Meryl Streep Arriving at Academy Awards

Vintage Oscars: Best Photos of the 1970s

The decade of 'Rocky,' 'The Godfather,' and fresh faces named Streep and Pacino.

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Boasting movies as wide-ranging as "The Godfather," "Annie Hall," "Star Wars," and "Rocky," the 1970s remain one of the most exciting decades in Hollywood, launching not only film franchises but also the iconic careers of several auteurs and actors. And the Academy Awards is where they all came together. Take 29-year-old Meryl Streep, for example, pictured arriving for 1979's big show: She won her first Oscar that year, Best Supporting Actress for "The Deer Hunter." Decades later, she holds the record for the most acting nominations in Oscars history.

Golden Gloves Julian Wasser/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images Golden Gloves Sylvester Stallone makes off with the goods at the 1977 show. His original sports-movie classic "Rocky" took Best Picture honors that year, and to this day his underdog boxer is impossible to knock down: Stallone earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination in 2016 for his seventh time playing the Italian Stallion on the big screen.
Easy Riders Fotos International/Getty Images Easy Riders Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper, stars of the counterculture classic "Easy Rider" (1969), hang with Mamas and the Papas singer Michelle Phillips at an Oscars after-party in 1970. Later that year Hopper and Phillips tied the knot...but turns out the knot was pretty loose: The marriage ended after eight days, and the following year she was Nicholson's Oscar date. Butch Lawrence Schiller/Getty Images Butch Paul Newman suits up for Oscars night with his wife, Joanne Woodward. Though Newman wasn't nominated for his acting work in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," the movie scored six Oscar nominations and claimed three. A Romantic Production Jack Albin/Getty Images A Romantic Production Legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans dances with his actress wife, Ali MacGraw, at an Oscars after-party in 1970. Later that year she'd star in the biggest hit of her career, a box office smash he produced at Paramount called "Love Story." (She'd be nominated for Best Actress.)
Shine On Ron Galella/WireImage Shine On After nearly a decade away from the big screen, Audrey Hepburn lights up the red carpet in 1975 (wearing Givenchy, naturally). The following year, she'd star as Maid Marian (opposite Sean Connery's Robin Hood) in "Robin and Marian." Power Couple Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Power Couple In 1976, the year he won his first Oscar (for "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), Jack Nicholson hits the carpet with then-partner Anjelica Huston. Exactly 10 years later Anjelica, in her own Oscar-winning turn, would co-star with Jack in "Prizzi's Honor," directed by her legendary dad John Huston. Her Name Was Lola, She Was a Showgirl... Ron Galella/WireImage Her Name Was Lola, She Was a Showgirl... Sammy Davis Jr. and the singer/dancer he discovered years earlier, Lola Falana, at the 1970 Academy Awards. They starred together on Broadway, in the musical "Golden Boy."
Speech? Speech! Ralph Crane/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images Speech? Speech! "Words seem so futile, so feeble," said an overwhelmed Charlie Chaplin in 1972, expressing gratitude for his honorary Oscar. The award celebrated Chaplin's extraordinary lifetime achievement as a silent-film star, producer, director, and composer, but the legend still had some highs in him yet: The very next year, he won a competitive Oscar for Best Original Score ("Limelight"). Al Pacino, the Biggest Loser Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Al Pacino, the Biggest Loser You might say the 1970s were Pacino's decade: Between 1972 and 1979, he starred in a string of critically revered films including the first two "Godfather" movies, "Serpico," "Dog Day Afternoon," and "And Justice for All." He earned a nomination for each of those roles, but shockingly didn't win a single Oscar until 1994 (for the comparatively forgettable "Scent of a Woman"). Here, Pacino in 1974, the year he was up for "Serpico." La-Di-Da, La-Di-Da Hulton Archive/Getty Images La-Di-Da, La-Di-Da At an after-party in 1978, Diane Keaton makes room at the table for the Oscar she's just won for playing the charmingly quirky, stylish title character of "Annie Hall." Keaton's competition that year was fierce: She beat out Shirley MacLaine, Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, and Marsha Mason.
Calm Before the Storm Frank Edwards/Getty Images Calm Before the Storm "Klute" costars Donald Sutherland and Jane Fonda commiserate at 1972's show. Fonda won Best Actress that night for her role as a prostitute in the movie, but just months later the actress and anti-Vietnam activist was under fire for a controversial visit to Hanoi. 'True Grit,' Open Heart Bettmann/Bettmann Archive 'True Grit,' Open Heart Legendary tough guy John Wayne sheds a tear accepting his Best Actor trophy in 1970. Bronzed and Blinged-Out Ron Galella/WireImage Bronzed and Blinged-Out In 1970, a deeply tanned Elizabeth Taylor enjoys the Academy Awards with then-husband Richard Burton while rocking a 68-carat diamond around her neck. The jaw-dropping bauble, which would come to be known as the Taylor-Burton Diamond, went on public display in a couple Cartier stores and even was a "guest" on "The Ed Sullivan Show."
Who Is the Man...? Michael Ochs Archives Who Is the Man...? We're talking 'bout Isaac Hayes, Best Original Song winner in 1972 for "Shaft." Tough Guy Talk Ron Galella/WireImage Tough Guy Talk Al Ruddy, producer of Best Picture winner "The Godfather," chats up James Brolin and Dirty Harry himself, Clint Eastwood, 1973. From One Generation to Another Ron Galella/WireImage From One Generation to Another At an after-party in 1973, legend Gregory Peck congratulates breakout star Liza Minnelli, daughter of his Hollywood contemporary Judy Garland, on her win for Best Actress ("Cabaret").
