Imagine if you can, the thrills of the circus with tigers and trapeze and clowns. Now imagine that instead of seasoned veterans, the performers are your favorite celebrities, each with little circus training but plenty of show biz chutzpah. And there you have Circus of the Stars – an evening of ringside spectacles and (not so) death-defying stunts. All you need is the cotton candy.
Circus of the Stars debuted in 1977 on CBS and ran annually for an astounding 19 years. Everyone from Lucille Ball to Dick Clark, Scott Baio to Ricky Schroder appeared over the years. Viewers got to see Pernell Roberts display his karate mastery, David Soul tame the wildest of Tigers, and Bob Barker perform a Harry Houdini-type escape as a car loomed overhead, ready to drop at a moment’s notice.
Most of the time, the acts went off without a hitch but certainly not always. Carol Channing had a run-in with a disturbed monkey who decided to perch upon her head. Lonnie Anderson cut her ankle while walking over broken glass. Still, for the most part, it was good clean fun that gave audiences a chance to see their favorite stars completely out of their element, and in some cases, in very tight clothing.
Like The Battle of the Network Stars, Circus of the Stars showed that celebrities are no better at athletics and acrobatics than anyone else. They just look better when trying. And when they failed, you could sympathize – if you weren’t too busy chuckling at their misfortune.
If you fondly remember tuning into the thrilling spectacle of Circus of the Stars, even if it was just to see if one of your favorite stars was going to take a nose dive from the trapeze, we hope you’ll share all your memories of this classic show in our comments section.