Over the years there have been a lot of beautiful woman on our television screens. Most of them have had long successful careers but they are only remembered for that one special role that they played. One woman on this list had a very long career on both television and in movies but she is only remembered for a three-year stay on one show. Others have been successful in roles on several shows like another woman on this list, but she is still always remembered above all the others, as the role she started in as a teenager.
Here we will take a look at some of the beauties from the past and see what they look like now. And we will also ask the age old question that has been asked well over a million times, Ginger or Mary Ann? After looking at how they both aged, the answer may surprise you, but there is only one way to find out.
20. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (then)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is most known for her role as Elaine Benes on the long-running hit show Seinfeld. Prior to that number one show she was on Saturday Night Live from 1982 until 1985. She was away from your television screen for several years until 2006 when she starred in the show The New Adventures of Old Christine. That one was on until 2010 and she is currently on Veep.
She got started with The Practical Theatre Company in Chicago where she began to hone her craft at comedy. It paid off with a spot on the SNL cast but it wasn’t until 1990 when she hit the big time. Playing Elaine Benes she was part of one of the most successful sitcoms of all time. The show still airs in syndication around the country on a daily basis. Elaine was on the never ending search for love and she played a great role across from Jerry Seinfeld and Jason Alexander. Benes probably had more bad dates and stupid boyfriends on the show than any woman ever had in real life. She appeared in every episode of the show except for three. One of those was the original pilot. There wasn’t supposed to be a woman on the show but after the pilot, NBC demanded that one be added to the cast. Louis-Dreyfus beat out Rosie O’Donnell and Patricia Heaton for the role. Both of those ladies are great actresses but could you ever imagine Elaine being played by someone else? Probably not.
19. Julia Louis-Dreyfus (now)
Louis-Dreyfus is now 55 years old and she still looks great. She’s not just a staple of television comedy either. She’s been in several movies as well. You may remember her from Hannah and Her Sisters, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Father’s Day, Enough Said and Deconstructing Harry. She has also voiced roles in the movies Planes and A Bug’s Life.
She is well respected for the work that she has done. Proof of that can be seen in the seven Emmy Awards that she has received. She has also won a Golden Globe Award, five American Comedy Awards, six Screen Actors Guild Awards and a pair of Critic’s Choice Television Awards.
Julia has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that was awarded in 2010 and in 2014 she was also inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame. Those are pretty impressive credentials and they are all well deserved. Not only is she a sexy woman but she is also one of the best at her craft.
Time Magazine even named her as one of the world’s most influential people in 2016 as she appeared on the Time 100 list.
She currently plays the role of Selina Meyer on the HBO series Veep.
18. Cheryl Ladd (then)
When Farah Fawcett left the ABC hit series Charlie’s Angels after the first season, the network had to find someone to fill her shoes. They had to find someone that was not only beautiful but talented as well. They chose Cheryl Ladd to join the show in the role of Kris Munroe and what a choice it was. Ladd was a stunning beauty and she played a great role on the show until it was canceled in 1981. Sure there were a couple of other beauties on the show as well (one that we will talk about next), but there is no question that Ladd was the reason that men tuned into the show.
She stepped right into the role without missing a beat and shortly after she was an international sex symbol of her own. Her posters were up on bedroom walls of boys all over the world and in many cases she replaced Farah not only on the show but on those bedroom walls as well.
Ladd had made a few appearances on other shows prior to her breakthrough such as Happy Days, The Rookies and The Partridge Family. But when she joined Charlie’s Angels she became an overnight sensation.
17. Cheryl Ladd (now)
As you can see, even at the age of 64, Cheryl Ladd is still a stunner. She had originally come to Hollywood to start a singing career under the name of Cherie Moor. She landed a gig with Hanna-Barbera and sang the voice of Melody on the animated show called Josie and the Pussycats.
That led to her getting parts in commercials and then guest star parts on several shows before she landed with ABC and became known around the globe. She eventually did release three musical albums one of which went gold.
Ladd also did some time on Broadway in the play Annie Get Your Gun. She took over the role from Bernadette Peters and when she left the show Reba McEntire took over for her.
