Home Television Comedy Rollergirls

Rollergirls

1 9 7 8 (USA)
4 x 30 minute episodes

The Pittsburgh Pitts, an all-female roller derby team, was owned, coached and managed by the bombastic, fast-talking and penny-pinching Don “Mitch” Mitchell (Terry Kiser).

Joanna Cassidy played the team captain, Selma “Books” Cassidy, a big, redheaded roller skating queen and feminist intellectual (she had a 145 IQ and was proficient in four languages).

The other women on the team were fun-loving JB Johnson (Candy Ann Brown) who learned to skate by “fast dodging dudes in Harlem”; half-Eskimo and half-Japanese Shana “Pipeline” Akira (Marilyn Tokuda), who had an Eskimo maxim for all situations; Mongo Sue Lampert (6′ 1″ Rhonda Bates) – the towering “Amazon from Arkansas”, and naive blonde rookie Honey Bee Novak (Marcy Hanson, who was Playboy‘s Playmate Of The Month for October 1978).

James Murtaugh played announcer Howie Devine, whose game descriptions were coloured by his former occupation as an opera announcer on FM radio.

Storylines revolved around the personal and professional lives, loves and losses of the girls in their sleazy locker room-cum-dormitory. In the first episode, the Pitts faced the all-male Atlanta Aces – who learned the hard way the error of “taking it easy on the girls” – and went on to play the Detroit Turbos, the Seattle Zingers and the Rhode Island Reds.

The creator and executive producer was James Komack, who was also responsible for Chico and the Man and Welcome Back Kotter, but Rollergirls – an NBC try-out show – never made it past four episodes.

Action on the rink was supervised by William Griffiths, the owner of the pro Los Angeles Thunderbirds women’s roller derby team. Thunderbirds coaches John Hall and Ralph Valladaras also supervised training the cast, and five of their top skaters doubled for the stars in the action sequences.

Don “Mitch” Mitchell
Terry Kiser
Selma ‘Books’ Cassidy
Joanna Cassidy
Mongo Sue Lampert
Rhonda Bates
J.B. Johnson
Candy Ann Brown
Honey Bee Novak
Marcy Hanson
Shana ‘Pipeline’ Akira
Marilyn Tokuda
Howie Devine
James Murtaugh