Classic Sports Video Breakdown: 1973 Celebrity Bowling featuring Michael Cole, Tige Andrews, Simon Oakland and Jan Murray

Yesterday the news came down that the Professional Bowling Association was switching its TV coverage from ESPN to FOX, and somehow it triggered my memory that back in the 70s there was a show called Celebrity Bowling,

I figured it was a jokey show that lasted a few episodes and was mothballed forever and just one of those weird things people sort of remember. Well, it turns out the show was on for eight seasons and had 144 episodes.

The premise was simple. Teams of two celebrities (thus the name of the show) would bowl a best-ball (you’ll see how it works in the video) game of bowling for bragging rights, while also winning prizes for members of the audience based on how high they score. So a score of 125 might win something like a new TV for one audience member, while a really high score over 210 (not easy in best ball and with amateur bowlers), might win a fan a car! A car, for sitting and watching celebrities bowl.

So I did some digging to find out if there were famous episodes, and low-and-behold, I found the highest scoring episode in show history, so, without further ado, it’s Celebrity Bowling From 1973!

Oh hell, it’s from Hollywood and I have NO IDEA who any of these celebrities are. I think I recognize the name Jan Murray, he’s a comedian or something, but I couldn’t tell you anything he specifically was in.

AND WE MEET OUR HOST JED ALLEN!

Take a look at this jacket/tie combo, that jacket alone looks like it is 3-inches thick and like he’d sweat through it before the show even started. The tie is just a bonus. This is peak 70’s fashion.

Jed Allen

Evidently Cole and Andrews are on the Mod Squad? I have no idea, never heard of it. Boy the crowd seems not excited to be there, but hey we have a bowling expert in Bobby Cooper who has bowled six 300 games!

Holy hell we’re like a minute in and we already jump to a commercial break. Even the NFL thinks that’s a bit out of line. This portion of Celebrity Bowling is brought to us by Ajax.

WE’RE BACK! And we meet the studio audience members who potentially might win some prizes, and by that I mean they read off the names. Cripes, for a show that’s only 22 minutes they’ve already wasted three of them not bowling.

And the Mod Squad guys are up first. Finally, some actual bowling on Celebrity Bowling, what a concept.

By the way, the studio audience at this is like 10 people, it’s literally just a handful of chairs thrown at the back of the bowling alley, no bleachers, no decent crowd, basically whatever people didn’t have anything better to do than watch some dudes bowl.

audience

Let’s see how these clowns bowl, I bet they’re bad and well he got a strike on the first throw, so beginners luck.

Now Simon Oakland is up and he bowls like a regular person, straight down the middle of the lane and hey! Another strike! We might be in for a high-scoring match.

Tige Andrews goes right down the middle and there’s the classic recreational bowler split but his partner Michael Cole rolls a perfect strike with some hook. Something tells me he’s done this before.

Damn, another strike. Each team is 2 for 2 to start, this guys are actually pretty good.

Michael Cole again, he takes FOREVER to throw, but when you get a couple strikes to start, you can do what you want, but he settles for 9 this time. Tige completely misses the head-pin and now has to try and pick up Michael’s spare, this is how best ball works when strikes aren’t thrown. And a nice spare pickup.

What is this set? There’s nothing, it’s just two random lanes in the darkness. What happens if you wander too far away from the lane?

set

Our first gutter ball! Simon Oakland making us all feel better about our bowling games, but dang! Jan Murray says it’s no laughing matter and knocks down another strike for a turkey! That’s a bonus prize for somebody in the audience but they haven’t announced it yet. God I hope it’s a turkey-related prize, like a roaster or basting kit or something. That would be great.

Tige goes to the Brooklyn side and leaves one, but Michael Cole gives the pins the death stare, stares some more…and some more…and throws a strike. Really, Cole looks like he could average a pretty dang good score if he were playing his own ball.

Simon Oakland with ANOTHER gutter ball, sheesh, this could be a long night for him. Or maybe he’s drunk? Dang, he almost picks up that spare, but that’s the first open frame of the night and really puts them in trouble with Cole and Andrews rolling like crazy.

Cole is back up, we go for a quick beer break since it will take a minute for him to throw and oh hey, another strike. Congrats to the fans who got saddled up with this team, you are taking home a big prize.

Jan Murray almost throws his back out on that throw in the 5th frame, Oakland gets 8 in his first decent throw in three frames. Unfortunately, Murray misses BADLY on the spare.

HALFTIME!

After five frames Cole and Andrews have…69! SIXTY NINE! HELL YEAH! 69 WORKING ON TWO STRIKES! Murray and Oakland have 90 through five and two open frames, the bowling, it is good.

