Star Search is a television show that was produced from 1983 to 1995, hosted by Ed McMahon, and created by Al Masini. A relaunch was produced in 2002 - 2004. The show was originally filmed at the old Earl Carroll Theatre at 6230 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood[1] and later at the Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida.

Rules of original Star Search

On both the T.P.E./Rysher Entertainment and 2929 Productions version of the show, contestants competed in several genres of entertainment. While categories varied slightly from season to season, the seven basic categories were:

* Male Vocalist
* Female Vocalist
* Junior Vocalist (seasons vary, but has been part of the show since the beginning)
* Vocal Group
* Spokesmodel
* Comedy
* Dance

Potential contestants audition to be on the show. If selected, they will compete. In each category, two people compete, a champion and a challenger. Usually the challenger performs first, while the champion performs second. In later seasons, the champion performs first.

All acts are judged by a panel of four judges, each judge can award an act from one to four stars (later changed to five stars). Once both acts are complete, Ed reveals the scores, best average wins. If there is a tie, a studio audience vote breaks the tie in which the results are revealed at the end of the show.

Any performer must win at least several shows in a row, dependent on the number of shows left in the season, to earn an entry into the next round of the competition; usually this was three or four wins in a row. In later seasons, three match winners were automatically retired. In this case, two new performers compete in that category the following week.

The rules for the Quarter and Semi Final shows are the same as above, only random draw (or alphabetical order) determines who will perform first. Note that scores are never revealed in the Quarter or Semi Finals, and only the winners are announced.

The judges are removed for the Championship show, and the studio audience votes for the winners. Winners of Male Vocalist, Female Vocalist, Vocal Group, Comedy, and Dance are awarded $100,000 but unlike American Idol, no record contract was guaranteed. Many Star Search winners from the early seasons secured recording contracts within a few weeks of the end of the competition - first season vocal group winner Sawyer Brown, first season male vocalist champion Sam Harris and second season male vocalist champion Durell Coleman were the first three, and were later followed by second season vocal group winner Limited Warranty, third season female vocalist champion Linda Eder, second season junior male vocalist champion Jimmy Salvemini, whose album was produced by Luther Vandross, fourth season male vocalist champion David Slater, and first season junior female vocalist runner-up Tiffany, who despite not winning her competition (she lost to Melissa Moultree) was the first Star Search alumnus to land a number one hit, I Think We're Alone Now, in 1988 - on Star Search she performed as Tiffany Renee. The winner of the Spokesmodel category is awarded $100,000 and a contract with a well-known modeling agency. Winner of Junior Vocalist (should the competition be held in that season) wins $25,000.

In early seasons, before the three match limit rule was adopted, the grand champions were determined by how long a champion held their title. While it is believed that Sam Harris holds the record for longest championship, at 14 weeks in Season 1, Harris was actually defeated by singer Beau Williams on Harris' 14th attempt. This record is actually held by Singer Durell Coleman (1985) who won the $100,000 on Season 2 with 15 wins and no defeats.


In the wake of American Idol's success, Arsenio Hall hosted a new version of Star Search, which ran for two years: 2003 and 2004 on CBS, before ending up in reruns on cable channel GSN for one year from 2004 to 2005. This new version was judged by several people, including Ben Stein, Naomi Judd, and McMahon himself. Among the winners were singer Tiffany Evans, comedian Loni Love and singer Mark Mejia.

The revival consisted of four series. For the first series, the categories were Adult and Junior Singer, Comedy, and Modeling. In series two and three, Modeling was replaced with Dance. In the final series, the Comedy category was scrapped altogether and only the singing and dancing categories remained.

For the first three series, two new competitors faced off. The three house judges, along with the one celebrity judge, gave each contestant a score on a scale from 1 to 5 stars, making a maximum studio score 20 stars. During each commercial break, the home audience went to to rate the competitors who just performed. Each performer could earn up to another 20 stars from the home audience. In the climactic moment before the score from the home audience was revealed, Hall would often say, "Hit me with the digits!".

When the scores were tallied, the higher scoring performer won. If the score was tied, then Hall would read off each performer's score rounded to the nearest hundredth (the at home score was initially rounded down to the nearest star, unless there was a tie). That performer would then go on to the next round of competition. The only real exception to this format during the first three series was that three people competed in the semi-final rounds, not two. After the first two series, a special, "Battle of the Best" show took place, where the two Adult Singer, Junior Singer, and Comedian Grand Champions (Modeling was only the first season, and Dance had only been around for one season) were brought back to face off for an additional $100,000.

For the fourth and final series, three contestants in Adult Singer, Junior Singer, and Dance were brought back to initially compete (Comedy was dropped, jokingly because Naomi gave many comics only one star). The three brought back in each category were not necessarily the Grand Champions of their series. The show scrapped the celebrity judge and had three house judges for the entire series: Naomi Judd, MC Lyte, and Matti Leshem (who tried to berate contestants as if he were Simon Cowell).

