A League of Ordinary Gentlemen

Bowling Through The Decades

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Bowling Through The Decades: The 1970s

1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

Nixon throws the ball in the White House alley wearing a blue shirt, blue slacks and white shoes. The walls have blue and white wallpaper, a red plastic chair in the background.
President Richard Nixon at the bowling alley in the Executive Office Building of the White House. Photo courtesy George Mason University Libraries

Richard Nixon enjoys bowling in the basement of the White House.

The PBA hires its first lane maintenance director. Prior to 1971, players had to figure out the characteristics of each lane in each house. PBA lane directors dictate how oil patterns should be applied to lanes.

Celebrity Bowling premieres in 1971 and continues for seven-plus seasons, with a brief revival in 1987 as The New Celebrity Bowling. The show features movie stars and sports figures in action-packed competition with more antics and less bowling skills. Some of the bowlers include Sammy Davis, Jr., Ron Howard, William Shatner and Roy Rogers.

On the hit show All in the Family, Archie Bunker tries out for a prestigious bowling team, the Cannonballers, even though the team practices discrimination in admitting members.

TV print ad for Celebrity Bowling shows celebrities laughing
Seventies celebs Carroll O’Connor,
Sammy Davis Jr., Dick Martin and B.J. Thomas featured on Celebrity Bowling


Two women in bowling shirts, look at each other smiling, the brunette on the left (Shirley) holds a bowling ball in her right hand, the woman on the right (Laverne) has a large letter L on her shirt.
Laverne and Shirley

Bowling For Dollars, a game show produced by local TV stations featuring local amateur players, premieres. Episodes are taped either in a local bowling alley or on a pair of bowling lanes constructed inside the TV studios. The show has runs through 1980.

Brunswick introduces the LT-48 rubber ball in 1976. It hooks much more than anything else on the market.

Laverne and Shirley premieres on ABC in 1976. Shotz Brewery bottle-cappers and best friends, Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney bowl on the Shots Brewery league.

Women’s International Bowling Congress membership peaks at 4.2 million members in 1979.

The new entertainment and sports network, ESPN, debuts in 1979 and broadcasts five of six fall PBA Tour events.

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