"Seventies TV's Most Unexpected Moments"
Get ready to relive those super-surprising '70s TV events that made stunned
viewers say, "I can't believe what I just saw!"
by Robert Edelstein
1. Dick Cavett vs. Lester Maddox (December 18, 1970)
Dick Cavett rarely invited controversy as blatantly as when he had football
great Jim Brown, author Truman Capote and Georgia segregationist Lester
Maddox on his ABC talk show. When Cavett "implied" that Maddox's supporters
were bigots, the governor marched out in protest. Recalls Cavett with a
smile, "Maybe we were asking for trouble in the booking."
2. The Death of Colonel Blake (March 18, 1975)
Like no series before it, M*A*S*H showcased horror, humor, tedium and
pathos of war. But it was the sudden death of popular Col. Henry Blake
(McLean Stevenson) -- on his way home from Korea -- that made viewers feel
they'd lost one of their own. "They're making you laugh," recalls former
ER producer Jack Orman, "and then they remind you you're in a war."
3. Franco's Immaculate Reception (December 23, 1972)
The Pittsburgh Steelers were down 1 to the Oakland Raiders, with 22 seconds
left in the 1972 AFC championship game. But Steelers quarterback Terry
Bradshaw threw a bullet that miraculously landed, after a wild deflection,
in the arms of Franco Harris, whose TD sent Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl.
"We needed luck [that day]," Harris says, "and a little divine intervention."
4. The Price Is Right: The Blouse Comes on Down (September 14, 1977)
"Yolanda Bowsley, come on down!" Hearing Johnny Olson's delerious Price
Is Right cry, the ecstatic Ms. Bowsley raced down in a too-loose-fitting
tube top, and in a flash, her wardrobe malfunction created an unforgettable
moment. "She came on down, and they came on out, right here on CBS," says
host Bob Barker. Actual retail value of this moment? Priceless.
5. The WKRP Turkey Drop (October 30, 1978)
The oddest Thanksgiving episode ever, thanks to an ad stunt that just
6. Sacheen Littlefeather's Night at the Oscars (March 27, 1973)
Marlon Brando makes an Oscar-night statement about Native Americans and
7. Sinatra Reunites Martin and Lewis on the MD Telethon (September 6, 1976)
After 20 years of silence between them, Dean and Jerry's first hug speaks
8. Andy Kaufman is Tony Clifton on Dinah! (September 19, 1979)
While he's playing alter-ego Clifton, Kaufman's blue language makes
daytime's Dinah Shore turn read.
9. The Star Wars Holiday Special (November 17, 1978)
George Lucas wishes this kitschy spectacle existed only in a galaxy far,
10. MTM: Phyllis' Brother Comes Out (January 13, 1973)
Phyllis learns why brotherly love is the only thing her sibling can offer
11. Get Christie Love! (January 22, 1974)
With Christie, blaxploitation -- and the "N"-word -- make noise in TV
12. John and Yoko Play Cohost (February 16, 1972)
The king and queen of counterculture encounter daytime's Mr. Nice Guy on
Mike Douglas. No wonder Yoko keeps wailing.
13. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: Death by Chicken Soup (March 4, 1976)
Someone falls face-down into Mary's soup, turning comfort food into a
14. Shatner Sings "Rocket Man" (January 21, 1978)
We think it's gonna be a long, long time before we forget William Shatner's
spoken-word fiasco that crashed on liftoff.
15. Family Feud''s Biggest Big-Board Bust (August 9, 1976)
Name something funnier than a Feud player completely blanking -- and
tanking. Survey says: Nothing.
16. SNL: Lorne Michaels Bribes the Beatles (April 24, 1976)
He tries to lure them into a reunion with $3,000. A month later, he raises
his hilarious offer -- to $3,200.
17. The Match Game Panel Revolts (July 8, 1977)
The panelists, and the audience, protest when the judges get as stupid as
18. Not Too Steamy for PBS (May 4, 1973)
In Steambath, a movie about some naked truths, broadcast TV gets truly
nude for the first time.
19. Soap and the Devil (March 15, 1979)
Who the hell knew the soapy spoof could play it seriously with an exorcism
20. The Newhart finale (May 21, 1990 - Not in the '70s, but a definite
TV legend Bob Newhart parodies -- and perfects -- the "dream sequence"
finale when his entire Newhart series turns out to be the dream of Dr.
Bob Hartley, his old Bob Newhart Show character. When a stunned Bob wakes
up first TV wife Emily (Suzanne Pleshette), it's pure double-take genius.
Says Newhart costar Tom Poston, "It has proven to be one of the great
endings of all time.
- TV Guide, 12/5/05.
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