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October 22, 2017

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Good or bad, Super Bowl halftimes have produced some memorable shows


Douglas C. Pizac / AP

Halftime activities at the Super Bowl, Sunday, Jan. 31, 1993 in Pasadena. Pop star Michael Jackson dedicated his halftime show to launching his “Heal the World” Foundation.

Be Bop Bamboozled

Memorable Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Pop superstar Michael Jackson performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Feb. 1, 1993. Launch slideshow »

I was on the phone with my brother the other day talking about the Super Bowl. We’ve watched most Super Bowls together and are 49ers fans dating to before their first Super Bowl, and I mentioned to him that I am writing a column about the all-time memorable Super Bowl moments.

“You have to have ‘Be Bop Bamboozled’ in there,” he said.

“Of course,” I said.

This was the title of the halftime show from Super Bowl XXIII, memorable for the touchdown pass from Joe Montana to John Taylor that sealed a 20-16 49ers victory. The halftime show was not such a brilliant connection: It starred a dancing magician under the name Elvis Presto. This Elvis wore a gold suit covered in sparkles and shook his hips and invited the nonplussed crowd at Miami’s Joe Robbie Stadium to take part in a very large card trick. It was the first use of 3-D video technology, and I recall my brother and I slipping on our special 3-D glasses and sitting about three feet (or one yard) from the screen.

“I am getting no 3-D effect,” I recall my brother saying.

Thankfully, the Niners pulled it out.

What follows is a collection of a few other Super Bowl Halftime Moments to Remember:

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    • Entertainer Janet Jackson covers her breast after her outfit came undone during her half time performance with Justine Timberlake at the Super Bowl XXXVIII game  in Houston, Sunday Feb. 1, 2004.

      The Wardrobe Malfunction

      A natural, and au naturel, show to reference: Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004. Though Janet Jackson was exposed for less than a second, the fallout lasted for all time. The unsnapping of her top by Justin Timberlake sparked a phrase still in play a decade later. I’ve always wondered: If this was such a malfunction, why was Jackson’s right nipple decorated with a sunburst as if it were to be seen by a billion TV viewers? Seemed she was acutely prepared for the “malfunction,” something the FCC was not.

    • Prince performs on the field of Dolphin Stadium during the the Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show in Miami on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007.

      Prince Rocks XLI

      What was the greatest halftime performance?

      Many will say it was Bruce Springsteen in 2009 or Madonna last year, among many other star-studded appearances. But we’ll go with the searing set by Prince at Super Bowl XLI at Sun Life Stadium in Miami (the old Joe Robbie) in ’07. “We Will Rock You,” “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watchtower” and “Purple Rain” were sampled in that mind-blowing performance, which took place as Prince was still headlining at the Rio. Quite a boost for business, too.

    • Up With … Everything!

      For a time, “Up With People” was sort of the go-to production company assigned to the Super Bowl’s halftime show. The nonprofit dance crew starred in several halftime shows beginning in Super Bowl V in 1971 and ending with Super Bowl XX in ’86.

      Whenever “Up With People” ambled onto the field for one of their performances — the last was “Beat of the Future” — it was time to hit the street to toss around the pigskin.

    • Pop superstar Michael Jackson performs during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Feb. 1, 1993.

      Michael Jackson Interrupts a Rout

      As the Dallas Cowboys took a break from pasting the Buffalo Bills 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Jackson starred in a soaring production titled “Heal the World.” Healing the Bills’ pass defense would have been a better idea. But Jackson lip-synced and crotch-grabbed to great effect with a five-song medley (“Jam,” “Billie Jean,” “Black or White” in the mix). For “We Are the World,” he appeared with a choir filled with dozens of children, and no one thought that odd.

    • Bruce Springsteen, left, and Steven Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, perform at halftime at the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.


      The mighty Springsteen and the E Street Band played what felt like a full concert at Super Bowl XLIII. It was really just four songs, starting with “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and ending with “Glory Days,” in a show that the crowd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., didn’t seem to want to end.

    • Know the Drill

      In Super Bowl I, originally titled the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game, the halftime entertainment at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum included the Anaheim High School Drill Team. The halftime show has grown into a spectacle unto itself, but certainly the prep drill squad made a lot more sense than “Be Bop Bamboozled.” And its performance didn’t require 3-D glasses, either.

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