Famous Women Of The 80's Then And Now

These are the most iconic women we know and love from the 1980s.
Harriet King September 13th 2018 Entertainment
The 80s were a great time to be alive. All the shoulder pads, the leg warmers, the hair and makeup on both men and women - it was a decade of style like no other! And that's before we even mention the music. The bands of the 1980s were just the best, weren't they?
The 80s were also full of women taking the world by storm. Whether it was in music, on screen, or somewhere else in the world of fame, there were women everywhere achieving more than any generation of women had achieved before. Great Britain even had its first female Prime Minister.
Some of the female stars of the 80s shone brightly and then faded away, while others have lasted forever. As we take a look through this gallery of amazing 80's women, you'll be stunned at what some of them are doing now - and at how some of them haven't aged!
Jennifer Grey In the 1980s
Nobody puts Baby in the corner. Jennifer Grey has done far more in her career than just 'Dirty Dancing,' but as the movie seems to capture the imagination of every new generation who find it on DVD and streaming, she'll always be known as 'Baby' to most of us. Her incredible chemistry on screen with Patrick Swayze gave many of us our first idea of what romance was supposed to be. Sadly, she could never enjoy the success of the film at the time, as she was recovering from the effects of a bad car crash.
Just that movie alone would have been enough to call Grey an 80s icon, but it wasn't even her first great 1980's film. That was 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' which also enjoys a large cult following to this day. Graceful, gifted and beautiful while still managing to look like the girl next door, Grey could do no wrong during the decade.
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Grey was traumatized by her 1980s car crash and took a couple of years off from acting to get over it. During that time, she underwent plastic surgery to change the shape of her nose, which she'd always felt self-conscious of. The surgery dramatically changed her appearance to the point where even some of her friends didn't recognize her, and she's since said she regrets it. The 90s became something of a lost decade for her.
Thankfully, she eventually found her way back to both TV and film, helped by a successful stint on 'Dancing with The Stars' which she won in 2010. All that dancing she did with Swayze paid off for her in the end! More recently she's had a prolonged stint in 'Red Oaks' as Judy Meyers and starred in the 2018 movie 'Untogether.'
Molly Ringwald in the 1980s
There were plenty of teen idols during the 1980s, but Molly Ringwald has a strong claim to being the best known. She was the shy-but-cute girl in the cult movie 'The Breakfast Club,' which featured a full raft of performers who would go on to be huge stars in their own right. The film was just one of three films in which she starred that were made by John Hughes, to whom she owes at least a portion of her success. The others were 'Sixteen Candles' and 'Pretty in Pink.'
There was a group of young actors and actresses in the 1980s who became known as 'The Brat Pack' a then-modern take on Frank Sinatra's 'Rat Pack,' and Ringwald's name was often attached to it even though she didn't consider herself to be a member. Ringwald considered herself a more serious actress, who turned down working with Hughes a fourth time when she felt he was offering her parts that were too similar to her previous work.
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Ringwald continues to act through to this day; she was very young when she first found fame, and even now is only 51. She took a short break from performing between 2000 and 2006 to focus on raising her family; she's now the mother of three children with her writer husband Panio Gianopoulos.
Ringwald has spoken of the pressure she felt being so famous at such a young age; she felt like she had a responsibility to be a good role model for other teenagers, and so avoided the party lifestyle that many of her young co-stars embraced. That may go some way to explaining why she's aged so well! Her most recent widely-seen work was a year-long stint on 'Riverdale,' but she's also been happy to show us the fun side of her personality on 'RuPaul's Drag Race' and 'Drop the Mic', where she battled John Cryer.
Cyndi Lauper in the 1980s
We sometimes wonder how Madonna managed to become the ultimate female pop icon of the 1980s when Cyndi Lauper always seemed so much cooler. She wove pop, rock, and punk together effortlessly and wore it with style. Fashion icon, music star and girl-power activist, Lauper's infectious personality made her a role model for many a teen 80s rebel.
Those who only know her for her greatest hits probably only think of 'Girls Just Want to Have Fun,' but that was just one of many 80's anthems. When she wasn't making music, she was making waves in a wrestling ring - Lauper was one of the celebrity stars of the first ever WWE WrestleMania event in 1985, and a big reason so many people tuned in. Who can say whether the show would still be running today if she hadn't endorsed it on day one?
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Lauper kicked off the 1990s by getting married to actor David Thornton in 1991. Unlike the majority of celebrity marriages, they've stayed together, and have one child. Lauper's body of work is prolific; she's never slowed down and still shows no signs of doing so at 65 years old. As well as her singing, she's appeared in numerous films and television shows, as well as a memorable stint on 'Celebrity Apprentice.'
