Battle of the Network Stars- May 1978

This installment of the Battle of the Network Stars, number 4, which originally aired on May 4, 1978, is my all-time favorite. The reason? It is the first one I ever saw. I still remember all of the details very vividly. I was lying on my brand new bed, watching our brand new tv in the bedroom. I was trying to find something to watch that night, when I ran across the beginning of the kayak race. I saw these familiar faces from tv… Mr. Kotter, J.J., Julie from “One Day At A Time”, Baker from “Carter Country”, Frank of “The Hardy Boys”… I wondered “what is this???” I decided to take a look, and see. They were on teams, competing against each other. It reminded me of something very similar we had done at school called “field day”, except in our case, our class played against the other first grade classes. Yes, I was a six-year-old first grader at the time, and a huge tv fan. It was my favorite hobby, which is why I knew so many of the people I was watching. I was captivated by what I learned was the Battle of the Network Stars. I had never heard of it before. Somehow, I had missed the previous 3 battles. I had decided there was no way I was turning the channel. I was leaving it there for the rest of the night. My Mom got a phone call a little later from a friend. She told me the Ten Commandments was on. I began to feel a sense of guilt, so I turned over to it. I couldn’t focus on it very well. I kept thinking of what was going on over on ABC. So, I turned back. A thought came to my mind. They will always show the Ten Commandments. That will never go away, but one day, there won’t be a Battle of the Network Stars. An almost 7-year-old kid having that kind of wisdom? Shocks me too, as I think about it in hindsight. Fortunately, Mom didn’t give me any flack for changing the channel. Enough talk about me, and on with what took place on tv that night.

 Gabe Kaplan was back for the fourth time in a row as ABC’s captain. He must have REALLY enjoyed doing these. NBC was missing Robert Conrad for the first time. Their captain this go around was Richard Benjamin. CBS had a brand new captain, too- Tony Randall, who had been on his own show “The Tony Randall Show” for the past two seasons. I used to watch it. He played a judge. ABC had the privilege of having some of the ’70s biggest stars on their team. Debby Boone, who had become a household name with “You Light Up My Life” a year earlier was there, along with the Captain and Tenille, and the lovely Cheryl Tiegs, one of the hottest models of all-time. Melissa Gilbert, only 13, was on the NBC team, making her début. She would take part in several more of these. Arte Johnson, best known for “Laugh-In”, Lance Kerwin from “James At 16”, Larry Wilcox from “Chips”, and 6’2″ Rhonda Bates, from the short-lived “Rollergirls”, also helped make up NBC’s team. You have to give extra special props to “Saturday Night Live” star Jane Curtin, who came all the way from New York to participate. CBS had both Kevin Dobson and Jimmie Walker back, along with Denise Nicholas from “Baby I’m Back”, James MacArthur of “Hawaii Five-O”, and the very large, and very likeable Bo Svenson. Kevin Dobson, who had been in every previous competition, was back with a vengeance. CBS had yet to have a victory, and you could tell he wanted to WIN. Howard had his first female co-host, Suzanne Somers, along with Bruce Jenner, who would make his last appearance. A personal favorite of mine was Victoria Principal. “Dallas” had only been on the air for about a month, and she was absolutely darling the entire time, so sweet and vivacious. Between she and Denise Nicholas, the CBS guys got plenty of hugs and kisses.

 CBS won the first event, the swimming race, with captain Tony Randall announcing to the camera “that’s only the beginning.” ABC won the kayak race, with Tony Randall launching a protest, saying both other networks should be penalized for going over the lines, which both Kene Holliday and Jane Curtin did. The protest was denied, since there was no touching of the boats. CBS won the frisbee contest, which was not shown. There was no baseball dunk this time (thank God), but the obstacle course went on as usual, with NBC winning, thanks to Melissa Gilbert and James Kerwin. Prior to this victory, you had to laugh when super tall Rhonda Bates actually broke one of the legs of the table when she rolled under it. Simon Says helped loosen everyone up, and was a thrilling experience for Arte Johnson, who winded up falling on top of gorgeous Cheryl Tiegs towards the end. Midway during the competition, Mackenzie Phillips took ill, and Bo Svenson hurt his shoulder in the frisbee game, so with two of their teammates on the sidelines, things began to look a bit shaky for CBS. Meanwhile, after a very fierce running relay, with ABC’s Parker Stevenson twisting this ankle, ABC won, thanks to Kene Holliday. However, CBS, with Kevin Dobson’s expert coaching, won in football. This meant CBS and ABC would face off in the tug of war. CBS had not even made it this far in the two previous battles. While Suzanne naturally predicted ABC would win again, due to Gabe and his “strategy” as she put it, Bruce Jenner thought it would be CBS. Kene Holliday, ABC’s lead man, had taken off his glasses, and intently glared across the way at CBS, who had 6’6″ Bo Svenson as their lead man, followed by James MacArthur, Kevin Dobson, Jimmie Walker, and Tony Randall. Behind Kene Holliday, were Parker Stevenson, the Captain (Daryl Dragon), Steve Landisburg of “Barney Miller”, and Gabe Kaplan. All of the women remained on the sidelines, cheering on the men. In about a minute or less, CBS had won, scoring their very first victory. Their jubilation was overwhelming, as was mine. I liked their team the best, the rapport they had. They seemed to really like one another in a way that set them apart from the other teams, and I easily picked up on that. For instance, when Victoria barely lost to Cheryl Tiegs in the obstacle course, three of her team members came up to support her. I have seen many who lost in this event walk off alone. This was only the beginning for me. The Battle of the Network Stars would remain a part of my life on a regular basis, and this was the night, and the episode, that started it all. Did I write this from memory? No; I watched it again a few nights ago. Oh, and as for Bob Conrad, he’d be back next time…



~ by kmnnz on January 8, 2010.

One Response to “Battle of the Network Stars- May 1978”

  1. dear baker
    do you rememember me day be for matooo know have too know have tooknow have too know have too know have tooo know have at have tooknow use say have unlce sing sleeping lot morea too know have too know have tooo know have a too know have too know have too know have too know have atoo know have to know have too know have too have too know have a too know have too know haveat have too know have know have lot more a know have know rememember the time
    unlce sthery say anythen time day came to know famouse sathery

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