For those too young to remember, streakers took off all their clothes
and ran through stores, graduation ceremonies -- wherever there was a
crowd. It was a fad in the summer of 1974 which inspired a song - The
Streak by Ray Stevens, and had ran its course by the fall.
Opal Bares All At Oscars
The most famous streaker was 33 year-old advertising executive Robert
Opal. He bared all at the 46th
Annual Academy Awards on live TV!
As David Niven was introducing Elizabeth Taylor, who in turn was to
announce the final prize (Best Picture), Opal streaked by and flashed the
peace sign. Henry Mancini had the band play Sunny Side Up as Opal
was nabbed by security and led to the press room for more exposure (this
time fully clothed). Niven quipped, "Ladies and gentleman, that was
bound to happen. Just think, the only laugh that man will probably ever
get is for stripping and showing off his shortcomings."
It was rumored Opal, who had a phony back-stage press pass, had
orchestrated the stunt ahead of time with the show's producers. Both
Mancini and Niven's actions seemed scripted, and instead of having Opal
arrested, the producers brought him backstage for the press to interview.
Jack Haley Jr., the show's producer, denied the charges and said he
"would have used a pretty girl instead." Actually, that would
really have caused a stir!
Daily Variety's writer was unimpressed and not buying it: Opal's
act "was a most unfortunate lapse of judgment on the part of the
Academy... for they have destroyed in a few seconds a forty-six year
Niven, incidentally, was not afraid to bare all either. He was cast in
a 18-foot plaster statue for a 1971 movie called The Statue. His
character is a linguist up for the Nobel Prize. A politician seizes the
moment and commissions a statue to made in his honor in London. His
neglected Italian wife is selected to produce the statue and creates its
with a rather large... well you know! She tells him he was not the model
for that part and sets off to find the man that is! (Why oh why is this
jewel not available on DVD?)
Where Are They Now?
Opal used his 15
minutes of fame to make a few TV appearances and then tried to make it
as a stand-up comedian. He was once hired to streak at a party for
composer Marvin Hamlisch and dancer Rudolf Nureyev. By the late Super70s,
he owned a sex paraphernalia shop in San Francisco. It was at this shop in
1979 where he was murdered during a robbery.
"In 1972 I was in High School, (Southern California) and during lunch when about half of the students were out on the campus quad eating, talking, or ditching class. The entire football team streaked across the campus wearing nothing but their tennis shoes. Later the school tried to press legal charges against the team, but because the school's attendance rules stated that "shoes must be worn at all times" and nothing about wearing pants, shirts, or clothing in general and since the team had in fact been wearing shoes, nothing happened to them. In 1999 I had my 25th class reunion, and this was a big topic of laughs and discussion, especially since the Captain of the team, and lead streaker was also there."
Even books such as "Wiggle's Guide to Better Streaking" appeared.