She has remained a go-to actress for several television shows that were looking for a sexy and talented woman. She has been on One West Waikiki, CSI: Miami, Charmed, Hope and Faith and she also had a role for several years on the drama Las Vegas.
Cheryl has also written two books, one a children’s book and one was an autobiography about a woman’s love of playing golf and how to do it with men. One thing is certain and that’s whenever Cheryl Ladd is on your television screen you take notice. Bringing her on to Charlie’s Angels might have been the best move that ABC ever made.
16. Jaclyn Smith (then)
Jaclyn Smith was the only female in a leading role to stay with the ABC hit Charlie’s Angels for its entire run. One look at what she looked like back then and you can easily see why. While she was often overshadowed by Cheryl Ladd, Smith was just as beautiful and talented. She played Kelly Garrett on the show and she brought the character back in the 2003 movie Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
Smith started her career doing several commercials before she was given the role on the soon to be hit show with Farah Fawcett and Kate Jackson. The show itself was first aired as a movie of the week and it was so popular that the network aired it a second time in a different time slot to verify the popularity. It did as well as it did the first airing and production of the show began.
Smith was part of several memorabilia pieces that were made in honor of the show including bubble gum trading cards and action figures. TV Guide featured Smith and the other two “Angels” on their cover four different times during the show’s run.
Since the show ended she has been in numerous other television shows and made for TV movies. She also appeared in two movies on the big screen.
15. Jaclyn Smith (now)
Now 70 years old, you can see that Jaclyn Smith is still as recognizable as ever. Anyone that runs across her on a TV screen knows exactly who she is. During the height of her career, she began a clothing line and perfume line to capitalize on her popularity.
She had roles in the movies Nightkill and Déjà Vu. Over the years she has had starring roles in Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award), Nightmare in the Daylight, Rage of Angels, Kaleidoscope, and George Washington. She also made a couple of appearances on CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and she played Olivia Hodges on the television drama The District for a few years.
Due to the popularity of Charlie’s Angels she even appeared with her partners on the cover of Time Magazine.
No matter how old Smith is or whatever else she has accomplished in her career, she will always be known as one of the Angels. She, just like Fawcett and Ladd, was an international sex symbol and there were posters of her everywhere. One look at her photos from back in those days and you can easily see why every girl wanted to be her and why every guy wanted to meet her. Even now you can see the beauty that once had her on top of the world.
14. Suzanne Somers (then)
Suzanne Somers has done a lot in her lifetime. She is an accomplished actress, singer, author and businesswoman. But very few people can see past her most known role as Chrissy Snow on the ABC sitcom Three’s Company. She also played Carol Lambert on the show Step by Step but it was her portrayal of the ditzy buxom blonde Chrissy that propelled her to stardom.
Chrissy Snow was a stereotypical beautiful blonde that had plenty going for her in the looks department but not too much going on in the brains department. On the show, she was always getting into some kind of trouble because let’s face it, when you look like she did, brains aren’t a necessity to get through life. She was so stupid and sexy that she was one of funniest women on TV during that time. She had two roommates, Jack Tripper (John Ritter) and Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt), who weren’t geniuses themselves but compared to Chrissy they were Einstein’s. At least once per show Chrissy would jump up and down showing off her ample chest and it was a highlight of each episode.
Somers played the role for more than five seasons and there is no question that she was an international sex symbol as well. She eventually left the show after a heated contract dispute with ABC.
13. Suzanne Somers (now)
At the age of 69 you can still see why Suzanne Somers was so popular during the height of career. But she is a much smarter woman than the dumb blonde that she played on Three’s Company.
Since she left the show she has written several books including a self-help series, a pair of autobiographies, a book of poetry and four books on dieting.
Somers however was no stranger to off camera issues back then. During the fifth season of the hit show she demanded a raise from $30,000 per episode to $150,000 along with 10% ownership of the show. Obviously, ABC was against this and it was the beginning of the end of the Chrissy Snow character.
On an appearance on The Tonight Show she also denied that she had ever posed nude for anyone. She said that all she had done was a topless photo for the magazine High Society. This denial prompted Playboy magazine to release a nude photoshoot that she had actually done about ten years prior. After that shoot, she had been officially named a Playmate candidate but just before the shoot for that she refused to pose nude again and the magazine stopped working with her. When she was trying to get back in the public eye in 1984 she agreed to another nude session for the magazine and went through with it without issues that time.
