Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci did not perform her floor routine at the 1976 Olympics to the piece of music that now bears her name.
A few readers of a certain age will swear on a stack of Bibles that they saw this routine, with this accompanying music. And they did—days after the performance.* Comaneci, it helps knowing, had become the darling of the Montreal games after earning the first-ever 10s from Olympics judges. Perhaps looking to add a bit of (superfluous) sentimentality to a re-broadcast of her floor routine, someone at ABC’s Wide World of Sports decided to swap the (admittedly generic) piano piece that Comaneci actually used with the mournful theme music of the CBS soap opera The Young and the Restless.**
The new clip was tremendously popular; the song, even more so. Viewers flooded local TV stations with calls asking about the music. Released as a single a few weeks later, “Nadia’s Theme (The Young and the Restless)” spent a more-than-respectable 22 weeks on the Billboard charts, peaking at the number 8 spot.
* While pretty much dominating all her other events at the 1976 Games, Comaneci had to settle for a bronze medal for that now-famous floor routine.)
** The piece, in fact, was called “Cotton’s Theme” and was originally composed for the 1971 film Bless the Beasts and the Children, a startlingly earnest anti-war oddity about a group of misfit teens and their efforts to save a herd of bison from slaughter.