Monday, July 26, 2010

This week in Television History: July 2010 PART IV

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte Broadcast LIVE every other Monday at 9pm ET, 6pm PT (immediately following STU'S SHOW) on Shokus Internet Radio. The program will then be repeated Tuesday thru Sunday at the same time (9pm ET, 6pm PT)on Shokus Radio for the next two weeks, and then will be posted on line at our archives page at We are also on Share-a-Vision Radio ( Friday at 7pm PT and ET, either before or after the DUSTY RECORDS show, depending on where you live.

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 27, 1922
Norman Milton Lear is born.

Writer and producer who produced such 1970s sitcoms as All in the Family, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Good Times and Maude. As a political activist, he founded the civil liberties advocacy organization People For the American Way in 1981 and has supported First Amendment rights and liberal causes.
Lear was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Jeanette (née Seicol) and Herman Lear, who worked in sales. He grew up in a Jewish home and had a Bar Mitzvah. Lear went to high school in Hartford, Connecticut and subsequently attended Emerson College in Boston, but dropped out in 1942 to join the United States Army Air Forces. During World War II, he served in the Mediterranean Theater as a radio operator/gunner on Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers with the 772nd Bombardment Squadron, 463rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) of the Fifteenth Air Force. He flew 52 combat missions, for which he was awarded the Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters. Lear was discharged from the Army in 1945. He and his fellow WWII crew members are featured in the book "Crew Umbriago" by Daniel P.Carroll (tail gunner), and also in another book: 772nd Bomb Squadron: The Men, The Memories by Turner Publishing Company.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded the National Medal of Arts to Lear, noting that “Norman Lear has held up a mirror to American society and changed the way we look at it.”
In addition to his success as a TV producer and businessman, Lear is an outspoken supporter of First Amendment and liberal causes. The only time that he did not support the Democratic candidate for President was in 1980: he voted for John Anderson because he considered the Carter administration to be "a disaster".
In 1981, Lear founded People For the American Way, a civil liberties advocacy organization. People For ran several advertising campaigns opposing the interjection of religion in politics. In 1987, People For campaigned against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States. The organization is still active.
in 1989, Lear founded the Business Enterprise Trust, an educational program that used annual awards, business school case studies, and videos to spotlight exemplary social innovations in American business. In 2000, he established the Norman Lear Center, a multidisciplinary research and public policy center for exploring the convergence of entertainment, commerce, and society, at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication.
Lear serves on the National Advisory Board of the Young Storytellers Foundation. He has written articles for The Huffington Post.
Lear is a trustee emeritus at The Paley Center for Media.
In 2001, Lear and his wife, Lyn, purchased a Dunlap broadside—one of the first published copies of the United States Declaration of Independence—for $8.1 million. Not a document collector, Lear said in a press release and on the Today show that his intent was to tour the document around the United States so that the country could experience its "birth certificate" firsthand.[4] Through the end of 2004, the document traveled throughout the United States in the Declaration of Independence Roadtrip, which Lear organized, visiting several presidential libraries, dozens of museums, as well as the 2002 Olympics, Super Bowl XXXVI, and the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia.
July 27, 1940
Bugs Bunny first appears on the silver screen in A Wild Hare. The wisecracking rabbit had evolved through several earlier short films. As in many future installments of Bugs Bunny cartoons, A Wild Hare featured Bugs as the would-be dinner for frustrated hunter Elmer Fudd.

Jul 27, 2003
Bob Hope dies at age 100 in Toluca Lake, California.

Known for entertaining American servicemen and women for more than five decades, Hope had a career that spanned the whole range of 20th century entertainment, from vaudeville to Broadway musicals to radio, television and movies.
He was born Leslie Townes Hope, the fifth of seven sons, on May 29, 1903, in Eltham, England. In 1907, Hope’s family moved to Cleveland, Ohio. As a young man, he began his entertainment career as a dancer and vaudeville performer. During the 1930s, he appeared in Broadway musicals, along with such performers as Fanny Brice and Ethel Merman. In 1934, Hope wed the nightclub singer Dolores Reade; the marriage would endure until his death. In 1938, Hope, who became known for his snappy one-liners, rose to national fame with his own radio show on NBC and his first feature film, The Big Broadcast of 1938.
In 1940, Hope co-starred in the box-office hit Road to Singapore with Bing Crosby. The film, about a pair of singing, wisecracking con men, was the first of seven “Road” movies the pair would make. Hope appeared in more than 50 feature films during his career. He hosted the Academy Awards 18 times, although he never won an Oscar himself, an occurrence he turned into a long-running joke. However, he did receive five special awards from the Academy, including two honorary Oscars. Hope was also a top entertainer on TV and from 1959 to 1996 he made 284 “Bob Hope specials” for NBC.
Starting with World War II, Hope began entertaining American troops at military bases around the world. His USO tours traveled to military bases during times of war (Vietnam, the Persian Gulf), as well as times of peace. He was so beloved for his work with the military for more than half a century that Congress passed a resolution in 1997 making Hope an honorary veteran. It was one of the countless honors that Hope received throughout his career. In 1998, he was granted honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

Jul y 29, 1957
Jack Paar becomes host of The Tonight Show.

NBC returned the program to a talk/variety show format once again, with Jack Paar becoming the new solo host of the show. Under Paar, most of the NBC affiliates which had dropped the show during the ill-fated run of America After Dark began airing the show once again. Paar's era began the practice of branding the series after the host, and as such the program, though officially still called The Tonight Show, was marketed as The Jack Paar Show. A combo band conducted by Paar's Army buddy pianist Jose Melis filled commercial breaks and backed musical entertainers. Paar also introduced the idea of having guest hosts; one of these early hosts was Johnny Carson. In the late 1950s, it was one of the first regularly scheduled shows to be videotaped in color.
On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar walked off his show for a month after NBC censors edited out a segment, taped the night before, about a joke involving a "W.C." (water closet, a polite term for a flush toilet) being confused for a "wayside chapel." As he left his desk, he said, "I am leaving The Tonight Show. There must be a better way of making a living than this." Paar's abrupt departure left his startled announcer, Hugh Downs, to finish the broadcast himself. Paar returned to the show on March 7, 1960, strolled on stage, struck a pose, and said, "As I was saying before I was interrupted..." After the audience erupted in applause, Paar continued, "When I walked off, I said there must be a better way of making a living. Well, I've looked... and there isn't."

August 1, 1971

The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuts.

The popular variety show, featuring music, comedy routines and sarcastic banter between vertically challenged Sonny and his statuesque wife, Cher. Sonny and Cher had been singing and performing comedy in nightclubs for more than a decade. They released several hit records in the 1960s, most notably "I Got You, Babe," before launching their show. The series rated well and showcased future comedy stars, including Teri Garr and Steve Martin.
Despite the show's popularity, the couple suffered marital problems and announced in the spring of 1974 that they were divorcing and would cancel the show. After divorcing in 1975, both Sonny and Cher tried and failed to launch solo comedy-variety shows. They revived their show together briefly in 1976 and 1977. Cher went on to a successful film career, winning the Best Actress Oscar for Moonstruck (1987). Bono later became a politician, serving as mayor of Palm Springs and a U.S. congressman.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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