Women in the 1980s were strong, beautiful and talented, and in this post we are celebrating 30 of the most iconic women of that era, from Kylie Minogue right through to Sigourney Weaver.
These women sure packed a punch in the 80s, and we hope that you will enjoy this nostalgic look back at some of the most beautiful and talented!
30. Kylie Minogue
Who can forget Charlene from Neighbours? Since starring in the legendary Aussie soap, Kylie Minogue has gone on to become a recording artist and achieved massive success in the entertainment industry.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, the I Should Be So Lucky and Especially for You singer, nicknamed the ‘Princess of Pop’, became the highest-selling Australian artist of all time.
She never left acting behind entirely though, appearing in Baz Luhrmann’s Oscar-winning Moulin Rouge! and the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special.
Now 50-years-old, Kylie is still going strong, having survived breast cancer in 2005 and received an honorary doctorate in 2011 for raising awareness of the disease.
29. Alyssa Milano
American actress, activist, producer and former singer Alyssa Milano was one of the teen crushes of the 80s and 90s.
The star of Who’s the Boss from 1984 to 1992 and, later, Charmed from 1998 to 2006, Milano began her acting career aged just seven.
In 2009, Milano married Creative Artists Agency agent David Bugliari, with whom she has a son and a daughter.
Now 46, Milano has been heavily involved as an activist representing numerous causes later in life. She appeared in a 2007 advertisement for PETA where she advocated vegetarianism by wearing a dress made entirely of vegetables.
28. Tiffani Thiessen
If you don’t know Tiffani Amber Thiessen, who starred as Kelly Kapowski in Saved By The Bell and as Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills 90210, then what were you even doing in the 90s?
Known as a real sex symbol of the time, Thiessen was crowned Miss Junior America in 1987, won the Great Model Search in 1988 and was was named Cover Girl magazine’s Model of the Year in 1989.
Following her 90s imperial phase, Thiessen has largely stayed in TV, taking a lead role in the USA Network’s White Collar and starring in Netflix’s Alexa & Katie since 2018.
Now 44, Thiessen married actor Brady Smith in 2005. Together they have a daughter called Harper and a son named Holt.
27. Erika Eleniak
The lovely Erika Eleniak was, of course, one of the stars of Baywatch. And who can ever forget her popping out of that cake in Under Siege?
Eleniak’s actually made her debut in a small role in ET the Extra-Terrestrial, which she followed up with films including The Blob and The Beverly Hillbillies.
But Erika of course made her name starring as Shauni McClain in the first three seasons of Baywatch, from 1989 until 1992.
Since Baywatch, Eleniak has suffered from issues relating to her weight, once being hospitalised due to laxative abuse.
However since marrying Roch Daigle, a grip who worked on Eleniak’s 2001 film Snowbound, the actress has mellowed. The pair have a daughter, Indyanna, born in 2006.
Most famous for her 1987 rendition of song I Think We’re Alone Now, Tiffany was briefly the biggest thing on the music scene back in the day.
As Tiffany headed into the 90s, however, her musical direction changed and she never hit the same heights again.
Since then, Tiffany has married and divorced, given birth to a son in 1992, posed nude for Playboy in 2002, married again and separated, and released eight more albums.
Tiffany was back on the small screen only very recently, on the Australian edition of I’m A Celebrity, but unfortunately she was the very first celeb voted off by viewers.
25. Phoebe Cates
You may not see her around much anymore, but in the 80s and 90s, Phoebe Cates seemed destined great things.
Thanks to Drop Dead Fred, two Gremlins movies and one scene in particular in Fast Times At Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates became the teenage crush du jour.
In 1989, however, Cates married actor Kevin Kline, subsequently had two children – a son born in 1991, a daughter in 1994 – and decided to retire from acting at the age of 30.
Since 1994, Cates has concentrated on her family.
Cates has only appeared on screen once since, in the 2001 film The Anniversary Party, as a favour to her friend (and that film’s director) Jennifer Jason Leigh. Rather than acting, Cates instead now runs a boutique in New York.
24. Kelly LeBrock
Kelly LeBrock, of 1984’s The Woman in Red and 1985’s Weird Science, was one of the hottest women of her day.
Initially a model, LeBrock broke into the movies playing the fantasy woman (although, not to spoil any teenage fantasies, but LeBrock was not actually naked during the famous Weird Science shower scene).
After making Hard to Kill with her second husband Steven Seagal in 1990, though, LeBrock’s star dimmed.
Today, a 58-year-old LeBrock makes occasional appearances in movies, last showing up TV movie A Prince for Christmas.
23. Danica McKellar
Back in the day, Danica McKellar was best-known for playing Winnie, Fred Savage’s friend and love interest in the sitcom The Wonder Years.
Unfortunately, McKellar has never reached the same heights in acting terms since The Wonder Years – she mostly does voice acting for TV animation now – but she does have another impressive side-hustle.
