Monday, March 26, 2018

This Week in Television History: March 2017 PART IV

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.


March 27, 1973
Marlon Brando declines Best Actor Oscar. 
Marlon Brando declines the Academy Award for Best Actor for The Godfather. The Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather attended the ceremony in Brando’s place, stating that the actor “very regretfully” could not accept the award, as he was protesting Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans in film.
Now revered by many as the greatest actor of his generation, Brando earned his first Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the brutish Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The role was a reprisal of Brando’s incendiary performance in the 1947 stage production of Tennessee Williams’ play, which first brought him to the public’s attention. Nominated again for roles in Viva Zapata! (1952) and Julius Caesar (1953), he won his first Academy Award for On the Waterfront (1954).
Brando’s career went into decline in the 1960s, with expensive flops such as One-Eyed Jacks (1961), which he also directed, and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). Aside from his preternatural talent, the actor had become notorious for his moodiness and demanding on-set behavior, as well as his tumultuous off-screen life. Francis Ford Coppola, the young director of The Godfather, had to fight to get him cast in the coveted role of Vito Corleone. Brando won the role only after undergoing a screen test and cutting his fee to $250,000--far less than what he had commanded a decade earlier. With one of the most memorable screen performances of all time, Brando rejuvenated his career, and The Godfather became an almost-immediate classic.
On the eve of the 1972 Oscars, Brando announced that he would boycott the ceremony, and would send Littlefeather in his place. After Brando’s name was announced as Best Actor, the presenter Roger Moore (star of several James Bond films) attempted to hand the Oscar to Littlefeather, but she brushed it aside, saying that Brando could not accept the award. Littlefeather read a portion of a lengthy statement Brando had written, the entirety of which was later published in the press, including The New York Times. “The motion picture community has been as responsible as any,” Brando wrote, “for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character, describing his as savage, hostile and evil.”
Brando had been involved in social causes for years, speaking publicly in support of the formation of a Jewish state in the 1940s, as well as for African-American civil rights and the Black Panther Party. His Oscar statement expressed support for the American Indian Movement (AIM) and referenced the ongoing situation at Wounded Knee, the South Dakota town that had been seized by AIM members the previous month and was currently under siege by U.S. military forces. Wounded Knee had also been the site of a massacre of Native Americans by U.S. government forces in 1890.
Brando was the second performer to turn down a Best Actor Oscar; the first was George C. Scott, who politely declined to accept his award for Patton in 1971 and reportedly said of the Academy Awards hoopla: “I don’t want any part of it.” Scott had previously declined a Best Supporting Actor nomination for The Hustler (1961). 


March 31, 2003
The first season of "American Chopper" began. 
American Chopper is an American reality television series that aired on Discovery Channel from 2003-2010, produced by Pilgrim Films & Television. The series centers on Paul Teutul Sr. (frequently called Senior), and his son Paul Teutul Jr. (also known as Paulie or simply Junior), who manufacture custom chopper-style motorcyclesOrange County Choppers is in Newburgh, New York. The contrasting work and creative styles of the father and son team and their resulting verbal arguments were the series' hallmark until 2008 when an explosive argument led to Paul Jr.'s termination and departure to start a competing chopper company (Paul Jr. Designs).

The series originally aired on Discovery Channel beginning in March 2003. In December 2007, the series moved to Discovery's sister channel TLC, starting off with an 18-hour marathon. Its first TLC season premiered in January 2008. Season 6 began in April 2009 but the series was canceled by TLC in February 2010. In July 2010, TLC announced that the Teutuls would return in a new series, American Chopper: Senior vs. Junior. Senior vs. Junior premiered on TLC but was soon moved to Discovery halfway through the first season. Discovery Channel announced that the show would end with "The Chopper Live: The Revenge" show on December 11, 2012 after 10 seasons.

April 1, 1949
The first TV variety show starring an African-American cast debuts. The show, Happy Pappy, starred Ray Grant as master of ceremonies. It first aired on local television in Chicago.

April 1, 1963
Soap operas General Hospital and The Doctors premiere. 

The ABC television network airs the premiere episode of General Hospital, the daytime drama that will become the network’s most enduring soap opera and the longest-running serial program produced in Hollywood. On the same day, rival network NBC debuts its own medical-themed soap opera, The Doctors.
By setting their new shows in a hospital, both networks were attempting to capitalize on the popularity of prime-time medical dramas such as Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey. Set in the fictional upstate New York town of Port Charles, General Hospital focused on the lives of the doctors, nurses and patients of the town’s General Hospital, including Dr. Steve Hardy (John Beradino) and Nurse Audrey March (Rachel Ames). The central character of The Doctors was Dr. Matthew Powers (James Pritchett), chief of staff of Hope Memorial Hospital, located in the fictional New England town of Madison.
In contrast to General Hospital, The Doctors first ran as an anthology series, with each episode focusing on a single plotline. It later ran as a weekly serial and became a full-fledged daily soap in March 1964. For most of its run, the show was largely sponsored by the Colgate-Palmolive Company, makers of Fab detergent, Palmolive dish liquid and Irish Spring soap, among many other products. The tagline of The Doctors, announced at the beginning of each episode, was “a daytime drama series dedicated to the brotherhood of healing.” The Doctors won numerous Emmy Awards, including Best Daytime Drama in 1972 and 1974, Best Actress for Elizabeth Hubbard (who played Dr. Althea Davis) in 1974 and Best Actor for Pritchett in 1978. Some of the notable actors that have appeared on The Doctors include Ellen Burstyn, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner and Armand Assante. With ratings declining steadily after 1975, The Doctors was canceled in 1982, just months before its 30th anniversary.
For its part, General Hospital has remained on the air for more than four decades, making it ABC’s longest-running soap opera. Though falling ratings in the late 1970s threatened the show’s existence, it turned things around and become a hit with younger audiences in the early 1980s. Some of its more popular ongoing storylines involved the “super couple” Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) and Laura Webber (Genie Francis), whose 1981 wedding was the most-watched event in daytime television history. In June 2008, the show won a record-breaking 10th Emmy Award for Best Daytime Drama.

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


Stay Tuned


Tony Figueroa
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