“Better Late Than Never” has begun its TV journey with solid ratings, joining “Golden Girls,” “Murder She Wrote,” “Matlock” and others in shooting down the supposition that audiences won’t support fare with older folks in the lead.
Chances are, everyone who watched the Asian travelogue starring Henry Winkler, William Shatner, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw fall into one of two categories: Those who consider the four men national treasures, and those who have no idea who they are but simply find it amusing to watch a bunch of old guys drinking in a robot bar.
For both camps, we thought it would be fun to dust off some long-forgotten facts about four men who’ve led incredibly diverse careers. So sit back, read up — and if a robot bartender happens to be nearby, feel free to order another round.
In 1954, the future Captain Kirk got his start playing a ranger on “The Canadian Howdy Doody Show”; coincidentally enough, his future “Star Trek” co-star James Doohan also spent his early days on the Great White North spin-off of the popular American kids’ show.
Since video of that is impossible to find, even on the vast wasteland known as YouTube, instead we’ll include a clip of Shatner acting opposite a giant penguin. While it’s no secret that Shatner has pitched many products over the years — Priceline, Wendy’s and Blockbuster Video, to name a few — this little-seen ad has the sci-fi legend schilling for Loblaws, a Canadian supermarket chain that apparently has large, flightless birds roaming the frozen foods aisle.
You probably know that Big George is a two-time heavyweight champion who famously lost to Muhammad Ali in the “Rumble in the Jungle.” You might also know that he has five sons named George, and has plenty of money to provide for them and their seven sisters because his George Foreman Grill reportedly earned him over $200 million during its infomercial peak.
What you might not know is that after Foreman lost to Ali, in an attempt to resurrect his career, the boxer came up with an off-the-wall idea: Fighting five men in one night.
With Howard Cosell calling the match(es), and Muhammad Ali himself providing color commentary by screaming at Foreman the entire time, Foreman battled multiple boxers, corner men who ran into the ring — and baited Ali every chance he got.
“This is the weirdest thing you will ever see,” said Cosell, and he had a point.
Of course, everyone remembers Winkler as Arthur Fonzarelli, the “Happy Days” character who turned the word “cool” into a pop culture touchstone. But even back when he was playing a greasy-haired hood, Winkler had more artistic ambitions — and one of them put an Oscar on his shelf.
In 1977, Winkler narrated and executive produced “Who Are the DeBolts? And Where Did They Get Nineteen Kids?” Decades before the Gosselins or the Duggars, the uplifting documentary shined a spotlight on a big-hearted American family who had adopted 14 children, some of whom were severely disabled war orphans.
Winkler’s movie won multiple awards, including the Best Documentary Oscar in 1978. Now, that’s cool.
A former NFL quarterback turned lovable broadcaster and supporting star in Matthew McConaughey rom-coms, the 67-year-old Bradshaw has led an interesting life, both on and off the gridiron.
Perhaps his most out-of-left-field moments, however, have been preserved on vinyl. The quarterback has recorded six albums of country/western and gospel music, with his cover of “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” reaching the Top 20 on Billboard’s country chart in 1976. Let’s see the Manning brothers try and do that.