Battle Of The Network Stars: This Is Celebrity Sparta!

By | January 8, 2019

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'Battle of the Network Stars' - 11/13/76 on the ABC Television Network competition 'Battle of the Network Stars'. Source: (Photo by ABC via Getty Images)

When famous people do battle, everybody wins. On ABC's Battle Of The Network Stars, celebrities from different TV networks competed against each other in a gripping spectacle that was part Dancing With The Stars and part Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge. Beginning in 1976, the show featured such stars as Tom Wopat and Morgan Fairchild wearing tank tops and those short '70s workout shorts, and asked the question: Can actors and actresses, who are used to non-exertional roles of acting be up for the challenge of strenuous physical workouts? 

Each team from NBC, ABC and CBS consisted of a lineup of eight to ten stars from one network (one serving as team captain). The three-way competition (this was in the pre-Fox era, pre-WB, pre-CW era) included sporting events like tennis, golf, swimming, bowling, running, obstacle courses, and more. The lowest scoring network team would be eliminated, and a tug-of-war finale between the remaining two would determine the winner of the day.

A Who's Who Of TV

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CBS teammates Tom Selleck and Catherine Bach. Source: eBay

The original Battle of the Network Stars was aired on ABC with Howard Cosell as the announcer. The show aired twice each year from 1977 to 1988, once in the spring and once in the fall. The all-time standings finished remarkably even: ABC won the most Battles, with seven, and CBS and NBC each won six times apiece.

There was only one episode that Cosell did not host due to a falling out with ABC.