As in past series, two new contestants competed. With only three judges, 15 stars was possible, and ties were broken by a majority vote between the three. This is where the former contestants came in. Initially, in each category, these three performers made up the "Winner's Circle". The winning challenger then had the chance to challenge one of the three performers in his or her respective winner's circle. The winner's circle performer then had to beat or tie the bar set by the challenger- ties were automatically given to the Winner's Circle performer. If they couldn't beat the score, they were out of the competition, and the challenger took his or her place in the Winner's Circle.

Halfway through the series, the three performers in each Winner's Circle competed against each other in a special show. The winner in each category not only received a trip home, but a free pass to the final show. From then on, there were only two people who could be challenged in each Winner's Circle. In the final show, the three people in each Winner's Circle competed against each other for $100,000. This, along with the Free Pass show, were the only two shows which re-adopted the at-home voting concept.

* The Adult Singer group was the only group to record a complete shutout. The three performers in the beginning were there in the end as well.
* The free pass was equally important in the other two groups as well. In both the Dance and Junior Singer categories, not only did the free pass save the winner from being challenged in an ever-changing Winner's Circle, but they ended up winning their group finals (Junior Singer Mark Mejia and Dancer Jon Cruz).
* Adult Singer and Series 1 champion Jake Simpson was challenged a record four times during his tenure in the Winner's Circle. He not only went a perfect 4-0, but he also won his group final. The only match he lost that entire season was the Winner's Circle Square-Off Special.

This remake lasted two years before its cancellation in April 2004.

Selected Star Search Winners

* 1983 Sam Harris (Male Vocalist Champion, Season 1)
* 1985 Durell Coleman (Male Vocalist Champion, Season 2)
* 1985 Catte Adams (Female Vocalist Champion, Season 2)
* 1986 Kenny James (Male Vocalist Champion)
* 1986 Peggi Blu (Female Vocalist Champion)
* 1986 Jenny Jones (Comedy Champion)
* 1987 David Slater (Male Vocalist Champion, Season 4)
* 1987 Tracie Spencer (Female Vocalist Champion)
* 1988 Victor Trent Cook (Male Vocalist Champion)
* 1988 Linda Eder (Female Vocalist Champion)
* 1989 Josephine "Banig" Roberto (Female Vocalist Champion)
* 1991 Tommy Gardner (Junior Vocalist Grand Champion)
* 1991 4 Boys And A Babe (Junior Dance Champions)
* 1992 Too Cute For You (Junior Dance Champions)
* 1993 Tom Burns (Male Vocalist Champion, Season 10)
* 1995 Colleen Ford (Junior Vocalist Champion, Season 12)
* 2003 Tiffany Evans (Junior Division Grand Champion (becoming the only performer in Star Search history to receive perfect five scores on all of her appearances).

Notable competitors on Star Search

* Aaliyah, 1990 (Singer)
* Christina Aguilera, 1990 (Singer)
* Tatyana Ali (Singer; actress on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
* David Archuleta, 2003 (Junior Vocal Champion)
* Ashley Argota, 2003
* Spensha Baker 2004 (Junior Singer Finalist)
* Garcelle Beauvais (Spokesmodel)
* James Bonamy
* Bobbie Brown, 1987 (Spokesmodel, 13-time winner)
* Kimberly Caldwell (5-time Junior Vocalist winner)
* Cynthia Gouw, 1988 (Spokesmodel Winner, 3 time Emmy award winning TV anchor/reporter)
* Drew Carey (Comedian)
* Dave Chappelle (Comedian)
* Tim Christofore (1995 Winner)
* Destiny's Child, 1991 (Singers as Girls Tyme)
* Jon "Do-Knock" Cruz (Member of Super Cr3w, champions of America's Best Dance Crew

