Monday, October 01, 2012

This Week in Television History: October 2012 PART I


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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.

October 1, 1962

Johnny Carson becomes the new host of The Tonight Show.


Ed McMahon was Carson's announcer. The Tonight Show orchestra was for several years still led by Skitch Henderson. After a brief stint by Milton DeLugg, beginning in 1967 the "NBC Orchestra" was then headed by trumpeter Doc Severinsen who played in the Tonight Show Band in the years that 'Skitch' Henderson conducted. For all but a few months of its first decade on the air, Carson's Tonight Show was based in New York City. In May 1972 the show moved to Burbank, California into Studio One of NBC Studios West Coast (although it was announced as coming from nearby Hollywood), for the remainder of his tenure. Carson is often referred to as "The King of Late-Night" because of the great influence he has had on so many well-known talk show hosts and comedians. Carson started each show with a monologue and continued with sketches in which he played recurring characters "Carnac the Magnificent". In 1965, Carson insisted on delivering his monologue at 11:30 instead of 11:15, the show's official starting time, because many stations ran news until 11:30 and didn't join The Tonight Show until the half hour. In 1967, Carson walked out over contract differences, returning several weeks later when the network allegedly offered him a contract worth more than $1 million a year-an exorbitant salary at that time. The show moved to Burbank in 1972. In March 1978, Carson received a contract reportedly worth $3 million. Frequent guest hosts included Joan Rivers, who became "permanent guest host" from 1983 to 1986, and Jay Leno, who became permanent guest host in 1987. David Letterman also served as guest host, appearing more than 50 times.


When Carson announced he would retire in 1992, a highly publicized battle for the job ensued between top contenders Jay Leno and David Letterman. When Letterman lost, he accepted CBS's offer for his own show and launched Late Show with David Letterman in 1993. Carson died at the age of 79, in 2005.


October 4, 1957

Leave It to Beaver debuts.


The typical 1950s "wholesome family" comedy presented the life of the Cleaver family from the perspective of seven-year-old Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver. The Cleaver clan included parents June and Ward, and older brother Wally.


The show, which ran until 1963, enjoyed much popularity in reruns as well as a revival in the 1980s as The New Leave It to Beaver.


October 5, 1957

Bernard Jeffrey McCullough better known by his stage name Bernie Mac, was born on the South Side of Chicago. Mac gained popularity as a stand-up comedian. He joined comedians Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer, and D.L. Hughley as The Original Kings of Comedy.


After briefly hosting the HBO show Midnight Mac, Mac appeared in several films in smaller roles. His most noted film role was as Frank Catton in the remake Ocean's Eleven and the titular character of Mr. 3000. He was the star of The Bernie Mac Show, which ran from 2001-2006, earning him two Emmy Award nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. His other films included starring roles in Friday,The Players Club, Head of State, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Bad Santa, Guess Who, Pride, Soul Men, and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa.

Mac suffered from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory lung disease that produces tiny lumps of cells in the solid organs, but had said the condition was in remission in 2005. Despite having the disease, his death on August 9, 2008 was caused by complications from pneumonia.

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa

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