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Why American Gladiators Came To An End: What Happened To American Gladiators?

American Gladiator-American Competition Television Program
American Gladiator-American Competition Television Program (Credit: E Wrestling News)

American Gladiators is a weekly syndication of an American competitive television series that ran from September 1989 to May 1996. American Gladiators was canceled by the television network NBC in March 2009.

Get the inside scoop on the classic TV show that captivated millions with its spectacular clashes and learn why American Gladiators was discontinued.

In a series of tests that measured their strength and agility, this thrilling competition program matched a group of amateur athletes against both their other competitors and the powerful “gladiators” of the show.

Due to American Gladiators’ enormous popularity, several other nations have produced their own versions of the program.

What Happened to American Gladiators?

During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, MGM Television, the former Samuel Goldwyn Company’s successor, offered NBC a prime-time revival that was more similar to the British than the American original.

American Gladiators was canceled by the television network NBC in March 2009. Because of its dismal ratings, the show had the unfortunate fate of being discontinued.

The competitors on American Gladiators faced a difficult battle as they valiantly took on bodybuilders and athletes in tests of physical stamina and endurance.

Recent events, however, imply that the toll on the gladiators themselves was significant, as will be seen in two upcoming docuseries based on the legendary ’90s syndicated phenomenon.

Johnny Ferraro-American Gladiator Creator

Johnny Ferraro-American Gladiator Creator (Credit: Variety)

Johnny C. Ferraro and Dann Carr first developed the idea in 1982. Ferraro sponsored and organized the initial competition at Erie Tech High School in Erie, Pennsylvania, where Carr assembled the Gladiators and served as the show’s emcee.

Ferraro wanted to capture the competition on film so he could market the new production. Ferraro created, produced, and packaged the movie project American Gladiators in 1983. 

Muscles and Mayhem, an Unauthorised Story of American Gladiators, a new miniseries on Netflix, examines the purported poisonous atmosphere of the first American Gladiators television program. The television series had a game show-like structure and was first broadcast from 1989 until 1996.

American Gladiators Cast

Jim Starr (“Laser”)

Jim Starr began his career in football, just like many of the Gladiators. At Montana State University, he was an All-American linebacker before joining the Gladiators in season 1. Jim, 61, is currently employed with The Grind as a director of innovation.

Raye Hollitt (“Zap”)

With a guest-starring role on the CBS procedural, Raye Hollitt, commonly known as Zap, made her acting debut. According to Gladiators TV, she is from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

She transitioned into acting and joined the cast of American Gladiators. Zap was a well-liked and fearsome foe from the start of the show. The 59-year-old ex-bodybuilder is currently employed as a personal fitness instructor.

Lori Fetrick (“Ice”)

A podcast called Chillin’ with Ice is now presented by Lori Fetrick, also known as “Ice” in the Gladiator game. Ice built her own gym in Florida after the final episode of American Gladiators and ran it for three years. According to Gladiators TV, she is currently employed with Transamerica as a financial specialist.

Dan Clark (“Nitro”)

The 2009 book “Gladiator: A True Story of ‘Roids, Rage, and Redemption” was written by Dan Clark, popularly known as “Nitro,” and it details his own experience abusing steroids in 2010.

He is most likely one of the American Gladiators era’s most enduring characters. Since Jim Star, one of his buddies at the time, was a cast member, he was renowned for being an outspoken member of the group.

Steve Henneberry(“Tower”)

If you really want to be particular, Steve’s entire nickname was “Tower of Power.” This Gladiator had an advantage because he began bodybuilding in the 1960s and continued through the 1990s when he finally won the title of Mr. America.

After they wanted an increased salary and a share of the Gladiators’ goods, which included Mattel action figures of each of their individual characters, the show later fired Ice, Zap, Gemini, and Nitro. The producers of the show made it obvious that the Gladiators weren’t necessary for the big confrontation.

An attempt to open a live American Gladiators show on the Las Vegas Strip in 2004 was unsuccessful due to a securities fraud investigation. But the television program returned in 2008. From 2007 through 2009, episodes of the original series appeared. 

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