Far from peaking during the 80s, you could make a case that Lauper entered her prime within the past decade, which has seen her win both a Grammy Award and a Tony Award. They'll sit nicely in her trophy cabinet alongside her Emmy Award for 'Mad About You' in the mid-90s. Every bit the style icon today that she was all those years ago and revered by the LGBT community, we hope Lauper is still inspiring us into the 2020s.
Ally Sheedy in the 1980s
Earlier on, we talked about how 'Breakfast Club' star Nora Greenwald never considered herself to be part of the so-called 'Brat Pack.' Ally Sheedy, her 'Breakfast Club' co-star, definitely did. Sheedy was already well-known by the time she made the seminal film, but she came to prominence as a writer before she was ever a performer; her children's book 'She Was Nice to Mice' was published when she was just twelve years old.
That gave Sheedy both money and a reputation, and she used it as a platform. Taking classes in both acting and ballet she was determined to become a star on one field of the other, and so she did. By the time she was nineteen she'd turned heads in 'Hill Street Blues.' Her subsequent appearances in 'St. Elmo's Fire' and 'Blue City' qualified her for her 'Brat Pack' membership.
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Ally Sheedy Now
Some people say that a curse follows child stars around, and so it seemed to be the case with Sheedy. The 1990s started off well with appearances in 'Betsy's Wedding' and 'Fear,' but after that, she appeared to drop off the radar. In reality, she was battling a number of mental health issues and substance abuse problems, which saw her spend a period of time in rehab. She managed to get sober, only to relapse during a relationship with Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.
She's now happily sober again and back at work. Her only major film credit of the past two decades has been a cameo role in 'X-Men: Apocalypse,' but she seems happier picking and choosing her work, preferring to appear in TV movies in roles that interest her. Having seen the dark side of fame, you can't blame Sheedy for wanting to stick to the straight and narrow.
Debbie Gibson in the 1980s
'Out of the Blue' is a phrase that's used when someone or something appears from nowhere. It's also the title of the first album by 80s pop starlet Debbie Gibson and makes for an appropriate description. As a seventeen-year-old she went from a complete unknown to a huge star overnight. You could say she was the template for Britney Spears, although the latter has enjoyed more longevity at the top level.
Gibson was more than just a pretty face though; if anything, her looks hampered her ability to be taken seriously as a musician. While other performers needed other people to write and produce their songs for them, Gibson did it all herself. Not having to share the royalties with many people would have been a big plus for her when her second album 'Electric Youth' went double platinum.
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As the 80s gave way to the 90s, Gibson largely stayed true to type until 1994 when her songs took on a decidedly sultrier tone. Gibson had become bored of being looked at like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth and wanted to show the world that she'd grown up. The change in style wasn't to everybody's taste, but it kept her on the news and in the charts.
The mid 90s also saw her branch out into acting, with roles on 'Beverley Hills 90210' and 'Step by Step.' Music remained her first love though, and she found herself returning to it for the 21st century. When she was struggling to get the attention of the industry press in 2005, she seized it firmly by posing nude for Playboy. It worked. These days Gibson is still releasing music, but you're equally as likely to find her on a Broadway stage. Not yet even 50, she has plenty of entertainment left to give us.
Demi Moore in the 1980s
Demi Moore is arguably the 'Brat Pack's most successful export. She didn't just make it to the top level of Hollywood; she transcended it. It all really got started for her in the 80s though; a decade in which she seemed to be everywhere. Like a lot of kids with dreams, Moore quit school at sixteen and headed to Hollywood looking for modeling work in the late 70s.
As with many dreams, things didn't quite go as Moore had foreseen. Her first professional credits during the 80s came as a songwriter, but that was enough to open doors and get her connections. One thing led to another, and she ended up in 'General Hospital' which is where she first caught the attention of a larger audience. 'St Elmo's Fire' followed shortly afterward, and Moore was made as a star.
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When the 90s arrived, Moore came out swinging and rolled three big hits straight off the bat. Any actress would love to have one movie as successful as 'Ghost,' 'Indecent Proposal' or 'A Few Good Men' on their resume. Moore was the female lead of all three, and in the process, she became the best-paid woman in Hollywood.
It hasn't all been plain sailing. 'G.I. Jane' and 'Striptease' in the late 90s were seen as duds by critics and performed worse than expected at the box office, but Moore was still enjoying her work, and the chance to show off a new dimension of herself in 'Striptease' in particular. During the 21st century, she's become better known for her relationships with younger men including Ashton Kutcher and (allegedly) Nick Jonas. None of the constant tabloid gossip about her love life has affected the quality of her work, though; ask any viewer of 'Empire' and they'll happily tell you.
