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.
January 23, 1977
The miniseries Roots debuts on ABC.
The show traced four generations of an African-American family based on the family of author Alex Haley. Running for eight consecutive days, the miniseries became the single most watched program in American history, drawing about 100 million viewers.
January 24, 1917
Ernest Borgnine was born Ermes Effron Borgnino.
The American film and television actor whose career spanned more than six decades. He was an unconventional lead in many films of the 1950s, winning the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1955 for Marty. On television, he played Quinton McHale in the 1962–1966 series McHale's Navy and co-starred in the mid-1980s action seriesAirwolf, in addition to a wide variety of other roles. Borgnine earned an Emmy Award nomination at age 92 for his work on the series ER. He was also known for being the original voice of Mermaid Man on SpongeBob SquarePants from 1999 to 2012.
Borgnine died of kidney failure on July 8, 2012 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California with his family at his side. He was 95 years old.
January 25, 1937
NBC radio presented the first broadcast of The Guiding Light.
The show remained on radio until 1956 and began on CBS-TV in 1952.
January 28, 1957
Jack Lescoulie takes over the short lived Tonight! America After Dark.
Rather than continuing with the same format after Allen and Kovacs' departure from Tonight, NBC changed the show's format to a news and features show, similar to that of the network's popular morning program Today. The new show, renamed Tonight! America After Dark, was hosted first by Jack Lescoulie and then by Al "Jazzbo" Collins, with interviews conducted by Hy Gardner, and music provided by the Lou Stein Trio. This new version of the show was not popular, resulting in a significant number of NBC affiliates dropping the show.
January 29, 1977
Freddie Prinze’s family removed him from life support, and he died at 1:00 pm at the age of 22.
Prinze suffered from depression, and on January 28, 1977, shot himself with a small automatic pistol after talking on the telephone with his estranged wife. His business manager, Marvin "Dusty" Snyder, tried to intervene, but Prinze shot himself in the head, and was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center to be placed on life support following emergency surgery.
The death, initially ruled a suicide, was years later re-ruled accidental. Prinze had a history of playing with guns, faking suicide attempts to frighten his friends for his amusement. He had left a note stating that the decision to take his life was his alone, but because he pulled the trigger in the presence of a witness —it gave enough weight to the argument that he really was not planning to take his own life that night.