Studs Who Wed

updated 07/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/26/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

SHE LIKED HIS MUSCLES
HE LIKED HER MOXIE
THEY FOUND TRUE LOVE ON TV

Someday Sam and Kathy Kennedy's future offspring might want to know how their parents met. And Los Angeles scuba instructor Sam, 31, and accountant Kathy, 27, will have to confess that their match was made on the gamy game show, Studs. The pair, who married May 14 on a secluded Catalina Island bluff, are the only couple out of 2,500 contestants to have exchanged lewd quips—then wedding vows.

But Kathy and Sam are not typical Studs. When the former Kathy Robinson said of Sam, in front of 2.5 million viewers, "In the event of a water landing, Ms butt could be used as a flotation device," she was just playing the game. "I'm gutsy but I'm not a bimbo," she says. If a nice girl like her was willing to go on Studs, reasoned Kathy, why couldn't a nice guy have a similar impulse? The chances of that happening were slim, even Studs host Mark DeCarlo admits. With a format that calls for two "studs" to go out with each of three "studettes," then come on TV to talk suggestively about the dates, DeCarlo notes, "Most of the contestants are either plastic or freaky. A few are regular people like Kathy and Sam. You could tell they dug each other big time."

Egged on by DeCarlo during last October's taping, Kathy shot out of her chair and gave Sam a kiss many degrees warmer than the peck that ended their Studs date. "I knew I wanted him," says Kathy, the L.A.-bred daughter of Lillian, a food and clothing wholesaler, and the late Lloyd, a refurbisher of antiques.

Sam, divorced in 1991 from a restaurant manager, says he "wanted something meaningful." Raised in Kansas by foster parents because his divorced mother could not afford child-rearing costs, Sam moved to L.A. in 1980 to pursue a boxing career that ended 10 years later, after several hand injuries.

Though Sam and Kathy had a pleasant Studs date at L.A.'s Knott's Berry Farm, Kathy ignored Sam in the green room before the show. "I was nervous about the taping and noticed he had an earring," she says. "I don't like men in earrings, and he wasn't wearing one on our date. But I liked him and thought I could overcome it."

She did. Part of the remedy was the passionate on-air kiss. Part was just getting better acquainted. "I learned he had tropical fish and a dog, and I figured a man who takes time to care for animals isn't just into himself," she says. Sam liked Kathy's "maturity," he says. "And she fell in love with me for me."

They dated for two months before Sam proposed. "You mean so much to me," he told Kathy. "My life has been completed," was her response.

The couple's wedding was not just a union but also a reunion between Sam and his mother. At Kathy's urging, he found Alice Fay Kennedy, 52, through court records. "I hunted for him in the 1970s and nothing," says Alice, now a Kansas City, Kans., hospital cook. "I asked God before I die to let me see him. It's the most wonderful thing."

Her son did not get hitched without a hitch. The couple misplaced the ferry tickets to Catalina, an island 26 miles off Long Beach, delaying the journey for 20 minutes. Then it was a scramble to check into their motel, pick up the two-layer white-frosted cake they'd ordered from the local bakery, change into nuptial finery and drive to the south side of the island to assemble in front of Universal Life minister Fern Whelan, whom they'd commissioned by phone to perform the ceremony. "Love," she told the wedding party, "is a flower so delicate that a touch will bruise it, so strong that nothing will stop its growth. Now," Whelan told Sam, "you may kiss the bride."

Kathy and Sam's lips met in protracted passion. "That's a long kiss," said Kathy's mother. "That was better than Studs."

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