Brooke Shields in the 1980s
Brooke Shields is the daughter of a model, and with her good looks she was inevitably going to become a model herself; her mother Teri had made that decision for her long before the young Shields had a chance to consider her future career! As a child, Shields took classes in acting, dancing, and music. She'd had her first movie credit before the 80s even began, appearing in 1977's 'Pretty Baby' as a 12-year-old.
Rising through the ranks of phase at a frenetic pace, Shields became the youngest ever model to appear on the front cover of Vogue, and the face of Calvin Klein. She still wanted to make it in the acting world, but found herself dismissed as 'just a model.' A role in 1980s 'Blue Lagoon' proved she had the talent, though, and by the time she'd also filmed 'Sahara' and 'Endless Love' she could command up to half a million dollars per movie.
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It wasn't until the mid-1990s that people finally accepted Shields as an actress, and it took a comedy role to do it. She was the star of 'Suddenly Susan,' which ran all the way up to the year 2000 and saw her nominated for Golden Globe awards twice. 'That 70s Show' and 'Lipstick Jungle' came next, but during this time, Shields' priorities changed.
Shields became a mother and struggled initially with post-partum depression, but now says it's the most precious thing in her life. She had an admittedly strained relationship with her own mother who pushed her into show business and has vowed not to do the same to her own daughter. She does still act when she can find the time though, most recently with an extended run in 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit,' as well as voiceover work on Adult Swim's 'Mr. Pickle'.
Kathy Ireland in the 1980s
Thousands of beautiful women get scouted to become models every year. Only one of them has ever become a worldwide business empire, and that's Kathy Ireland. Ireland's story started in 1979 when she was spotted as a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl by a modeling agency. Before long she'd appeared in 'Vogue,' 'Cosmopolitan' and 'Mademoiselle.'
She spent the 1980s as a model, but a model like no other who had come before her. Ireland appeared in 13 consecutive issues of 'Sportswear Illustrated.' In 1989, her iconic bikini shot was voted the greatest in the history of the publication. Her fame saw her break into the movie business, appearing in 'Alien from L.A' and 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' towards the end of the decade. Neither film was well received by critics, but Ireland would go on to have the last laugh.
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Ireland turned out to have a phenomenal mind for business and marketing. She knew her likeness was worth money, and she knew precisely how to market it. In 1993 she founded 'Kathy Ireland Worldwide,' and started selling branded socks via Kmart. More than 100 million pairs of the socks were sold, and she no longer needed Kmart's support.
In the here and now, Ireland has a personal fortune of more than $420m. She's found success in making fitness videos, writing books, appearing in more movies and creating home furnishings. There's very little that her company doesn't do. She uses her fame and wealth for good, too: she's donated vast sums of money to AIDS charities and to charities who work with disadvantaged children. Other models have tried to capitalize on their own brand in the same way, but nobody has ever done it better than Ireland.
Helen Slater in the 1980s
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Helen Slater playing 'Supergirl' in the 1984 movie that made her famous. Slater was only two years out of performing arts college when she landed her best-known role, and she's been stuck with it ever since. Although many people mistakenly believe that she's related to Christian Slater (both became famous at around the same time and have shared the screen together), they're not.
Like a lot of aspiring performers, Slater's first TV work was on an ABC 'Afterschool Special' where her co-stars included Meg Ryan and James Earl Jones. 'Supergirl' was not a critical or box office success and could have derailed her career, but Slater pressed on by starring in 'The Legend of Billie Jean' and 'Ruthless People.' By 1988, though, her star appeared to be on the wane as she drifted into independent cinema.
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Sensing that a change in style might help her career, Slater played against-type in the raunchy 'A House in the Hills' in 1993, sizzling on the screen with Michael Madsen. That led on to 'No Way Back' in 1996 with Russell Crowe, but she was still finding big parts few and far between. During this time, though, the original 'Supergirl' movie was being revised by a new audience and accepted as a cult hit.
Eventually, shows set in the 'Superman' and 'Supergirl' films returned to television, and Slater decided to go with the flow. She had a recurring part as Superman's mother in 'Smallville,' and now she's gone completely meta as Supergirl's mom in the TV version of 'Supergirl.' If people are going to link you with one role forever anyway, you might as well take the money and embrace it!
Mia Sara in the 1980s
It's no wonder that the most beautiful women of the 1980s worked so hard to maintain their appearances - if they didn't, there were plenty of ready-made replacements trying to take their jobs. Mia Sara is another 80's pin-up girl who turned her beauty into a big-screen career.
