What Was the Strangest Super Bowl Halftime Show?

In 1989, Coca-Cola distributed 26 million pairs of 3D glasses for the Super Bowl XXIII halftime show featuring Elvis impersonator/magician "Elvis Presto."
In 1989, Coca-Cola distributed 26 million pairs of 3D glasses for the Super Bowl XXIII halftime show featuring Elvis impersonator/magician "Elvis Presto."

Super Bowls are famous for their extravagance, but some halftime shows have been more weird than wonderful. For strangeness, perhaps none has topped what Coca-Cola attempted in 1989. To coincide with the Super Bowl XXIII halftime show entitled "Be Bop Bamboozled in 3-D," Coke distributed 26 million pairs of 3D glasses to viewers across the country, leading up to the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Cincinnati Bengals in Miami.

Although the gimmick certainly gained a lot of attention for the soft drink manufacturer, it left the public feeling a little less than bubbly. One reviewer said the show was like "watching a football halftime show in the distorted reflection of an old mirror." It wasn't for a lack of trying. Coca-Cola, the sole sponsor of the 1950s-themed show, offered viewers an Elvis impersonator named "Elvis Presto," who sang several numbers (none of them by Elvis Presley) and performed a card trick while computer-generated cars and planets spun behind him. Harley-Davidson motorcycles, pink Cadillacs, fireworks, and hundreds of dancers added to the spectacle. The show also included a 3D commercial for Diet Coke, making it the first televised event in 3D.

NBC sportscaster Bob Costas, who introduced the show, seemed to be in on the joke ahead of time. "This is the single proudest moment of my life," he told viewers, trying to keep a straight face.

Super flops:

  • In 2004, Justin Timberlake pulled off more of Janet Jackson's top than expected, giving the world the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" moment.

  • Rolling Stone magazine named Super Bowl XLV's halftime show with the Black Eyed Peas the worst in history, describing it as "something magical and special – like seeing a unicorn cough up blood."

  • In 1991, Super Bowl XXV delayed the broadcast of "It's a Small World (After All)" until after the game; halftime was reserved for a Peter Jennings news report on the Gulf War.

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    • In 1989, Coca-Cola distributed 26 million pairs of 3D glasses for the Super Bowl XXIII halftime show featuring Elvis impersonator/magician "Elvis Presto."
      In 1989, Coca-Cola distributed 26 million pairs of 3D glasses for the Super Bowl XXIII halftime show featuring Elvis impersonator/magician "Elvis Presto."