The 1970s Lifestyles and Social Trends: Headline Makers

views updated

The 1970s Lifestyles and Social Trends: Headline Makers

Bella Abzug
Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker
Cesar Chavez
Patricia Hearst
Jesse Jackson
Calvin Klein
Ralph Lauren
Phyllis Schlafly

Bella Abzug (1920–1998) In 1970, in her first political campaign, Bella Abzug was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. One of only twelve women elected to serve in the House at the time, she was the first Jewish women elected to Congress. Flamboyant in appearance and outspoken in temperament, Abzug disregarded her freshman status in the House and assumed a leadership role in the Vietnam War protest and women's rights movements. A year after losing her bid for reelection in 1976, she became cochair of the President's National Advisory Committee on Women, serving until 1979.

Jim Bakker (1940–) and Tammy Faye Bakker (1942–) In 1972, Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker began broadcasting their Christian television talk show, The PTL Club. Two years later, they set up their own broadcasting system, the PTL Network. The Bakkers quickly became celebrities, and contributions to their show soon topped five million dollars. In 1978, the Bakkers began to build Heritage USA, a planned community for Christians. By the end of the decade, however, the Bakkers' lavish lifestyle and questionable fund-raising tactics prompted an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission. The investigation would eventually lead to their downfall.

Cesar Chavez (1927–1993) Cesar Chavez was the most effective labor leader of the 1970s. He rose from poverty as an Hispanic migrant worker in Arizona to international celebrity as the leader of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. He promoted social change through nonviolent means, and he organized workers and supporters across ethnic, class, and gender lines. These tactics, which went against current approaches, not only improved working conditions for members of the UFW but also inspired respect and admiration throughout the country.

Patricia Hearst (1953–) Patricia Hearst, the daughter of wealthy newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, was involved in one of the more bizarre events of the 1970s. In February 1974, the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA), a leftist terrorist group, kidnapped her and held her for two million dollars' ransom. After her parents failed to negotiate her release, Hearst was allegedly brainwashed by the SLA. In April of that year, she assisted the group in a San Francisco bank robbery. A year later, police captured Hearst, and she was sentenced to seven years in prison for the crime. She was released in 1979.

Jesse Jackson (1941–) In the 1970s, Jesse Jackson was the most visible civil rights leader in the country. His organization, Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), founded in 1971, sought to strengthen the economic position of African Americans. Among other issues, Operation PUSH pressed larger businesses to hire more minorities and work more closely with minority businesses. In 1975, Jackson brought national attention to the subject of minority education, raising money for an elementary school program called PUSH for Excellence, or PUSH-EXCEL. The aim of the program was to revive pride and self-discipline among students in inner-city schools.

Calvin Klein (1942–) In 1972, fashion designer Calvin Klein began creating his flexible collections of interchangeable separates, mainly for women, that were both casual and elegant. That same year, he also launched his line of sportswear separates that could be intermixed to produce a complete day and evening wardrobe. His clothes helped reinvigorate American fashion design at a time when most young Americans cared little about the industry. Beginning in 1973, Klein received three consecutive prestigious Coty awards, becoming the youngest designer to be so honored. In the late 1970s, Klein introduced the first designer jeans, changing the way jeans were perceived thereafter.

Ralph Lauren (1939–) Ralph Lauren was the ultimate American fashion designer of the 1970s. His designs were streamlined, adaptable, imaginative, and classic and contemporary at the same time. Lauren's line of women's clothes, which were fashionable and comfortable, borrowed heavily from his menswear line. In 1977, actress Diane Keaton popularized this look in the movie Annie Hall. The following year, believing the cowboy look represented confidence and independence, Lauren introduced a western theme into his clothes. It was an instant sensation. For his work, Lauren received six prestigious Coty awards, more than any other designer.

Phyllis Schlafly (1924–) Phyllis Schlafly was an effective conservative Republican spokesperson in the 1970s. Arguing that social changes jeopardized the family and traditional gender roles, Schlafly strongly opposed the women's liberation movement. To that end, she organized and operated the National Committee to Stop the ERA as well as the Eagle Forum. Through these organizations, Schlafly and other like-minded conservatives were able to convince voters and legislators that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was a threat to American values, and the amendment was eventually defeated.

About this article

The 1970s Lifestyles and Social Trends: Headline Makers

Updated About content Print Article


The 1970s Lifestyles and Social Trends: Headline Makers