Solid Gold (TV series)

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Solid Gold
Created by Al Masini
Developed by Bob Banner
Presented by Dionne Warwick (1980–81, 1985–86)
Marilyn McCoo (1981–84, 1986–88)
Andy Gibb (1981–82)
Rex Smith (1982–83)
Rick Dees (1984–85)
Nina Blackwood (1986–88)
Arsenio Hall (1986–88)
Narrated by Robert W. Morgan (1980–86)
Chuck Riley (1986)
Charlie O'Donnell (1986–87)
Dick Tufeld (1987–88)
Opening theme "Solid Gold Theme"
music by
Michael Miller
lyrics by
Dean Pitchford
Ending theme "Solid Gold Theme"
music by
Michael Miller
lyrics by
Dean Pitchford
sung by
Dionne Warwick (1980–81, 1985–86)
Marilyn McCoo & Andy Gibb (1981–82)
Marilyn McCoo & Rex Smith (1982–83)
Marilyn McCoo (1983–84)
Deborah Davis (1984–85)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 8
No. of episodes 332
Running time 60 minutes
Production company(s) Brad Lachman Productions
Bob Banner Associates (1980–84) (seasons 1-4)
Operation Prime Time (1980–86) (seasons 1-6)
Paramount Television Service (1980–82) (seasons 1-2)
Paramount Domestic Television (1982–88) (seasons 3-8)
Distributor Paramount Television Service (1980–82) (seasons 1-2)
Paramount Domestic Television (1982–2006)
CBS Paramount Domestic Television (2006–2007)
CBS Television Distribution (2007–present)
Original network Syndicated
Audio format Monaural (1980–84)
Stereo (1984–88)
Original release September 13, 1980 – July 23, 1988

Solid Gold is an American syndicated music television series that debuted on September 13, 1980 and ran until July 23, 1988. The program was a production of Brad Lachman Productions in association with Operation Prime Time and Paramount Domestic Television.

Usually airing on Saturday evenings, Solid Gold was one of several shows that focused on the popular music of any given week; other examples at the included the long-running American Bandstand and Soul Train. While Solid Gold did share elements with those two programs, such as live appearances by performers, it also stood out by including something they did not: an in-house crew of professional dancers that performed routines choreographed to the week's featured songs.

Reviews of the show were not always positive, with The New York Times referring to it as "the pop music show that is its own parody...[enacting] mini-dramas...of covetousness, lust and aerobic toning—routines that typically have a minimal connection with the songs that back them up."[1]

Production background[edit]

Solid Gold was created by Al Masini as part of his Operation Prime Time production unit, and was developed by Bob Banner. It was produced by Brad Lachman Productions for all eight of its seasons and Bob Banner Associates for its first four, after which Banner's company began producing Star Search for Television Program Enterprises, Masini's other production company.

Solid Gold was packaged by Operation Prime Time (which was a co-venture of Masini and Universal Pictures through its MCA Television unit) and Paramount Television, and was distributed by the remains of Paramount Television Service for its first two seasons. Paramount's syndication unit took over distributorship for the remaining six seasons. Operation Prime Time continued to produce Solid Gold until Masini elected to merge it with Television Program Enterprises in 1987 (TPE did not, however, share in any distribution or packaging as Paramount assumed that themselves).

From its debut in 1980 until the end of its fourth season, the show was taped at the Golden West Broadcasters studio facility. Beginning in September 1984, Paramount, who had previously owned the Golden West facility in the early days of television, moved production of Solid Gold to its studios with a redesigned set.

At the start of Solid Gold's first season (1980), Michael Miller was chosen by its first host, Dionne Warwick, to be the show's musical director. Miller stayed on for the entire series and composed the theme song for Solid Gold with Academy Award winning songwriter Dean Pitchford providing the lyrics. The song, re-recorded various times to reflect current music trends, was performed by the show's hosts (with the exception of the 1984–85 season) at the beginning and end of each program, with the closing theme accompanied by a final routine from the Dancers.

History and format overview[edit]

Year-end Top 40 countdown shows[edit]

The first episode of the show in January of 1980 would become a yearly tradition, as they counted down the Top 50 songs of 1979 in a two-hour television pilot special, called Solid Gold '79, hosted by Dionne Warwick and Glen Campbell. The year end countdown would be reduced to forty songs beginning in 1981 and would be presented every year through 1986.

