This Issue of ‘Seventeen’ Might Be the Most Cursed Ever
Try, as a thought experiment, to put yourself in the mind of a teenage girl in December of 1978. The holidays are nearly upon you. You’re thinking of surprising your closest friends with a full roast beef dinner. You could use gift ideas for the guys on your shopping list. And as you’re pondering what movie you’ll go see after Christmas dinner, the new Neil Simon play adaptation California Suite is a possibility. Maybe this will tip you over into choosing that one: opening your mailbox to find the new issue of Seventeen with one of its stars on the cover with his 13-year-old daughter.
Of course this cover is alarming now. But at the time, Bill Cosby was a beloved comic and an ascendant star of TV and film, with a new movie to promote and a beautiful teen daughter, so onto the cover he went with Erika, the eldest of his five children.
The pair get the most coverage in a story on the daughters of famous fathers, but the 200 or so words aren’t exactly revelatory. Erika is used to strangers stopping her dad for his autograph. All the Cosby children have names starting with “E,” for “excellence.” Erika used to get stressed out watching him in I Spy because she didn’t understand he wasn’t actually in any danger. And the two enjoy playing tennis and collecting coins together. How wholesome!
Like all the celebrity dads — Wayne Rogers of M*A*S*H, Michael Landon of Little House on the Prairie, Roy Scheider of Jaws and Charlton Heston of Planet of the Apes — Cosby himself is not interviewed for the piece. But knowing that Seventeen shot him and Erika in Las Vegas, it’s hard not to wonder what he may have gotten up to after the magazine’s photographer left, particularly in light of a sexual assault lawsuit nine women filed against Cosby in Nevada this June.
No longer interested in California Suite? That’s okay: Mariel Hemingway, interviewed about her favorite scents, lets us know she’s currently shooting a movie called Manhattan with Woody Allen.
Since we’re here: a few more comedy highlights your mom (or grandma) may have read about this month.
Lily Tomlin was having a very hot, very heterosexual affair with John Travolta in Moment By Moment.
Gifting a camera this holiday season?
Choose your TV dad fighter!
Before she co-starred in WarGames and The Breakfast Club…
…Ally Sheedy was “Alexandra,” a New Yorker working as a 16-year-old stringer for the magazine.
I’m 95 percent sure this is future Soul Man star Rae Dawn Chong. (Personally, I would have bumped Heston and his daughter Holly for Rae and her famous dad, Tommy Chong — Up In Smoke had just come out in September — but maybe the old biddies who ran the magazine thought he was too controversial.)
Is this a pube joke?
For a deeper dive on all the above and so much more…
…visit your local library to read the whole issue on microfilm! They will definitely still have all the back issues starting in 1944 and a microfilm reader for you to use.