Season 2 )
* Billy Dean
* Diana DeGarmo (Singer)
* Tyce Diorio (So You Think You Can Dance choreographer)
* Charles Divins (Male Spokesmodel winner)
* Bill Engvall (Comedian)
* Elisa Fiorillo, 1983 (Female Vocalist winner)
* Sutton Foster, 1990 (Singer)
* Tommy Gardner, 1991 (Junior Vocalist Grand Champion)
* Brad Garrett 1984 (Comedian)
* Dana Gould, 1987 (Comedian)
* Ruben Gomez, 1986 (Junior Male Vocalist), lead singer for Menudo 1987-1990
* Beth Hart, 1993 (Female Vocalist winner)
* Ty Herndon
* Natalie Horler, 2004 (lead singer of Cascada; appeared on the German version of Star Search)
* Kent James, 1993 (as a part of the music group Kent & the Kommotion)
* Kevin James (Comedian)
* Bill Kaulitz, 2003 (lead singer of Tokio Hotel; appeared on the German version of Star Search)
* Q'Orianka Kilcher, 2002 (Singer)
* Martin Lawrence (Comedian)
* Nick Lazzarini, 2003 (as a part of the dance group Hot Under the Collar)
* Norm Macdonald (Comedian)
* Jackie Martling (Comedian)
* Julie McCullough, 1987 (Spokesmodel)
* Pat McCurdy (Singer)
* Carlos Mencia, 1991 (Comedian)
* Vic Mignogna, 1993 (Singer)
* Dennis Miller (Comedian)
* Alanis Morissette, 1988 (Singer)
* Machel Montano, 1987 (International performing and recording artist)
* Vickie Natale, 2003 (Female Vocalist winner)
* Rosie O'Donnell, 1984 (Comedian)
* Todd Berry, 1991 (Singer)
* Ken Ober
* Sophie Tamiko Oda (Singer)
* Steve Oedekerk (Comedian)
* Ingo Oschmann, 2003 (Comedy champion)
* Rissi Palmer (Singer)
* Janel Parrish, 2003 (Singer)
* Karina Pasian
* Rashaan Patterson (Singer)
* Joey Pearson (Singer)
* Anna Maria Perez de Tagle
* Alisan Porter, 1987 (Teen Dance category)
* Reva Rice (Singer)
* LeAnn Rimes
* Ray Romano (Comedian)
* Tracey Ross, 1984 (Spokesmodel winner)
* J. D. Roth
* Bianca Ryan, 2004 (Singer)
* Adam Sandler (Comedian)
* Sawyer Brown, 1983 (Vocal Group Champion)
* Lizette Santana, 1994 (Singer)
* Jessica Sierra (Singer)
* Jessica Simpson (Singer)
* Sinbad (Comedian)
* David Slater, 1987 (Male Vocalist Champion)
* Britney Spears, 1992 (Singer)
* Tracie Spencer, 1987 (Female Vocalist Champion)
* Sharon Stone, 1984 (Spokesmodel)
* Josh Strickland, 2004 (Singer)
* Marc Summers
* David Raleigh, 1990 (Singer, songwriter, piano player)
* Támar, 2004 (Singer)
* The Boys, 1986 (Vocal Group)
* Tiffany, 1985 (Singer, second place finalist)
* Justin Timberlake, 1991 (Singer, as Justin Randall)
* Lisa Tucker, 2003 (Singer)
* Nadia Turner (Singer)
* Coors Light Twins (Diane Klimaszewski & Elaine Klimaszewski), 1987 (Teen Dance category)
* Jordis Unga, 2004 (Singer)
* Usher (Singer)
* Phil Vassar, 1987 (Singer)
* Countess Vaughn, 1988 (Junior Vocalist Champion)
* Joseph Williams (Toto lead singer from 1986 - 1988)
* Shanice Wilson (Singer)

Who are some of the singers/performers/spokesmodels/groups mentioned above that you remember from the Star Search that went on to bigger and better things and can you name some of the shows, projects, recordings they went on to do?

Tags: ed, mcmahon, search, show, star, tv

Views: 8918

Replies to This Discussion

Shanice's momma was wrong for putting that outfit on her!!!
You already have all the runners up and winners, what are you looking for?
What was their claim to fame?

Shanice, for example, did some guest television appearances, Family Matters, married Flex Alexander, sang the intro to One on One, recorded albums. Stuff like that (smile).

Oh, ok, let's not forget "I Love your smile" I used to think that was a really cute song by Shanice.
Sinbad - starred on Different World, had his own comedy show (shirt-lived though), appeared on a lot of tv shows, in Vegas and hosted several years of Summer Jam Concerts, not to forget he was in one of my favorite Christmas movies, "Jingle All the Way".
Dynasty's Child - became a very successful R&B group
Aaliyah- became a popular R&B singer and dancer
Tatiyah Ali - Starred in Fresh Prince of Bel Air, The Brothers and recorded a CD
Rahsaan Patterson - child actor on PBS, recording artist
Martin Lawrence - actor, commedian - TV show Martin, one time host of Def Comedy Jam, actor in such movies as Life, National Security, Thin Line Between Love & Hate, etc
I'll let others name some of the others
Yeah, that's it. Okay. Some of these Star Search winners I didn't know what they went on to do like Rahsaan Patterson. You knew that one.

Tracey Ross - actress -

best known for roles on the soap operas Ryan's Hope (1985-1987) and Passions (1999-2008). In 1984, she became the first winner in the Spokesmodel category on the television series Star Search.
Yeah, I remember watching him on PBS and I have his first CD (Spend the Night, Stop By) I love it. He is so smooth.
I remember watching star search but forgot all who was on there alot of great singers and comedians...great idea Lisa B...

Look at the list above, I bet you recognize many of the people who appeared.
I just recently discovered Rashaan Patterson, didn't even know about Star Search. He has had a good music career. Albums released in

1997 - Rashaan Patterson
1999 - Love in Stereo
2004 - After Hours (When I discovered him)
2007 - Wine & Spirits.

He's also done some acting so he's doing good.

Burnin' from the After Hours album

Thanks QueenYo. This is hot. I like it. He was on a show in the 80's Kids Incorporated.
I love Rahssan Patterson. I didn't know that he was on Star Search. I wasn't a big fan of the program.



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