Howard Cosell

Active - 1971 - 2019  |   Born - Mar 25, 1918 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States  |   Died - Apr 23, 1995   |   Genres - Comedy, Sports & Recreation, Drama

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Biography by AllMovie

Howard Cosell was not an actor, but rather a lawyer-turned-sportscaster who became one of the great characters of the 1970s and 1980s. His loud, nasally commentary on sporting events, particularly football, often bordered on the obnoxious, making him the sportscaster Americans loved to hate. He translated his popularity to the big screen, often parodying his public persona in cameo appearances. A native of Winston-Salem, NC, born Howard Cohen, Cosell worked as a sports and entertainment attorney after receiving his law degree from New York University Law School. In 1953, Cosell entered television after he inaugurated a show in which Little League baseball players would interview their Major League heroes. That year, he began a part-time career as an announcer for various sporting goods on the ABC radio and television networks. He found the work to his liking and, in 1956, abandoned his law practice to become a full-time commentator. Cosell would remain with ABC until his retirement in 1992. His most famous gig was as an anchor on the network's showing of Monday Night Football from 1970 to 1983. He made his first film appearance playing himself in Woody Allen's Bananas (1971). He would appear in another Allen film, Broadway Danny Rose, 13 years later. On television, Cosell attempted to break away from sportscasting with the short-lived Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell, a live variety show produced by the head of the ABC sports department. Obviously out of his league, he gamely attempted to host the show's uneasy blend of comedy, sports, and musical acts (in one episode, Cosell himself tried croaking out a tune, with help from pal Andy Williams), but the concept of the show was too broad, audiences didn't watch, and it was mercifully cancelled. Between 1983 and 1985, Cosell had greater success hosting Sportsbeat.

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  • Was editor of the New York University Law Review.
  • During his pre-TV career as an attorney, he represented Willie Mays.
  • In a 1970s TV GUIDE poll, Cosell was named the most popular — and least popular — sportscaster.
  • Played himself in three Woody Allen films (1971's Bananas, 1973's Sleeper and 1984's Broadway Danny Rose).
  • Was on the faculty of Brown University and lectured at Yale.
  • Authored three autobiographies.
  • Was portrayed by John Turturro in Monday Night Mayhem, a 2002 TV-movie about his years on Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford and Don Meredith.