*You may not have to be stars to be in their show, but Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. literally were. The former 5th Dimension singers made history on this day in 1977 when they became the first African American married couple to host a network television series.
“The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis, Jr. Show” was a half-hour, limited-run variety show that CBS produced as a summer replacement series. It was designed to ride the coattails of the duo’s crossover hit, “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be In My Show),” which had reached No. 1 on multiple charts earlier that year.
A young Tim Reid and even younger Jay Leno were regulars on the series, which was designed to showcase the power couple’s singing, marital banter and lighthearted comedy.
Watch a few clips below:
Two years prior to the show’s June 15, 1977 premiere, Marylin McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. “up up” and left the 5th Dimension to begin their run as a duo with ABC Records. Their first album, “I Hope We Get to Love In Time,” dropped in 1976 with three singles: the title track, which peaked at No. 91; “You Don’t Have to Be a Star,” which hit No. 1 in September of 1976; and “Your Love,” which reached No. 15 in March 1977.
Watch performances of all three singles below:
After ABC released their second album, “The Two of Us,” in 1977, the couple signed with CBS Records for their 1978 LP, “Marilyn + Billy,” but it failed to produce any Hot 100 hits. They wouldn’t release another album until 30 years later, when “The Many Faces of Love,” an interactive CD featuring cover songs from the 60s and 70s, was released in October 2008.
This was their “Welcome Video” for the project.
On July 26, 2019, “MarBill” celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and shared their story of love and faith as born again Christians in the 2004 book, “Up, Up and Away,” named after their huge 5th Dimension hit. The dynamic duo is still touring around the country, with an upcoming Juneteenth weekend gig booked in Galveston, TX. Their act is called, “Up, Up & Away!” A Musical Fable.”
Watch MarBill perform “You Don’t Have to Be A Star” in 2022, followed by quick clips from the entire show.
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