Monday, September 21, 2015

This Week in Television History: September 2015 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.

September 21, 1950
William James "Bill" Murray is born. 
The Academy Award nominated comedian and actor gained national exposure on Saturday Night Live, and went on to star in films including Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Lost in Translation, and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

September 21, 1970
NFL Monday Night Football made its debut on ABC-TV. 

The game was between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. The Browns won 31-21.

September 21, 1985
George Clooney makes his first appearance as a handyman on the popular TV sitcom The Facts of Life. 
Clooney appeared in 17 episodes of the show, which aired from 1979 to 1988 and chronicled the lives of a group of young women who meet at a fictional boarding school. Years later, he moved on to Hollywood superstardom in the hit TV medical drama ER and such films as The Perfect Storm, Ocean’s Eleven and Michael Clayton.
 Clooney, who was born on May 6, 1961, in Lexington, Kentucky, is the son of the journalist and TV host Nick Clooney and the nephew of the well-known singer Rosemary Clooney. His early acting credits, in addition to The Facts of Life, included small roles on the popular sitcom Roseanne and the drama Sisters. Clooney also appeared in single episodes of such shows as The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote. Clooney first shot to fame as Dr. Doug Ross on the medical drama ER, which debuted in 1994.
While appearing on ER, Clooney headlined such movies as Batman & Robin (1997), in which he played the caped crusader himself; Out of Sight (1998), which co-starred Jennifer Lopez and marked the first time Clooney worked with the director Steven Soderbergh, his future frequent collaborator; and Three Kings (1999). After leaving the long-running medical drama, he went on to starring roles in The Perfect Storm (2000), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and its two sequels, Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Ocean’s Thirteen (2007). Clooney made his directorial debut with 2002’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, about the game show host Chuck Barris, who claimed in his memoir that he also worked for the C.I.A.
Clooney won an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category for his role in Syriana (2005), a complex thriller about the oil industry. He also received Best Director and Best Screenplay Oscar nominations for Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), about the 1950s journalist Edward R. Murrow and his conflict with the anti-Communist U.S. Senator Eugene McCarthy. Clooney earned his first Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in the title role of 2007’s legal thriller Michael Clayton.
 Off-screen, the actor, who was named People magazine’s “Sexiest Man of the Year” in 1997 and 2006, is known both for his confirmed bachelor status and his advocacy of various political and social causes, including the environment and the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

September 22, 1985
NBC began airing the series Amazing Stories
Amazing Stories is a fantasyhorror, and science fiction television anthology series created by Steven Spielberg. It originally ran on NBC in the United States from 1985 to 1987.
The series was nominated for 12 Emmy Awards and won five. The first season episode "The Amazing Falsworth" earned writerMick Garris an Edgar Award for Best Episode in a TV Series. It was not a ratings hit (ranking 40th in Season 1 and 46th in Season 2), however, and the network did not renew it after the two-year contract expired. The 1987 science fiction movie, *batteries not included was originally intended to be featured in Amazing Stories, but Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much that he decided to make it a theatrical release.[4]
The series title licensed the name of Amazing Stories, the first dedicated science fiction magazine.

September 22, 1985
The first Farm Aid concert is held in Champaign, Illinois. 

It started with an offhand remark made by Bob Dylan during his performance at Live Aid, the massive fundraising concert held at Wembley Stadium, London, and JFK Stadium, Philadelphia, in the early summer of 1985. As television viewers around the world phoned in donations in support of African famine relief, Dylan said from the stage, "I hope that some of the money...maybe they can just take a little bit of it, maybe...one or two million, maybe...and use it, say, to pay the mortgages on some of the farms and, the farmers here, owe to the banks." Dylan would come under harsh criticism from Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof for his remarks ("It was a crass, stupid and nationalistic thing to say," Geldof would later write), but he planted a seed with several fellow musicians who shared his concern over the state of the American family farm. Less than one month later, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and John Mellencamp announced plans for "Farm Aid," a benefit concert for America's farmers held in Champaign, Illinois, on this day in 1985.
As one might have expected of a concert staged to "raise awareness about the loss of family farms and to raise funds to keep farm families on their land," Farm Aid featured a number of performers from the worlds of country, folk and rootsy rock music. There were the three main organizers and the instigator Bob Dylan, for instance, along with Hoyt Axton, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Loretta Lynn, Joni Mitchell and Charley Pride. But the first Farm Aid, more than any of the annual Farm Aid concerts since, was a bit of a stylistic free-for-all, featuring artists united only by their interest in supporting a good cause.
"As soon as I read in the paper that there was gonna be such a thing," Sammy Hagar told MTV's cameras on the day of the show, "I called my manager and said, 'I wanna do it.' And he said, 'It's all country.' I said, 'I don't care. It's America. I wanna do it.' If there was anything more surprising than hearing Hagar perform his hard-rock anthem "I Can't Drive 55" on the same stage that had earlier featured the quiet folk of Arlo Guthrie, it was hearing Lou Reed perform "Walk On The Wild Side" on a stage that had featured John Denver.
Over the years since its first charity concert on this day in 1985, the Farm Aid organization has raised upwards of $33 million to support small farmers, promote sustainable farming practices and encourage consumption of "good food from family farms."

