Years prove kind to icons of the era

STAYING ALIVE

July 10, 1993|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,Staff Writer

Along with pet rocks, salad bars and CBs, the '70s spawned gurus, pop culture heroes and trendsetters. Twenty years later, many of them lead lives which are quieter, but richer -- thanks to their '70s fame.

*Total success -- While feminists battled for public attention, Marabel Morgan became a pop culture stand-out with "Total Woman," her 1973 manual on how to jump-start your run-down husband. (Her best-known suggestion was that wives greet their husbands at the door wearing nothing but Saran Wrap.) Since then, the 56-year-old author has written "Total Joy," "Handbook for Kitchen Survival" and "The Electric Woman: Hope for Mothers, Lovers and Others." She has also grappled with cancer of the thyroid and is recuperating from a broken tail bone, an injury she received while playing tennis a month ago, according to her husband, attorney Charles Morgan. Among other projects, Mrs. Morgan is illustrating a book which her husband is writing about the life of Jesus. The Morgans live in Miami, have been married 27 years and have two grown daughters. "Total Woman" has sold more than 5 million copies and is still in print.

* Golden years -- Mark Spitz, the swimmer who won a record seven gold medals in the 1972 Olympics, is enjoying the good life in west Los Angeles after an unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the 1992 Olympics. Married for 20 years to Suzy Spitz -- they have two sons -- Mr. Spitz developed real estate and now concentrates on motivational speaking engagements and product endorsements for such companies as NordicTrack. At 42, he still swims regularly at the UCLA pool but shed his mustache long ago.

* Recycled Rhoda -- Along with Mary Tyler Moore, actress Valerie Harper called attention to the frustrations and pleasures of being a single career woman in the award-winning series "Rhoda"; she was also one of prime-time's first Jewish sitcom heroines. After "Rhoda," the actress married her personal trainer, Tony Cacciotti; the couple's daughter, Cristina, is now 10. Although still working as an actress, the 52-year-old Ms. Harper has pushed for environmental causes. She campaigned last year for Bill Clinton. She is part owner of a new restaurant, Georgia, and recently was host of the pilot for a documentary series, "Women on the Verge: Breaking Media Myths" on E! Entertainment Television.

* Still OK -- In 1970, California psychiatrist Thomas Harris helped whet the American appetite for self-help with his best-selling book "I'm O.K., You're O.K." The book's message, based on Eric Berne's transactional analysis movement, is that self-acceptance plays a major role in finding happiness. In 1986, Dr. Harris and his wife Amy wrote "Staying O.K." The Harrises have sold more than 15 million copies of these books -- they were recently translated into Bulgarian and Chinese -- and are living in Sacramento. Dr. Harris, 83, is retired. Mrs. Harris would change little about their worldwide best sellers. "Transactional analysis still works," she says. "Other people have elaborated on it, made it more complicated -- we try to keep it simple."

* Weight a minute -- Diet revolutionary Dr. Robert Atkins caused a medical furor in 1973 by suggesting that folks eat steak, bacon and eggs, instead of carbohydrates, in order to lose weight. Now the New York physician, 62, has established himself as an AIDS and cancer guru. Many of his treatments combine alternative and traditional methods -- some have elicited complaints from the medical community -- and he prescribes medicine from his own drug and vitamin store. According to reports, he heads five corporations and also owns a six-story medical building in midtown Manhattan.

* Jung love -- Tom Laughlin became a counter-culture film hero as Billy Jack, the do-gooder who karate-kicked his way to justice. Last year he startled many former fans by running for president of the United States as a "fringe" Democratic candidate. But Mr. Laughlin, 62, seems to thrive on taking risks and doing things the hard way. He raised his own funds, wrote, directed and starred in the wildly successful "Billy Jack" and the less-successful "The Trial of Billy Jack" and "Billy Jack Goes To Washington." Then he turned his attentions to Jungian psychology, which he taught at the University of Colorado, and wrote and published two books on the subject. Mr. Laughlin and his wife Delores Taylor (his "Billy Jack" co-star) live in Los Angeles. They have three grown children.

* Tanya totes tots -- Kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and later jailed for a robbery conviction, the 1970s' most famous heiress is now married to her former bodyguard and raising two daughters in New York. Patty Hearst-Shaw, 41, has also worked as an actress for filmmaker John Waters and will appear in a minor role in his coming film "Serial Mom." Earlier this year she told a Canadian newspaper: "I don't find anything in my life ironic any more."

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