The Super Bowl is the most-watched TV event of the year, so the halftime show must be something spectacular that also has wide appeal. In the last decade or so, organizers have had success with getting a major singer or band, and just letting them perform a medley of their songs—the Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, the Who, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, or Lady Gaga, for example. Before that…well, pretty much anything could happen at the Super Bowl halftime show.
The theme of the 1987 halftime show was “A Salute to Hollywood’s 100th Anniversary,” and was produced by Disney. That made for actors in Disney character costumes walking around while movie songs like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (from The Wizard of Oz) and “When You Wish Upon a Star” (from Pinocchio) played. The whole thing was introduced by George Burns, who awkwardly flirted with the actress playing Snow White, saying that she was “a pretty girl. Little too old for me.”
The 1989 halftime show was called “Be Bop Bamboozled in 3-D,” and it was one of the first major network broadcasts to be presented in 3-D. The star of the show was a performer named “Elvis Presto,” an Elvis impersonator (and former Solid Gold dancer) who also did magic tricks. All the while, classic ‘50s songs were performed, such as “Great Balls of Fire” and “Devil with a Blue Dress On,” neither of which were actually Elvis songs.
New Orleans-style jazz and the characters of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip have absolutely nothing to do with each other. But the 1990 Super Bowl halftime show merged the two concepts, because the game was held in New Orleans that year, which was also the 40th anniversary of Peanuts. Joining fiddler Doug Kershaw, clarinet player Pete Fountain, a 500-person choir, and three local marching bands…were costumed Peanuts characters jumping around to the music.
The 1991 Super Bowl was one of the most exciting in history, with the New York Giants beating the Buffalo Bills by a score of 20 to 19. Its halftime show was a little less memorable. Boy band New Kids on the Block performed, along with Mickey Mouse, hundreds of children dressed in the traditional clothing of nations from around the world (who sang a medley of “It’s a Small World,” “We Are the World,” and “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”). Also, NFL quarterback Warren Moon shows up on stage for some reason.
CBS carried the 1992 Super Bowl, and the network used the halftime show to promote its next big televised sporting the event, the Winter Olympics. The show featured Gloria Estefan singing, and then figure skaters Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill doing a brief figure skating routine. Meanwhile, rival Fox scheduled a new episode of its hit sketch comedy show In Living Color to air during halftime, which lured 22 million people away from Gloria Estefan and figure skating.