Monday, January 30, 2017

This Week in Television History: January 2017 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.


January 30, 1977
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries debuted on ABC. ABC turned teenage detectives Frank and Joe Hardy, lead characters of The Hardy Boys book series, into TV stars with The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. The series starred teen heartthrobs Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy as the Hardy brothers; actress Pamela Sue Martin portrayed amateur sleuth Nancy Drew.
At first, the Hardy Boys Mysteries and Nancy Drew Mysteries — which were based on the young adult novels written under the pseudonyms Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene, respectively — alternated on ABC’s Sunday night schedule. By the second season, Martin’s Nancy Drew was incorporated into the Hardy Boys’ mysteries, a move that prompted the actress to leave the show before the season’s end. She was replaced by Janet Louise Johnson.

The show’s title was shortened to The Hardy Boys Mysteries for its third and final season.

February 1, 1887
Official registration of Hollywood. On this day in 1887, Harvey Wilcox officially registers Hollywood with the Los Angeles County recorder’s office. 
Wilcox and his wife, Daeida, had moved to Southern California four years earlier from Topeka, Kansas, where Harvey had made his fortune in real estate. They bought 160 acres of land in the Cahuenga Valley, located in the foothills to the west of the city of Los Angeles. A once-sleepy settlement founded in 1781 as El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles de Poricuncula, Los Angeles was by then expanding rapidly thanks to the completion of the Southern Pacific Railroad in 1876 (the Santa Fe Railroad would arrive in 1885).
Wilcox, who had lost the use of his legs as a child due to polio, envisioned the land as the perfect site for a utopian-like community for devout Christians, where they could live a highly moral life free of vices such as alcohol (Wilcox was a prohibitionist). Daeida Wilcox called the new community “Hollywood,” borrowing the name from a Chicago friend who told her that was the name of a summer home she had in the Midwest. Harvey laid out a street map of the settlement, centered on a main street he called Prospect Avenue (it was later renamed Hollywood Boulevard). After filing the map with the L.A. County recorder’s office, Wilcox set about laying out Hollywood’s streets, made of dirt and lined with pepper trees.
As Harvey sold lots, Daeida worked to raise money to build churches, a school and a library. By 1900, nine years after Harvey Wilcox’s death, Hollywood had a population of 500, compared with 100,000 people in Los Angeles at the time. It was connected to L.A. by a single-track streetcar running down Prospect Avenue; it took two hours to make the seven-mile trip, and service was infrequent. In 1910, the community of Hollywood voted to consolidate with Los Angeles due to an inadequate supply of water. Shortly thereafter, the fledgling motion-picture industry began growing exponentially, as moviemakers found their ideal setting in the mild, sunny climate and varied terrain of Southern California. As the years went by, Harvey Wilcox’s dreams of a sober, conservative religious community faded even further into the background, as Hollywood became known throughout the world as the gilded center of an industry built on fantasy, fame and glamour.

February 1, 1937
Garrett Gonzalez Morris is born. 

The comedian and actor from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was part of the original cast of the sketch comedy program Saturday Night Live, appearing from 1975 to 1980. In 1986, Morris began playing a regular occasional character, "Arnold 'Sporty' James," on the NBC cop drama Hunter, starring Fred Dryer and Stepfanie Kramer. Morris continually appeared as "Sporty" on "Hunter" through 1989.

In 1994, he was shot in an apparent robbery attempt but went on to make a full recovery. In a radio interview, he mentioned that the robber who shot him was eventually incarcerated, and in prison some fans of Morris's who happened to be inmates there teamed up and beat up the robber in revenge.
Morris starred on Martin as Martin's first boss Stan. Morris's shooting had caused him to be unable to continue in the role, and he was written out of the show by having the character become a national fugitive. The scene where he is about to undergo plastic surgery was shot on the hospital bed Morris occupied while recuperating from the 1994 assault.

February 1, 1982

Late Night with David Letterman debuted. 

After his morning show on NBC got cancelled in October 1980 after only 18 weeks on the air, David Letterman was still held in sufficient regard by the network brass (especially NBC president Fred Silverman) that upon hearing the 33-year-old comedian is being courted by a syndication company, NBC gave him a $20,000 per week deal to sit out a year and guest-host a few times on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.

February 2, 1937
Thomas Bolin "Tom" Smothers III is born. 

Comedian, composer and musician, best known as half of the musical comedy team the Smothers Brothers, alongside his younger brother Dick.

February 2, 1947
Farrah Fawcett is born. 
A multiple Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominee, Fawcett rose to international fame when she first appeared as private investigator Jill Munroe in the TV series Charlie's Angels in 1976. Fawcett later appeared off-Broadway to the approval of critics and in highly rated television movies in roles often challenging (The Burning Bed, Nazi Hunter: The Beate Klarsfeld Story, Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story, Margaret Bourke-White) and sometimes unsympathetic (Small Sacrifices). Fawcett was also a pop culture figure whose hairstyle was emulated by millions of young women and whose poster sales broke records, making her an international sex symbol in the 1970s and 1980s.

February 5, 1967
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour first aired. 

The comedy and variety show hosted by the Smothers Brothers aired on CBS from 1967 to 1969. The show started out as only a slightly "hip" version of the typical comedy-variety show of its era, but rapidly evolved into a show that extended the boundaries of what was considered permissible in television satire. While the Smothers themselves were at the forefront of these efforts, credit also goes to the roster of writers and regular performers they brought to the show, including Jim Stafford (who served as their head writer and producer), Steve Martin, Don Novello ("Father Guido Sarducci"), Rob Reiner ("Mike Stivic"), Presidential candidate Pat Paulsen, Bob Einstein ("Super Dave Osborne", "Marty Funkhouser", and "Officer Judy"), Einstein's brother, Albert (who works professionally as Albert Brooks), and resident hippie Leigh French ("Share a Little Tea with Goldie"). The show also introduced audiences to pop singer Jennifer Warnes (originally billed as Jennifer Warren or simply Jennifer), who was a regular on the series. The television premiere of Mason Williams' hit record, Classical Gas, took place on the show.

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

Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa


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