CBS promo with Jackie Gleason debunks Super Bowl myth
One happy byproduct of all the attention Super Bowl I has gotten in the run-up to Super Bowl 50 is that there should no longer be anyone who believes the myth that the game was not called “Super Bowl” until the Jets won the third edition in 1969.
True, that was not the official name until then, but even in 1967, fans and media members called it “Super Bowl” at least as often as they did “AFL-NFL World Championship Game.”
Among many recent examples is the promotional clip CBS has been running in which one of its biggest stars of the era, Jackie Gleason, tells viewers of his Jan. 14, 1967, edition of “The Jackie Gleason Show” to tune in the next day:
“Ladies and gentlemen, don’t forget, on my favorite network, the Columbia Broadcasting System, watch the Super Bowl game.”
And Awaaaay We Go! 49 Years ago today, Jackie Gleason reminded viewers to watch Super Bowl I on CBS. #SB50 #TBT https://t.co/Bv0acKJ4Ss— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) January 14, 2016
In 1976, Gleason co-hosted “Super Bowl Night at the Super Bowl” prior to Super Bowl X in his adopted hometown of Miami, a variety show that also starred Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson and KC and the Sunshine Band. (See YouTube for deeply disturbing visions of 1970s-era shtick from the Super Bowl XII version of the same show, sans Gleason but with Namath.)
But young sports-fan readers would be better served to watch Gleason in all his non-comedic acting glory as Minnesota Fats in the 1961 film, “The Hustler,” where he displays the billiards skills he picked up in pool halls in his native Brooklyn.
The 2006 book “Sports Cinema, 100 Movies” by Randy Williams named it the best sports film of all time.