NICE

This is our first commercial since the one a minute in, they must need to record this show in a hurry and clear out for whatever is next

AND WE FIND OUT WHAT THE PRIZES ARE! 120 or less? A pair of fucking pants from Farah, whatever company that is. Pants. Hey, here’s some rich guys bowling, you win a pair of pants! Oh and some luggage that looks very 70s. Gotta keep those pants somewhere, I guess. if it’s over 120…A LA-Z-BOY! Over 150, a fridge! Holy shit I’d rather have the La-Z-Boy. Over 180? A…microwave? A TV? I think it’s like a counter-top oven. Man, the prizes in the 70s were insanely sad. Nice to see whoever shot the Amana footage didn’t white balance.

AMANA

Over 210…A PONTIAC GRAND PRIX! Holy shit a fucking car for some famous people bowling well, AND a radio built inside!

BUT THERE’S MORE! A typewriter if any team bowls a turkey! AND IT GETS BETTER! If your respective team bowls the most strikes in the game you get a blazer like Jed is wearing right now, seriously, that might be the best prize that isn’t the car. That blazer is fire and I would wear that today out on the town. Congrats to Michael Cole and Tige Andrews’ fan contestants, I assume.

Cole is back up, he dries his hands, warms the oven, takes a lap, contemplates life…oh he’s ready to throw finally, and oh hey it’s another strike. YAWN. Four straight strikes for him.

Jan Murray is up and he settles for a nine. I’d say that’s a good throw but his worthless partner probably won’t be able to pick up the spare. Simon Oakland with ANOTHER gutter ball. That’s at least three. Does the audience win anything for that? They really should, like a gift card to some restaurant. And he didn’t pick up the spare. Shocker. I feel bad for Jan Murray, he’s bowling pretty decently for your average guy, but his partner needs the fucking bumpers on the lane so his throws don’t go straight in the gutter.

Tige Andrew is up, it feels like he hasn’t throw in forever because his partner is so selfish and keeps throwing strikes. So naturally he throws a strike of his own.

Simon Oakland back up, I can’t watch. And he get three. I think that’s progress? Jan Murray probably just wants to drop him and bowl on his own. Jan Murray gets 7 on his toss, I’ll bet Oakland misses this spare. OH HE GOT IT! Got a super nice hop from the pins, but he got it!

Michael Cole is up, Tige Andrews can just sit down and have a smoke, probably a strike coming up. Just as soon as Cole throws it, which might be tomorrow. Just imagine how fast this show would go if he didn’t take so long. Yep, a strike. Moving on. THEY WON THE CAR! It’s like the 8th frame and they’ve already won the car! THEY BRING HER OUT OF THE CROWD BUT IT’S SO DARK YOU CANT SEE HER! Amazing.

LMAO

Instead they decide as she’s walking up that she’ll get shown after the game ends. Amazing. I’m guessing they didn’t give out too many cars over the course of this show.

Murray gets another 8, he’s really pretty steady. And Simon Oakland with his fourth gutter ball of the game. Come on. This is like sending out a regular guy in the NBA and expecting him to dunk. AND HE GUTTERS ON THE SPARE TRY. Fifth gutter ball. This is just…it’s painful. He has no pace behind it, and no aim. It’s a bad combo.

Tige Andrews with ANOTHER strike to start the 10th frame. LOL Holy shit, the announcer is basically like, “Uhhh they already won the car, just quick throw the last two balls so we can get her up here and show it off, it doesn’t really matter what you score after you break 210.” Amazing.

Andrews gets to throw again and gets just seven. They finish at 266, which is insane in best-ball bowling, and smashes the previous record of 206. So this is the first time they’ve ever given away the car.

FINAL SCORE: Cole-Andrews 266, Murray-Oakland 161. Honestly, 161 for Murray-Oakland is pretty impressive considering Simon Oakland threw five gutter balls. Had he been competent at all, they might have pushed 200 in this game as well. But 266 is bonkers.

The losing team won their guy a typewriter lol, “Hey this lady gets a car, but you get a typewriter!”

This girl says she literally showed up because her friends got her tickets and she didn’t feel like going to class today, and she goes home with a car. That’s the greatest stroke of luck ever.

car

And Andrew and Cole are…quite liberally with the kisses and affection for her while the keys are being given to her. That’s…something. They interview the losers and the host cuts them off LOL, “Hey that’s great but WE’RE OUT OF TIME! SEE YOU NEXT TIME ON CELEBRITY BOWLING!”

This show is amazing, we should bring it back.

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