Source material[edit]

The data featured by Solid Gold came from the weekly pop music chart compiled Radio & Records, a music industry trade newspaper that was responsible for providing data to various chart tracking programs for over thirty years. The difference between the R&R chart and those used by competitors like America's Top 10, which was hosted by Casey Kasem and also launched in 1980, was that only radio airplay was tracked; Kasem's program, which later adopted the Radio & Records chart as its source, and several others used the Billboard Hot 100, which also tracked record sales.

Daily spinoff[edit]

In the summer of 1984, the producers of Solid Gold added a daily 30-minute series called Solid Gold Hits to the weekend program. Actor Grant Goodeve presided over a general grouping of the week's hit songs, and a second roster of Solid Gold Dancers was employed for this series; regular Solid Gold Dancer Deborah Jenssen was the principal dancer of this roster.


Hosts and announcers[edit]

Dionne Warwick hosted the first season of Solid Gold, aided by comedian Marty Cohen, with veteran Los Angeles DJ Robert W. Morgan announcing. After Warwick left the series, singers Andy Gibb and Marilyn McCoo were brought in as co-hosts and puppeteer Wayland Flowers joined the series as a secondary comedic act with his puppet Madame. Gibb left Solid Gold in 1982 and Rex Smith replaced him, but he too would leave after one season. Following a season where McCoo hosted by herself, she left in 1984 and Rick Dees of the Weekly Top 40 radio show was hired. Arsenio Hall joined the series during this time as the in-house comedian in place of Marty Cohen. At the midway point of the 1984-85 season, Dees left Solid Gold and a series of guests were used in the interim. Original host Dionne Warwick returned toward the end of the 1984-85 season and stayed on through the following season, finally leaving the program for good in 1986.

When Solid Gold returned for its seventh season in September 1986, several changes were made. Marilyn McCoo returned to the series after a two-year absence. Arsenio Hall was promoted from his role as in-house comedian to co-host, with Jeff Altman replacing him, and the series added an additional co-host with Nina Blackwood, one of the original MTV VJs who was a correspondent for Entertainment Tonight at the time, joining the cast. The title of the series added the current year to it and American Bandstand announcer Charlie O'Donnell replaced Robert W. Morgan in that role. Chuck Riley was the announcer for that season's first episode with O'Donnell announcing the remainder of the season.

Solid Gold was overhauled again in 1987, with the series putting more of an emphasis on live performances and changing its name to Solid Gold in Concert. McCoo, Hall, and Blackwood stayed on as hosts with Dick Tufeld replacing Charlie O'Donnell as announcer after O'Donnell decided to remain with American Bandstand as it left its longtime home at ABC to join Solid Gold in syndication.

Linda Greene of the Peaches and Herb duo ("Reunited" and "Shake Your Groove Thing" hits) was also offered the hosting duties according to the January 2015 TVOne "Unsung" broadcast.

The Solid Gold Dancers[edit]

The weekly one-hour show played segments from the Top 10 charting songs accompanied by the Solid Gold Dancers. Of the eight original Solid Gold '79 dancers, only four would join the Solid Gold series cast: Darcel Wynne, who would be the program's principal dancer for its first five years and was often credited by her first name alone, Deborah Jenssen, Paula Beyers, and Alexander Cole. Gayle Crofoot would join the roster in late fall of 1982, replacing dancer Lucinda Dickey and Mark Sellers in 1984. Also Cooley Jackson/Jaxson Join in 1983 replacing Alex Cole. Cooley Jaxson also was the White Ranger in the Power Rangers Live Tour. Breakin' the Movie and Electric Boogaloo Breakin' 2.

Some of the dancers moved on to acting careers, including Dickey (Ninja III: The Domination) and the late Tony Fields in the 1986 horror movie Trick or Treat (as dead rock icon Sammi Curr). Another example is Chelsea Field, whose movie credits include Commando (as an airline stewardess), Masters of the Universe (she was Teela), and The Last Boy Scout (as Bruce Willis's philandering ex-wife).

