Seven Olympic athletes who transitioned to television - VIDEO
When I think about the Olympics I don't think about the grandeur of the competitions, the feeling of global community, the individual stories of the athletes, or the mesmerizing synchronized swimming routines. The one thing that comes to mind when I think about the Olympics: anonymity. Out of the thousands of athletes that compete in these games many fade into the daily routine of their countries once the Closing Ceremony is completed.
Yet, there are a handful, particularly the up-and-coming stars of each Olympic games, that remain in the spotlight well after the torch has been extinguished. Some continue into the professional sports realm, others become "experts" in their field, and some jump into another profession altogether. Then there are those who enjoy the television spotlight so much that they remain in the medium in one capacity or another.
Sometimes it's as themselves on other television properties. Other times they dabble into the acting field with mixed results. Here are seven Olympic athletes who continued their careers on television in one form or another.
Muhammad Ali (Gold medal, 1960 Summer Olympics) -- Muhammad Ali and television were made for each other. In addition to the many places where he acted as himself, Ali actually had one acting role playing Gideon Jackson in 1979 movie Freedom Road. Ali also voiced his animated persona in the Saturday morning cartoon I am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali.
George Foreman (Gold medal, 1968 Summer Olympics) -- Another Olympic boxer who appeared as himself on such shows as Saturday Night Live and Home Improvement, George also acted in a number of programs like The Six Million Dollar Man and his own sitcom, George, in 1993. He is currently starring as himself once again on the TV Land reality series Family Foreman
Mitch Gaylord (Gold medal, 1984 Summer Olympics) -- Mitch's acting career began even before his appearance at the Olympics with a non-credited role on the CBS science fiction series Logan's Run. In the 90s he appeared on shows like the syndicated remake of Dragnet. His most recent appearance was as a judge on the reality show Celebrity Circus.
Bruce Jenner (Gold medal, 1976 Summer Olympics) -- Here is an Olympic athlete who used the most his star-status to have a medium-sized career on television. His biggest on-going role was probably as Officer Steve McLeish on Chips. He has also made acting appearances on Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, and King of the Hill, among others. As himself, Jenner has appeared on such shows as Celebrity Double Dare, Skating With Celebrities and, currently, in the E! reality series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Michelle Kwan (Medal winner, 1998 and 2002 Winter Olympics) -- Outside of the televised skating competitions she has been involved with after her Olympic win, and an occasional appearance as herself on shows like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Michelle's career has been as a voice actor. She has voiced herself in a number of animated shows, including King of the Hill, Arthur, and The Simpsons.
Sugar Ray Leonard (Gold medal, 1976 Summer Olympics) -- Sugar Ray's television appearances have been mixed. He has appeared as himself on shows like Married With Children, The Larry Sanders Show, and The Bernie Mac Show and has acted in Tales From the Crypt, Renegade, L.A. Heat, and CW series Half & Half. He has even dabbled into into the reality realm with a stint as the Boxing Mentor on The Contender.
Mary Lou Retton (Gold medal, 1984 Summer Olympics) -- Out of all of the Olympic athletes mentioned, only Mary Lou Retton hosted her own show. In this case, it was the PBS program Mary Lou's Flip Flop Shop. She has also appeared as herself on Knots Landing, Baywatch, Buddy Faro and Dream On. Plus, how can anyone forget her perky appearances as spokesperson for Energizer Batteries in the 1980's -- long before the Energizer Bunny was born.