The Biggest Heartthrobs of the 1970s Perfectly Illustrate How Our Tastes Have Changed


He’s so dreamy! Every generation has its teen idols and heartthrobs. Funny thing is, with just a few years perspective, we’re usually left with sort of a “huh?” feeling when we see their pictures or happen to catch them on the big or small screen. Don’t misunderstand: some heartthrobs are timeless – Cary Grant, Paul Newman, and Brad Pitt come to mind. But the 1970s seems to have produced a bumper crop of these “it could only have happened then” heartthrobs… and here they are! Enjoy the trip down memory lane!

Robby Benson

Photo credit Hello Giggles
Photo credit / Hello Giggles

Robby Benson was always going to be a star. Gorgeous, with bright blue eyes and a sweet voice, he was a teen idol almost before he was a teen. From early beginnings on the soap opera Search For Tomorrow, Benson quickly moved on to starring in popular coming-of-age movies, including Jory when he was 15-years-old, Jeremy when he was 16-years-old and – his best remembered role – Billy Joe MacAlister in Ode to Billy Joe when he was 19-years-old. Benson continued to work in film, most notably in One On One (which he co-wrote with his father), Ice Castles, and Running Brave. Another huge success? He’s the voice of the Beast in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

Still cute, even at 61, Benson continues to act, write and direct as well as spending time teaching. He’s been on the faculty at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, the University of Utah, the University of South Carolina and Indiana University. He can be our professor any day of the week!

Willie Aames

Photo credit Pinterest
Photo credit / Pinterest

In 1976, Willie Aames was cast as Tommy Bradford in the television series Eight is Enough and instantly achieved heartthrob status. With his untamed 70s hair and California good looks, Willie rode his wave of popularity through the series’ four-year run and then kept the love alive when he signed on to co-star with fellow heartthrob Scott Baio in Charles in Charge. Despite his troubles with alcohol and a couple of failed marriages, Aames is still active and is now working successfully as a director, screenwriter and – get this! – cruise ship director.


David Cassidy

Photo credit American Spectator
Photo credit / American Spectator

I think I love you! David Cassidy, who played the dreamy Keith Partridge on The Partridge Family, was the stepson of Partridge Family co-star Shirley Jones. As sometimes happens when your father is an actor (David’s is actor Jack Cassidy), David started early, making his professional debut on Broadway in 1969 then doing guest appearances on a variety of TV shows until he landed the role of Keith Partridge. And before you could say “C’mon, Get Happy,” he was a teen idol.

While the show was centered around a musical family who’d formed a band together, only David and Shirley (who was already a famous musical star) actually sang on the show. Their first hit, “I Think I Love You,” set teenage hearts aflutter and encouraged the show’s producers to start cranking out the songs. David’s success on the show and with his solo albums made him a true teen heartthrob.

Once the series ended, Cassidy continued to perform and tour. And although he has had widely publicized issues with substance and alcohol abuse, he continues to bring in the now-middle aged ladies, all screaming his name.