Monday, August 15, 2011

This week in Television History: August 2011 Part III

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Saturdays 11pm ET, 8pm PT Sundays 5pm ET, 2pm PM 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.

August 15, 1923

Rose Marie, actress and comedian who also had a successful singing career as Baby Rose Marie was born.

A veteran of vaudeville, Rose Marie's career includes film, theater and television. Her most famous acting role came as television comedy writer Sally Rogers on CBS's classic sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. She later portrayed Myrna Gibbons on CBS's classic sitcom The Doris Day Show and she was also a frequent panelist on the game show Hollywood Squares.

August 19, 1981

Charlie's Angels aired its final episode.

The detective series featured crime-solving beauties instructed by a mysterious voice on a speaker phone known only as Charlie. Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Farrah Fawcett played the original Angels. Fawcett's blown-dry, feathered hair launched a national fad, and the actress left the show after a year to pursue a career in movies. Subsequent Angels included Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts. In 2000, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu played the Angels in a movie version of the show.

August 19, 1921

TV producer Gene Roddenberry, best known as the creator of Star Trek, is born in El Paso, Texas.

His family moved to Los Angeles when Roddenberry was a toddler, and his father became a police officer. Roddenberry also studied criminal justice at Los Angeles City College but became a pilot instead through the Civilian Pilot Training Program. During World War II, Roddenberry flew bombing missions in the South Pacific with the U.S. Army Air Corps. Shot down during a raid, he survived and won a medal. A second crash, when he was working as a Pan Am pilot after the war, killed 14 people and convinced Roddenberry to give up flying. Instead, Roddenberry became a police officer like his father. But before long, he discovered that living the police life paid less than writing about it for TV, so he began writing scripts for Dragnet and other police TV dramas. In 1963, he produced a short-lived NBC show, The Lieutenant, about life in the U.S. Marines.

A lifelong science-fiction fan, Roddenberry wanted to try his hand making a sci-fi TV program. He convinced superstar Lucille Ball to fund a pilot. Although the first pilot was rejected, a second take was picked up, and Star Trek premiered in 1966.

Although the show ran for only three years and never placed better than No. 52 in the ratings, Roddenberry's sci-fi series became a cult classic and spawned four television series and nine movies. Roddenberry died on October 24, 1991, and was one of the first people to be "buried" in space.

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

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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