Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell (1975-1976)

Remembrance Of Things Past: Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell- Debuts September 20, 1975.

You don’t hear the name much today- but in the 1970’s Howard Cosell was a big star. He was everywhere as far as sports goes- most notably on Monday Night Football. Today Monday Night Football is just another game- played on Monday night. Back then Monday Night Football was an event. People tuned in to watch and listen to Howard Cosell and Dandy Don Meredith go at it- with Frank Gifford who announced the game. You never knew what Howard would say. People loved him and people hated him but even non-football fans were watching. Howard did other sports also- he was great at boxing and his ‘act’ with The Greatest- Muhammad Ali is memorable. He also in the late 70’s did Monday Night Baseball and he had a weekend show on ABC called ABC Sportsbeat- a serious sports journalism show. In 1993 TV Guide named Howard Cosell the Greatest Ever Sportscaster. In one word Cosell was controversial.

In 1975 Cosell was at the peak of his fame and ABC-TV gave him this sketch comedy show. ABC Sports executive Roone Arledge was the producer. Among the guests on the debut were Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Paul Anka, Sigfried and Roy, tennis star Jimmy Connors and John Denver. The two things I recall about the debut was the appearance via satellite of a group being billed as the next British phenomenon The Bay City Rollers- and secondly how terrible the show was. After 18 episodes the show was cancelled. The show was later remembered by its director Don Mischer as “one of the greatest disasters in the history of television.’ I can only recall watching the premier. There was a lot of hype on ABC-TV in advance of the show. Being a fan of Cosell’s work in sports I was excited about it- but it didn’t take long to realize it was a real turkey. TV Guide would rank Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell one of the 50 Worst Television Shows Ever. Only three video episodes are known to have survived.




  1. According to a book I have this is when Cosell thought he had bonded with Lennon so well that he could reunite the Beatles for his Saturday Night Live show…good luck on that Howard!
    He had a lot of talent on that show. Bill Murray, Christopher Guest, and Billy Crystal I believe.
    I remember the quote that Howard used “I’m a born superstar…They didn’t give me looks but they gave me an absolute monopoly on brains and talent” The man didn’t lack confidence.
    Howard did have brains and talent but not hosting a sketch comedy show. I’m still looking for a complete episode. I’ve only seen enough to get the gist of it.

    • I can only remember watching the debut episode although I figure I watched a few–back then there weren’t many choices! Comedy wasn’t Humble Howard’s strength.

  2. Have mercy. Don’t remember this. Cosell was something. You couldn’t miss that voice or that personality.

    We have a sportscaster here in NC that sorta reminds me of Cosell. Ever heard of Dick Vitale?

    • Dick Vitale- sure. The big difference I think is- Vitale has a reputation as being a pretty positive guy- Cosell was a nasty so and so who by the end of his life was friendless because he was such a mean jerk. That said I think he was outstanding at what he did- until about 1982 then he became a parody of himself.

    • Vitale does come across as positive. He’s just annoying as all get-out. My ex was a HUGE UNC basketball fan. He’d watch the game on TV but, mute it. He’d listen to it over the radio with Woody Durham calling it. Vitale was just too much for him. 😄

      I think I remember Cosell being a complete jerk in his later years. He was kinda jerky even when he was popular.

    • Dickie V- is a little over the top with his enthusiasm… Yes he was always kind of a jerk- Cosell but towards the end of his life he got even nastier. Part of his appeal when he was popular was being unpopular- there was a crowd that enjoyed him but even the haters were tuned in to hear what he had to say.. Cosell was famous for “Telling it like it is”– a guy who changed his name and wore a toupee – tells it like it is lol.

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