We recently lost legendary music star Kenny Rogers, who was best known as a megaselling country artist but also had a notable screen career, including as an actor. Today is the 40th anniversary of the premiere of The Gambler, or as it is officially titled--and you have to love this--Kenny Rogers as the Gambler. It's an adaptation of Rogers' #1 hit song from 1978.
(The above promo is from a repeat showing, and, hey, is that Rick Dees trying on a "cowboy" accent?)
The CBS made-for-TV movie debuted Tuesday at 9:00 EST after a White Shadow rerun and up against an episode of failed variety/event series The Big Show on NBC and ABC's combo of reruns of Three's Company and Taxi and a new Hart to Hart. The film was a big hit, spawning 4 sequels over the years; Country Music: The Encyclopedia says "it achieved the highest rating of any TV movie shown over the past two years." The book also notes that Rogers headlined 3 specials on CBS, and then in 1981 starred in other song-to-movie adaptation, The Coward of the County.
Speaking of great titles, I love that Kenny's first CBS special (April 12, 1979) is called A Special Kenny Rogers and not A Kenny Rogers Special.