Walk On By Fotos International/Getty Images Walk On By With her actor husband William Elliott and sister Dee Dee, singer Dionne Warwick makes a fabulous entrance in an embroidered satin tuxedo jacket and skirt. Burt and Dinah Ron Galella/WireImage Burt and Dinah Among the couples who most stirred tabloid interest in the 1970s: Burt Reynolds and Dinah Shore, who happened to be 20 years his senior. Here they are in 1973, the year after his breakout performance in "Deliverance" made him a Hollywood hunk. No Blues Detected Bettmann/Bettmann Archive No Blues Detected Diana Ross, a Best Actress nominee for her turn as Billie Holliday in the biopic "Lady Sings the Blues," basks in the limelight at the 1973 show. Accompanying her: then-husband Robert Ellis, dad of award-winning "Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross.
Thanks, but No Thanks Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Thanks, but No Thanks In 1973, seemingly baffled presenters Roger Moore and Liv Ullman attempt to hand the Oscar that Marlon Brando has just won for "The Godfather" to Sacheen Littlefeather, an activist Brando sent to the show in protest. Refusing the award on Brando's behalf, Littlefeather cited Hollywood's portrayals of Native Americans, as well as the siege at Wounded Knee, as his reasons. Beyond Her Years Ron Galella/WireImage Beyond Her Years Just 14 years old, Jodie Foster handles the press like a pro at the 1977 Academy Awards, where she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for playing a child prostitute in Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver." Years later, she'd go on to win Best Actress twice. Here to Announce History Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Here to Announce History Partners on and off screen, action hero Charles Bronson and wife Jill Ireland look glam in 1974. That year they presented Best Supporting Actress to the youngest person ever to win a competitive Oscar, 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal.
How Many Stars Can You Spot? Bettmann/Bettmann Archive How Many Stars Can You Spot? After the big finale of 1979's show, John Wayne kids around with little Ricky Schroder, star of the boxing tear-jerker "The Champ." Mingling around them: Brooke Shields, Raquel Welch, Shirley Jones, and Sammy Davis Jr. She Cleans Up Nice Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images She Cleans Up Nice Linda Blair, whose turn as a demon-posessed girl in "The Exorcist" terrified audiences, looks pleasant enough walking the carpet in 1974. Her nomination, at age 15, for Best Supporting Actress was pretty impressive — and yet an even younger nominee, 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal, took home the prize. A Different Arena Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images A Different Arena Former Beatle Paul McCartney and his Wings bandmate, wife Linda, show off matching mullets in 1974. The couple were nominated for their title song to the James Bond flick "Live and Let Die," but lost to "The Way We Were."
Cher-ing the Spotlight Julian Wasser/Getty Images Cher-ing the Spotlight One of 1974's big winners was Marvin Hamlisch (third from left), who took home several Oscars for his musical work on "The Way We Were"...but who could tear their eyes away from Cher, showing off one of her signature ostentatious outfits? (With them: presenters Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds.) Tatum Tot Julian Wasser/Getty Images Tatum Tot The youngest Oscar winner ever, 10-year-old Tatum O'Neal beams with her award in 1974. She thanked her "Paper Moon" director, Peter Bogdanovich, and costar, her father Ryan O'Neal. Up for Best Dressed Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images Up for Best Dressed In an ensemble the New York Times has cited as one of the 10 most enviable in Oscars history, Halston muse Lauren Hutton arrives looking, of course, like a supermodel.
Majestic Diahann Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Majestic Diahann Carroll, a Best Actress nominee for "Claudine," arrives in 1975 with then-husband Robert DeLeon. Lace, Darling Ron Galella/WireImage Lace, Darling Ann-Margret models her Oscars dress in 1977. Gonna Fly Now, Indeed ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images Gonna Fly Now, Indeed Ben Vereen and dancers perform to the theme from "Rocky" in 1977.
The Voice ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images The Voice Barbra Streisand performs "Evergreen," the theme from "A Star Is Born," at 1977's show. Third Time's the Charm Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Third Time's the Charm Faye Dunaway's husband Peter Wolf wishes her good luck on Oscars night, 1977. The crossed fingers apparently worked: She won for her performance in "Network," after losing Best Actress twice before. Bittersweet Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Bittersweet Aletha Finch, the widow of "Network" actor Peter Finch, accepts his posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1977.
Talk About an Underdog Bettmann/Bettmann Archive Talk About an Underdog Sylvester Stallone, 1977's big Hollywood champ, play-fights with heavyweight Muhammad Ali on the Oscars stage. Stallone's scrappy hit "Rocky" won Best Picture that year. Brother From Another Galaxy Images Press/Getty Images Brother From Another Galaxy Who shined up best in 1978: Oscar, or C-3PO from "Star Wars"? Tyson's Corner Ron Galella/WireImage Tyson's Corner Five years after her nomination for "Sounder," Cicely Tyson makes the show in 1978.
Super Couple Ron Galella/WireImage Super Couple Margot Kidder and Christopher Reeve, a.k.a. Lois Lane and Clark Kent of "Superman," in 1979. Showing Off the Details Ron Galella/WireImage Showing Off the Details Costume designer Ron Talsky and Kim Novak, in a gorgeous dress with thin straps running down the back, have a little fun during the show in 1979. Icons in Their Prime ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images Icons in Their Prime In 1979, presenter Shirley MacLaine gives Jane Fonda a congratulatory squeeze for winning her second Best Actress Oscar, for "Coming Home." Five years later, MacLaine finally had her own statue, for "Terms of Endearment."
Last Dance ABC Photo Archives/ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images Last Dance Among the most popular performers at 1979's show: disco queen Donna Summer.
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