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1970s Fads: Streaking

By Patrick Mondout

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 history."

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.

 

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting or amusing stories to tell about streaking? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"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."

--Sherry


 

FAD FACTS

Even books such as "Wiggle's Guide to Better Streaking" appeared.


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