The cheeky actress made her first festival appearance 17 years ago

Some grand American traditions never fade: fireworks bursting on the Fourth of July, Scouts marching proudly on Memorial Day, Edy Williams undressing on the streets of Cannes. Since 1974, the starlet of more than 30 not-too-memorable films, including Dirty Laundry and I Sailed to Tahiti with an All Girl Crew, has spent many a May day at the film festival, doffing her bikini top — and sometimes the bottom — for every photographer in snapshot range. She’s done that in fountains. She’s done it in traffic. She’s done it on water skis and, most impressive, on the roof of a car. She’s always done it for one reason. ”I really stand out,” she explains.

Williams first went to Cannes after appearing in two films of former husband Russ Meyer, who directed her most famous work, 1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Now claiming to be 41, although she was reported as 38 in 1981, she’s still on the promo trail. This year she’s plugging her new video, Fan Male Fantasies (in which she conducts a tour of her Hollywood Hills home) and her new movie, Bad Girls From Mars (in which she’s stalked by a killer transsexual and utters lines like ”The smell of garbage turns me into a wild woman”). No doubt she’ll be back, each year seeking out ”some fabulous millionaire” to share croissants with. Long may she wave.

May 24, 1974

Romping clothesless in public, celebrated by Ray Stevens’ No. 1 song, ”The Streak,” was the latest craze. Richard Adams’ Watership Down was the best-selling novel. At the movies, Clint Eastwood starred in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, while All in the Family was the top-rated TV series.