The TV series 'Knight Rider' originally went on air between 1982 and 1986. Ron Alridge recounted, "When the youth-oriented series 'Knight Rider' first appeared on television in September 1982, its chances didn't look good. For one thing, 75% of all new series fail, so the odds were against it. Worse yet, it was scheduled opposite the most popular series on television, 'Dallas'. 'Knight Rider' had only one ace in its hand, a smart, friendly, computerized, with a sense of humor 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am (manufactured by General Motors) that was supposed to be indestructible." As it turned out, the invulnerable car named K.I.T.T. (Knight Industries Two Thousand), was clearly 'Knight Rider's' star attraction.  

Glen A. Larson told 'Starlog' in 1997, "K.I.T.T. was the first car in America that had L.E.D. (light-emitting diode) readouts on the dashboard and it could also steer and brake itself. Now we're looking at automobiles that have radar-activated brakes and steering. So it's fun to contemplate where we can go. Many of the things we developed for K.I.T.T. were done by young designers who did work for Mattel and others. We didn't go to the usual Hollywood shops to design an interior. It's fun to stretch the envelope a bit, and we're doing that with 'NightMan' (1997-99), taking him beyond what has been done. It may not be on the shelf right now (in 1997), but these are things humans could develop."

Then 31-year-old David Hasselhoff, 'Knight Rider's' human star, played "today's hero driving the car of tomorrow!" David pointed out, "'Knight Rider' was turned down by 8 producers before the show finally went on the air. I was told to be funny and charming, and that the car was the star of the show!" William Daniels of 'St. Elsewhere' (1982-88) played the computer's voice. He told Nora Zamichow, "I see K.I.T.T. as a Renaissance man. He has a sense of moral values and justice."

Could an almost-human car like K.I.T.T. that could talk, think and drive by itself really exist in 1984? Ford engineer Terry Thiel insisted, "The bottom line is that it's possible. Most of K.I.T.T.'s features are just electronic wizardry that can be done or developed if you want to spend the money." As noted, "K.I.T.T. also comes equipped with personality. This talking computer gets angry and upset when Michael Knight is in trouble. Can a machine really have feelings and personality?" Margaret Dean of the City College of New York maintained, "Sometimes a computer seems to have a mind of its own - for instance, when you don't know what it's doing. But a computer does not feel emotion."

The NBC publicist conceded, "We're getting fan mail to the car." David Hasselhoff told Bill Davidson, "Who could believe that NBC could make it with a show about a guy who goes around solving crimes in a car that talks? It's kind of like 'Police Story Meets R2-D2': but here we are (in 1983), holding our own against 'Dallas' on Friday night. God knows, we're not beating 'Dallas', but we're getting a respectable share of the audience: sometimes as high as 28%. No other NBC show ever survived in that spot. In the TVQ ratings, which measure how much audiences like all the series on the air, we ranked No. 2 in December (1982), just behind 'M*A*S*H'. It's a miracle." In the 1983-84 season, NBC moved 'Knight Rider' to Sunday nights.

Glen Larson explained, "The middle of the country wouldn't go for another ... 'The Dukes of Hazzard'. They've had enough of that. So we developed this modern Lone Ranger concept, with a guy rushing about righting wrongs, but riding in this crazy car instead of on his horse, Silver. But who would believe it unless we did it tongue-in-cheek, like Sean Connery did in the James Bond pictures or Christopher Reeve in 'Superman'? If we played it straight, it would be ridiculous.

"The problem was, 'Where are we going to find the right actor?' Then this kid David Hasselhoff walked in. He was totally irreverent. The first time the car talked to him, he burst out laughing. He kept adding little shtick of his own, like calling the car 'Buddy,' and patting it like it was a horse. He's the main reason the show works. He has that mischievous look in his eye that tells you, 'Of course you're not going to believe this, but lean back and enjoy it anyway.'"

David Hasselhoff played Snapper Foster in the afternoon soap 'The Young and the Restless' for 6 years often learning 25 pages of script every day. Then in March 1982, David was asked to attend the 'Soap World' convention in Las Vegas. "I was glad to get away for a weekend of gambling so I did it," David elaborated. "The ladies swarmed around the booth yelling, 'Hello, Snapper.' A lot of them didn't even know my real name until I signed the autographs. They said, 'David What?' When the convention was over, I took a plane back to L.A.

"A man a few rows away kept looking at me. Finally I said to my seatmate, an entertainment lawyer, 'Who is that guy who keeps staring at me?' The lawyer said, 'Don't you know? That's Brandon Tartikoff, the Entertainment president of NBC.' I said to myself, 'Oh, boy.' I straightened my tie, fixed my hair and got up to go to talk to Tartikoff. But the minute I stood up, the seat belt sign went on and the stewardesses made me sit down in my own seat. We were flying through a storm, so the same thing happened 3 other times. When the plane landed at Burbank Airport, I ran after Tartikoff, but he got into a waiting limousine and took off before I could reach him.

"I said to myself, 'Oh, well, I've blown it again.' But the very next day, I got a call to come and test for the lead in NBC's 'Knight Rider' pilot. I didn't find out until later that Tartikoff had turned to his seatmate on the plane, a guy who knew me from the afternoon game show 'Fantasy', and had asked, 'Who is that kid back there? I saw women leave the slot machines to waylay him at the convention, and here he is again on the plane.' The 'Fantasy' guy told him my name, and that's how I got the call. But I still had to go through a lot of hell and uncertainty, plus more 'Young and the Restless', before I finally got the part."

Glen Larson added, "I didn't pay much attention to David when Tartikoff's people sent him over to me. I had been testing one kid after another, and except for his height, he didn't seem much different in person. I sent a tape of all the tests to NBC and they turned everyone down. Then I looked at the tape myself. David's scene was one in which the electronic car was being explained to him. The look on his face and his tone of voice were perfect: 'You gotta be kidding me.' It was just what I wanted. I sent the tape back to NBC, saying, 'What about this last kid on the tape?' They finally agreed with me, even though they had another, more serious guy in the running."

Glen also mentioned, "Not that David's perfect. He still has those bad soap-opera habits, like dragging scenes out, and he's already gotten to the star syndrome of demanding a bigger and more expensive mobile-home dressing room. He may have a point, though. He's so tall that he kept bumping his head on the low roofs of the cheaper models. So we finally got him the super-deluxe model."

David had worked as a waiter and performing bit part before he found Joyce Selznick, his manager, who got David the role on 'The Young and the Restless', as well as 2 starring roles including the 1980 TV series, 'Semi-Tough', which lasted 4 weeks. As reported, "In 1981, David Hasselhoff tested for 3 shows, 'T.J. Hooker', 'Today's FBI' and 'Strike Force'. He didn't get any of them. Since only one of the series ('T.J. Hooker') survived, he probably was lucky."

At the time David was the spokesman for the 'Big Brothers Organization'. He told Patricia Nolan, "For the past 3 years (since 1980), I've been visiting sick children in different hospitals, doing my best to cheer them up and bring some happiness into their lives. My fame is for a reason - I believe I was put on Earth, not just to be rich and famous, but to help these kids feel better about themselves before they die. I'm not political whatsoever, and I went to South Africa (back in 1983) without thinking about politics at all. 'Knight Rider' is the No. 1 television show in that country, and a lot of people black and white, wanted to meet me. I did a tour of 19 cities, and loved every minute of it!

"I always thank God for the wonderful life I've led. Sometimes I even feel guilty because I've never had to struggle or go hungry. The worst thing that ever happened to me was when my manager, Joyce Selznick, died of cancer a couple of years ago (1981). As she lay dying on her hospital bed, I said to her, 'I will be the star you always said I would be.' Joyce discovered me and promoted me, and I didn't want to let her down. It's fun being a teen idol.

"When I was on 'The Young and the Restless', I used to get fan mail from lonely divorcees, women who were looking for a special man in their lives. But now (in 1983), I get 16,000 letters every week from kids everywhere, and I think that's great! But overall, I am thrilled with the way my life has gone. I don't want to become a pushy, arrogant celebrity, who only cares about himself. I was put on this Earth to help others, and I never want to forget that, no matter how rich or famous I become!"

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