September 24, 1955
Judy Garland made her TV debut on the "Ford Star Jubilee" on CBS. 

Ford Star Jubilee routinely featured major stars, such as Judy GarlandBetty GrableOrson WellesJulie Andrews (at the time that she was preparing for her starring role in My Fair Lady on Broadway), Louis ArmstrongBing CrosbyLillian GishCharles LaughtonJack LemmonRaymond MasseyLauren BacallClaudette ColbertNoël CowardNat 'King' ColeMary MartinEddie FisherElla FitzgeraldRed Skelton and Debbie Reynolds.
Instead of the usual live performance staged especially for Ford Star Jubilee, the final episode on November 3, 1956 was a special, two-hour presentation of the 1939 MGM theatrical Technicolor film The Wizard of Oz, hosted by Bert Lahr, 10-year-old Liza Minnelli and young Oz expert Justin Schiller. This marked the first time that the film had ever been shown on television, and the only time that one of the film's actual actors (Lahr) as well as one of the children of the film's star (Judy Garland) hosted it. The broadcast was a critical and ratings smash, but the film was not shown on TV again until 1959, when it was presented by CBS at 6:00 P.M., E.S.T. rather than 9:00 P.M., and this time as a Christmas season special in its own right, not as part of an anthology series. The 1959 telecast was hosted by comedian Red Skelton and his daughter Valentina. This broadcast attracted an even wider audience, because children were able to watch, and thus began the tradition of showing the film annually on television.
Another rare instance of Ford Star Jubilee presenting a filmed, rather than live, program was their 1956 musical version of Maxwell Anderson's High Tor, starring Bing Crosby and Julie Andrews. Music was by Arthur Schwartz, noted composer of such scores as those for The Band Wagon and Revenge with Music. Crosby, according to sources, had insisted the production be filmed rather than presented live, because he did not feel comfortable acting in a live television musical play.[1] Although it was filmed in color, the musical version of High Tor has never been released on VHS or DVD.

September 24, 1970
The Odd Couple is a television situation comedy broadcast from September 24, 1970 to March 7, 1975 on ABC

It stars Tony Randall as Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as Oscar Madison, and was the first of several developed by Garry Marshall for Paramount Television. The show is based upon the play of the same name, which was written by Neil Simon.

September 24, 1985
The first episode of "Growing Pains" aired on ABC. 
The Seaver family resides at 15 Robin Hood Lane in Huntington, Long Island, New York. Dr. Jason Seaver, a psychiatrist, works from home because his wife, Maggie, has gone back to work as a reporter. Jason has to take care of the kids: ladies man Mike, bookish honors student Carol, and rambunctious Ben. A fourth child, Chrissy Seaver, is born in 1988. In the beginning, she is played in her infant stage by twins. In season six, Chrissy's age was advanced to six years old.

September 25, 1965
The half hour Saturday morning cartoon "The Beatles" premiered on ABC-TV.
The Beatles is an American animated television series featuring the fanciful and musical misadventures of the popular English rock band of the same name. It ran from 1965 to 1969 on ABC in the US (only 1965 to 1967 was first run; later transmissions were reruns). The series debuted on September 25, 1965 and ended on September 7, 1969. A total of 39 episodes were produced. The series was shown on Saturday mornings at 10:30 AM EST until the 1967 third season when it was moved to 12:00 PM EST. For the fourth season, which consisted of reruns, the series was shown at 9:30 AM EST on Sunday mornings. Each episode has a name of a Beatles song, so the story is based on its lyrics and it is also played at some time in the episode. The original series was rebroadcast in syndication by MTV in 1986 and 1987 and on the Disney Channel.[1] The series was a historical milestone as the first weekly television series to feature animated versions of real, living people.

