The role that Cleavon Little played, Dr. Jerry Noland, was not originally written for a black actor. Frankie Avalon and John Rubinstein were among the actors considered for the role. (The beach movies that Avalon had appeared in with Annette Funicello were directed by William Asher, the producer and occasional director of "Temperatures Rising".) However, Asher's wife, Elizabeth Montgomery, spotted Little doing a guest appearance in an episode of All in the Family (1971), and then recommended him to her husband. Likewise, Montgomery also recommended Nancy Fox to Asher after spotting Fox in a toothpaste commercial.
Dr. Vincent Campanelli:
(to Dr. Noland) What's next, Doctor? A wheelchair slalom on the ambulance ramp?