Sweetheart's Of The Past That Forever Changed The Course Of American History
By Lyra Radford | July 15, 2017
Out of the many women to wander into the public eye, there are those special few who outshined them all. Acknowledged for their beauty, style, grace, and achievements, these women have earned their place in the hearts of the public and will forever be known as 'America's Sweethearts.'
Whether performers of some kind, political figures, writers, or activists, these influential woman are among those most loved in America's history. While many admire their talents and charm, most fail to realize the impact these women have had on society. Each of these women has significantly changed the course of history, they've made their mark in the world.
The fashion model and fitness guru Jane Fonda was admired by the American public, but she was also spied on by the government. Fonda was one of 1,600 Americans being monitored by the NSA between 1967 and 1973. All Fonda’s communications, as well as her husband's Tom Hayden, were monitored by the government. The reason for this, during the 1960s, Fonda engaged heavily in political activism. She was a supporter of the Civil Rights Movement and was extremely vocal about her opposition to the Vietnam War.
Mae West was more than just a beloved bombshell of the 1930s. The actress, singer, comedian, and writer made great contributions to American cinema. She challenged censorship, mocked prudence, and was even jailed for standing up for her right to freedom of speech. The people of the Depression era adored her for it all. By 1935, West was the highest paid woman and the second highest paid person in the United States. West was named 15th of the greatest female classic cinema stars by the American Film Institute.
Josephine Baker was a dancer and singer in the United States, but it wasn’t until she moved to France that her popularity skyrocketed. During WWII she became a spy and then returned home to the United States to stand with Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement. She was also the first American woman to be given a military funeral in France.
Elizabeth Taylor was more than just a pretty face, she was a force of nature. Actress, businesswoman, and philanthropist. Taylor was one of the first celebrities to devote themselves to HIV/AIDS activism. She organized the very first AIDS fundraiser and went on to found the National AIDS Research Foundation.
Dorothy Dandridge was the first African-American actress to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In addition to film and theater acting, she was a singer who performed in high profile venues such as the Cotton Club and the Apollo Theater. Dandridge refused to be “scandalized” by those who attempted to peddle falsehoods. She sued Confidential (magazine) for libel in 1957. They were ordered to stop publishing stories based on tips they paid for and paid out $10,000 to Dandridge.
Dimpled cheeks framed in curls, little Shirley Temple sang, danced and acted her way into the hearts of America during the Depression. By six years old she’d won an Academy Award. She starred in a movie with future president Ronald Reagan before leaving show business to embark on a political career of her own. She ran for Congress, served as United States Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, and played a critical role in hastening the end of communism in Czechoslovakia.
The French model, actress, singer, and original blonde bombshell; Brigitte Bardot’s charms and immense talent won the world over. Her style, grace, and eventually her passion for animal rights heavily influenced culture as a whole. Her style has been emulated across the world, she's had fashion trends named after her, and she even has a signature pose models try to reproduce to this very day.
Mary Pickford, known as “America's Sweetheart," "Queen of the Movies," and the "girl with the curls", was more than just a prolific film actress. She was also a producer and a co-founder of both the Pickford-Fairbanks Studio and the United Artists film studio. She was also one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who present the "Oscar" awards.
Raquel Welch may have been one of the most popular sex icons of the 1960s and 1970s but she also broke the mold of what it meant to be a sex symbol. She helped change America’s view on sexuality by portraying strong female characters at a time where women in submissive roles were desirable.
In addition to being one of the most popular figure skaters of the 1990s, Nancy Kerrigan also won the hearts of Americans after she was viciously attacked in efforts to destroy her career. Suddenly her face was on every magazine and television channel, the entire nation demanded justice for Nancy Kerrigan. Nancy endured the pain of her injuries and won the silver medal after having to drop out of the world-championship.
It was her performance at the 1968 Summer Olympics that popularized artistic gymnastics in the United States as a sport and earned Cathy Rigby the title of America's Sweetheart. In fact, she was the first athlete to earn the title. Rigby was the national champion in 1970 and 1972, and she was the first American woman to win a medal at the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships.
Fay Wray was a Canadian/American actress credited as being one of the first “Scream Queens.” Her role in King Kong stole the hearts of Americans. Over the course of her (57-year) acting career, she went on to steal hearts on an international level, becoming known as the best horror movie actresses in the world.
Olivia Newton John
Pam Grier is widely regarded as the first female action star. The beauty was in a string of women-prison and blaxploitation films as she rose to fame throughout the 1970s. It was her role in Foxy Brown, that landed her icon status. She later starred in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe and a SAG Award as Best Actress.