Tuesday, July 7, 2020

This Day in TV History: Beauties and the Beasts on July 7, 1980

40 years ago tonight, TV viewers had a choice between beauty and brawn. CBS offered the Miss Universe Pageant, hosted by Bob Barker, Helen O'Connell, and Jayne Kennedy with performances by Donny Osmond; while ABC countered with the WBC Heavyweight title on the line as Larry Holmes defended against Scott LeDoux.

In case you're wondering, NBC had the King--not Don King, but Elvis Presley in 1957's Loving You. Folks, I often lament the sentiment that anything more than 5 years old is "passe" or just won't appeal to modern audiences. Yet I must confess I find it a curious decision to air a 1957 movie in prime time on network television in 1980. NBC seemed to enjoy being in the Elvis business, though; the following spring Don Johnson starred in Elvis and the Beauty Queen, and the network aired various specials in the era like Memories of Elvis in 1978 (of course, the legendary Comeback Special was on NBC in 1968).

Back to the main event, the big match-up of the evening, in which reigning Miss USA (Remember when it aired alongside Fantastic Funnies?) Shawn Weatherly won Miss Universe. It was July 8 in South Korea when it took place but July 7 when it aired here in the States.


She later starred in the first season of Baywatch and the only season of J.J. Starbuck.

As for the heavyweight fight? Holmes crushed LeDoux with a round 7 TKO in front of a partisan crowd at the Met Center in LeDoux's native Minnesota. Holmes would go on to beat a faded Muhammad Ali in an infamous fight, then dominate the early 1980s before a series of retirements and comebacks.  LeDoux suffered several more high-profile losses before retiring and becoming a fixture of AWA wrestling in its ESPN weekday afternoon era as a "troubleshooting" referee.

Perhaps his greatest moment was knocking off Howard Cosell's toupee after a different fight:

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