Since 2008, McKellar has published six books aimed at teaching mathematics to young girls. Three have made the New York Times children’s bestseller list.
As for her personal life, in 2014 McKellar married Scott Sveslosky, and she also a son called Draco from her previous marriage to composer Mike Verta.
22. Catherine Bach
As Daisy Duke in 80s action-comedy show The Dukes Of Hazzard, Catherine Bach became one of the biggest sex symbols of the time.
Having started in the entertainment industry as a child, Bach later appeared in the film Thunderbolt and Lightfoot before landing her big TV gig.
After The Dukes of Hazzard ended in 1985, Bach continued to act intermittently before joining the CBS soap opera The Young And The Restless in 2012, in which she still stars today.
Now 64, Bach is once divorced and once widowed: her husband of 20 years, Peter Lopez, committed suicide in 2010. He was survived by his two children with Bach, daughters Sophia and Laura.
21. Sean Young
Starting her film career in 1980 with Jane Austen in Manhattan, Sean Young went on to star in the film Stripes a year later and was already on her way to 80s superstardom.
Going on to appear in such major films as Blade Runner, No Way Out and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Sean Young was a big deal back in the day.
Unfortunately, Young before long developed a reputation for being difficult with and alienating co-stars, and Hollywood eventually turned its back on her.
Young’s personal life has been rocky in recent years. Having married Robert Lujan in 1990, Young got a divorce in 2002, before remarrying him in 2011. She checked into rehab for alcohol abuse in 2008 and 2011.
20. Samantha Fox
The ultimate Page 3 girl, Samantha Fox was, not to be too blunt about it, famous for taking her top off in the 80s.
Soon becoming one of the most popular pin-ups of the time, Fox also ended the 1980s as one of the most photographed British women of the decade.
This was followed by an attempt at a music career, but the bestselling single Touch Me (I Want Your Body) aside – it peaked at number 1 in 17 countries – Fox wasn’t quite so successful.
In 2003, Fox made the papers once more when she announced that she was in a relationship with her manager Myra Stratton. They were in a relationship until Stratton’s death in 2015.
19. Ulrika Jonsson
Known for being a presenter on Gladiators and Good Morning, Britain, as well as a number of other popular shows of the time, Ulrika Jonsson was once ubiquitous on British telly.
Around the time Jonsson signed up as a team captain on the comedy panel show Shooting Stars, she began to appear in the news for some high-profile scandals.
But with an affair with then-England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and an allegation of sexual assault against TV presenter John Leslie behind her, Jonsson has moved on to other things.
Appearing on television infrequently nowadays, Jonsson, now 51, has four children born between 1994 and 2008.
18. Belinda Carlisle
One of the biggest names of 80s pop and one of the most popular singers of the time, Belinda Carlisle had a string of 80s hits such as Circle in the Sand and Heaven is a Place on Earth.
Starting out as lead singer of the Go-Go’s, before she embarked on her enormously successful solo career, with fame came struggles for Carlisle.
After a cocaine binge in 2005, Carlisle has claimed she “didn’t see a light or a soul in my eyes”. Since then, she singer has been sober.
Though releasing a new album in 2017, Carlisle today lives something of a quiet life with her husband of 33 years, Morgan Mason.
17. Cindy Crawford
Through the 80s and 90s, Cindy Crawford was one of the biggest names in the modelling world, and one of the most popular and recognisable people in the world.
Crawford also tried her hand at acting, though that was short-lived. She married actor Richard Gere in 1991, but sadly their marriage only lasted four years.
The happy ending is that Crawford married former model Rande Gerber in 1998, and they’ve been together ever since.
Crawford and Gerber have two children together: a son called Presley and a daughter called Kaia, both of whom have unsurprisingly started a modelling careers of their own.
In 2017, Crawford and other supermodels of her era closed the Versace Spring/Summer 2018 show, which was an homage to the late fashion designer Gianni Versace.
16. Pamela Anderson
One of the ultimate and most recognisable sex symbols of all time, Pamela Anderson first rose to fame as Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month in February 1990.
Shortly after, Anderson took the role of CJ in Baywatch, becoming more famous than ever for wearing a tight red swimsuit and doing a lot of slow motion running.
Since leaving Baywatch, Anderson has been through three divorces, but has much more happily also dedicated herself to several good causes.
A vegan, Anderson has been very vocal on the subject of animal rights, even writing an open letter to Vladimir Putin in 2015 about preventing the passage of whale meat headed to Japan.
15. Kim Basinger
Following a successful modelling career in New York during the 1970s, Kimila Ann Basinger fatefully moved to Los Angeles in 1976 to begin an acting career.
Coming to prominence playing Bond girl Domino Petachi in the 1983 film Never Say Never Again, Basinger followed up with high profile roles in The Natural, 9½ Weeks and Tim Burton’s 1989 take on Batman.