Sara is probably best known for appearing as Sloane Peterson in 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off' in 1986, but she also got to work with Tom Cruise (seemingly a rite of passage for 80's actresses!) in 'Legend', as well as landing prominent roles in 'Shadows in the Storm', 'Queenie' and 'Bug Time'. It's no surprise that she always appeared to be so comfortable in front of a camera - both of her parents were professional photographers and artists. Growing up in a creative household and being surrounded by works of beauty clearly rubbed off on her!
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Margot Robbie may be the woman currently earning plaudits as comic-book character Harley Quinn, but Sara played the role long before her. She starred as Quinn in a TV series of 'Birds of Prey' in 2002. Her biggest 90s role was in 'Timecop,' which earned her a Saturn Award, but she hasn't appeared in TV or film since 2012. She'd been winding down her career for some time, with only a handful of appearances of any kind since the turn of the century.
She's still only in her early 50s, but it may be that she's decided to retire and settle down with her husband Brian Henson - the son of Jim Henson, who created the Muppets. Being married to the son of someone very famous isn't new for Sara - she was also married to Sean Connery's son Jason from 1996 to 2002.
Phoebe Cates in the 1980s
Having a famous family helps a lot when it comes to becoming famous yourself. Phoebe Cates had a lot of help in that her dad was a Broadway producer, and her uncle had worked backstage at several Oscars shows. That made it easy for the young Cates to get into the Julliard School, but it was dancing more than acting she originally pursued.
Cruel fate took dancing away from her though; a knee injury ended any prospect of that career when she was only 15. She took modeling work but hated it. At 17, she almost reluctantly turned to acting, but still agreed to appear completely naked in 'Paradise.' 1982's 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' was a bigger success (including an iconic bikini scene), and 'Private School' continued the theme of her taking on sexual roles in 1983. She somehow managed to jump out of that world and find a family audience with 'Gremlins' in 1984.
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The stage was set for Cates to take Hollywood by storm - but she had other ideas. She appeared in the sequel to 'Gremlins' in 1990, and then 1991's 'Drop Dead Fred.' Although the latter film is now well loved by a modern audience, it was hated at the time. That seemed to sting Cates, who started falling out of love with acting. She stuck around to make 'Princess Caraboo' in 1994, but after that declared herself retired from acting at the grand old age of 31.
Aside from tiring of performing, Cates had met and fallen in love with Kevin Kline. They married in 1989 and had their first son in 1991. Cates was happy to have a family, raise her children and stay out of the public eye. All these years later she and Kline remain married, and the place you're most likely to find Cates is her boutique store 'Blue Tree' on Madison Avenue in New York.
Kathleen Turner in the 1980s
Is there a better 1980's icon than Jessica Rabbit? She may not have been real, but she was the true star of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' and remains a popular costume for fancy dress parties to this day. Jessica Rabbit needed both a voice and a body to be based on, and that came from Kathleen Turner.
Pretty much all of the 80s were great for Turner. She broke into the mainstream by smoldering on the screen in 1981's 'Body Heat,' and then playing across from Michael Douglas in 'Romancing the Stone.' 1984's 'Crimes of Passion' was another entry in a similar vein. Basically, if you wanted a sex symbol for your 1980s movie, you called Kathleen Turner. She was good at what she did, too - she ended the decade with an Oscar nomination and two Golden Globes.
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The Kathleen Turner of today looks dramatically different to the Kathleen Turner of the 1980s, but we are approaching forty years since her first film appearance, so that's not unexpected. She couldn't maintain the 'sexy' roles forever, but she's managed to stay busy. 'Dumb and Dumber' was probably the pick of her 90s movie work, but she found more success by heading to the smaller screen.
Younger audiences probably recognize Turner from one of two parts; either Chandler's dad (she played a cross-dresser) in 'Friends,' or her multiple appearances in 'Californication.' Just being able to perform at all means the world to Turner - she was diagnosed with severe arthritis in the mid-90s and told that she'd inevitably end up in a wheelchair, but she overcame the illness. Away from the screen, she ended up in a bizarre 2008 lawsuit with Nicholas Cage over claims she'd made in her autobiography that he once stole a chihuahua from her.
Lea Thompson in the 1980s
If you're looking at this picture of Lea Thompson and the only thing you can think of is 'Back to the Future,' we don't blame you. The movies are iconic, as is her role in them as Marty McFly's mom Lorraine. The original film in the trilogy wasn't Thompson's first foray into the movie world though; that was 1983's gimmick film 'Jaws 3D'.
