Pink Lady and Jeff: The End of the Line for Television Variety


In my book No Applause I referred to Pink Lady and Jeff as “the ignominious end of the line” for tv variety shows. From the heights of Ed Sullivan came a downward slide through increasingly minor celebrities as hosts (or new flavors of the month such as Captain and Tennille in an overt but unsuccessful attempt to revitalize the form). Pink Lady and Jeff was yet another brainstorm of NBC president Fred Silverman (whom we’ve written about a few times here with respect to his other strokes of genius Mrs. Columbo and Supertrain. He will inevitably turn up here again).

“Pink Lady and Jeff “wasn’t even a thing. Non-English speaking Japanese disco singing duo Pink Lady was a thing. “Comedian” Jeff Altman was a thing. (It’s his birthday, incidentally). It was Silverman’s masterstroke to smash them together on the same show, and make comedy about the fact that the girls’ didn’t understand English — and how much Altman loved the beautiful ladies! The results were so dubious that even the AMERICAN PUBLIC didn’t go for it, and my friends that is MIGHTY dubious. The show ran for 5 weeks in 1980.

To my unending delight, there is a LOT of this show on Youtube, so much that it was hard to choose a clip. I do hope you will explore. In the meantime, there’s this:

To find out more about  the history of the variety arts, including television varietyconsult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.


To learn more about slapstick comedy, please check out my new book: Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Mediaalso available from etc etc etc


One comment

  1. I still remember an “SNL” spoof of this show in Lorne Michaels’ (then-) final season, called “Pink Lady and Carl,” in which the Japanese duo were pitted against uber-verbose science guy Carl Sagan.


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