12. Sally Struthers (then)
Sally Struthers is best known for her role of Gloria Stivic on All in the Family, a controversial show that aired in the 1970’s. Her television father on the show, Archie Bunker, was known for his racist views while Gloria was usually opposing her dad’s views and fighting for women’s rights. A lot of people don’t realize that before she rose to fame on the famous sitcom she appeared in a nude sex scene with Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces. She also played the role of Babette on Gilmore Girls and voiced a character on the Disney series TaleSpin and one on the ABC sitcom Dinosaurs.
Struthers was found for the Gloria Stivic role while she was performing on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. Rob Reiner was a writer for that show and he was also going to play the role of Mike Stivic in the upcoming show All in the Family. Struthers didn’t think that she was going to get the role because Reiner was engaged to Penny Marshall at the time and she had a better resemblance to Archie Bunker’s wife Edith, who was being played by Jean Stapleton. Can you imagine Archie coming home from a long day’s work on the loading dock to Edith and Laverne? Choosing Struthers, who was a beautiful blonde at the time, was a great decision by whoever put the cast together.
11. Sally Struthers (now)
After her run on the All in the Family franchise Sally Struthers really changed appearance wise. She went from one of the hottest women on television at the time to quite the opposite. She has struggled with her weight for many years now and isn’t even a shadow of the beauty that she once was. She is now 68 years old and she does a lot of great work for charities, especially animal related ones.
After All in the Family ended it re-started as a spin-off called Archie Bunker’s Place. Most of the main characters, including Gloria, were gone from that show. But it created another spin off show called Gloria that saw her come back to her former role as a divorced mom. The show claimed that her husband Mike, who she helped put through college on the original version of the show, went on to become a teacher and he had left her for one of his students.
Struthers made several appearances on the game shows Win, Lose or Draw and Match Game and she also played a regular role on Still Standing. In the show she played the mother of Bill Miller, Louise.
Over the last several years she has played several roles in stage production plays. When you look at this former television beauty now, it’s hard to see the Gloria Stivic that she used to play.
10. Catherine Bach (then)
Catherine Bach is known to most people around the world as Daisy Duke from the old show The Dukes of Hazzard. This former television beauty was a must see every week and the reason that most of the show’s viewers tuned in. What’s that? You say that you watched the show because you liked watching Bo and Luke always getting into trouble, driving The General Lee around Hazzard County? We both know that’s not true. If it wasn’t for Daisy Duke nobody would have tuned into the show. Nobody really cared about Bo and Luke although it was fun watching the stunts that they pulled off driving that beautiful car. Just as long as they didn’t take too much camera time away from Daisy it was alright.
She was a sex symbol all around the world and producers once asked her if she would pose for a poster in her Daisy Duke character, to capitalize on her popularity. It worked as they sold over five million posters!
The cutoff shorts that Bach wore on the show were soon copied by women all across America. While the show was on the air her legs were actually insured for a million dollars. No lie. Take a look at her and you’ll see why. At one point her legs were the most known pair of legs in the world!
9. Catherine Bach (now)
Catherine Bach, now 62, once caused a stir at The White House when she visited a former teacher that was currently working there. She brought one of her posters to give to the teacher and the First Lady at the time, Nancy Reagan, liked the poster and wanted one. Why this was national news is beyond me but it goes to show you how popular Bach was during the height of her career.
She has also played several other roles on television but everyone knows her as Daisy. She played Margo Dutton in African Skies and she currently plays the character of Anita Lawson on the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless. Bach has also made appearances on Monk and in the comedy movie You Again.
When she first heard about the role of Daisy Duke the producers were looking for someone that had a Dolly Parton-like appearance. Even though Bach looked nothing like her she took a chance and went to audition anyway and was immediately hired on the spot. Even though she got the role she didn’t like the outfit that they had planned for her. Producers had pictured her in a turtle neck and a poodle skirt. She asked producers if she could bring her own outfit in one day and then she wore the custom done t-shirt and the cutoffs and a legend was born. Thanks for changing their minds Catherine!
