I have to thank my friend, Rick Lacroix for sending me a Bill Simmons column from ESPN: The Magazine. The column describes Simmons’ favorite YouTube clip, a moment from the great 1970′s trash sports show, “Battle of the Network Stars” in which the big three networks, ABC, CBS and NBC each sent a team of their biggest stars to compete in athletic competitions. The network which won the most points would be declared the winner of the competition.
It started in 1976 and lasted into the mid 1980′s. It was classic TV. You had ABC Sports producing the events. You had Howard Cosell who hosted and called the play-by-play. You had out-of-shape actors trying to run and throw. You had sexy women like Farrah Fawcett-Majors and Cheryl Ladd competing. Basically, it was classic TV.
The video Simmons had in his column is from the very first “Battle” special in November 1976 and Farrah Fawcett-Majors from Charlie’s Angels was involved. Take a look at a controversy involving NBC’s Robert Conrad, ABC’s Gabe Kaplan and CBS’ Telly Savalas and the politically incorrect language would not be even spoken if we ever had a similar event take place today.
From that same 1976 special, this is Farrah Fawcett-Majors doing a “Closest to the pin” competition. Howard is calling it with ABC golf analyst Bob Rosberg. So funny to see ABC Sports treating this so seriously. And Howard is fawning over Farrah.
Someone put together all of Cheryl Ladd’s segments on the November 1977 special. Cheryl replaced Farrah on Charlie’s Angels that year.
From 1980, Catherine Bach from “Dukes of Hazard” goes into the dunk tank and Howard’s co-host was Joyce DeWitt of “Three’s Company”. Gil Gerard of “Buck Rogers” is trying to dunk her.
Great stuff. I do wish ESPN Classic would put these back on in their entirety. Next week, I’ll have a different theme.