Monday, July 12, 2010

Michael Monday: The Dating Game

One of the hippest game shows of the late 1960s-early 1970s was The Dating Game, a Chuck Barris production, hosted by Jim Lang, in which a bachelor and or "bachelorette" asked a series of questions to one of three strangers hidden behind a screen. Based on their responses, one of the contestants would then be chosen as the winner of a date, with all expenses paid by the game show.

Occasionally the show would feature a famous person as the one asking the questions. (They didn't want to risk the embarrassment of having a star passed over.) In 1972 Michael Jackson appeared on the show, posing his scripted questions to three very nervous, nearly hyperventilating little girls on the other side of the screen. After a series of not-very-probing questions, Michael selected Bachelorette #1, Latany Simmons, a basketball player and aspiring math teacher.

You can watch the complete show on YouTube, and it's all pretty funny until you see the looks of utter disappointment on the faces of the two girls he didn't select. Poor girls!

The October 1972 issue of 16 magazine devoted a double-page spread to the show.

And whatever happened to lucky Latany Simmons? I'm not sure if she ever became a math teacher, but she did have her date with Michael at Sardi's the night before the Jackson 5 concert at Madison Square Garden on June 30, 1972. In an interview a month later with the Los Angeles Times, Michael described their date.
"We went out to dinner in New York. The next night we had a concert there and she came and was in the front row and everyone recognized her from television and started grabbing at her [giggles] and wanted her autograph [more giggles]. They had to put her backstage."


  1. I remember watching this show and being so JEALOUS of that girl. LOL!


  2. Rosie the CRUSHER! What a beautiful little kid he was

  3. And what a weird answer Bachelorette #2 had -- a snail! I love the way Michael says "A snail, huh." this poor girl, I think she thought she was a shoe-in because she had so much personality compared to the other two, but her answers were off the wall.

    I feel sorry for #3 -- he forgot to ask her questions, and was left thinking she looked like Mickey the Mouse.

  4. He had so many little mannerisms that he kept doing when he was older!
    Licking his lip, nodding his head like that, that shy smile...
    So cute

  5. all three sweethearts seemed too shy to even look at him..


    Latonya Simmons won a date with much sought-after Michael Jackson when she was 10 years old.

    The year was 1972: a 14-year-old Michael Jackson is about to make a young girl’s dream come true.

    10-year-old Latonya Simmons was competing against two other girls to win a date with the 14-year-old superstar on The Dating Game.

    “When he picked me—oh God! If you looked at the other girls they were very upset,” said Latonya. “I used to always pray, please, God, let me go out with Michael Jackson, and then all of a sudden it happened.”

    And when it did, Latonya took no chances. During The Dating Game, Jackson asked her, “Girls always follow me around, tell me what you’d say to them.” Latonya answered: “Go away; he’s mine, not yours!”

    INSIDE EDITION spoke to Latonya, a one-time hospital administrator in Los Angeles back in 2003. Latonya recalled going out on four or five innocent dates with Michael, nothing more than a peck on the cheek.

    “It was just kid stuff, we were kids,” she said.

    Michael’s love life would become a real-life dating game played out for the world to see.

    Michael revealed his first love was Tatum O’Neal in 1979. But in 2003, he told 20/20 he spurned Tatum’s sexual advances because he was too shy.

    Tatum called the allegations “crazy.”

    In 1984, Michael reportedly dated Brooke Shields. Rare footage shows Michael and Brooke arriving in a Rolls Royce to the 1984 Grammys.

    Then there was the King of Pop’s marriage to the daughter of the King of Rock and Roll – Lisa Marie Presley.

    “And they said it wouldn’t last,” said Jackson at the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards. The marriage lasted less than two years.

    But only one girl can claim the title of Michael’s first love. “I guess I was his first date, yeah,” said Latonya.


    Andy Warhol: Have you been dating in Hollywood?
    MJ: No.
    AW: But you’re so cute.
    MJ: I’ve never been on a date-outside of The Dating Game. And that was work.

  7. I noticed the mannerisms too!

    I remember when I first saw this.. I felt really bad for #3 and still do, lol.

    I loved the Rosie the Crusher thing. Wasn't Rosie actually Jermaine's snake?

  8. Anon at 7:14: Thanks! They spelled her name LaTonya, which I swear is what the game show host says, but all the press reports spell it Latany. The photo I have scanned is a press photo that identifies her on the caption sheet as Latany.

    I thought about trying to track down Latany/LaTonya, but I think I'd rather find poor Demetra McHenry (#3) to see how she's doing. I actually think Michael might have enjoyed her the most. She sounded like she would have had the most in common with him.

    K. Denise: I have never heard that Rosie belonged to Jermaine. Do you remember reading that somewhere? Michael talked about Rosie the Crusher on American Bandstand in 1972, too.