Thompson had a way of looking cute, sweet and younger than her years, which rarely saw her out of work during the decade. 'All the Right Moves' and 'The Wizard of Loneliness' were also strong outings for her, but not as strong as 'Nightbreaker' which saw her take on her first formal lead. Thompson wasn't an 80s pickup, but she always played the sort of character that a boy would gladly take home to meet his mother.
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Thompson struggled to find her feet during the 1990s. She was deemed too old to play the parts she'd become known for playing but also didn't look old enough to take on more mature roles. Caught between the two, she turned her attention away from making movies to find out what opportunities awaited her on television. The answer was 'Caroline in the City,' a 'Friends' spin-off in which Thompson played the lead role. It ran for four years from 1995 to 1999.
Her most recent major role was a six-year stint in 'Switched at Birth' from 2011 to 2017, although she continues to do episodic work. When she's not in front of a camera, she's at home with her director husband Howard Deutch, who she met back in the 80s while filming 'Some Kind of Wonderful.'
Jamie Lee Curtis in the 1980s
Jamie Lee Curtis didn't need any introduction to anybody by the time the 80s started; she'd been made a star by playing Lori strode in 1978's 'Halloween,' and since then she'd been expanding on the performance in a variety of other horror movies. If the 1980s had a scream queen, it was definitely Curtis.
Such was the success of 'Halloween' that a sequel was inevitable, and so it came to pass. Other 80s highlights for her included 'Prom Night, 'The Fog' and 'Terror Train,' as well as picking up a Golden Globe. Noted film critic Roger Ebert once observed that Curtis was to 1980's horror movies what Boris Karloff to those of the 1930's; the sole survivor, and the constant thread. The work may have seen her typecast for life, but there are worse things to be known for.
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Forty years have passed, and Curtis is still making 'Halloween' movies. She's been talked into returning to the franchise time and again and has never complained about doing so. The series of films is now at the point of contradicting its own history, with the most recent 2017 installment serving as a direct sequel to the 1978 original, disregarding everything that's come in between. Curtis still manages to be convincing; linking everything together just as Ebert said she did all those years ago.
It hasn't all been horror films for her though. She's equally memorable for her performance as housewife-turned-superspy in the 1994 comedy action film 'True Lies,' which also features one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's better acting performances. In 1998, she was rewarded for her then-twenty years of movie making success with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Madonna in the 1980s
If you need any introduction to Madonna, then may we be the first to welcome you to planet Earth. We hope you enjoy your stay. The Queen of Pop has reinvented herself dozens of times in order to stay on top of her game, but it all started for her in the New York club scene of the 1980s.
It may be hard to imagine now, but Madonna was once a niche performer whose music only appealed to club-goers. It took a remix of her first album from then-boyfriend John Benitez to achieve her first top ten hit with 'Holiday,' and it was all plain sailing from there. By the time the 80s were out she'd released 'Like a Virgin,' 'Like a Prayer,' 'Express Yourself' and 'Material Girl.' She'd also hit cinema screens in 'Who's That Girl' and 'Desperately Seeking Susan.' During the era, the only bigger entertainer in the world was Michael Jackson.
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Madonna basically never stopped. She's been releasing music constantly for the past thirty years, at a rate of at least one every three years. During that time, she's changed her style frequently, sometimes staying with the times and sometimes defining them. 1992's 'Erotica' was scandalously sexual for its time, and 1996's 'Ray of Light' is credited with doing much to popularize techno-pop.
The one area in which she never progressed, no matter how hard she tried, was cinema. She even had Guy Ritchie write and direct 'Swept Away' for her in 2002 during her marriage to him, but couldn't find the acclaim from critics that she wanted. As many people know she's also adopted several children from third world countries, starting a trend which Angelina Jolie quickly followed. At the age of 60, Madonna is currently working on her 14th album, which will apparently contain 'Portuguese fado music.'
Beverly D'Angelo in the 1980s
To those of us of a certain age, Beverly D'Angelo will always be Ellen Griswald from the 'National Lampoon' series of films, and we think of her every Christmas when we watch the holiday installment of the movies. D'Angelo has been playing the character since 1983, and we may yet see her do so again. It's not a fair reflection on D'Angelo's career to focus on that one role though; she's done a great deal more.
D'Angelo kicked off the 1980s by appearing as Patsy Kline in the biopic 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' which brought her a Golden Globe nomination. She also spent the decade married to an Italian aristocrat and heir. The marriage didn't last, but we're confident it meant that she never had to worry about money again for the rest of her life. As a little-known fact, before she was an actress, she worked as an illustrator for Hanna-Barbera.
