R.I.P. Helen Reddy, Seventies pop icon and ''I Am Woman'' singer

The Australian-born singer appeared on Carol Burnett several times and starred in Pete's Dragon.

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Image: The Everett Collection

Talent show prizes are not all they are cracked up to be. In 1966, a singer in her mid-twenties won the Australian talent broadcast Bandstand. Helen Reddy's award, supposedly, was a trip to New York and some studio time to cut a single for Mercury Records. After Reddy jetted across the ocean to the Big Apple, she learned that Mercury Records was only offering an audition. Actually, the label had seen performance tape from Bandstand. They were counting that as her audition. Thanks, but no thanks.

Reddy decided to stick around in America. Thankfully, for fans of golden Seventies pop music, she made that gutsy decision.

Young Reddy dwindled her nest egg down to a mere $12 in 1968 when she met her second husband. They quickly married and Reddy remained in the United States. 

Her husband, Jeff Wald, worked for Capitol Records, which earned her a shot. Her first release for the label was a 1971 single, which included the track "I Believe in Music" written by Mac Davis. Reddy and Davis would coincidentally die on the same day, September 29, 2020.

The flip-side of that single, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, gave Reddy her first chart success. But it would be 1972's "I Am Woman" that rocketed Reddy to fame.

"I Am Woman" would be the first of three No. 1 singles for Reddy in the 1970s. She landed 15 singles in the Top 40, six in the Top 10. She particularly dominated Billboard's Easy Listening chart with breezy, beautiful tunes like "Angie Baby."

Her radio stardom led to television appearances. Carol Burnett was fond of Reddy, booking her for several appearances on The Carol Burnett Show between 1972–77. Reddy even snagged her own variety show, The Helen Reddy Show, a summer 1973 replacement series for The Flip Wilson Show on NBC.

After even more stirring singing performances on The Mike Douglas Show, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, etc., the movie studios came calling. Reddy had a role in the disaster flick Airport 1975 and Disney cast her as lead in 1977's Pete's Dragon. Naturally, Reddy sang music for Pete's Dragon, too. Her soundtrack number "Candle on the Water" earned an Oscar nomination.

But it was undeniably "I Am Woman" that stood as Reddy's signature song. It became an anthem of the feminist movement. Its opening line — "I am woman, hear me roar" — remains such an often-used declaration that many overlook its source. Of course, The Carol Burnett Show had a skit about it, when guest-star Jean Stapleton of All in the Family stated, "I am woman!" Harvey Korman replied, "I know; I heard you roar."

Anyone who lived through the 1970s certainly heard Helen Reddy. She passed away at her home in Los Angeles at the age of 78, according to a statement from her family in The Hollywood Reporter.

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jacko3 14 days ago
.. enjoyed her voice and music .. the fantastic 70's .. WOW!!!! GOD Be with her....
kkvegas 24 days ago
There's a fun Helen Reddy reference from The Bob Newhart Show. Right before Bob is almost killed falling down an elevator shaft, he chastises Jerry and Carol for bickering:

Bob: I happen to be in a very good mood.
Jerry: We're not.
Bob: I feel terrific.
Carol: We don't.
Bob: I'm on top of the world; I am strong; I am invincible.
Jerry: You are woman.
FrankCollins 25 days ago
I believe it was in the "Sex and the City" movie, that the four stars got up on stage in a nightclub, and sang "I Am Woman". I Am Woman is a great song, and one of my favorites. The bigotry that has caused the most harm to the world, by far, is sexism against women. Think of all the great women scientists, medical professionals, political leaders, philosophers, engineers, inventors, leaders in industry, etc., that we never had, because of the ugly pandemic of sexism against women. And look at what it cost us in the 2016 US presidential election.
I think people who were chained and forced to perform grueling labor until they died might disagree that one form of bigotry is worse than another.
Pacificsun FrankCollins 21 days ago
Few people who are honestly talented and aspirational are defeated by sexism. In fact it’s a “connotation” which distorts and distracts from their true talent. There are plenty of notable women in history known as achievers. Meaning it’s the responsibility of the population and historians to educate as to their earned recognition. Not to combat sexism but to celebrate people as individuals!

