40th Anniversary of The Magic of ABC

“The Magic of ABC,” ABC’s 1977-1978 fall preview special, celebrates its 40th anniversary today. It starred magician David Copperfield in his first television special. “The Magic of ABC” aired on September 7th, 1977 and featured more than a dozen ABC stars, including Penny Marshall, Kristy McNichol, Donnie and Marie Osmond, Dick Van Patten, Abe Vigoda, and Cindy Williams. Among the new shows previewed during the special were Soap, Carter Country, The Love Boat, and The San Pedro Beach Bums.

I published an article about “The Magic of ABC” in February 2004. It badly needs updating. Back then I only had access to a grainy, nearly unwatchable VHS copy of the special. Higher quality versions are currently available on YouTube. I’ve embedded one above.

“The Magic of ABC” proved to be a hit with viewers, ranking in the Top 20 for the week. The special impressed rival network CBS so much, it began airing magic specials with David Copperfield the next year.

Do you remember watching “The Magic of ABC” back in 1977? If so, hit the comments with your memories.

3 Replies to “40th Anniversary of The Magic of ABC”

  1. It has to be about the best preview special ever aired. It practically launched Copperfield’s career. And it was definitely one of the most entertaining.

    I got into recording the Copperfield specials when they were numbering somewhere around their teens, and started collecting preview specials around the 90s. For a while you could only get the older ones if you recorded it yourself and knew someone who had a copy. I don’t believe there has ever been an official DVD release of the series. (There has been bootleg DVDs that were produced from poor VHS rips gathered likely from Internet sources.) Although I think the 15 Years special and the last one may have had proper DVD releases. Unfortunately now, since the fan copies are so common and fan interest has faded, there’s unlikely to be much of a market for proper DVDs.

  2. I remember watching this on GoogleVideo when Google had the Google Video platform around 10 years ago, just before they bought YouTube, which had 10-minute limit videos then. It would indeed be nice if this could be released on DVD, but given how streaming is still growing and popular, it may turn up somewhere … yet.

  3. It was a truly magical network fall preview special, maybe the best of all time, and it certainly garnered one of the best ratings for the fall preview special with a 18.3HH/32%, leading into the ABC miniseries ‘Washington: Behind Closed Doors – Part 2’ which got a 19.3HH/31%

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