Just One More Kathy Ireland Cover… Please!
Did you miss last week’s announcement that Sports Illustrated (SI) is “laying off” 50% of its full-time staff (LINK)? Not that big a deal really, if, like me, you stopped reading “SI” 10+ years ago.
NOTE: It was 14 years ago that I cancelled my subscription to Raleigh’s The News & Observer thereby missing umpteen sanctimonious faux-intellectual screeds from their infamous Editorial Board.
“Laying off” is among the Top Ten silly euphemisms in Corporate America. At The N&O instead of “laying off” they call Friday “Downsize Day”. I digress…
Speaking of “Friday”… during its heyday – the 70-80-90s – “Friday” was the day SI arrived in your mailbox and local newsstand.
During that last quarter of the 20th century, SI WAS the preeminent sports magazine. SI’s cover was the pinnacle of “making it” as a sports celebrity despite the mythical “jinx” that evolved around “being on it”. Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali holds the record SI covers with “a whole bunch” each.
NOTE: A number of UNCCH J-School alums toiled at SI during its heyday including Larry Keith, Sandy Treadwell and Curry Kirkpatrick. To my knowledge, “my buddy Art” did not; but he knew all those guys that did.
The first SI Swimsuit Edition was in 1964, but no one paid much attention until 1978 … and Cheryl Tiegs and her quite scandalous “fishnet swimsuit”.
BetchaDidntKnow … Farrah Fawcett-Majors infamous “red swimsuit and HAIR poster” was released upon a generation of sexually frustrated males in 1976… two years earlier.
Raise your hand if you woulda said “Cheryl Tiegs in SI predated Farrah Fawcett’s poster”. Nope.
In America’s SoftPorn Hall of Fame… there will always be a debate over the actual rankings; but everyone’s Top Five includes:
Marilyn Monroe standing over the steam grate
Betty Grable’s over the shoulder WWII pin-up pose
Cheryl Tiegs in the fishnet in SI
Farrah Fawcett’s red swimsuit poster.
I would include Jane Russell in the hayloft from “The Outlaw” but let’s not get hung up in that Great Debate. You can note your choices in our Reader Comments.
It says something about The Decline of Western Civilization that you can “see more” today on an NFL sideline than any of the above. Not to mention what you can find with two clicks on a computer keyboard.
Blah Blah Yadda Yadda … I want to talk about Kathy Ireland.
Yes, SI Swimsuit Models are like Bond Girls and BBQ Joints. Everyone has their personal favorites and no one – including me – has the authority to declare an Official #1. I would not dream of doing so. Such arguments tend to divide into generational preferences… as do so many discussions of preferences of anything.
Oh…the CORRECT answers to the above are… Bond Girl -Honor Blackman and BBQ Joint – the long-gone Barbecue Lodge “on the bypass” in Kinston.
Names sure to appear on everyone’s “name 5-6 SI Swimsuit models” the most popular names will be Cheryl Tiegs … Christy Brinkley … Elle MacPherson … Tyra Banks … Heidi Klum … Brooklyn Decker (“Best Name” for sure) … Kate Upton … AND … Kathy Ireland.
All of the above appeared in umpteen SI Swimsuit Editions and hold various records for “Most …”.
This past weekend Blondie and I were in Greenville SC (a very nice city by the way) for the wedding of Pastor Danny’s twin sister. My assigned duty was “Granddaddy of the two adorable little flower girls – Twinkle & Scooter”… AKA “ReRe & YaYa”. I performed flawlessly… as did they.
Which is why there was not a BLSays column on Monday.
Pastor Danny’s Dad Dan (say that really fast while eating crackers) and I were sitting around discussing “stuff” when I asked out-of-the-blue “Do you know who Kathy Ireland is/was?”
“Sure“, Dan immediately replied… “she was an SI Swimsuit model.” Thereby proving my theory …
I’ve known Dan Hindman now for 4-5 years since the nuptial coupling of our families. He is a “Good Guy” Baby-Boomer in all the categories I value. He passes all the tests for “socio-cultural awareness” that I require of anyone I even attempt a conversation with… a passing familiarity with:
The Statler Brothers… or Ray Stevens
and now… Kathy Ireland.
(Random facts about the 1960 World Series (Mazeroski’s Walk-Off HR vs The Yankees) is an extra-credit category. Ralph Terry was the NYY pitcher in that 9th inning of Game 7 … Bobby Richardson was the Series MVP despite playing for the losing team…)
In my considered opinion… Kathy Ireland was unique among the pantheon of SI Swimsuit Models.
She appeared in 13 consecutive SI SS Editions in the 80-90s. Her 1989 SI cover – see above – was judged Greatest of All Time Time by SI staff. She NEVER appeared topless albeit “scantily-clad” for sure.
At 56, Kathy Ireland is worth over $400,000,000 thru a series of very successful entrepreneurial branding ventures in housewares, cosmetics, fitness products, et al. She was the first SI Swimsuiter to develop successful businesses beyond modeling. She is married, since 1988 to her ONLY husband – Greg Olson, a physician – she is outspoken in her Christian faith, Pro-Life and Pro-Israel.
I can’t find authoritative proof of this, but I firmly believe Kathy Ireland invented the “drop-dead gorgeous smile”. I defy you to find anyone who has ever done it better.
Gorgeous women tend to “make enemies” of jealous “not gorgeous women”… for their crime of “being gorgeous”. I bet Kathy Ireland has far fewer such enemies than most because… I’m pretty sure… she is even nicer than she is gorgeous.
If I was tasked to “explain Kathy Ireland’s enduring popularity” I would say…
If you were a 14 y/o boy “growing up on Maple Street” in sit-com America in the 60-70s… Kathy Ireland was the “17 y/o “girl next door”. She was so pretty she made your teeth and hair hurt but she was “even nicer than she was pretty”.
NOTE: In my neighborhood her name was Rena Stapleford. Who was yours?
She actually knew your name and always said “Hi (insert your name)” when you were both out in your respective yards at the same time.
Your frisbee flew over in her yard once and she threw it back… and she did not “throw like a girl”.
One summer day she was sunbathing on the Ireland’s back porch… NOT topless or anything but WOW was she SOMETHING!!
At 14 you weren’t sure “what” but years later the phrase “a dog chasing a car but not sure what he would do with it if he caught it…” reminded you of that summer day … and your pretty next door neighbor Kathy Ireland.
Over the past decade or so… Sports Illustrated made the exact same mistake 92% of print / electronic media has made / is making these days. It went “woke” whatever the hell that means. It hired a bunch of wannabee social justice warriors (SJWs) and stopped being what had made it so successful… actually SI stopped being successful at all.
SI went all Kaepernicky and Rapinoey … and all it’s long time “readers like me” went away… never to return.
Maybe I would return for …
Just One More Kathy Ireland Cover… Please!