I was only a baby when the first Battle of the Network Stars premiered on ABC back in 1976. The Howard Cosell hosted all but one of the original celebrity sports and games TV specials. The only original Battle that I actually watched when it aired was the final edition in 1988. I'd seen commercials and ads for the previous specials, but until the 1988 edition, I'd been too young to really watch and appreciate them.
I do however remember this edition, which had it's share of television hunks from the time. Some of the actors competing included; Brian Robbins, Rob Stone, Jack Scalia and Blair Underwood. I especially remember crushing over actor Brian Wimmer, who looked especially hot battling it out. Years later, I remember catching a few old episodes when ESPN and the cable network Trio aired a marathon during the 90's. Most of my viewing however, occurred thanks to Youtube.
Gabe Kaplan (captain)
Farrah Fawcett Richard Hatch
Ron Howard (1976/1977)
Telly Savalas (captain)
Pat Harrington Jr.
Robert Conrad (captain)
Melissa Sue Anderson
Karen Grassle Tim Matheson Ben Murphy
Robert Conrad (1976/1977/1978/1979)
Some of the celebrities in that first Battle, I'd never heard of before, others, like the hunky Robert Conrad, I first got to know after seeing their speedo pics on-line. Over the years, whenever I'm a profiling an actor, or doing a Blast from the Past piece, the first thing I do is check to see if they did a Battle. If they did, the hunt for speedo pics is on!
Robin Williams and Gabe Kaplan (1978)
Some actors, like Scott Baio and Jack Scalia, seemed to welcome strutting around for the camera in their speedos, others, seemed to shy away from getting their pictures taken while wearing their tight, wet swimwear. Regardless you can see them on Youtube, although the quality of most isn't that great, given most came from decades old VHS tapes.
Although the quality varies, it is fun to look back, especially at the early editions and check out the stars from the 70's and 80's who participated. This salute to the classic show actually began after seeing the 2017 summer remake.
Although the show cast a great variety and current and former hotties and television celebrities, the format lacked the spark and magic of the original. The show was overly edited, and the celebrities separated into teams that didn't provide the fun interaction we saw from the original series. It was fun seeing celebrities from different shows interacting with each other. It also didn't have one of the main draws, TV hunks in speedos!!!
Now for most lovers of the male form, Battle of the Network Stars was all about the swimming pool. The swimming relay and Kayak race, had many television hunks in little red, white, green and black speedos. When I watched the old episodes, the pool was also my focus, but I also enjoyed the baseball dunk, obstacle course and the tug-o-war that ended each episode. Here are a few shots away from the pool.
I know, that many have soured on Scott Baio. I get it, in addition to his politics, he's a social media douchebag. That being said, Baio was not only one of the hottest hunks to squeeze into a speedo for Battle, he was also one of the most photographed.
Baio is one of those actor's I got to know through photographs before actually seeing him on television. I remember seeing him in old teen magazines and loving his hot, tight little body. I first saw Baio on TV in Charles In Charge, but I didn't really get into the show. I did however, get into his look, and collecting images that I'd cut out of magazines. Although my crush ended long ago, I couldn't do a post on Battle, without a few extra images of Baio's bod.
Although not every man, including celebrities, (cough cough William Shatner) should pull on a speedo, but so many of the hunks from the 70's and 80' filled them out beautifully! Those who watched the show know it began with the pool events, and most of the contestants were introduced by standing on the diving platform in their speedos.
Robert Conrad, Lance Kerwin and Dan Haggerty (1977)
In the show' first few seasons, it appeared speedos were mandatory, with all of the male celebrities, sported the skimpy swim wear. In the latter seasons, either the network, or the celebrities themselves, became a little more timid, and bike shorts were permitted, but it was those early speedo days that brought us so many incredible photos!
Greg Evigan (1979/1980/1988)
I have been looking for images of the Battle men in Speedos since FH first began, and have found so many great ones. Each year however, I find another one or two, and know there are still many others out there that have yet to be published on the net. Something to look forward to!