Super Bowl Halftime Show

Al Messerschmidt / Getty

Houston Oilers QB Warren Moon shares the stage with Minnie and some wide-eyed youngsters in 1991.

About 100 million people in 232 countries are expected to tune in for Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1, and the game's intermission will be as tightly scripted as its opening drives. The Super Bowl halftime show has evolved into a strobe-lit, confetti-strewn spectacle that, depending on your penchant for pageantry, is either a tribute to the Super Bowl's majesty or a monument to a culture of excess.

Halftime festivities were once modest affairs. Collegiate bands did the honors at 1967's inaugural Super Bowl and at several other early clashes. In 1976 the nonprofit organization and performance group Up with People--lampooned...

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