Darcel appeared on the show from 1980 to 1984, but she took most of the 1984–85 season off and rejoined the roster for the 1985–86 season. During that season, she became a de facto co-host as she took on a more active voice role in the series, regularly announcing the countdown re-caps toward the end of each program. The 1986 season was Darcel's last as a member of the cast as she and many of the dancers, including some of the originals, left.

The last appearance of the Solid Gold Dancers in media was not on Solid Gold itself, but rather in the 1988 motion picture Scrooged. The movie, which premiered in November 1988, was scripted and filmed before Solid Gold was officially cancelled.[citation needed]

In 2011, Darcel Wynne, Deborah Jennsen, and Lezlie Mogell were competitors on the reality competition series Live to Dance. They managed to advance past the audition stage but did not advance further.

The choreographers who plotted out the dancers' routines over the years included Kevin Carlisle, Anita Mann and Lester Wilson (the choreographer for Saturday Night Fever).

Guest performers and the usage of the Top 10[edit]

At times, artists who had a single among the week's Top 10 appeared as guest performers. Often the vocals were lip-synchronized ("lip-synched"). For the live performances, Miller would either record the backing instrumental tracks with his Solid Gold Band or with the artist's band and be sung live on stage at the taping. Arguably one of the more prominent guests to receive this treatment was Joe Cocker, who performed "Up Where We Belong" on Solid Gold several times with Jennifer Warnes, as well as one solo performance of his song "Seven Days." All the duets that Warwick, McCoo, Gibb, or Smith performed with their guest hosts were done live.[citation needed] During the 1986–87 season, the Top 10 was no longer accompanied with dancing from the Solid Gold Dancers but instead was simply listed halfway through the show.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Solid Gold won Robert A. Dickinson three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lighting Direction (Electronic) for a Series (two of which were co-won by Frank Olivas). Choreographer Anita Mann was nominated in 1985 and 1986, for Outstanding Choreography.

Pop culture references[edit]

  • In an episode of The Golden Girls (Season 2-Episode 18-Aired: 2/14/1987) character Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur) finds out her new boyfriend is a priest. When he tells her she looks lovely in her low-cut, sequined blouse, she quips, "I look like the mother of a Solid Gold dancer!"
  • In the 1990 Babes episode, "Bend Me Shape Me," Darlene Gilbert (Susan Peretz) makes a reference to the show after seeing a workout tape that her sister Charlene (Wendie Jo Sperber) bought, saying that the instructor on the tape made them look like "Fellini's Solid Gold" while trying to follow her lead.
  • In episode 18 of the sixth season of Roseanne, Roseanne states she studied dancing "in [her] living room with the Solid Gold Dancers."
  • In the 2001 film Evolution, Orlando Jones' character says, "Don't you snap at me, unless you want an angry Solid Gold dancer on your hands."
  • The 2004 music video for the Sum 41 single "We're All to Blame" features the band performing the song on a mock episode of Solid Gold.
  • A September 2007 episode of Saturday Night Live featured a satirical promotion for a "Best of Solid Gold" DVD, with the announcer stating, "enjoy as the Solid Gold dancers sexy-shake it to some of the most undanceable songs ever written," before showing the dancers dancing to Starship's 1985 hit "We Built This City".
  • The animated internet talk show This Spartan Life features the "Solid Gold Elite Dancers" as the show's equivalent to a talent segment.
  • In a 3rd-season episode of 30 Rock titled "The Ones", Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) mentions that her prom night ended with "Eating ice cream and watching Solid Gold in my basement."
  • In a 2nd-season episode of The Cleveland Show titled "Cleveland Live", he introduces the show with "The Original Solid Gold Dancers"; one of whom is parodied to now be dancing with an oxygen tank.
  • On the Adult Swim show Black Dynamite, the title character claims that any dancer on Solid Gold can dance like Michael Jackson as an insult to Jackson.

Episode status[edit]

All episodes of Solid Gold exist, including the 1979 pilot. VH1 aired episodes of this series for a brief time, as did The Family Channel in the mid-1990s. Neither CBS Television Distribution, CBS Home Entertainment nor Paramount Home Entertainment, however, had made them available on home video, DVD or Blu-ray as of 2016.


External links[edit]