U.S. Olympians from the ’70s and ’80s did not have very successful show-biz careers.
That would be something of an understatement. More than a few athletes went to Hollywood—but none of them found anything like the careers of Johnny Weissmuller or Sonja Henie. Here are three such Olympians and their most (in)famous movie or TV roles.
Bruce Jenner (1976 Olympics, gold medal, decathlon): A lawyer-turned-promoter in the 1980 disco-comedy epic Can’t Stop the Music, and regular appearances, as himself, on the E! series Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
Kurt Thomas (1976 Olympics, gymnastics): If the heartbreak of missing the U.S.-boycotted 1980 Games (for which he was a favorite to win gold) weren’t enough, Thomas had to endure the withering reviews that accompanied his starring role in 1985’s Gymkata—quite possibly, the greatest gymnastics-as-martial-art movie of all time.
Mary Lou Retton (1984 Olympics, five medals, gymnastics): Playing an exceptionally limber Tiny Tim in Scrooged!. Oh, and falling out of a piñata in a 2011 commercial for Dairy Queen.
Next Cool Runnings