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‘Black Sunday’ was wildest South Florida Super Bowl that never happened

Disaster flick showed Goodyear blimp crashing into Orange Bowl

MIAMI – The 1970s were a time for bell-bottoms, disco music and preposterous disaster flicks featuring upside cruise ships, gargantuan earthquakes and towering…. well, infernos.

But if there was one movie that epitomized quintessential silver screen cheese, it was the dud that, of course, featured Miami.

Everyone remembers “Black Sunday,” right? OK, maybe not. But how about the one where the blimp crashes into the Orange Bowl. Hah! There you go!

The 1977 movie dealt with a plot to blow up the Goodyear blimp over a Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl and starred Robert Shaw, the captain who was eaten in “Jaws,” Bruce Dern and, uhhh, former Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie.

The film itself may have been the actual bomb, but it was nothing but a great time for local and national broadcaster Joe Johnson who, along with a group of high school buddies, served as an extra in the movie just days after Super Bowl X in January 1976.

“We sat around a lot, and we clowned around a lot, and I was taking a lot of cameras and guys on the field,” Johnson said.

Johnson also brought along his Super 8 camera and as a film buff himself, shot a bunch of reels that he’s kept all this time. In his film, you can see all kinds of behind-the-scene stuff going on at the Orange Bowl. Even former Dolphin Nat Moore was there.

When the blimp makes its fateful move, Johnson and the others finally got the call for “Action!”

National broadcaster Joe Johnson was an extra in the 1970s disaster film "Black Sunday," which was set in Miami during the Super Bowl. He recorded some behind-the-scenes footage with his Super 8 camera, but the movie studio didn't want anything to do with it.
National broadcaster Joe Johnson was an extra in the 1970s disaster film "Black Sunday," which was set in Miami during the Super Bowl. He recorded some behind-the-scenes footage with his Super 8 camera, but the movie studio didn't want anything to do with it. (WPLG)

“I know that when they got to that scene where they wanted us all to pretend the blimp was coming, and there was obviously no blimp for us to see ... but we had to scream into the camera,” Johnson said, remembering that day. “I don’t think we really knew the plot, necessarily, but it was fun.”

While Johnson’s movies are personal gold, Paramount Pictures, the studio that made the dud, would rather they remain in the dark.

“I said I’ve got this 3-minute film of when they filmed ‘Black Sunday’ at the Orange Bowl,” Johnson recalled telling the studio. “They just weren’t interested. I just would have given because I thought it would be neat for the DVD.”

Can you imagine the NFL allowing real teams to be used in a disaster movie these days? And what about Goodyear? Yep, the ’70s were a different time and South Florida a different place.

But when it comes to Super Bowls, Miami will also have the perfect season Dolphins and “Black Sunday.”


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