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17 Most Iconic Bikini Photos of the Last 75 Years

July 5 marks the 73rd birthday of the bikini. We're honoring that with a retrospective of the most iconic bikini pics over the years.

Fast Times At Ridgemont HighUniversal/Kobal/Shutterstock

Phoebe Cates in Fast Times

In 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Phoebe Cates emerged from a swimming pool in this red bikini, launching her film career.

Charlie's AngelsSpelling-Goldberg/Kobal/Shutterstock

Jaclyn Smith being angelic

In one of the very first publicity photos for the television show Charlie’s Angels, which began its run in 1976, Jaclyn Smith poses in a bikini as Kelly Garrett (the glamorous one), along with Farrah Fawcett as Jill Munroe (the athletic one), and Kate Jackson as Sabrina Duncan (the brainy one). And just like that, we have the urge to check in with these brilliant first-wave feminist quotes.

The Man With The Golden GunDanjaq/Eon/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock

Britt Ekland in The Man With The Golden Gun

She wasn’t the first Bond Girl, but in 1974, Swedish model and actress Britt Ekland made a splash in the James Bond film, The Man With The Golden Gun, playing Mary Goodnight, a newbie field operative who manages to make some truly brilliant and remarkably high-tech decisions while wearing a bikini. You’ll want to avoid these common mistakes the next time you’re on the hunt for a flattering swimsuit.

10' WITH 1979, BATHING SUIT,Snap/Shutterstock

Bo Derek in 10

Playing Dudley Moore’s character’s fantasy girl in the 1976 movie, 10, Bo Derek brought cornrow braids into the beachside mainstream and may have invented the “running on the beach” trope that launched the careers of many a Baywatch girl.

Dorothy StrattenShutterstock

Gloria Stratten as the pinup with the tragic epilogue

Twenty-year old Dorothy Stratten was on her way to stardom when her estranged husband murdered her on August 14, 1980. The one-time Playmate of the Year may be best-remembered in this image of her in a bikini.

The Blue Lagoon - 1980Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

The Blue Lagoon

Brooke Shields (with Christopher Atkins, playing, shipwrecked teens) wore bikinis throughout 1980’s The Blue Lagoon, although she did stop bothering to wear the top pretty early on.

GOLDIE HAWNGlobe Photos/Shutterstock

Goldie Hawn as the Laugh-In Go-Go Dancer

Wearing nothing more than a bikini and body paint in 1969, Goldie Hawn giggled and go-go danced her way into an impressive career as an actress that’s lasted more than 50 years so far.

Star Wars Episode ViLucasfilm/Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock

Carrie Fisher’s famous bikini moment

In 1983’s Star Wars Episode VI – Return Of The Jedi, Carrie Fisher wore this gold bikini as the slave of Jabba The Hut and created a fantasy for teenaged boys that continues to this day. Fisher wrote in her biography The Princess Diarist of the bikini, “When [director George Lucas] showed me the outfit, I thought he was kidding and it made me very nervous. I had to sit very straight because I couldn’t have lines on my sides, like little creases. No creases were allowed, so I had to sit very, very rigid straight.” If Fisher were still alive, she would likely agree that we should banish the phrase “bikini body” from our vocabulary.

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It’s hard to pick the most iconic Princess Diana bikini pic…

…but these three, from 1988, 1990, and 1993, respectively are at the top of our list. Don’t miss these 12 facts about Princess Diana that simply are not true.

Calvin Klein Resort 1993Kyle Ericksen/Penske Media/Shutterstock

The days of “heroin chic”

In this 1993 photograph, Kate Moss cemented her role as designer Calvin Klein’s muse while showing off a teeny tiny body in a teeny tiny bikini that launched a decade of extreme dieting. But here’s why fad diets don’t work.

Die Another DayKeith Hamshere/Danjaq/Eon/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock

The utility-bikini

Halle Berry wore a bikini with a utility belt in 2002’s Bond film, Die Another Day, but it wasn’t the first time a Bond girl had packed a weapon into her swimsuit…

Dr. NoDanjaq/Eon/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock

The original utility bikini

Halle Berry’s Die Another Day look was actually an homage to the look first sported by Bond-girl Ursula Andress in 1962’s Dr. No.

St Andrews University Charity Fashion ShowMalcolm Clarke/Daily Mail/Shutterstock

The bikini that won over a prince

Back in March 2002, the former Kate Middleton (now Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge) modeled a black bikini beneath an illusion-lace dress for a college fashion show and reportedly her future husband, His Royal Highness Prince William of Cambridge, began to think of his friend in an entirely new light.

Charlie's Angels - Full ThrottleColumbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

Cameron Diaz defying tropes

Playing Natalie Cook in 2003’s Charlie’s Angels – Full Throttle, Cameron Diaz took on all the tropes of the original Charlies Angels television show, becoming the glamorous one, the athletic one, and the brainy one, all in one. Looking for a new swimsuit? Start with these best swimsuits for every body type.

Venus WilliamsRon C Angle/BEI/Shutterstock


In the summer of 2004, tennis star, Venus Williams, reinvented the look of her namesake, the goddess, Venus, as it had been depicted since the 17th century. No longer bashful and soft, this Venus is brazen and shredded.

Serena WilliamsRon C Angle/BEI/Shutterstock

Not to be outdone…

Let’s not forget that the Williams sisters are highly competitive, not just with others, but with one another. A few months after Venus’s iconic photo opp, on January 2005, Venus’s sister, Serena Williams, also a tennis star, strikes a glamorous pose on a Melbourne, Australia beach.

2016 Sports Illustrated SwimsuitEvan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Cover girl

Ashley Graham made history as the first plus-size model to grace the cover of the iconic Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2016. She’s seen here cheekily posing with the cover. These empowering swimsuit photos will now remind us that there isn’t just one “bikini body.”

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly on Reader's Digest, The Huffington Post, and a variety of other publications since 2008. She covers life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. Lauren is also an author of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.