Source: “Charlie’s Angels” (TV series, 1976-1981)
One could argue that this catch-phrase-turned-put-down originated with the Charlie the Tuna commercials for StarKist Tuna, but we remember it best from the original “Charlie’s Angels” TV show about three beautiful women who alternated between flirtatious damsels in distress and kick-butt private eyes. They never knew the last name of Charlie, their employer – in fact, they never even saw his face – yet they never hesitated to do whatever he asked. Which is either kind of hot or kind of creepy, depending on your point of view.
Source: “Good Times” (TV series, 1974-1979)
Originally, “Good Times” was about an African-American family struggling to get by in the Chicago projects while retaining their dignity. But that concept was all but abandoned once the buffoonish eldest son J.J. (Jimmie Walker) uttered “Dy-No-Mite!” and became the most popular character. Faster than you can say “marketing opportunity,” the dad was killed off, the projects suddenly became a hot location for celebrity guest-stars, and J.J.’s catchphrase was splashed across T-shirts nationwide.
Source: “Mork & Mindy” (TV series, 1978-1982)
Like Laverne and Shirley but not as funny, Mork from Ork originated on “Happy Days,” where the “Shazbot”-spouting spaceman (Robin Williams) did battle with the Fonz. By the time he got his own series, however, Mork had given up his plans for world conquest and his red crotch-pointing jumpsuit in favor of domestic life with the daughter of a record-store owner, which whom he would have a son, Jonathan Winters. Yes, this was a very disturbing show.
‘May the Force be with you.’
Source: “Star Wars” (movie, 1977)
Long ago, in movie theaters far, far away, people could enjoy “Star Wars” without having to remember things like Jar Jar Binks and midi-chlorians. With a classic good-versus-evil plot, groundbreaking special effects and a toy market big enough to require a Darth Vader head just to stick all them in, nothing came even close to beating the original film in pop-culture dominance. No one really knew what the Force was, but we knew that if it was with us, we could do stuff like move things with our minds and make killer lightsaber moves blindfolded. And what’s cooler than that?
‘Sit on it!’
Source: “Happy Days” (TV series, 1974-1984)
The ’70s became the first decade where nostalgia was cool, and there was nothing more cool than the ’50s. Hence “Happy Days,” a sitcom following the lives of three teenage boys and their scene-stealing hoodlum friend, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. While teens of the ’50s were no doubt as potty-mouthed as the rest of us, you still couldn’t say those words on television, so we got the ultimate ’50-come-’70s put-down: “Sit on it!”
‘Up your nose with a rubber hose!’
Source: “Welcome Back, Kotter” (TV series, 1975-79)
Before he was a disco-dancin’ stud, Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman cohort or a jet pilot annoying his neighbors on Islesboro, John Travolta was Vinnie Barbarino, a long-haired, dim-witted kid attending James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn. Like a true role model, Vinnie’s teacher, Mr. Kotter, encouraged Vinnie and his pals to keep his old street gang alive – along with the lingo that was almost as dumb as the gang’s name itself, the Sweathogs.
‘Give a hoot, don’t pollute!’
Source: Woodsy Owl, 1971
Alongside Chief Iron Eyes Cody, who cried after his moccasins were pelted with litter in a TV public service announcement, Woodsy Owl was the face of conservation for Generation X. Created for the first Earth Day in 1970 by Harold Bell, the producer of many Smokey Bear PSAs, Woodsy didn’t utter his famous catch-phrase for another year. Chief Iron Eyes (who wasn’t really Native American) was seen smiling in a sequel, but by 1980, he was crying again.