The Bruce Jenner that was

Yahoo TV

View photo

.
After he won the gold medal for the decathlon at Montreal's 1976 Olympics, Bruce Jenner became known as being one of the world's great athletes. Today, it's safe to say that most folks think of Jenner not as an Olympic medalist but rather as the husband and stepfather to the Kardashian conglomerate.

Which is a shame, because Jenner, 62, is a lot more than the hapless hubby he appears to be on "Keeping Up With the Kardashians." The man is a pioneer not just in athletics, but also in how athletes marketed themselves. Following his victory at the '76 Olympics, Jenner famously left his pole vault equipment behind at the stadium, declaring that he had no further use for it -- he was on to something new.

That thing was acting. Unfortunately, his choice in projects left something to be desired. He starred in "Can't Stop the Music," a musical featuring the songs of the Village People. Shocker: The film tanked. He had some modest success when he replaced Erik Estrada in the TV series "CHiPs." Later he scored guest appearances on "Murder, She Wrote" and "The Love Boat."

In recent years, Jenner's quest for airtime has gotten stranger. He appeared in "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" alongside Robin Leach, Cris Judd, and Melissa Rivers. He strapped on his skates for "Skating With Celebrities," where his completion included Deborah Gibson and Kristy Swanson. He's also shown up for tapings of "Celebrity Family Feud" and "Pet Star" on Animal Planet.

Jenner hasn't been a sports commenter during NBC's Olympic coverage. However, he is offering his Olympic expertise to E!, where he's interviewing celebrities and athletes. His work on E! (the same network that airs his family's reality program) is a sign that, while he is one of America's greatest Olympians, to most folks he's a supporting character on a reality show. Still, there are those who remember his glory days. A recent survey by Yahoo! Sports revealed that Bruce Jenner is the top celebrity "most adults would like to see represent the United States by lighting the Olympic flame."

For now, though, he's a reality star. Jenner's dignity took a hit on Sunday night when his wife, Kris Jenner, took a lie detector test on whether or not she wanted to have an affair with an old flame. Kris said "no," but the lie detector thought otherwise. Bruce hazarded a frown (difficult to do) and left the room. To his credit, he did also call Kris "an idiot." Not exactly Jenner circa '76, but it was something.

View Comments