Surely You Can’t Be Serious: Abdul-Jabbar Reprises ‘Airplane!’ Role For Wisconsin Travel Commercial

  • Rick Chandler

Fun fact: The role of co-captain Roger Murdock in the movie “Airplane!” was originally meant for Pete Rose. But the film was shot in only 34 days in 1979, and Rose’s schedule wasn’t free then. So Kareem Abdul-Jabbar landed the part, and history was made.

I’m a big fan of the film that launched the movie parody genre, so you can imagine my delight when Travel announced they were producing three new 30-second commercials starring Abdul-Jabbar and Robert Hays, using the original cockpit from the movie.

Jabbar (as himself/Captain Roger Murdock) and Hays (Ted Striker) didn’t actually appear in a scene together in the 1980 movie, but here they do — Jabbar in a Bucks jersey, because, Wisconsin. David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams, who wrote and directed the movie, are all from that state. They’re back to direct the commercials, which will debut beginning in March.

Here’s Hays in a previous commercial for Travel Wisconsin:

Abdul-Jabbar, Hays, the Zuckers and Abrahams all gathered at Air Hollywood in Los Angeles recently for the ‘Airplane!’ 30th Anniversary Reunion Press Conference (even though the movie is actually 33 years old), to announce commercials. Start the slideshow, Johnny!: