The 80s and 90s produced some truly amazing women, and in this post we are celebrating 30 of the greatest female icons of that era, from Kylie Minogue right through to Sigourney Weaver.
We hope you will enjoy this nostalgic look back at some of the most beautiful and talented ladies we were all crazy about in our younger years!
30. Kylie Minogue
Since starring in the legendary Aussie soap Neighbours, Kylie Minogue enjoyed huge success as a pop star in the 1980s and 1990s. Such hits as I Should Be So Lucky and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head helped Kylie become the highest-selling Australian artist of all time.
She never left acting behind entirely though, appearing in Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge! and the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas special. Kylie is still going strong, having survived breast cancer in 2005 and received an honorary doctorate in 2011 for raising awareness of the disease.
29. Alyssa Milano
An actress since age seven, Alyssa Milano shot to fame in sitcom Who’s the Boss from 1984 to 1992, which made her the childhood crush of millions. Later she was in Charmed from 1998 to 2006, which left many more teens and twenty-somethings crushing hard.
In 2009, Milano married Creative Artists Agency agent David Bugliari, with whom she has a son and a daughter. While she still acts, Milano is perhaps better known these days for her outspoken political activism, as a key proponent of the #MeToo movement.
28. Tiffani Thiessen
If you don’t know Tiffani Amber Thiessen, who starred as Kelly Kapowski in Saved By The Bell and as Valerie Malone on Beverly Hills 90210, then what were you even doing in the 90s? Thiessen landed the sitcom after enjoying great success as a teen model in the late 80s.
Thiessen has largely stayed in TV, taking a lead role in the USA Network’s White Collar and starring in Netflix’s Alexa & Katie since 2018. She married actor Brady Smith in 2005, and together they have a daughter called Harper and a son named Holt.
27. Erika Eleniak
Erika Eleniak made her debut with a small but key role in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, but really came to fame in 1989 as an original cast member of Baywatch. After rocking the red swimsuit, Eleniak memorably popped out of a cake in Under Siege as well as appearing in The Beverly Hillbillies.
Eleniak has mostly worked in smaller films and TV shows since. She married Roch Daigle, a grip who worked on her 2001 film Snowbound, and the couple have a daughter, Indyanna, who was born in 2006.
Most famous for her 1987 rendition of song I Think We’re Alone Now, teen idol Tiffany was briefly the biggest thing on the music scene back in the day. As she headed into the 90s, however, her musical direction changed and she never hit the same heights again.
Since then, Tiffany has married and divorced, given birth to a son in 1992, posed nude for Playboy in 2002, married again and separated, and released eight more albums. She has also made some reality TV appearances, including the Australian edition of I’m A Celebrity.
25. Phoebe Cates
You may not see her around much anymore, but back in the 80s and 90s, Phoebe Cates was everybody’s crush. That scene in Fast Times At Ridgemont High made her a legend, and she enjoyed further success with Gremlins and sequel Gremlins 2: The New Batch.
In 1989, Cates married fellow actor Kevin Kline, with who she has two children – a son born in 1991, a daughter in 1994 – and decided to retire from acting at the age of 30. Since 1994, Cates has concentrated on her family, and she now runs a boutique in New York.
24. Kelly LeBrock
It’s widely agreed that Kelly LeBrock was one of the hottest women of her day. American by birth but raised in London, England, LeBrock started out as a model before breaking into movies playing two fantasy females in The Woman in Red and Weird Science.
LeBrock has one child from her first marriage to producer Victor Drai, and two from her second marriage with Steven Seagal. She was married a third time to Fred Steck, but this too ended in divorce. She has made only sporadic screen appearances since the 90s.
23. Danica McKellar
Back in the day, Danica McKellar was best-known for playing Winnie, Fred Savage’s friend and love interest in the sitcom The Wonder Years. Although her acting career has never again reached such heights, McKellar has an impressive side hustle in mathematics.