8. Valerie Bertinelli (then)
You may know Valerie Bertinelli as Melanie Moretti from Hot in Cleveland or as Gloria from Touched by an Angel but the world will always remember her as Barbara Cooper from One Day at a Time. Bertinelli has taken long breaks from television in between her roles but she always makes them count when she comes back.
She did a great job in her role of Gloria on Touched by an Angel and her portrayal of Melanie on Hot in Cleveland was just as funny as she has ever been. In that show, she is an older single woman on the endless hunt for love and her and her co-star roommates are always finding themselves in some kind of jam. Her interactions with co-stars Betty White, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick were top notch and the show is a must see for anyone that may have missed it. It was on TV Land for six seasons and the comedy was one of the best shows ever on the network.
But back in 1975 when Bertinelli played Barbara Cooper the world fell in love with her as she and her television mom (Bonnie Franklin) and sister (Mackenzie Phillips) made their way through life together. The show was on the air for nine years and there wasn’t a male bedroom anywhere in the country that didn’t have a poster of Bertinelli on it.
7. Valerie Bertinelli (now)
The 56-year-old Bertinelli still looks fantastic as you can see here. She was only 15 years old when she started on One Day at a Time and she appeared in 208 of the 209 episodes that the show aired. She was discovered for the role of Barbara Cooper by producer Norman Lear after she had appeared in Apple’s Way.
The world watched as this beauty married Eddie Van Halen and the couple was together for over twenty years. It was a pairing of one of the most desirable women in the world at the time with the best guitarist in the world. It lasted much longer than people thought it would and when they finally got divorced Valerie said that it was because of Eddie’s continued drug abuse and his refusal to take care of himself when he was sick.
The only bad decision that she seems to have made in her life was the naming of her son that she had with Eddie. They named him Wolfgang and he is now twenty-five years old and takes the stage with his famous father sometimes. I’m not really sure where the name came from but certainly they could have come up with something better than Wolfgang. Sammy might have been a good choice.
6. Barbara Eden (then)
Barbara Eden has done a lot of work throughout her life on television and in movies. But nobody will ever forget her role as Jeannie on the NBC show I Dream of Jeannie. After several current beauties had auditioned for the part of Jeannie the producers still hadn’t found what they were looking for. Eden was recommended for the role after someone had witnessed her role in The Brass Bottle. The move seemed to be a natural one for her career. From a brass bottle to the glass bottle. She played her role opposite of Larry Hagman who was still early in his career as well. He played Captain Anthony Nelson who was later promoted to Major. Throughout the show, Jeannie was usually scantily clad and the beautiful Eden brought a great deal of comedy to the show as well as her good looks.
NBC had created the show to compete with Bewitched. That show had another beauty in it, Elizabeth Montgomery. But Eden’s show never took off as the network had hoped. It did well enough to stay on the air for five years but never reached the heights that Bewitched did. But that was through no fault of Eden’s as she was the main draw to watch the new episode each week.
5. Barbara Eden (now)
Barbara Eden is now 84 years old and you can still see why she was a beauty back in the 70’s. When the show pulled from the airwaves she went on to a very successful career appearing in numerous shows and movies.
She made appearances on I Love Lucy, Perry Mason, Gunsmoke, Father Knows Best, The Andy Griffith Show and Route 66 among countless others.
The show I Dream of Jeannie has actually done better over the years in syndication than it did when it was on the air back then. There have been a pair of movies made about the show in a reunion format but Larry Hagman was absent from both of them. In the first one Anthony Nelson is played by another actor and in the second one he isn’t even in it at all. But that didn’t matter. The people that watched them wanted to see Barbara Eden in her role of Jeannie and they weren’t disappointed.
Her naval was the subject of several controversies when the show was on the air. It was never shown until the show had just about run its course and it was only done then as a last grasp at ratings. Several late night talk shows wanted Eden to appear and show it on their show but NBC was dead set against it. Maybe if they showed it earlier in the series the show might have done better, because there is no doubt that Barbara Eden was the main reason people turned the show on at all.
