Celebrities Who Did 'Dating Game' Before They Were Famous
Maureen McCormick on 'The Dating Game' on March 27, 1973. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
Long before The Bachelor, people who turned to television when looking for love did so on The Dating Game. And celebrities and celebrities-to-be -- well, they're people too. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, much like today, the contestants on TV’s dating reality shows were looking for more than just love…they were looking for stardom. Sometimes, appearing on a game show served as a kick start to an acting career and celebrity. The Dating Game, which ran from 1965 to 1973, then started again in 1978, was an ideal vehicle for stars in the making. Here are just some of the numerous future celebrities on The Dating Game back in the groovy era.
Now, some celebrities on The Dating Game were already celebrities, doing the show for a bit of publicity -- like Maureen McCormick, who appeared on the show in 1973, just days after The Brady Bunch had aired the finale of its fourth season. That's right -- bachelors number 1, 2, and 3 answered questions for the privilege of stepping out on the town with Marcia Brady, America's favorite TV California blonde.
Long before he was the Terminator and the governor of California, beefy Mr. Universe Arnold Schwarzenegger was a contestant on The Dating Game. He had only one movie to his credit—Hercules in New York—when he appeared on the show in 1973.
Angelic Farrah Fawcett appeared on The Dating Game in the late 1960s, shortly after she arrived in Hollywood as a beautiful, fresh-faced 21-year old model. She had done commercials for companies such as Max Factor and Noxzema but was hoping to move into TV and films. The lucky bachelor she picked on The Dating Game got to join her on an Austrian ski vacation. Soon after, Farrah landed some guest roles in shows like The Flying Nun and I Dream of Jeannie, which helped build her resume before starring in Charlie's Angels.
It is hard to believe that hunky Tom Selleck would need help finding a date, so we will assume Selleck’s two appearances on The Dating Game in the late 1960s were meant to get his handsome, chiseled face in front of producers and casting agents. Selleck was the big loser both times he was on The Dating Game, but he was the big winner afterward. He landed several guest roles in TV shows and a recurring role on The Rockford Files. Still, it took another decade until he was propelled to stardom in TV’s Magnum, P.I., which debuted in 1980.
Spunky, bubbly Sally Field was a contestant on The Dating Game in 1967. She was not new to television at this time, having already starred in the sitcom Gidget from 1965-1966. Even though the bachelor Field selected on The Dating Game liked her -- he really, really liked her -- she gave a hard pass on dating him. Instead, she took the starring role in The Flying Nun and gave an award-winning performance in the TV miniseries Sybil shortly after her game show appearance.
Funnyman John Ritter was still a teenager—just 19—when he became a contestant on The Dating Game. On the show, he described himself as a drama major, baseball fan, and hopefully soon-to-be millionaire. Ritter may not have found the love of his life on The Dating Game, but Disney executives found him. Just a few years after his game show appearance, Ritter landed his first movie role in Disney’s 1971 film The Barefoot Executive. It wasn’t until his starring role on the sitcom Three’s Company, which debuted in 1976, that Ritter became a household name.
In 1968, future television star Lindsay Wagner made an appearance on The Dating Game. A few years later, in 1971, she officially launched her acting career with guest roles on several popular TV series. She began appearing regularly on The Six Million Dollar Man in the mid-1970s, which led to her own spin-off show, The Bionic Woman, which ran from 1976-78.
Richard Dawson, who appeared on The Dating Game several times, beginning in 1968, must have liked being on a television game show so much that he made a career out of it. The long-running host of Family Feud was also a regular on Match Game in the early 1970s. He also tackled the role of Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan’s Heroes.
In 1968, British soul singer Dusty Springfield came looking for love on The Dating Game. She had already achieved fame with her hits "I Only Want to Be With You" in 1963, "Wishin' and Hopin'" in 1964, and "Son of a Preacher Man" in 1968. Even as she appeared on The Dating Game, Springfield was involved in a same-sex relationship with fellow singer, Norma Tanega. The sexy symbol of the swinging sixties, Springfield was only ever romantically linked to women.
Who wouldn’t want to date this wild and crazy guy? Steve Martin twice appeared on The Dating Game—in 1968 and 1970—and won both times. During this time, he was working as a writer for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, while working on his own stand-up comedy routines. Perhaps his appearances on The Dating Game showed Hollywood that Martin could work in front of the camera, too. In the early 1970s, Martin became a regular on The Tonight Show.
Hot Suzanne Somers had already been a prize model on another TV game show, The Anniversary Game, which ran from 1969-1970, when she appeared on The Dating Game in 1973, several years before starring as Chrissy Snow on Three's Company. When Somers picked one of the lucky bachelors, she unknowingly selected a fellow actor, B.G. Fisher, who appeared in 48 Hours in 1982 and Drug Runners in 1988. Fisher and Somers shared The Dating Game prize of a dreamy, steamy trip to the Bahamas.
Tags: Arnold Schwarzenegger | Celebrities When They Were Young | Farrah Fawcett | Game Shows | John Ritter | Maureen McCormick | Sally Field | Steve Martin | Suzanne Somers | The Dating Game | Tom Selleck
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