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We've already covered that D'Angelo stayed with the 'National Lampoon' films, and that's proven to be the case for the long term. Her last outing in the franchise came as recently as 2015's 'Vacation,' a soft reboot of the long running series that still contained both her and Chevy Chase. She was in a relationship with Al Pacino during the late 90s and early 21st century; a relationship that brought two children.
During the past couple of decades, she's been as active on the small screen as she has on the large, with recurring roles in 'Entourage' and 'Law & Order,' but doesn't struggle to find film work when she wants it. At 67 years old she's shown no indication that she's about to retire. You can even hear her voice on recordings if you visit the Patsy Kline museum in Nashville, where she acts as your virtual tour guide.
Olivia Newton-John in the 1980s
To say that Olivia Newton-John was a household name in the time 1980 came along would be a severe understatement. You didn't often hear her name mentioned without being followed by 'Grease' or 'John Travolta,' but everybody had seen her act and heard her sing. She'd been singing long before she became an actress; her first album was released in 1971. By 1979, given her music and film success, she'd been awarded the Order of the British Empire by the Queen of England. In short, she was already a big deal.
Inspired by the way her 'Grease' character Sandy went from good girl to bad and won the boys in the process, Newton-John decided to do the same with her music career. 1981's 'Physical' saw her shake off her country roots and adopt an electro-pop sound with suggestive lyrics. The gamble paid off - the album sold millions of copies.
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Although many people didn't realize it at the time, Newton-John was playing much younger than her real age when she appeared in 'Grease'; she was over 30 when she took the part. After having a child during the mid-80s and attempting a musical comeback, she was approaching 40 and struggling to keep up with the new generation. She needed a change.
Newton-John's life was fundamentally changed by a breast cancer diagnosis in 1992. She would beat this encounter with the disease, but her approach to her career changed, and she moved more into activism and advocacy than she had done previously. She's barely appeared as an actress in the past thirty years, but has consistently released new music, having returned her country music roots in more recent years. She was still touring until 2017 when she announced the was facing a second battle with cancer.
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in the 1980s
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is the sort of name that you suspect an agent or director once suggested that the actress and singer change for the good of her career. She didn't, and she's done just fine. Mastrantonio started out the 80s under the bright lights of Broadway, where she was appearing in 'West Side Story.' She made two appearances in movies in 1983. One was as an uncredited extra in the crowd in 'The King of Comedy.' The other would change her life forever.
The life changing film was 'Scarface,' in which she played the sister of Al Pacino's legendary Tony Montana, Gina. Mastrantonio managed to find the perfect balance of vulnerability and defiance to make the character likable, and a perfect foil for the darkness in her brother. Three years later she received an Oscar nomination for her work on 'The Color of Money.'
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The 1990s got off to the perfect start for the actress - she was cast as Maid Marian in the epic 1991 movie 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' with Kevin Costner. Costner's accent was mocked by critics, but the film was a huge box office hit and is still a regular fixture of TV screenings in the 21st century. After that, it all went a little quiet for Mastrantonio and movies. She'd appear in only seven more for the remainder of the decade, none of them notable.
Mastrantonio hasn't received any movie credits at all since 2003, but she has remained active on television with recurring roles in 'The Punisher' and 'Grimm' as well as 'Without a Trace.' Nobody knows for sure why she seemed to take a step away from her career, but the timing does coincide with her having children. She can currently be seen on our screens in 'Blindspot.'
Geena Davis in the 1980s
Going from modeling into acting seems like a common career path for our 1980's women, but not many of them can say they went from modeling to acting to writing and production. Geena Davis can, and she's done it with style. The decade was very good to Geena Davis, who waltzed out of it with a much-coveted trophy.
Many readers will remember her best for her performance in 'Beetlejuice,' although those who prefer their movies to be more horror-driven (and slightly kooky) will instantly recognize her from 'The Fly.' Neither of those roles got her an Oscar though - that came when she picked up 'Best Supporting Actress' for 1988's 'The Accidental Tourist.' That's a long way from where she was at the start of the decade, appearing in 1981's 'Tootsie' as a character she describes as 'someone who just took their clothes off a lot.'
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If Davis was worried that her career had peaked by the end of the 1980s, she needn't have worried. 1991 saw her star in the classic 'Thelma and Louise' with Susan Sarandon. That got her another Oscar nomination - this time for Best Actress - but she didn't end up going home with the statue. Things came to a dead stop in the mid-1990s. Davis believes that she was written off by some producers and directors because she'd turned 40, noting that the only movie role she was offered during her 40s was 'Stuart Little.'