4. Tina Louise (then)
Tina Louise had a very long and successful career on both television and in movies. But she will be forever remembered as the beautiful Ginger Grant on the show Gilligan’s Island. It’s amazing that of all of the great roles that she has played, she will always be remembered for that three year stay on the island with Gilligan, The Skipper, The Howell’s, The Professor and Mary Ann (who we will talk about in a moment).
If you want to know just how hot she was back in the day take a look at this fact. In 2005 on an episode of TV Land Top Ten, Louise was ranked as the second hottest sex symbol of all time on TV. Only Heather Locklear was ranked higher and that’s not bad company at all.
Before she landed the role on the famous show she had been in Playboy numerous times and she was named as The World’s Most Beautiful Redhead in 1958 by the National Art Council.
Louise had met Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, several years prior to production of the hit show, when they appeared in a movie together that was called For Those Who Think Young. She was performing in a Broadway play when casting began for Gilligan’s Island and she left the production when she was offered the role of Ginger Grant.
3. Tina Louise (now)
When you look back over the career of the now 82-year-old Tina Louise you will find nothing but success. But she is always known for that three-year run as Ginger Grant. Her actual role that put her on the map was in a movie called God’s Little Acre. For her work in that movie she won a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year.
She made appearances in The Hangman, The Trap, Day of the Outlaw, The Wrecking Crew, The Stepford Wives, The Happy Ending, The Real McCoy’s, Dallas, Kojak, Santa Barbara and All My Children among many others over the years.
After her stay on the island, Louise worried that she might be typecast so she started taking on different types of roles and she did all of them very well. On her appearance in Kojak she played a drugged out woman and she also took on a role of an evil prison guard for the 1976 ABC television movie that was called Nightmare in Badham County.
During her heyday Tina Louise was one of the sexiest women on television or in movies. When she got together with Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) on the cast of Gilligan’s Island, it began a lifetime old debate of who was sexier. Ginger or Mary Ann? You decide!
2. Dawn Wells (then)
Dawn Wells, just like Tina Louise, had a long and successful career on television and on the big screen. But she will be forever known as Mary Ann Summers from the CBS show Gilligan’s Island. Wells and Louise are the only two regular cast members from the show that are still alive. She has played the role of Mary Ann in several spin off and reunion shows after the main show went off the air. She was in Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. She also took part in a cartoon spin off that was called Gilligan’s Planet.
Wells was very close friends with Alan Hale Jr. (The Skipper) even long after the show had ended. When he died in 1990 she was the only cast member to go to his funeral. That in itself is kind of sad. In her 1993 cookbook that was called Mary Ann’s Gilligan’s Island Cookbook she included several foods that she “cooked” for him on the show including “Skipper’s Navy Bean Soup”, “Skipper’s Coconut Pie” and “Skipper’s Goodbye Ribeye”.
Just like her counterpart Tina Louise, Wells was one of the sexiest women on screen back then. Her short shirts and tight shorts had people tuning in each and every week. The both of them were so hot that people didn’t even care to wonder why they each brought so many clothes with them for a three hour boat ride.
1. Dawn Wells (now)
Before she landed the role as Mary Ann, Dawn Wells had appeared on several television shows like Bonanza, Maverick, The Roaring 20’s and 77 Sunset Strip.
The now 77-year-old has been appearing on MeTV recently after the network announced her as their Marketing Ambassador. She has filmed lots of promos and other things for the network and you now see her just about every night introducing shows or promoting things that the network has coming up. She might be in her late 70’s but it’s never a bad night if Mary Ann comes across your television screen for a few minutes.
After Gilligan’s Island left the airwaves Wells made countless appearances on other shows. Some of them were Wagon Train, 87th Precinct, The Everglades, Burke’s Law, The Wild Wild West, The F.B.I., Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Rosanne and ALF.
She has taken part in well over a hundred theatrical shows and she spent a good part of twenty years doing nothing more than work on the stage.
In 2005, her signature outfit that she wore on the island of a gingham blouse and the jean shorts sold for nearly $21,000. Wells also released a book in 2014 that was called What Would Mary Ann Do? A Guide to Life. The release was timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the show that she is so well known for. To answer the question of Ginger or Mary Ann, today we will go with Mary Ann!
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