On This Date: Kenny Rogers’ TV Movie ‘The Gambler’ Premiered On CBS In 1980

Kenny Rogers country music

Many are familiar with the Grammy-winning song by Kenny Rogers titled “The Gambler,” but some might not know that the song actually spawned a five-film TV movie series with Rogers starring in the lead role.

43 years ago today, the first of the film series simply called The Gambler premiered on CBS. The three time Grammy-winner starred as Brady Hawks, and similar to the story of the classic country song, Rogers played a gambler who was trying to track down a son he never knew. Ronnie Scribner, who was well known for being a child actor at the time, played the son of Rogers.

The original Old Western style movie had a run time of 1 hour and 34 minutes and was met with great praise from fans and critics. The film won an Eddie Award and was nominated for two Emmy awards (cinematography & best editing of a limited series).

Four sequels came from the original Gambler movie. The original came out in 1980, and the final sequel came in 1994, marking 14 years of Kenny Rogers playing The Gambler (16 if you count the song). The movies, in chronological order, went:

-Kenny Rogers as The Gambler (1980)

The Gambler: The Adventure Continues (1983)

The Gambler Part III: The Legend Continues (1987)

The Gambler Returns: The Luck of the Draw (1991)

Gambler V: Playing for Keeps (1994)

Take a look at this blast from the past trailer from the original Gambler movie with Kenny Rogers:

The trailer looks great, and Rogers looks like a natural playing an old western gambler.

The full movie is actually available on YouTube if you had some time to kill today. It’s also great to see a trailer at a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is how older televisions and their respective TV shows used to be shot on.

Who would’ve thought that the hit song “The Gambler” from 1978 would lead to the “Kenny Rogers Cinematic Universe?” I unfortunately have not had the chance to watch any of The Gambler series, but if it half as good as the iconic song that Rogers released, I just might have to set aside a Saturday afternoon and binge watch all five movies.

And if this entire article already has the chorus of the classic song stuck in your head, we’ve got you covered with the link below:

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em
Know when to fold ’em
Know when to walk away
And know when to run

You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealin’s done…”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock