Monday, August 29, 2016

This Week in Television History: August 2016 PART V

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 29, 1966
Mia Farrow withdrew from the cast of the ABC-TV's Peyton Place.
Farrow left the series in 1966 at the urging of Frank Sinatra whom she married on July 19, 1966.

August 31, 1946
Foghorn J. Leghorn first appeared. 

"Walky Talky Hawky" from Foghorn Leghorn Quotes on Vimeo.
The character of Foghorn Leghorn was directly inspired by the popular character of Senator Claghorn, a blustery Southern politician played by Kenny Delmar who was a regular character onThe Fred Allen Show, a popular radio show of the 1940s. The rooster adopted many of Claghorn's catch phrases, such as "That's a joke, ah say, that's a joke, son." Delmar had based the character of Claghorn upon a Texas rancher who was fond of saying this.

September 3, 1966
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet airs its last episode. 

The sitcom focused on the comic antics of a young family based on the real-life family of show founders and stars Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. The show premiered as a radio comedy in 1944 and ran for 10 years. Even before the radio show ended, a TV version launched in 1952; the television show ran until 1966. The Nelson's two sons, Ricky and David, played themselves on the TV version.

September 3, 1991

It’s a Wonderful Life director Capra dies. 

On this day in 1991, Frank Capra, a leading Hollywood director in the 1930s and 1940s whose movies include the now-classic You Can’t Take It With You, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It’s a Wonderful Life, dies at the age of 94 at his home in La Quinta, California. According to his obituary in the New York Times: “Capra movies were idealistic, sentimental and patriotic. His major films embodied his flair for improvisation and spontaneity, buoyant humor and sympathy for the populist beliefs of the 1930s.”

Capra was born in Sicily, on May 18, 1897, and as a young boy sailed to America in steerage with his family, who settled in Los Angeles. After graduating from the California Institute of Technology and serving in the U.S. Army, Capra worked his way up through the movie industry; he had his first big success as a director with 1933’s Lady for a Day, which received a Best Picture Academy Award nomination. The following year, Capra helmed the comedy It Happened One Night, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert. The film took home Oscars in five categories: Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actor and Actress. Capra won a second Best Director Oscar for Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936), which starred Gary Cooper as a man who inherits a large fortune and wants to use it to help Depression-era families. Capra received a third Best Director Oscar for You Can’t Take It With You (1938), a movie about an eccentric family that starred James Stewart, Jean Arthur and Lionel Barrymore and was based on the Pulitzer prize-winning play of the same name by Moss Hart and George Kaufman.
In 1940, Capra took home a fourth Best Director Oscar for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), which featured Stewart as an incorruptible U.S. senator. 

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Capra joined the Army again and during his time in the service made several well-received propaganda films, including Prelude to War (1943), which earned an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Capra went on to co-write and direct 1946’s It’s a Wonderful Life, perhaps his best-known work. The film again starred Stewart, this time as George Bailey, a small-town man who is saved from suicide by a guardian angel. Although the film was considered a box-office disappointment when it was first released, it garnered five Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture, and eventually gained widespread appeal when it was broadcast annually on TV around Christmastime, starting in the 1970s.
Capra’s final film was Pocketful of Miracles (1961), a remake of Lady for a Day starring Bette Davis as a street vendor who needs to remake herself into a society dame in order not to disappoint her daughter.

September 4, 1966
The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon was an annual telethon held each Labor Day in the United States to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). The show was founded and hosted by actor and comedian Jerry Lewis, who hosted the broadcast from its 1966 inception until 2010.  The history of MDA's telethon dated back to the 1950s, when the Jerry Lewis Thanksgiving Party for MDA raised funds for the organization's New York City area operations. The telethon was held annually on Labor Day weekend beginning in 1966, and would raise $2.45 billion for MDA from its inception through 2009.
The telethon aired up to 21½ hours, starting on the Sunday evening preceding Labor Day and continuing until late Monday afternoon on the holiday itself. MDA called its network of participating stations the "Love Network". The show originated from Las Vegas for 28 of the years it was broadcast.
Beginning in 2011, coinciding with Lewis's controversial departure, MDA radically reformatted and shortened the telethon's format into that of a benefit concert, shortening the length of the special each successive year. The 2011 edition was seen exclusively on the Sunday evening before Labor Day for six hours; This edition, syndicated to approximately 160 television stations throughout the United States on September 4, 2011, Nigel LythgoeJann CarlAlison Sweeney and Nancy O'Dell were brought on as co-hosts. shared hosting duties for the 2011 edition.
Successive telethons from 2012 to 2014 renamed the show as the MDA Show of Strength and further cut its airtime. The 2012 edition aired on Sunday, September 2, 2012; the job of renaming the new show was given to MDA's advertising agency E.B. Lane (now LaneTerralever). Mark Itkowitz, their Exec. Creative Director came up with the name MDA Show of Strength and it quickly gained internal approval. The 2012 edition was reduced to three hours as a primetime-only broadcast. The telethon aired at 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific Time, and was seen live in the Eastern and Central time zones.
The 2012 edition did not refer itself as a "telethon". The 2013 Show of Strength discontinued the long-standing format of being syndicated to individual stations of varying network affiliation and aired on a major national network instead of being syndicated to individual stations, airing on ABC on Sunday, September 1, 2013, and being reduced to two hours. While the 2012 edition did not refer itself as a "telethon", it referred itself as such for the 2013 edition.
The final edition, for 2014, aired on ABC on August 31, again as a two-hour special beginning at 9PM ET/PT. This was the final edition for the telethon, as it was announced on May 1, 2015 that the MDA would be discontinuing the annual event.

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

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Tony Figueroa
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