This was Television on May 11

1996: American Gladiators taps out

The stylized athletic competition concluded a seven-year, 139-episode run in first-run syndication. It pitted male and female challengers against a stable of highly trained athletes—the “Gladiators”—in a series of tests of strength, stamina, agility, and more. These events included an obstacle course of gymnastics rings, a race up a pyramid of crash mats, and the famous “Joust,” in which competitors attempted to knock one another from their perch by grappling with pugil sticks. American Gladiators was also known for bestowing colorful, comic-book-hero-influenced names upon its Gladiators—such as Nitro, Blaze, Zap, and Sabre. -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Coby Bell, wide receiver (38); Foster Brooks, character actor (d. 2001); Jeffrey Donovan, ex-spy (45); Frances Fisher, character actress (61); Nicky Katt, teacher (43); Warren Littlefield, network exec (61); Mike Lupica, sports reporter (61); Doug McClure, cowboy (d. 1995); Denver Pyle, uncle (d. 1997); Martha Quinn, VJ (54); Phil Silvers, Army sergeant (d. 1985).

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