On This Day: ‘Six Pack’ Starring Kenny Rogers Premieres in 1982

by Jim Casey

Kenny Rogers displayed his acting chops on the silver screen for the first time in the comedy-drama, Six Pack, which was released on July 16, 1982.

Look, no one is saying Six Pack is The Godfather, but it wasn’t supposed to be. However, if ridiculously plotted 1980s movies are your thing, Six Pack is a total score. It’s got it all: corrupt sheriff, orphans, and a racecar driver with a heart of gold. Enter Kenny Rogers as Brewster Baker.

By 1982, it was vogue for country stars to diversify their skill sets on the big screen. Kris Kristofferson (1976’s A Star Is Born), Willie Nelson (1979’s The Electric Horseman, 1980’s Honeysuckle Rose), Dolly Parton (1980’s 9 to 5, 1982’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas), and Jerry Reed (1977’s Smokey and the Bandit), among others, had carved out impressive movie careers. It should be noted, Kristofferson won a Golden Globe for his turn as John Norman Howard in A Star Is Born. Kris’ filmography is quite impressive. So it’s not fair to compare John Norman Howard to Brewster Baker. But life isn’t fair (just ask those Six Pack orphans). Now, back to Six Pack.

Six Pack of Awesomeness

Kenny Rogers had already conquered made-for-TV movies when he stepped into the role of Brewster. You may recall 1980’s Kenny Rogers as The Gambler or 1981’s Coward of the County. In fact, The Gambler franchise sparked so many TV sequels, I’m not sure Brady Hawkes (Kenny’s on-screen character) knew when to fold ’em. Kidding, kidding.

Keep in mind, Kenny was at the height of his popularity in the early 1980s. He had already topped the country charts with a string of No. 1 hits, including 1977’s “Lucille,” 1978’s “The Gambler,” 1979’s “She Believes in Me,” 1980’s “Lady,” and more.

If you’ve never seen Six Pack, I won’t ruin it for you. But, basically, stock-car driver Brewster inherits six misbehaving orphans, including a young Diane Lane (Breezy) and Anthony Michael Hall (Doc), after thwarting a corrupt sheriff (Barry Corbin).

The film grossed around $20 million during it’s theatrical run, with a budget of $13.5 million. Six Pack currently has an audience score of 71 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

Kenny Finds ‘Love’

The film was only mildly successful in monetary terms. However, its theme song, “Love Will Turn You Around,” was a hit.

In early 1982, Kenny was filming Six Pack. By May, Six Pack still did not have a hit song that could help sell the movie. Songwriter Thom Schuyler had contributed a work in progress titled “Love Will Turn It Around.” Kenny and songwriters David Malloy and Evan Stevens picked up the thread with Schuyler and changed the title to “Love Will Turn You Around.”

Kenny released “Love Will Turn You Around” in June 1982. The tune topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in September 1982. The song was also nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance at the 1983 Grammy Awards.