Monday, July 13, 2009

This week in Television History: July 09 PART I

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE everyevery other Monday at 10pm ET, 7pm PT on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (10pm ET, 7pm PT) on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted onlineat our archives page at

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

July 1, 1941
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game that was broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial. The advertiser was Bulova and they paid $9.00 to advertise their watches on the air.
Daniel Edward "Dan" Aykroyd, (born July 1, 1952) is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning Canadian-American comedian, actor, screenwriter, musician, winemaker and ufologist. He was an original cast member of Saturday Night Live, an originator of The Blues Brothers (with John Belushi) and Ghostbusters and has had a long career as a film actor and screenwriter.

July 2, 1955
The long-running musical-variety program The Lawrence Welk Show debuts on ABC. Welk, a bandleader from North Dakota known for light dance music, had launched his own show in 1951 on KTLA in Los Angeles. The show remained a network hit for some 16 years, then became a syndicated series. Welk retired in 1982 and died in 1992.

Lawrence "Larry" Gene David (born July 2, 1947) is an American actor, writer, comedian, producer, and film director. David is the co-creator and producer of two successful television comedies, Seinfeld (1989-1998) and Curb Your Enthusiasm (1999-present).
In 1989, he teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld to co-create the television series Seinfeld, where he also acted as head writer and executive producer. David's work won him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 1993. In 1999, he created the HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm, a mostly improvised sitcom in which he stars as a fictionalized version of himself.
Formerly a standup comedian, David went into television comedy, writing and starring in ABC's Fridays, as well as writing briefly for Saturday Night Live.

July 3, 1950
TV game show Pantomime Quiz Show debuts as a network series on CBS. The program, a variation of charades, ran for 13 years, although it changed networks several times. The show began as a local program in Los Angeles in 1947. In 1949, the show was one of TV's first programs to win an Emmy, first awarded by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences that year.
Mervyn "Merv" Edward Griffin, Jr. (July 6, 1925 – August 12, 2007) was an American television host and media mogul. He began his career as a radio and big band singer who went on to appear in movies and on Broadway. During the 1960s, Griffin hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, and created the game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. A billionaire at his death, he is considered an entertainment business magnate.
Patrick “Pat” Layton Paulsen (July 6, 1927 – April 24, 1997) was an American comedian and satirist notable for his roles on several of the Smothers Brothers TV shows, and for his campaigns for President of the United States in 1968, 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996, which had primarily comedic rather than political objectives, although his campaigns generated some protest votes for him.

Carl Hilding "Doc" Severinsen (born July 7, 1927) is an American pop and jazz trumpeter. He is best known for leading the NBC Orchestra on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Severinsen was born in Arlington, Oregon, the son of Minnie Mae and Carl Severinsen, who was a dentist. He was nicknamed "Little Doc" after his father, and had originally wanted to play the trombone. But the senior Severinsen, a gifted amateur violinist, urged him to study the violin. The younger Severinsen insisted on the trombone, but had to settle for the only horn available in Arlington's small music store a trumpet. A week later, with the help of his father and a manual of instructions, the seven-year-old was so good that he was invited to join the high school band.

July 12, 1990
TV series Northern Exposure airs its first episode. The offbeat show, about a Manhattan doctor contractually forced to work in the fictional of town Cicely, Alaska for four years to repay a student loan from the state. Rob Morrow stared as Dr. Joel Fleischman. Most of Northern Exposure's story arcs are character-driven, with the plots revolving around the eccentricities of the Cicely citizens. The show consistently ranked in the Top 20 most-watched TV shows until it was canceled in 1995.

William "Bill" Henry Cosby, Jr. (born July 12, 1937) is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, and activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a vanguard role in the 1960s action show I Spy. He later starred in his own series, The Bill Cosby Show, in 1969. He was one of the major characters on the children's television show The Electric Company for its first two seasons, and created the humorous educational cartoon series Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, about a group of young friends growing up in the city. Cosby also acted in numerous films. Cosby's net worth is estimated at over $300 million.

Milton Berle (July 12, 1908 – March 27, 2002) was an Emmy-winning American comedian and actor. As the manic host of NBC's Texaco Star Theater (1948–55), he was the first major star of television and as such became known as Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television to millions during TV's golden age.

July 13, 1938
Massachusetts Television Institute opens a "television theater" in Boston on this day in 1938, the first theater of its kind. The Institute charged 25 cents for admission. Some 200 people attended the first show, which broadcast singers, musicians, and dancers who were performing in a studio above the auditorium.
In the theater below, the audience viewed a black-and-white image on a 9-by-12-inch screen. Such experimental uses of television persisted throughout the 1930s, and televisions did not become common household appliances until after World War II.

July 13, 1985
Live Aid, a massive concert for African famine relief, takes place simultaneously in Philadelphia and London. In addition to 162,000 fans that attended the all-day event were 1.5 billion viewers worldwide who watched the show on MTV or other television stations. An estimated 75 percent of all radio stations around the world broadcast at least part of the concert.
Irish musician Bob Geldof, of the Boomtown Rats, organized the event. Among the participants were Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys, Carlos Santana, Madonna, Sting, and Tina Turner. Several disbanded groups came together again for the day, including Crosby, Stills and Nash; The Who; and surviving members of Led Zeppelin, including Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones. All performers worked for free, as did many other concert workers. The production, which ordinarily would have cost $20 million to stage, cost only $4 million and raised more than $70 million for famine relief.

Despite the number of acts, the show ran surprisingly smoothly. Rotating stages allowed bands to set up and dismantle their equipment while other bands were onstage. Acts from one stadium were telecast across the Atlantic to the other. Such organization, however, did not characterize the group's later charitable efforts: Live Aid was later criticized for its disorganized and slow efforts to channel aid to Africa.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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