The Girl Can’t Help It may have been seen as just a vehicle for Jayne Mansfield, but when it was released in 1956 it had the unintended consequence of essentially bringing rock n roll to the world.
The film definitely made Mansfield a name, but the score was the star of the film. Featuring Little Richard, Eddie Cochran, and Gene Vincent, when the movie came to the UK it inspired teenagers like John Lennon and Paul McCartney who began working in the rock n roll stylings of Cochran into their skiffle routines.
As far as Mansfield, she went on to star in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? in 1957, which was easily the biggest film of her career.
Johnny Cash was the originator of the outlaw country lifestyle. Even with his pop tinged songs, Cash lived the life of a rough and tumble rock and roller even when he was singing about going down in a lake of fire. This intense cowboy draped in all black was one of the coolest cats in the music industry for years, but he was also a wild man.
According to Johnny Western, a guitarist who started hanging around Cash in 1958, Cash was staying in a motel one night next to fellow country legend Carl Perkins, and he was so out of his mind on drugs and alcohol that instead of leaving his room and walking over to see Perkins he smashed the wall down with a chair. Western said:
When Johnny was really pilled up once, in one big motel, Carl Perkins was staying in the next room, but there was no dividing door between the rooms, so he took a metal chair and smashed the wall down so they could walk back and forth. That cost a couple of thousand dollars. We were doing stuff that Mick Jagger and those guys picked up on later on. It was just that kind of a lifestyle.
“Stripper” Natalie Wood in Gypsy, 1962
In 1962, Natalie Wood was just beginning her rise to stardom. Sure, she was the child star in Rebel Without A Cause, but it’s harder than you think to turn that kind of stardom web into real deal success.
Wood spent the ’60s showing that she was more than a teenage sweetheart for the likes of James Dean to fawn over by appearing in huge musicals as well as this offbeat film about the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Not only did Wood bare a lot of skin in this film, but she actually used her own voice rather than have it dubbed like in West Side Story.
The critical response to the film was a little sad, but they loved Wood (how can you not?) even if she didn’t show as much skin as they wanted.
Olivia Newton-John as ‘Sandy’ in “Grease” (1978)
Everyone loves Grease. Today there are sing alongs, rooftop parties, and thousands of people still dress up like the T-Birds and Pink Ladies during Halloween, but there’s one part of the Pink Lady costume that many young women probably don’t follow through on.
The film follows Olivia Newton-John as she changes from sweetheart Sandy to a sexpot with her hair teased to the heavens and tight leather pants. It turns out to get into those pants took an entire production team. To get her into the super tight pants she had to be sewn in by the costume department.
That’s bad enough, but she had to stay in the jeans for the entire shoot day because it was too much work to take them off and put them back on.