Real People? That’s Incredible!
Image via Sitcoms Online

Real People? That’s Incredible!

From 1979 to 1984 NBC had a hit show called “Real People”. I loved watching TV with the whole family, and of course this meant having to actually be in front of the TV at the time the broadcast was on, no DVR’s, no skipping the commercials. It had a great cast, John Barbour, Sarah Purcell, Byron Allen, Skip Stephenson, Bill Raferty, Mark Russell, Fred Willard, and Peter Billingsley, who would begin his three-year hosting gig in 1982, and then starred in a little movie called “A Christmas Story” in 1983.

Image via Sitcoms Online
Image via Sitcoms Online

I loved the format of the show, it was kind of like a talk show, but it was funny, the hosts were great, but the best part was seeing ordinary folks from across the country doing odd, strange, or unique things. It was even responsible for introducing America to Richard Simmons! Here is the intro from one of the shows.

Of course, with the popularity of the show NBC was getting a great rating boost, and ABC came up with a competitor, debuting in 1980 “That’s Incredible!” lasted until 1984. The format was different, most of the segments involved stunts that people performed, but I still liked the show a lot. The hosts were John Davidson, Cathy Lee Crosby, and Fran Tarkenton.

Image via
Image via

Here is an opening sequence from the show…

Just as “Real People” introduced the world to Richard Simmons, “That’s Incredible! introduced the world to Earl Woods and his son, Eldrick….


Full blown child of the 70's and 80's...

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. I still remember Skip giving out those Real People tshirts. I always wanted one of those.

  2. I sometimes wonder what happened to the rest of the Real People hosts that aren’t Billingsly or Willard. I watched both religiously but I have to give the edge to That’s Incredible because they sometimes had spooky stuff on.

  3. I had a HUGE crush on Sarah Purcell back in the day!
    @Dex : Billingsly & Willard? What aout Mark Russell? Did you not have access to any PBS TV stations in the 80s?!

  4. And doesn’t Byron Allen have his own cable channel these days? Or at least a modest multimedia empire?

  5. I was crushin on her too back in the day.

    I don’t remember Russell on PBS. All I remember was Zoom, 321 Contact, Doctor Who and Where in the World is Carmen San Diego. :)

  6. Was the Mark Russell on Real People the same as the piano playing comedian on PBS? His comedy specials were great!

  7. Yup Patrick, that Mark Russell is one in the same…

  8. Byron is doing well producing, Sarah has not done much since the late 90’s, Bill Rafferty died in 2012, Skip Stephenson died in 1992…

  9. Rafferty carved an OK niche for himself as a game show host once this series ended. After that, he had a lengthy stint as the host of a television show “Retired and Wired” for RLTV from 2007 until his death in 2012.

  10. Ah, I had forgotten about his game show hosting!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Close Menu
%d bloggers like this: