ABC's Wide World of Entertainment

ABC's Wide World of Entertainment is a late night block of programs created by the ABC television network. It premiered on January 8, 1973, and ended three years later.[1] The title was based on the long-running broadcast ABC's Wide World of Sports; there was also an ABC's Wide World of Mystery broadcast from 1973 to 1978.

ABC's Wide World of Entertainment
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Camera setup89
Running time90 minutes
Original networkAmerican Broadcasting Company
Original releaseJanuary 8, 1973 (1973-01-08) 
January 10, 1976 (1976-01-10)

Program schedule

Unable to find a single talk show to compete with NBC's highly successful Tonight Show, the network aired a collection of comedy specials, documentaries, mystery movies, music concerts and talk shows with a variety of hosts.[2] Included in the broadcasts were The Dick Cavett Show, Jack Paar Tonite, Good Night America (a newsmagazine hosted by Geraldo Rivera), the live concert series In Concert, the UK-originated anthology series Thriller, and Comedy News (a parody of local TV newscasts with an ensemble cast of comedians and satirists including Kenneth Mars, Marian Mercer, Robert Klein, Mort Sahl and Dick Gregory).[3] Initially, Paar, Cavett, comedy specials and mystery movies were each given one week per month.

Two nights of music concerts, broadcast every other Friday on weeks where specials or movies were broadcast, completed the monthly schedule.[4] The 1975 and 1976 editions of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve were also broadcast as "Wide World Specials".[5]

Monty Python broadcast

Monty Python's Flying Circus, the British comedy sketch television series, taped its last episode in December 1974 and was syndicated to American public television stations soon after. On October 3, 1975, ABC aired the first of two edited compilations of sketches from the series as one of its Wide World of Entertainment comedy specials. The Python group represented by Terry Gilliam, the group's only American-born member, sued ABC for copyright infringement.[6]

Zapruder film

On the March 6, 1975, edition of Good Night America, Rivera had as his guests JFK assassination researchers Robert Groden and Dick Gregory, who presented the first-ever network television showing of the Zapruder film. The public's response and outrage to that television showing quickly led to the forming of the Hart-Schweiker investigation, contributed to the Church Committee Investigation on Intelligence Activities by the United States, and resulted in the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigation.[7]

ABC Late Night

The comedy and variety specials proved to be unpopular and, along with most of the talk shows, were dropped by the summer of 1974. They were replaced with reruns of television films and the programming block was retitled ABC Late Night on January 12, 1976. In addition to movies (which were seen under the Tuesday Movie of the Week banner), the network aired a variety of prime-time series reruns including Police Woman, Mannix, Starsky & Hutch, Soap, Barney Miller, Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island. ABC Late Night ended on October 21, 1982.


  1. Terrace, Vincent (1981). Television 1970-1980. San Diego: A.S. Barnes and Company. ISBN 0-498-02577-2.
  2. Brooks, Tim & Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946-Present (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0-345-49773-4.
  3. Terrace, Vincent (1976). The Complete Encyclopedia of Television Programs 1947-1976 (Vol. 1). South Brunswick and New York: A.S. Barnes and Company. ISBN 0-498-01561-0.
  4. "Show Business: ABC's Potpourri." (February 26, 1973). Time Magazine. Retrieved 2011-03-24.
  5. Television listings in Evening Independent, December 31, 1974 (via Google News)
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2010-04-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. Vincent Bugliosi (2007). Reclaiming history: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-393-04525-3. Retrieved 5 March 2011.
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