One of the first competitive {{reality show}}s, running long before reality television was considered a genre. It considered itself a TalentShow with prizes. It would run in UsefulNotes/{{syndication}} from 1983 to 1995. Al Masini created the program in the wake of his success with the 1981 debut of another show of his, ''Series/EntertainmentTonight''.

Ed [=McMahon=] hosted the early version, in which competitors could enter in one of several categories. On each episode, two acts performed in each category, typically the previous week's champion and a new challenger. The members of a four-judge panel individually rated each act on a scale of 1 to 4 (later 5) stars, and the act with the higher average returned for the next show. The acts with the best records competed against each other in the season finals, with a large cash prize at stake in each category.

Categories included Vocalist, Vocal Group, Dance, Comedy, and Spokesmodel; Vocalist and Dance had separate competitions for junior and teen acts. The prize in each category was $100,000 for adult competitors, and $10,000 for junior/teen acts.

''Star Search'' was, for the most part, only slightly better at producing big stars than ''Series/AmericasNextTopModel'' is at producing top models. This did not affect the show's popularity in the slightest.

''Star Search'' was the blueprint for [[FollowTheLeader a large number of other shows.]] Eventually, the idea would cross the Atlantic; and when it crossed back, havoc broke loose. Yes, without ''Star Search'', ''Series/AmericanIdol'' and ''Series/AmericasGotTalent'' [[SpiritualSuccessor might not exist]]. ''Star Search'' itself was revived in 2003 with Arsenio Hall as its host, with a wild deviation from the original (and one much closer to ''Series/AmericanIdol'', with a fan vote contributing to scores). A 12-year-old [[RetroactiveRecognition David Archuleta]] appeared in the show's second series.
!!Provides Examples Of:
* TheRunnerUpTakesItAll: Numerous people have failed to win but become famous anyway, among them Music/{{Aaliyah}}, Music/ChristinaAguilera, Drew Carey, Creator/DaveChappelle, Music/DestinysChild, Music/AlanisMorissette, Kevin James, Creator/DennisMiller, Music/{{Usher}}, Rosie O'Donnell, [=LeAnn=] Rimes, Music/JessicaSimpson, Music/BackstreetBoys, Music/BritneySpears, and Music/JustinTimberlake.
* TalentShow