Since 2008, McKellar has published six best-selling books about math aimed at young girls. As for her personal life, in 2014 McKellar married Scott Sveslosky, and she also a son called Draco from her previous marriage to composer Mike Verta.
22. Catherine Bach
After starting out as a child actress and working her way up the ladder, Catherine Bach became one of the biggest sex symbols of the 80s in TV hit The Dukes Of Hazzard. To this day, cut-down jeans shorts are synonymous with Bach’s character Daisy Duke.
After the series ended in 1985, Bach continued to act intermittently before joining the CBS soap opera The Young And The Restless from 2012 to 2019. Bach is once divorced and once widowed: she has two children from her marriage to the late Peter Lopez.
21. Sean Young
Sean Young was briefly on the cusp of 80s superstardom thanks to her roles in Stripes, Blade Runner and No Way Out. However, she quickly became a sex symbol, she also soon developed a reputation for being difficult to work with. Her career stalled when she was forced to back out of 1989’s Batman after an injury.
Later, Young launched an ill-advised high profile attempt to land the role of Catwoman in Batman Returns. This backfired spectacularly, and Hollywood turned its back on her. Young’s personal life has also been rocky: she married Robert Lujan in 1990, divorced him in 2002, then remarried him in 2011.
20. Samantha Fox
The ultimate Page 3 girl, Samantha Fox was, not to be too blunt about it, famous for taking her top off in the 80s. The London-born starlet wound up one of the most photographed British women of the decade, as well as a modestly successful rock star with hit single Touch Me (I Want Your Body).
In 2003, Fox made the papers once more when she announced that she was in a relationship with her manager Myra Stratton, with whom she remained until Stratton’s death in 2015. She has since gotten engaged to Linda Birgitte Olsen.
19. Ulrika Jonsson
Famed as a presenter on sports entertainment series Gladiators and a team captain on comedy game show Shooting Stars, Swedish-born Ulrika Jonsson was once ubiquitous on British telly. She also became a mainstay in the tabloid press thanks to some high-profile scandals.
Following an affair with then-England football manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and an allegation of sexual assault against TV presenter John Leslie behind her, Jonsson has put presenting behind her and now only makes occasional TV appearances. She’s been married and divorced three times, and has four children.
18. Belinda Carlisle
After starting out as the lead singer of new wave rock group The Go-Go’s, Belinda Carlisle had a string of 80s hits such as Circle in the Sand and Heaven is a Place on Earth. However, her rise to fame also saw Carlisle endure personal struggles, including substance abuse problems.
Carlisle has been clean and sober since the early 2000s. While she has continued to occasionally produce new music, she lives something of a quiet life today with her husband of 33 years, Morgan Mason, with whom she has one child, a son named Duke.
17. Cindy Crawford
In the late 80s/early 90s, Cindy Crawford was arguably the biggest supermodel of them all, and a fixture of teen bedroom posters. Crawford also clocked up appearances in two famous music videos, George Michael’s Freedom! 90 and Jon Bon Jovi’s Please Come Home for Christmas, as well as appearing in action movie Fair Game.
After a tabloid-pleasing four-year marriage to actor Richard Gere, Crawford wed former model Rande Gerber in 1998. They have two children, son Presley and daughter Kaia, both of whom have perhaps unsurprisingly started a modelling careers of their own.
16. Pamela Anderson
One of the most iconic sex symbols of all time, Pamela Anderson found fame as a Playboy Playmate before landing the role of CJ in Baywatch, earning the adulation of millions worldwide for wearing a tight red swimsuit and doing a lot of slow motion running. Sadly, her attempt at big screen stardom with Barb Wire failed miserably.
Anderson has been through three divorces, but has also dedicated herself to several good causes including animal rights. She returned to headlines recently when TV series Pam & Tommy dramatised her sex tape scandal with ex-husband Tommy Lee, although neither she nor Lee had given their consent to the show being made.