The outcome of elections are won or lost by the effect of genuine representation. Representation is acquired through authentic achievements and well balanced appeal. Not by the perception of it.
dictracy 28 days ago
The Carol Burnett episode with her plugging Pete’s dragon was just on, sings with carol, it’s a good one. And I’m just going to add that the remake of that movie was stupid. RIP
dictracy 28 days ago
I’m not ashamed it admit, I love Helen Reddy....I have since the early 70s, this really bums me out...and it’s crazy because I just recently looked at an autographed album of hers on eBay, should have pulled the trigger and bought it instead of just adding it to my watchlist.
cperrynaples 28 days ago
Another fun fact about Helen: Her recording of "I Don't Know How..." was released at the same time as Yvonne Elliman's [SP?] version from the JCS soundtrack which my sister owned! Both versions went Top 40 but it was Helen's that reached higher DESPITE being a B side! Pretty impressive!
Barry22 28 days ago
RIP I remember her hosting The Midnight Special a couple of times. But, I also remember her on an awards show, probably The Grammys, where she and Alice Cooper announced an award and traded quips.
cperrynaples 28 days ago
Fun Fact: Helen hosted the first Midnight Special on NBC in 1973! She was also the show's only ongoing host and NO Wolfman Jack was the announcer not the host!
UTZAAKE cperrynaples 28 days ago
According to IMDb, she made a MIdnight Special-record 17 appearances! As for her music, one song that stands out is her cover of "You're My World" from 1977.
Wilbur88 28 days ago
I really liked her music & she was so sexy.
stephaniestavropoulos 28 days ago
Another golden voice silenced. I saw the story about Helen last night on KTLA Ch5. Their story mentioned that she passed away in an assisted living facility, not in her home. She had been residing there since 2015, when she was diagnosed with dementia.
I also liked her music. I remember I had one album of hers, {I think a second one, but am not 100% sure.} I don't recall it's title, but the cover {I believe it was gatefold,} was various shades of peaches/pinks. I remember the album title: "Long Hard Climb" {1973.} I don't think there was a single song I liked more that the other on that lp. They were all good, as was she. R.I.P., Helen.
As I said LHC has some great songs. Including Delta Dawn, If We Could Still Be Friends, and the song that I seem to recall being referred to as the follow up to IAW: the rockin' Don't You Mess With A Woman. My favorite line, is the last one before the chorus: "I'm a bigger fool than you, for thinkin' you was a man." Some of the notes reminded me of the jingle to the Enjoli perfume commercial. {"I can bring home the bacon. fry it up in a pan; And never ever forget you're a man. Cuz I'm a woman. Enjoli."}
Yes, and would you believe that song was written by Elvis' songwriters? It's called "I'm A Woman" and stranger still would you believe it was once sung by Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies on The Hollywood Palace? Look it up on You Tube and maybe once of you can post it here!
The assisted living facility WAS her home. That's where she lived full time.
MrBill 28 days ago
Helen Reddy passed away from complications of dementia at Motion Picture and Television Home which is a nursing home for the stars. She did not die at home as stated by MeTV.
dangler1907 MrBill 25 days ago
The article says "passed away at HER home". The MPTV Home WAS her home.
Moonpie 28 days ago
Angie Baby was always my fav. R.I.P.
Wilbur88 Moonpie 28 days ago
So many great songs.
cperrynaples Wilbur88 28 days ago
Yeah, it's got a nice tune, but listen to the lyrics sometime! It tells a very freaky story about a strange little girl! Definitely a song of the '70's!
LittleMissNoName 28 days ago
I always preferred Delta Dawn over I Am Woman!
I liked her version better.
Yeah. Much better than Tanya Tucker's.
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