From Richard Simmons to E.T., you may not remember these PEOPLE cover stars

By Laura Lane
Updated October 13, 2014 03:00 PM

As we look back on PEOPLE’s 40 fabulous years, we can’t help but linger on some of the images that have us saying, “We put who on the cover?”

For every Most Beautiful Woman there’s a cover of a lingerie-clad Muppet (see Miss Piggy below), and for every George Clooney wedding album there’s someone (er, something) like E.T. True, they were big deals at the time – but that doesn’t make them any less hilarious now.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite gems – and yes, they are definitely real:

Mork & Mindy‘s Pam Dawber

Sure, Robin Williams went on to become a comedic legend and the major star of the out-of-this-world duo, but in 1978 it was costar Pam Dawber who was the focus of this top-selling cover, and whose love life continued to spark the interest of PEOPLE readers.

Miss Piggy

Whoa, there! Dubbed “sex goddess of the ’80s” (take that, Kathy Ireland) as excitement around The Muppet Movie built in 1979, a scantily clad Missy Piggy graced the cover wearing fishnet stockings, satin gloves and lingerie. “It’s hard enough being a woman in our society. It’s even harder being a pig,” creator Frank Oz joked. So true!

Richard Simmons & Mickey Mouse

Work it! Disney’s main mouse (star of Mickey’s Mousercise) paired up with the flamboyant exercise guru to boogie down on this 1982 cover about the rise of aerobics, including Simmons’s exercise LPs that were burning up the charts. “If all this sweating and groaning is hard on the ligaments and harder on the ignored friends and relations of the dancercisers, it is easily the best news for the sagging record business since Saturday Night Fever,” PEOPLE wrote.


Nope, this isn’t a future cover from the year 3014 when robots are likely ruling the world. This was 1977 and Star Wars was all the rage – notably our golden cover star C-3PO. PEOPLE summarized the phenomenon: “Every so often, a film comes along that eclipses every other pleasure under the sun and drags America back into the movie houses.”


It’s a far cry from an iPhone 6, but E.T. must have insisted on phoning home when he was photographed for the cover of this top-selling 1982 cover. Inside the issue, director Steven Spielberg pulled back the curtain on his blockbuster film E.T., the highest-grossing movie of all time until it was surpassed by Spielberg’s Jurassic Park.


Even Yoda would be surprised a cover star would he be. Yes, hmmm. The Star Wars Jedi Master was revealed to be the creation of puppeteer Frank Oz, also responsible for Sesame Street and Muppet favorites Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy. The 1980 cover went into all the details about this little green creature, including the fact that it took four hours to film just two lines of his dialogue, and required a whole set of assistants using invisible wires to give his face expression.

The Nelson Twins

The oh-so-’90s brothers had platinum hair and sun-kissed skin, and we couldn’t live without their “Love and Affection.” The Nelson twins reached peak success around their 1991 issue date, and were part of the only family to have a No. 1 record in each of three generations (their father Ricky Nelson and grandparents Ozzie and Harriet Nelson had the other two). After Ricky’s fatal plane crash the twins vowed to carry on the family’s musical legacy, though history remembers the duo as more of a one-hit wonder.


Sorry Christie Brinkley, the cat’s in demand! The supermodel was relegated to the corner of this 1982 cover on which Garfield went Hollywood with a director’s chair, goldfish bubbly and some star-worthy shades as news broke that the crazy-popular cartoon would soon cross over to television. “Garfield became a phenomenon, turning his creator into a millionaire,” PEOPLE wrote. He was the cat’s meow!