Monday, January 24, 2011

This week in Television History: January 2011 PART IV

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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.

January 27, 1976
The Happy Days spin-off Laverne and Shirley, featuring two Milwaukee women who work on a brewery assembly line preimers.

The show starred Penny Marshall, sister of producer Garry Marshall, and Cindy Williams.

Fierce rivalry erupted between the two stars, and Williams left the show in 1982. The show lasted only one more season before its cancellation in 1983.

January 28, 1956
Young country-rock singer Elvis Presley makes his first-ever television appearance on the TV musical-variety program Stage Show.

Presley sang "Heartbreak Hotel," which quickly became a hit single. In total, Elvis appeared on six shows. The program was hosted by swing band leaders Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Elvis went on to appear on Ed Sullivan's immensely popular variety show, Toast of the Town, in the fall of 1956. The appearance made Elvis a household name.

January 28, 1996
Jerry Seigel, creator of Superman, dies at age 81.

Writer Seigel created Superman with artist friend Joe Shuster when they were both teenagers in the 1930s. All the major newspaper syndicates rejected the character, who was born on the doomed planet Krypton and bundled off by his parents in a space capsule to Smallville USA, where he's raised by kindly earthlings. In 1938, however, Seigel and Shuster finally landed a comic book deal, and Superman's adventures as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent moonlighting as the Man of Steel became an instant hit. The comic book spawned a newspaper strip that ran for 28 years, as well as a radio series that ran from 1940 to 1951.
The character, along with his friends cub reporter Jimmy Olson and ace newswoman Lois Lane, who never seem to penetrate Superman's Clark Kent disguise, appeared in movie serials from 1948 to 1950, and in a feature film in 1951. A popular Superman TV series ran from 1951 to 1957. Filmed on a shoestring budget, the show's special effects were limited to Superman crashing through walls, flying around, and witnessing fiery explosions. The same flying sequences were used repeatedly. Actor George Reeves was so well-known as Superman that he couldn't find other work when the series ended.
The Man of Steel reappeared on the big screen in 1978, with Christopher Reeves in the role. The hit film launched three follow-ups. In 1993, Superman appeared again in the TV comedy Lois and Clark.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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