15. Kim Basinger
Following a successful 70s modelling career, Kimila Ann Basinger posed for Playboy broke through to big screen fame with 1983’s unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again. 9½ Weeks made her a major sex symbol, Batman made her a bankable blockbuster leading lady, and L.A. Confidential won her an Oscar.
Basinger’s personal life has not been short on incident. Her first marriage to make-up artist Ron Snyder ended in 1989, and she had a notoriously troubled second marriage to fellow actor Alec Baldwin which ended in 2002. Her daughter Ireland Baldwin is now a successful model.
14. Lisa Bonet
Lilakoi Moon, born and known professionally as Lisa Bonet (she changed the name in 1995), rose to fame in the role of Denise Huxtable on TV’s The Cosby Show and spinoff series A Different World. She also attracted controversy with a sexually-charged role in Mickey Rourke movie Angel Heart.
Bonet was first married to Lenny Kravitz, with whom she had one child before they divorced in 1993. In 2007, she married actor Jason Momoa, with whom she now has two children: a daughter called Lola, and a son called Nakoa-Wolf. Sadly, the couple announced their separation in early 2022.
13. Vanessa Williams
Vanessa Lynn Williams has shown off many strings to her bow in her time in the spotlight. Initially gaining recognition as the first African-American recipient of the Miss America title in 1983, Williams enjoyed a successful music career, most famously hit single Save the Best for Last.
Williams is also a successful actress and businesswoman, having launched her own clothing line. She’s had three husbands: music executive Ramon Hervey (with whom she has three children), basketball player Rick Fox (with whom she has a daughter), and businessman Jim Skrip, to whom she is still wed.
12. Paula Abdul
Not unlike Vanessa Williams, Paula Abdul is a renaissance woman; an American singer, songwriter, dancer, choreographer, actress and TV personality, you can name it and Paula’s probably done it. Starting out as a Los Angeles Lakers cheerleader, she rose to prominence as a dance choreographer, before breaking into music.
In the 90s, Abdul (best known today as a judge on reality TV shows American Idol and The X Factor) was married twice: once to actor Emilio Estevez, from 1992 to 1994, then to clothing designer Brad Beckerman, from 1996 to 1998. These days, Abdul is She has not remarried and has no children.
11. Winona Ryder
Winona Ryder’s roles in Beetlejuice, Heathers and Edward Scissorhands made her an alternative icon and a highly in-demand actress. Sadly, mental health issues derailed her career, most infamously when she was arrested for shoplifting in 2001. Eventually she enjoyed a comeback with Netflix series Stranger Things.
Ryder had a high-profile romance with Johnny Depp and a number of other actors before entering a long-term relationship with fashion designer Scott Mackinlay Hahn in 2011. She has never married, although she suggests her Bram Stoker’s Dracula wedding scene with Keanu Reeves may have been official.
10. Olivia Newton-John
Aussie singer and actress Olivia Newton-John is best known for playing Sandy in the hit musical Grease. She later reunited with her co-star John Travolta in the 1983 romantic comedy Two of a Kind, though her greatest success has been in music, most famously 1981’s Physical.
It’s estimated that Newton-John has sold around 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best selling music artists of all time. She has one child from her first marriage to Matt Lattanzi (which lasted from 1984 to 1995), and has been happily married to John Easterling since 2008.
9. Debbie Gibson
Having had her first hit single in 1986 (aged just 16) with In My Dreams, Debbie Gibson was briefly one of the biggest pop stars around. As her recording career faltered, Gibson side-stepped into theatre, appearing in major productions of Les Miserables and Grease, although she has continued to record and release new music.
Throughout her career, Gibson has been the interest of several stalkers, including convicted murderer Robert Bardo, and two other men who were arrested after targeting the performer. Gibson has never married and has no children, but has been in a relationship with Rutledge Taylor since 2008.
8. Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster has been a star her whole life, from child roles in Bugsy Malone and Freaky Friday, breaking into edgier territory with Taxi Driver, winning two Best Actress Oscars for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs. In more recent years she has largely stepped back from acting in favour of directing film and TV.
Foster’s personal life has had a lot of media attention, most notoriously when stalker John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan to impress her. After long rumours that she was gay, Foster finally came out publicly in 2013 and married Alexandra Hedison in 2014. Foster also has two sons.
7. Jennifer Beals
Having appeared in more than 50 films to date, Jennifer Beals is still best known for playing welder by day, dance by night Alex Owens in Flashdance. One of the great guilty pleasures of the 80s, Flashdance was huge, becoming third highest-grossing film of 1983 in the US.
Since then, Beals’ most high-profile role has been in TV series such as The L Word and Taken. Married once before, the now-55-year-old Beals has been married to Ken Dixon since 1998. Together, they have a daughter, born in 2005.
Back in the 80s and 90s, Madonna was unrivalled as the Queen of Pop. The most successful female recording artist of all time, with over 300 million records sold worldwide, controversy has also never been far away from Madonna, particularly with her provocative videos for Like a Prayer and Justify My Love.
Madonna’s 1992 art book Sex also prompted a major furore, and her relationships have always provided major tabloid fodder. As well as marriages to Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie, Madonna has dated Vanilla Ice, Tupac, John F Kennedy Jr, Antonio Banderas and more. She has six children, four of them adopted.
5. Julia Roberts
One of the biggest actresses of all time, Julia Roberts broke out in Pretty Woman in 1990 and has barely let up since. On top of her many acting accolades, she was named People magazine’s World’s Most Beautiful Woman a record five times.
In her time, Roberts has dated a number of big names, including Liam Neeson, Kiefer Sutherland and Matthew Perry. She has been happily married to cameraman Daniel Moder, however, since 2002. Together they have three children.
4. Jennifer Connelly
Film fans of a certain age will always remember Jennifer Connelly for her teen role as Sarah in 1986 fantasy Labyrinth. In adulthood, she appeared in such acclaimed movies as Requiem for Dream, Blood Diamond and A Beautiful Mind, winning an Oscar for the latter.
Connelly married fellow actor (and A Beautiful Mind co-star) Paul Bettany in 2003. They have a child together, her third. As an actress, her most recently roles include TV’s Snowpiercer and long-delayed sequel Top Gun: Maverick.
3. Whitney Houston
With songs like Saving All My Love, I Wanna Dance With Somebody and I Will Always Love You, Houston became one of the bestselling music acts in history, with a whopping 200 million records sold worldwide. She also enjoyed acting success with The Bodyguard.
Sadly, Houston also struggled through her life with drug and alcohol abuse. In February 2012, Houston passed away aged just 48, her death linked to heart disease and cocaine use. Bobbi Kristina Brown, her one child with ex-husband Bobby Brown, also died young in 2015.
2. Jennifer Grey
Actress Jennifer Grey broke through in Red Dawn and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but will always be remembered as Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in Dirty Dancing. Sadly, Grey’s success proved short-lived as her career was effectively ended when she was rendered almost unrecognisable by rhinoplasty.
She had relationships with actors including Matthew Broderick (with whom she suffered a traumatic car accident) and Johnny Depp, before marrying Clark Gregg in 2001. They have a daughter together. Sadly, Grey announced her separation from Gregg in 2022.
1. Sigourney Weaver
Best known for playing Ellen Ripley in the Alien films, Sigourney Weaver has starred in her share of classics. In the 80s, Weaver had two Ghostbusters movies as well as the acclaimed Working Girl, while in the 90s she had cult films The Ice Storm and Galaxy Quest.
Since then, Weaver enjoyed her greatest success in Avatar mega-blockbuster, and she will appear in its sequels. Since 1984, Weaver has been married to stage director Jim Simpson. They have one daughter together, Charlotte Simpson, born in 1990.