Also an Oscar-winner for 1997’s LA Confidential, Basinger has also been famous in her time for a tumultuous personal life, her divorce from and custody battle with Alec Baldwin in 2002 going very public.
Today, Basinger is an outspoken vegetarian and animal rights supporter, even posing for anti-fur advertisements and filming a public service announcement about farm animals.
14. Lisa Bonet
Lilakoi Moon, born and known professionally as Lisa Bonet (she changed the name in 1995), was once upon a time the star of one of the most popular shows of the 80s.
From 1984 to 1991, Bonet played Denise Huxtable on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show, and its spinoff, A Different World.
This was followed by an almost career-breaking role in 1987’s Angel Heart, marriage and kids with Lenny Kravitz, and a divorce in 1993.
There’s a happy ending: in 2007, Bonet married Aquaman actor Jason Momoa, with whom she now has two children: a daughter called Lola, and a son called Nakoa-Wolf.
13. Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Lynn Williams, the American actress, singer, fashion designer and former model, has shown off many strings to her bow in her time in the spotlight.
Initially gaining recognition as the first African-American recipient of the Miss America title in 1983, Williams began a music career in the late 80s and early 90s that saw her win both commercial success and a raft of awards.
Later, Williams reinvented herself again, bagging prominent roles in Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives in the 2000s. In 2016, meanwhile, Williams launched her own clothing line.
Williams has been married three times, firstly to Ramon Hervey, with whom she has three children, then to NBA basketball player Rick Fox, with whom she has a daughter, and now to businessman Jim Skrip.
12. Paula Abdul
Not unlike Vanessa Williams, Paula Abdul is a renaissance woman; an American singer, songwriter, dancer, choreographer, actress and TV personality, you can name it and Paula’s probably done it.
Beginning her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18, before rising to prominence in the 1980s as a highly sought after choreographer, Abdul’s 1988 debut album Forever Your Girl became one of the most successful at that time.
In the 90s, Abdul was married twice – once to Emilio Estevez, from 1992 to 1994, then to clothing designer Brad Beckerman, from 1996 to 1998.
These days, Abdul can be seen judging on reality shows such as American Idol and The X Factor.
11. Winona Ryder
In the 80s and 90s, Winona Ryder – after starring in iconic films such as Beetlejuice, Heathers and Edward Scissorhands – was as big as a Hollywood star could be.
Ryder’s success continued into the early 2000s, but her personal struggles with depression and drug use made headlines when, in 2001, she was arrested for shoplifting and sentenced to community service.
At first struggling to make her comeback, over time Ryder has re-emerged on the scene, in films such as Star Trek and Black Swan. And as of 2016, Ryder has been starring in one of the biggest successes of her career, the Netflix series Stranger Things, introducing her to a brand new generation.
Ryder has never been married, though she has come close, briefly becoming engaged to Johnny Depp in 1990. Now 47, she has been in a relationship with fashion designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn since 2011.
10. Olivia Newton-John
In a role that almost went to Star Wars’ Carrie Fisher, Olivia Newton-John is of course best known for starring as Sandy in the hit film Grease.
After Grease, Newton-John reunited with her co-star John Travolta in the 1983 romantic comedy Two of a Kind, though her greatest success has been in music.
At last count, it’s estimated that Newton-John has sold around 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best selling music artists of all time.
Now 70, Newton-John has battled with cancer on and off since the early 90s, most recently being diagnosed with the disease in 2017. She’s still going strong, though, and has been happily married to John Easterling since 2008.
9. Debbie Gibson
Having had her first hit single in 1986 (aged just 16) with In My Dreams, Debbie Gibson has been going strong for 33 years.
In the 90s, Gibson moved into theatre, respectively taking the roles of Eponine and Sandy in Les Miserables and Grease. Since then, she has made sporadic TV and film appearances.
Throughout her career, Gibson has been the interest of several stalkers, including convicted murderer Robert Bardo, and two other men who were arrested after targeting the performer.
Now 48, since 2008 Gibson has been in a relationship with Rutledge Taylor. She released her last album to date in 2010.
8. Jodie Foster
It may feel like Jodie Foster has been around forever: in fact, she made her screen debut in 1969, aged just seven, and has been going ever since.
Through every decade since, Foster has been a major star, in the 70s with Taxi Driver and Bugsy Malone, the 80s with The Accused, the 90s with The Silence of the Lambs and the 2000s with films like Panic Room and Inside Man.
These days, Foster’s acting career has taken a backseat to her directing. To date she has directed four films, as well as episodes of Orange is the New Black and Black Mirror.
Foster’s personal life has gotten just as much attention as her acting and directing. In 1981 Foster was stalked by John Hinckley Jr, who later attempted to assassinate US President Ronald Reagan to impress her.
