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.