Gillette Cavalcade of Sports

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Gillette Cavalcade of Sports
Genre Sports
Presented by Bob Stanton
Ray Forrest
Jimmy Powers
Theme music composer Mahlon Merrick
Opening theme "Look Sharp/Be Sharp March"
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Production
Producer(s) Bill Garden
Jack Mills
Broadcast
Original channel NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original run November 8, 1946 – June 24, 1960

The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports is an American network radio program and later television program that included broadcasts of a variety of sports, although it is primarily remembered by many[clarification needed] for its focus on boxing.

Overview and background[edit]

The Cavalcade of Sports officially began on radio in 1942 as the Gillette Company grouped various existing sports sponsorships under one banner. The sponsorships had begun three years earlier, according to an article on the Gillette Company in Vol 68 of the International Directory of Company Histories.

In 1939, Gillette President Joseph Spang purchased rights to the World Series on behalf of Gillette for $100,000. A special promotion of Gillette razors and blueblades sold four times better than company estimates and Gillette sought additional sports sponsorships.

The Gillette stable of radio sports programs spanned several different networks (including NBC, CBS, and Mutual) and grew to include not only ongoing sponsorship of the World Series and All-Star Game in baseball, but the annual Kentucky Derby in horseracing and football’s Cotton Bowl Classic and Orange Bowl.

"Most males in the 1940s and 1950s did not have to be told that the Cavalcade of Sports meant Gillette was sponsoring another ball game or horse race," wrote Gordon McKibben in his Gillette history, Cutting Edge.

The diversified field of sporting events continued onto television, reportedly including at least two golfing tournaments as well (beginning in 1958) football's Rose Bowl. As late as 1988 the Cavalcade of Sports banner was used in connection with Gillette’s sponsorship of the NHL's Stanley Cup playoffs. Internationally, the Gilette World Sports program continues the concept to the present day in many countries from Ireland to Africa to Asia.

With all of this, however, the Cavalcade of Sports was best known for Friday night boxing on NBC from 1946 through 1960, and (after NBC decided against featuring boxing due to sensitivity over criminal allegations in the sport) then for several more years on ABC.

As Cavalcade of Sports[edit]

Its earlier incarnation, Cavalcade of Sports, likewise a boxing show, ran on NBC's New York City station WNBT (now WNBC) intermittently since 1943 and was picked up by the NBC network three years later. The twice-weekly 1946 shows began on Monday, November 8 at 9 p.m. and Friday, November 12 at 9:30 p.m. Both were open-ended programs—when the last bout ended, the station signed off the air (in the early days of TV, most stations did not have late-night news).

St. Nicholas Arena in New York City was the site of the earliest bouts and continued to host the Monday night fights until the show's cancellation in May 1949.

As Gillette Cavalcade of Sports[edit]

The Friday night show, broadcast from Madison Square Garden lasted until June 24, 1960, a 14-year period which is, by far, the longest continuous run of any boxing program in television history. The Gillette sponsorship began at the start of TV's first full-programming season, 1948-49. On September 4, the program was renamed The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports, a name that remained until the end. Every great boxer of the time—Rocky Marciano, Sugar Ray Robinson, Archie Moore, Rocky Graziano, Willie Pep and many others appeared on one or more of its broadcasts.

In TV's early years, there was a saturation of boxing programs, as many as six prime-time network shows in one week, not even counting the myriad local shows. With so much boxing on the air, all weight divisions had a chance at stardom, not just the glamorous heavyweights.

Commentators[edit]

Bob Haymes (billed as "Bob Stanton") was the original announcer, and he was joined by Ray Forrest in 1948. Jimmy Powers took over the role in 1949 and remained NBC's main boxing announcer until the network gave up on prime-time pugilism in 1960.

Theme music[edit]

The show's theme song was the "Look Sharp/Be Sharp March" by Mahlon Merrick, an upbeat tune which got the listener's attention. The song was recorded, published (and sheet music printed) sometime between 1953-1956. It received quite a bit of play on US radio shows and was used in the repertoire of many high school and college bands of the day. There is a rendition of the song on YouTube.

The music can be heard in the 1980 boxing related film Raging Bull during the scene where Jake LaMotta (played by Robert De Niro) unveils his new nightclub. The music is also used in the Punch-Out!! series of video games published by Nintendo and the 1993 Argentine film Gatica, el mono.

The band Glassjaw from Long Island, New York has a song named "The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports" on the album Worship and Tribute.

United Kingdom[edit]

The imitatively-titled, but otherwise unrelated, series Cavalcade of Sport aired on ITV in the United Kingdom in 1956, early in the British commercial network's life.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BFI Database entry

External links[edit]