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“Life’s been good to me, and I was able to do what I wanted to do: to change a hobby into a profession”
- Bill Dance
Bill Dance, one of the world’s most famous fishermen, always planned to be a doctor like his father, grandfather, and three generations before them. While enrolled in medical school in the 1960s, he came upon a horrific motorcycle crash. The grisly encounter changed his life.
“I was the first person on the scene,” Dance recalls. “It was very traumatic and it affected me deeply. At that moment I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor anymore.”
What did he want to be?
“Well,” says Dance in his down-home Southern drawl, “I’d always loved to fish.”
And fish he did. He began competing, and winning, in bass tournaments and landed a lure manufacturer for a sponsor. The sponsor encouraged Dance to start a TV show to help promote the product. After being rejected from NBC and CBS, Bill Dance Outdoors premiered on a Memphis ABC affiliate in 1968 and has been growing in popularity ever since. Today, the show is televised nationwide and it’s host has achieved celebrity status among the nation’s 45 million anglers.
“Bill has a special knack for connecting with his viewers,” says Tony Mack, Dance’s TV producer for 36 years. “It’s hard to explain, but whatever he does, it works. People love it.”
“He’s the greatest people person I’ve ever known,” adds Carlton Veirs, who handles Dance’s personal appearances and endorsements. “Bill’s never met a stranger, whether it’s at some rural little boat dock or at a big outdoor show in Las Vegas. And it’s genuine; he likes people, and people like him. That’s the key to his success.”
For his TV shows, Bill learned how to edit, shoot, and script his own videos. In total, Bill completed 208 shows in just one year in the early 1970s. However, demographics weren’t too high on ABC, so Bill switched to TNN, located in Nashville, and his views skyrocketed. Bill and his wife later moved to Nashville, and was sponsored by top companies such as Chevy and Walmart.
Today, Bill is well known for his famous blooper reels. This came about when the videographer added in an outtake to the show, and the audience went wild over it. Soon, broadcasting companies such as BBC and CBS were under contract to obtain a certain number of Bill’s bloopers each year. With the audiences still wanting more bloopers, Bill and his camera crew dug up videos in the archives and found a multitude of outtakes in the film. Bill made three videos all containing extra footage and super bloopers that are still being watched 15 years later.
Bill is a crucial asset to the fishing industry as a TV show host, novelist, and maker of educational fishing videos. His passion and drive for this sport continues to inspire others to go fishing each and every day. Bill is one of the nicest, kind-hearted man you will ever meet, and it was an extreme pleasure interviewing such a legend.
See you on the water,
- Tom Rowland