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 8, 1956
The Dumont network made its final telecast.
The DuMont Television Network was one of the world's pioneer commercial television networks, rivalling NBC and CBS for the distinction of being first overall in the USA. It began operation in the United States in 1946. It was owned byDuMont Laboratories, a television equipment and set manufacturer. The network was hindered by the prohibitive cost of broadcasting, by regulations imposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which restricted the company's growth, and even by the company's partner, Paramount Pictures. Despite several innovations in broadcasting and the creation of one of television's biggest stars of the 1950s (Jackie Gleason), the network never found itself on solid financial ground. Forced to expand on UHF channels during an era when UHF was not yet a standard feature on television sets, DuMont fought an uphill battle for program clearances outside of their three owned-and-operated stations in New York, Washington and Pittsburgh, finally ending network operations in 1956. DuMont's last broadcast, a boxing match, aired on August 6, 1956.
DuMont's latter-day obscurity, caused mainly by the destruction of its extensive program archive by the 1970s, has prompted TV historian David Weinstein to refer to it as the "Forgotten Network" or "Network Is Long Gone". A few popular DuMont programs, such as Cavalcade of Stars and Emmy Award winner Life Is Worth Living, appear in television retrospectives or are mentioned briefly in books about U.S. television history.
August 11, 1921
Alex Haley, author of Roots (1976), was born in Ithaca, New York.
After 20 years in the U.S. Coast Guard, Haley retired and wrote books, including The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965). In 1976, he published his best-known work, Roots: The Saga of an American Family. The blend of fact and fiction, drawn largely from stories recited by Haley's grandmother, chronicles seven generations of Haley's family history, from the enslavement of his ancestors to his own quest to trace his family tree.
Roots became a TV miniseries in 1977. The eight-part series was aired on consecutive nights and became the most watched dramatic show in TV history. Some 130 million people-nearly half the country's population at the time--watched the final episode of the series. Haley died on Feb. 10, 1992.