September 25, 1970
The Partridge Family premieres on ABC television. 

Unwilling to rest as a one-hit wonder when its first big hit, The Monkees, went off the air in 1968, the television production company Screen Gems wasted no time in trying to repeat its success. On this day in 1970, in the 8:30 p.m. time slot immediately following The Brady Bunch, ABC premiered a program that would give Screen Gems its second TV-to-pop-chart smash: The Partridge Family.
If the Beatles served as the inspiration for The Monkees, it was the real-life family act the Cowsills that inspired Screen Gems to dream up The Partridge Family. Originally made up of four teenage brothers (Bill, Bob, Barry and John), the Cowsills scored their first top-40 hit with "The Rain, The Park & Other Things" (1967) after adding their mother to the lineup. They earned three more hits in 1968 with "We Can Fly," "Indian Lake" and "Hair" after adding two additional younger siblings, and it was in this configuration that they caught the eyes of the folks at Screen Gems. In fact, Screen Gems approached the Cowsill family about having the children star in the show that would eventually become The Partridge Family, but the family demurred when it learned that actress Shirley Jones, and not Barbara Cowsill, would be playing the role of Shirley Partridge. Undaunted, Screen Gems hired four non-singing child actors for the roles of Laurie, Danny, Chris and Tracy Partridge and one future teen idol, David Cassidy, for the role of Keith.
In the pilot episode of The Partridge Family, the five children of a widowed single mother convince their mom to join them in their garage recording sessions and then watch their first record, "I Think I Love You" become a #1 pop hit. In a case not so much of life imitating art as of a brilliant marketing machine replicating its earlier success, the song "I Think I Love You" raced to the top of the real-life pop charts less than two months after its television debut.
However, hits like "I Think I Love You" and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning" were not actually recorded by a five siblings and their mom in a garage. The Partridge Family's hits were recorded by some of the best professional musicians working in Los Angeles at the time, including drummer Hal Blaine and the other studio musicians known as the Wrecking Crew. The Partridge Family did, however, launch David Cassidy on a short-lived career as an actual pop singer, and it also, according to news reports, inspired some misguided runaways to show up on Shirley Jones' Beverly Hills lawn in the hopes that she might adopt them into her television family.

September 26th, 1960
The Beverly Hillbillies is an American situation comedy originally broadcast for nine seasons on CBS from 1962 to 1971, starring Buddy EbsenIrene RyanDonna Douglas, and Max Baer, Jr.
The series is about a poor backwoods family transplanted to Beverly Hills, California, after striking oil on their land. A Filmways production created by writer Paul Henning, it is the first in a genre of “fish out of water” themed television shows, and was followed by other Henning-inspired country-cousin series on CBS. In 1963, Henning introduced Petticoat Junction, and in 1965 he reversed the rags to riches model for Green Acres. The show paved the way for later culture-conflict programs such as The JeffersonsMcCloudThe NannyThe Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Doc. Panned by many entertainment critics of its time, it quickly became a huge ratings success for most of its nine-year run on CBS.

September 26, 1960
First Kennedy-Nixon debate.

For the first time in U.S. history, a debate between major party presidential candidates is shown on television. The presidential hopefuls, John F. Kennedy, a Democratic senator of Massachusetts, and Richard M. Nixon, the vice president of the United States, met in a Chicago studio to discuss U.S. domestic matters.

Kennedy emerged the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly owing to his greater ease before the camera than Nixon, who, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21 the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate. Less than three weeks later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by his Republican opponent.

One year after leaving the vice presidency, Nixon returned to politics, winning the Republican nomination for governor of California. Although he lost the election, Nixon returned to the national stage in 1968 in a successful bid for the presidency. Like Lyndon Johnson in 1964, Nixon declined to debate his opponent in the 1968 presidential campaign. Televised presidential debates returned in 1976, and have been held in every presidential campaign since.



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

 



 

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Tony Figueroa
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