Before there was The Bachelor or Dismissed, before Flavor Flav had given out his first clock to a gaggle of adoring scantily-clad ladies, before ____ of Love became a go-to formula, there was The Dating Game. Starting in 1965, The Dating Game and The New Dating Game planted the seeds of what would become the modern reality dating show — there was the sassy bachelorette, the suitors vying for her attention, the winking double entendres, and, of course, the celebrity guest appearance. From a pre-fame Steve Martin to young Michael Jackson, a host of celebrity guests stopped by during its heyday. Alas, many of the show tapes were erased (as was the standard in the day) but some of the hilarity has been preserved via some killer YouTube clips. Check out the best of them after the jump.
A way pre-gubernatorial Schwarzenegger shows off his funny side, instructing his bachelorettes “not to freak out” at the size of his measurements.
Back when “Rockin’ Robin” was in the number one spot, a baby-faced Michael Jackson stopped by the show to choose between several aspiring middle schoolers. The bachelorettes are adorably awkward, and Jackson asks to bring his snake along on the date.
Kaufman’s brings foreign man to The Dating Game story, brilliantly making fun of the show’s conventions while still making really good television.
Wild and crazy Steve Martin brings his off-kilter humor to The Dating Show back when he was still a writer for the Smothers Brothers. We love his slight Henry Rollins-ish look, and also applaud the bachelorette’s decision to choose him (Tom Selleck, pre-fame, went on twice and was rejected both times).
After a brief duet, the Carpenters split up and Karen Carpenter, in all her weird splendor, takes the reins.
From the days when Farrah was more known for her sculptures than her feathered hair, Fawcett has to choose between three haute-70s coiffed bachelors.
John Ritter promises his bachelorette that if they should get married he would “drain Lake Michigan and airdrop in butterscotch ripple.” Count us convinced.
Price uses his exquisite creepiness to its best capacity here — he comes out wearing a toga, for heaven’s sake. Price gets to choose between the bachelors for Ms. X, and it’s fairly amazing.
“The Girl in the T-Bird” comes out to hawk her new book of poetry — plus a short-lived show called The Sensuous Man.
Wise-cracking Diller has to choose a bachelorette for her son. Could this be the most terrifying version of Parental Control ever?