At the 2013 Golden Globes, Foster for the first time hinted at being gay, and in 2014 she married actress and photographer Alexandra Hedison. Foster has two sons, but has not revealed who their father is. Instead she has stated that she will tell them when they grow up.
7. Jennifer Beals
Having appeared in more than 50 films to date, Jennifer Beals is still best known for playing welder by day, dance by night Alex Owens in Flashdance.
One of the great guilty pleasures of the 80s, Flashdance was huge, becoming third highest-grossing film of 1983 in the US.
Since then, Beals’ most high-profile role has been in TV series such as The L Word and Taken.
Married once before, the now-55-year-old Beals has been married to Ken Dixon since 1998. Together, they have a daughter, born in 2005.
Although Madonna’s popularity has faded somewhat of late, during the 80s and 90s the singer was sat proudly atop her throne without rival.
The most successful female recording artist of all time, with over 300 million records sold worldwide, controversy has also never been far away from Madonna.
It’s not just because of the publicity stunts – Madonna’s videos for Like a Prayer and Justify My Love were controversial enough to be banned from being played in full on TV, while she posed nude for a book entitled Sex in 1992 – but because of the singer’s relationships, too.
As well as marriages to Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, Madonna has dated Vanilla Ice, Tupac, John F Kennedy Jr, Antonio Banderas and Lenny Kravitz. She turned 60 last year, and continues to tour.
5. Julia Roberts
One of the biggest actresses of all time, Julia Roberts broke out in Pretty Woman in 1990 and has barely let up since.
Roberts has been named People magazine’s World’s Most Beautiful Woman a record five times, was the highest paid actress in the world through most of the 90s 00s, won an Oscar and been awarded three Golden Globes.
Basically, Roberts has done all right. Joining many of her contemporaries in moving to television, she most recently appeared in the acclaimed Amazon series Homecoming, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
In her time, Roberts has dated a number of big names, including Liam Neeson, Kiefer Sutherland and Matthew Perry. She has been happily married to cameraman Daniel Moder, however, since 2002. Together they have three children.
4. Jennifer Connelly
Film fans of a certain age will always remember Jennifer Connelly as Sarah, the young girl kidnapped by David Bowie’s Goblin King in the 1986 cult classic Labyrinth.
Connelly has moved on to bigger and better things since then, however, starring in acclaimed movies including Requiem for Dream, Blood Diamond and A Beautiful Mind. She won an Oscar for the latter.
Acting less frequently of late, Connelly married fellow actor (and A Beautiful Mind co-star) Paul Bettany in 2003. They have a child together, her third.
Now 48, Connelly appears to be getting her teeth back into Hollywood roles again. She will star in 2020’s Top Gun sequel and the upcoming Snowpiercer series.
3. Whitney Houston
Living fast and dying young, Whitney Houston had a hell of a life and career in her time.
With songs like Saving All My Love, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and I Will Always Love You, Houston became one of the bestselling music acts in history, with a whopping 200 million records sold worldwide.
With Guinness World Records listing her as the most awarded female artist of all time, Houston also had a starring role in the hit 1992 film The Bodyguard.
Sadly, Houston also struggled through her life with drug and alcohol abuse. On 11th February 2012, Houston was found dead in a bathtub in a Californian hotel, a death which was linked to both heart disease and cocaine use. She was just 48.
2. Jennifer Grey
Daughter of the Oscar-winning actor and dancer Joel Grey, Jennifer Grey will of course always be remembered for her role as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing.
It was the role that made Grey one of the biggest stars of the 80s, though her star waned shortly afterwards after an ill-advised rhinoplasty left Grey looking unrecognisable.
Having struggled to recover her career ever since Dirty Dancing, Grey has been back in the spotlight as of late, starring in reality shows like Dancing with the Stars and taking a starring role in the 80s-set sitcom Red Oaks.
Once romantically involved with Michael J Fox, Johnny Depp and Matthew Broderick (she was once in a car crash with the latter that ended in the death of two women), Grey married Marvel actor Clark Gregg in 2001. They have a daughter together.
1. Sigourney Weaver
Best known for playing Ellen Ripley in four Alien films (to date – there may still be more), Sigourney Weaver has starred in her share of classics.
In the 80s, Weaver had two Ghostbusters movies as well as the acclaimed Working Girl and The Year of Living Dangerously, while in the 90s she had cult films The Ice Storm and Galaxy Quest.
Since then, Weaver has stuck mainly to sci-fi movies like The Cabin in the Woods, Chappie and WALL•E. She also starred in Avatar, currently the most commercially successful movie of all time, and will appear in its sequels.
Since 1984, Weaver has been married to stage director Jim Simpson. They have one daughter together, Charlotte Simpson, born in 1990.
Who was your first crush? Who do you remember best from the era? Have we dared to miss off your favourite from the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!