Her movie career never recovered from a box office turkey called 'Cutthroat Island,' but she still appears regularly on television. She had her own 'Geena Davis Show' for a series at the turn of the century, and more recently has appeared as a recurring character on the medical drama 'Grey's Anatomy.'
Alyssa Milano in the 1980s
The way Alyssa Milano's career got started is a little creepy. When she was only seven years old, her babysitter took her to audition for a national touring production of 'Annie' without asking for permission from her parents or telling them where she'd gone. Milano got the part, and her mother must have come around to the idea because she spent the next 18 months touring the USA with her daughter.
With that start, Milano quickly became a child star of the 80s. She appeared in her first film in 1984 at the age of 12; a coming-of-age drama called 'Old Enough.' In the same year, she recorded her part as Arnold Schwarzenegger's daughter in 'Commando,' although she didn't know too much about the film because of her age! She saw out the decade starring in TV show 'Who's the Boss?', which ran for eight years and 196 episodes.
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Alyssa Milano Now
The first thing we can tell you about what Milano does now is that she more or less lives on a farm! The home she shares with her husband in Bell Canyon, California, is also home to two rabbits, five dogs, eight chickens, and nine horses. We're pretty sure the animals live outdoors.
Milano was a sex symbol of the 1990s, with starring roles in 'Melrose Place' and 'Charmed' as well as appearing in movies like 'Double Dragon' and 'Deadly Sins' Her work slowed down a little after the year 2000 (although she was still in 'Charmed' until 2006), but she's back on TV right now starring in 'Insatiable'. Milano has also been an activist for years, appearing as a guest speaker at 2018's Women's March. Perhaps more importantly, she posted the tweet which has been credited with starting the #MeToo movement.
Christina Applegate in the 1980s
Christina Applegate doesn't look old enough to have been around as a performer in the 1980s, but she was. Much like Alyssa Milano, she came into the business at an early age, finding fame as a sixteen-year-old when she was cast in 'Married with Children' in 1987.
In truth, you could say Applegate was born into performance - almost literally. Her first credited performance as an actor was in an episode of 'Days of our Lives' in 1972 when she was a three-month-old baby. Perhaps understandably, she didn't receive another credit for nine years, when she was a guest star the Western series 'Father Murphy' in 1981. Just before she really caught the eye in 'Married with Children' she completed a thirteen-episode run in 1986's 'Heart of the City' which had also boosted her reputation.
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Christina Applegate Now
'Married with Children' ran for a long time - from its 1987 start, it finished in 1997, meaning that by the time she was done, Applegate as Kelly Bundy had seen two entire sets of children through high school who didn't realize they liked girls until they saw her. She had another prolonged television run in the 90s, starring as the title character in 'Jesse,' but the decade was mostly about films for Applegate, as have been all the years since.
Applegate's first notable film role was 1991's 'so bad it's good' classic 'Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead.' Things improved for her from there, with a significant role in 1996's 'Mars Attacks.' We don't imagine she knew that she was accepting what may be her definitive role when she became Veronica Corningstone in 2004's 'Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy' but that's how things have turned out. She doesn't seem to mind though; she came back for the 2014 sequel.
Sybil Danning in the 1980s
The key to becoming memorable is to excel in whatever field you're given. Sybil Danning realized quite early on that she was never going to become a major Hollywood box office draw, so she decided to become the Queen of the B movie instead. That's actually a step up from how she spent much of the 1970s, which was making softcore pornography in Germany.
Danning was 28 by the time the 80s began and running out of time to get her career kickstarted. She'd moved to Hollywood in 1978 in the hope of breaking out of her erotic mold, and she achieved that aim. Films like 'Howling II: Your Sister Is A Werewolf,' 'Reform School Girls' and 'Chained Heat' may not have been Oscar winning classics, but they weren't porn. Sadly, her movie career was totally derailed by a bad back injury in 1990.
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Sybil Danning Now
The 1990 back injury was a simple case of bad luck and happened while she was rehearsing for a stunt. She herniated her back, requiring immediate surgery, and after that, she seemed to vanish completely. Nobody knew where she was or what she was doing for the next decade.
Kevin Clement, director of the Chiller Theatre, tracked her down in 2003 and invited her to come to an event to greet her fans. A curious Danning agreed and was stunned to find out how many people knew and loved her from her 80s B movies. Inspired by them, Danning made a comeback in her 50s, starting with the Rob Zombie version of 'Halloween' in 2007. She's worked sporadically since then, including a five-episode run in TV show 'The Lair' as a vampire. She seemed to re-enter retirement in 2010, before bizarrely emerging as part of a consortium trying to buy English football club Sheffield Wednesday in 2015.
