R.I.P. David Horowitz, Fight Back! host and Tonight Show regular
He gave customers courage to say, "Don't Rip Me Off!"
Image: The Everett Collection
In the 1970s, as our televisions divided air time between a wider range of TV shows and commercials, consumer reporter David Horowitz was called to act as an agent against disinformation. As the host of Fight Back! with David Horowitz, he helped everyone stay informed on corporate activity and new products, dedicated to delivering the truth in his broadcasts. For 16 years, he stood between customers and poor quality products, verifying the ads we watched and even inspiring episodes of TV in the Eighties on shows like ALF and The Golden Girls, where he'd occasionally make guest appearances as himself.
Everybody knew him as a consumer advocate who cared, but in reality, Horowitz remained unbiased, committed to understanding risks without clouding his judgment. His most popular segments answered questions we were all dying to know, testing the effectiveness of Krazy Glue (it failed his test, twice), the durability of Bic lighters (they still flicked after being run over by a truck), and whether or not a Sears Kenmore dishwasher really would dissolve an entire baked cake (it did!).
The show became so popular, he introduced a segment where viewers could air their own consumer complaints, sending swag to anyone who wrote in and got their letter read. Fans would wear red buttons that said, "Don't Rip Me Off! I Fight Back with David Horowitz!" Horowitz himself became such a noted figure, he was a regular guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, which also produced a parody of him on the show, in a character called David Howitzer.
On ALF, Willie Tanner actually appears on Horowitz's show in an episode called "Fight Back!" The plot revolves around a car repairman who Willie discovers is scamming him, and the episode ends with Willie going on the show to defend himself and other consumers from experiencing the same scam. When asked what he'd tell other consumers if they encountered the same issue, Willie utters a predictable "Fight Back!" to which the wry Horowitz responds, "Very good, Willie," before detailing everything Willie did wrong. In that way, Horowitz even managed to sneak a little lesson in consumer responsibility into one of the Eighties' zaniest shows.
On Monday, February 18, MyNewsLA.com reports that Horowitz passed away at the age of 81.