Monday, October 03, 2016

This Week in Television History: October 2016 PART I

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 3, 1951
CBS-TV aired the first coast-to-coast telecast of a prizefight. Dave Sands defeated Carl Olson at Soldier Field in Chicago.
 
October 3, 1961
The Dick Van Dyke Show preimeired on CBS. 
The Dick Van Dyke Show is an American television sitcom that initially aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System from October 3, 1961, until June 1, 1966. The show was created by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. It was produced by Reiner with Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. The music for the show's theme song was written by Earle Hagen. A three-camera/studio audience format was used during production.

The series won 15 Emmy Awards. In 2002, it was ranked #13 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

October 3, 1976
Quincy, M.E. (also called Quincy) first aired. 

Inspired by the book Where Death Delights by Marshall Houts, a former FBI agent, the show also resembled the earlier Canadian television series Wojeck, broadcast by CBC TelevisionJohn Vernon, who played the Wojeck title role, later guest starred in the third-season episode “Requiem For The Living”. Quincy’s character is loosely modelled on Los Angeles’ “Coroner to the Stars” Thomas Noguchi.

October 4, 1976
Barbara Walters joined Harry Reasoner at the anchor desk of the "ABC Evening News" for the first time.
Harry Reasoner, formerly of CBS News and 60 Minutes, joined ABC News in 1970 to co-anchor the relaunchedABC Evening News with Smith, beginning that December, replacing Reynolds. In 1975, Howard K. Smith was moved to a commentator role, and Reasoner briefly assumed sole-anchor responsibilities until he was paired with Barbara Walters, who became the first female network anchor when she joined the program in 1976.Ratings for the nightly news broadcast declined shortly thereafter, possibly due in part to the lack of chemistry between Reasoner and Walters. Reasoner would eventually return to CBS and 60 Minutes, while Walters became a regular on the newsmagazine 20/20.

October 4, 1981
Bruce Jenner and Harry Belafonte debuted in their first dramatic roles in NBC-TV's Grambling's White Tiger (also released as White Tiger in Europe). 

The true story of Jim Gregory (played by Bruce Jenner) the first white quarterback at Grambling College, a historically black college in 1962. The movie covers Gregory's freshman yearHarry Belafonte stars as Coach Eddie Robinson and LeVar Burton (already famous from Roots and later to be known for Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation) appears as Charles 'Tank' Smith, the first friend Jim Gregory makes on the team. The film is directed by Georg Stanford Brown.

October 4, 1986
Two men mugged Dan Rather in New York City, NY. 
While walking along Park Avenue to his apartment in Manhattan, Rather was attacked and punched from behind by a man who demanded to know "Kenneth, what is the frequency?" while a second assailant chased and beat him. As the assailant pummeled and kicked Rather, he kept repeating the question. In describing the incident, Rather said, "I got mugged. Who understands these things? I didn't and I don't now. I didn't make a lot of it at the time and I don't now. I wish I knew who did it and why, but I have no idea." Until the crime was resolved years later, Rather's description of the bizarre crime led some to doubt the veracity of his account, although the doorman and building supervisor who rescued Rather fully confirmed his version of events.
The assault remained unsolved for some time, and was referenced multiple times in popular culture. The phrase "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" became a popular-culture reference over the years, such as in a scene in the graphic novel Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron by cartoonist Daniel Clowes. In 1994, the band R.E.M. released the song "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" on their album Monster. Rather later sang with R.E.M. during a sound check prior to a gig at New York's Madison Square Garden, which was shown the following night on the Late Show with David Letterman before their performance of "Crush with Eyeliner".
In 1997, a TV critic writing in the New York Daily News solved the mystery, publishing a photo of the alleged assailant, William Tager, who received a 12 12 to 25-year prison sentence for killing NBC stagehand Campbell Montgomery outside The Today Show studio in 1994. Rather confirmed the story: "There's no doubt in my mind that this is the person." New York District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau said, "William Tager's identity as the man who attacked Mr. Rather was established in the course of an investigation by my office." Tager claimed he thought television networks were beaming signals into his brain when he murdered the stagehand, Tager was trying to force his way into a CBS studio with a weapon, in order to find out the frequency the networks were using to attack him, so that he could block it. As to why he said "Kenneth", Tager was Jewish, and may have actually been using the Yiddish word "goniff", meaning "thief". Tager was paroled in October 2010 and is believed to be living in New York City.

October 5, 1951
The Honeymooners was introduced during Jackie Gleason's first variety series Cavalcade of Stars
It originally aired on the DuMont network's Cavalcade of Stars, Jackie Gleason's variety show and subsequently on the CBS network's The Jackie Gleason Show, which was filmed in front of a live audience. It debuted as a half-hour series on October 1, 1955. Although initially a ratings success—becoming the #2 show in the United States during its first season—it faced stiff competition from The Perry Como Show, and eventually dropped to #19, ending its production after only 39 episodes (now referred to as the "Classic 39"). The final episode ofThe Honeymooners aired on September 22, 1956. Creator/producer Jackie Gleason revived the series sporadically until 1978.The Honeymooners was one of the first U.S. television shows to portray working-class married couples in a gritty, non-idyllic manner (the show is set mostly in the Kramdens' kitchen, in a neglected Brooklyn apartment building). The program is also popular internationally, particularly in CanadaPoland and Scandinavian countries Norway and Sweden.

October 5, 1986
Business World began airing on ABC-TV.

An ABC News Sunday-morning review of economic and financial stories was the first regularly scheduled weekly business series on network TV.
October 9, 1986
Joan Rivers debuted her new The Late Show on the FOX network.
After a moderate start, ratings for the talk show soon sagged. The ratings struggles also made it hard for Fox to attract affiliates for its primetime launch on April 5, 1987. Some prospective affiliates, such as Milwaukee's WCGV-TV, would only sign with the network if they did not have to carry The Late Show. KPTMin Omaha refused outright out of loyalty to Carson, who hailed from Corning, Iowa, east of Omaha and started his career on local radio and television. The network acquiesced to allow some stations out of that obligation so that the network launched in primetime with as many affiliates as possible, at the cost of ratings and access to The Late Show. For instance, at the time the show launched Fox had not closed on its purchase of its Boston station, WXNE-TV (nowWFXT). That station's previous owners, the Christian Broadcasting Network, objected to the show's content and refused to clear it. As a result, until Fox took control of the station in January, its audio feed aired on a low-rated AM station.
The behind-the-scenes relations between Rivers and network executives quickly eroded, and Rivers was eventually fired in May 1987. For the final show, which aired May 15, 1987, the set was vandalized with toilet paper, slime, and shaving cream. Her guests were Howie MandelPee-Wee Herman, then-fledgling comedian Chris RockWendy O. Williams, and show stage manager Michelle Aller as her alter-ego Mavis Vegas Davis.[3][4] Soon afterward the program was renamed The Late Show and featured rotating guest hosts including Suzanne SomersRichard Belzer, and Robert Townsend. After firing prospective guest host Frank Zappa, producer John Scura replaced him with Arsenio Hall, who made his debut as a talk show host. Eventually, Hall was named the permanent replacement host in mid-1987.
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To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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