Elisabeth Shue in the 1980s
80's acting starlet Elisabeth Shue may never have gone into the profession at all if it hadn't been for her brother Andrew landing a role in 'Melrose Place,' inspiring her in the process. Shue displayed some interest while at school, including commercial work for Burger King and DeBeers, but she never considered it likely to become her career until 'The Karate Kid' happened.
Shue only took the role because she wanted money to pay her way into Harvard. The film wasn't expected to be successful - so much so that Shue thought she'd be able to do it without even being recognized at university. She filmed her scenes and then returned to college, working to complete her studies in spite of the movie becoming an unexpected hit. She kept working too, though, starring in 'Adventures in Babysitting' and various TV shows. Eventually, when she appeared opposite Tom Cruise in 'Cocktail,' she bowed to the forces of inevitability and walked away from Harvard to act full time.
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Elisabeth Shue Now
If the 80s brought Shue success, the 90s brought her critical acclaim. She was showered in nominations and awards for her work in the 1995 film 'Leaving Las Vegas,' including Oscar and Golden Globe nomination and trophies from the National Society of Film Critics. 'The Saint' and 'Deconstructing Harry' were her follow ups, but a nagging sense that she should have finished university persuaded her to go back to Harvard in 1997, this time completing her course.
Adult life has continued to treat her well; she married Davis Guggenheim and had three children with him before making a storming come back to television in 2012, captivating a whole new audience as Julie Finlay in 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,' where she stayed for three years. The fresh exposure got her back into the movies and saw her star in the 2017 version of 'Death Wish.'
Kelly McGillis in the 1980s
The best-known song from the iconic 1980s movie 'Top Gun' was Berlin's 'Take My Breath Away,' and that was exactly what the beautiful Kelly McGillis did to the male audience of the film. Tom Cruise was the star of the film, but the profile of the previously unknown McGillis was also elevated to stratospheric levels by the motion picture's success.
Her life was never the same after she appeared in the film, but she'd filmed another notable role at around the same time and earned similar plaudits for 'Witness' with Harrison Ford. Three years later she was magnificent again in 'The Accused,' this time sharing the screen with Jodie Foster. It appeared that McGillis was destined to be just as big a star as all of her co-stars, but life had other plans for her.
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Kelly McGillis Now
For whatever reason, McGillis' acting career nosedived in the 1990s. She was still making films, but they were movies with nothing like the same profile as per 80s hits. She tried turning her hand at TV instead but found herself stuck in either one-off TV movies or a disproportionate number of unsold TV pilots. Her appearance had changed drastically from her 80s look, which discounted her from the 'eye candy' roles she'd secured in the past.
She was also dealing with changes in her personal life. She realized late in life that she was a lesbian and confirmed as much in 2009 during a TV interview. In more recent years she's started filming new productions again, but she's more interested with helping those around her, having worked full-time at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic in New Jersey for several years.
Janet Jackson in the 1980s
It's fair to say that Janet Jackson had an advantage that most people didn't when it comes to breaking into show business; she was a Jackson. She could easily have taken the same route as all her brothers; joining the family group and branching out from there, but Janet has always preferred to do things her own way. She did make a couple of appearances on the Jacksons' TV show in 1976, but was offered a part in 'Good Times' and decided to take that route instead.
For a while it looked like she'd pursue acting instead of singing, as she picked up parts in 'Diff'rent Strokes' and 'Fame,' but the family business was always bound to grab her in the end. Her first attempt didn't really work, with her debut album coming out when she was sixteen and barely troubling the charts at all. She could have gone back to acting. Instead, she fired her own father and took control of her own image and future. The result was 1986's 'Control,' which went platinum five times.
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Janet Jackson Now
If the 1980s were about establishing Jackson as a performer with her own style, the 90s were about taking her persona and pushing it as far as it would go. 'The Velvet Rope' was a moody, sensual and downright sexy album that established Jackson as a sex symbol as well as a singer. She also found herself involved in acting again, appearing in 1993's 'Poetic Justice' and also singing the movie's title track, which won the 'Best Original Song' Oscar the following year.
The 00's didn't exactly go swimmingly, though. She made a surprise appearance at 2004's Superbowl to perform a duet with Justin Timberlake, but when the former boyband star ripped off part of her costume, her breast was exposed to a global audience of 140m people, and the press went into meltdown. Jackson carried on regardless, continuing to break the mold by having her first child at the age of 50 in 2017.

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