, Cat Stevens, Carole King, and Billy Joel also were very popular at that time.  Elton John has had long lasting success, and still performs to sell out crowds at concerts all over the world. 

The classic opening for Saturday Night Fever

Popular TV Shows and Movies From the 70s

Back in the 70s, most people got their entertainment from three networks.  We didn't have hundreds of channels to choose from.  CBS had some of the most popular comedies.   Such programs as The Mary Tyler Moore Show. All in the Family, Bob Newhart, and Rhoda  are considered icons today.  It wasn't unusual for a single show to get 20 million viewers. 

Television wasn't quite as wholesome as it had been in the 60s.  Many shows were not afraid to include subjects that had been taboo until that point.  However, they are still very tame compared to programs we can watch now.  

Dramas that were successful included Emergency, Kojak, The Rockford Files, The Waltons, and Marcus Welby, MD.  A police show set in San Francisco led to stardom for Michael Douglas.  He teamed up with Karl Malden, a well respected actor, in The Streets of San Francisco.  This was one series I never missed at the time.  

The first Star Wars movie debuted, and for awhile it was the highest grossing movie of all time.  This led to millions of dollars in sales for Star Wars memorabilia, and the franchise remains popular to this day.  

Other successful movies from the 70s were One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, American Graffiti,  The Godfather, and the French Connection.

Disaster movies such as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno attracted many Hollywood stars who were at the peak of their careers.  They attracted all star casts and were box office successes. 

In my opinion, the quality of entertainment was much better in those days.  This was long before reality tv became popular.  There were many high quality programs to enjoy, which just isn't the case now.  Movies and tv shows from that decade remain quite popular today.  There are tv networks that are devoted entirely to classic programs, so there certainly remains an audience for that kind of entertainment.



Nov 21, 2013 2:58am
Great memory lane for the 70's. You have brought back some of the more popular things.
Feb 11, 2014 12:26pm
Being an '80s baby, I found this to be an entertaining overview of a decade I wasn't there to see. I've never understood the intense hate some people have for '70s music. I love it! I agree that compared to programming today shows from the '70s were tame, but I think programs back then were a lot smarter. The arrival of shows like "All in the Family" and "Maude" during the '70s was an important development in television history. If networks had continued putting out shows like "Green Acres" and "The Beverly Hillbillies" they probably would have gone extinct.
Feb 11, 2014 5:14pm
Good points. Green Acres and similar shows were hugely popular in the 1960s, but they had worm out their welcome by the next decade.
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