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This Day in History: Friday, March 18, 2022

© by CBS

Fans of “M*A*S*H” were shocked when Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) was killed after his plane is shot down over the Sea of Japan in the third-season finale in 1975. This was the first time in television history that a main character on a series died in a tragic way. Wayne Rogers as “Trapper John” McIntyre also appeared for the last time in that episode, but his departure came during the break between seasons when he asked to be released from his contract…Superhero dramedy “The Greatest American Hero” starring William KattRobert Culp and Connie Sellecca debuted on ABC in 1981. The series lasted for three seasons; 45 episodes of 50 produced had aired. Its theme song “Theme from The Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)“, co-written by Mike Post (theme songs for “Law & Order” and “Magnum, P.I.”) and sung by Joey Scarbury, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August 1981…Teen sitcom “The Suite Life of Zack & Cody”, starring Dylan and Cole Sprouse, debuted on the Disney Channel in 2005. It ran for three seasons…Several short-lived series launched: boarding school sitcom “Social Studies” on UPN in 1997 starring Julia Duffy; high school guidance counselor comedy “Miss/Guided” on ABC in 2007 starring Judy Greer and Brooke Burns; workplace comedy “Better Off Ted” on ABC in 2009 starring Jay Harrington and Portia de Rossi; detective drama “Instinct” on CBS in 2018 starring Alan Cumming; game show “Genius Junior” on NBC in 2018 hosted by Neil Patrick Harris; and murder mystery “The Fix” on ABC in 2019 starring Robin Tunney and co-produced by former O.J. Simpson trial prosecutor Marcia Clark…Two youth-oriented series each reached their respective 100th-episode milestones: “One Tree Hill” on The CW in 2008 and “Glee” on Fox in 2014…Reality series “Supernanny” starring Jo Frost concluded its seven-season run on ABC in 2011. Lifetime revived it in 2020 with the return of Frost…”Bates Motel“, the series adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic thriller “Psycho“, debuted on A&E in 2013. The drama was developed by Carlton Cuse (“Lost”) and Kerry Ehrin (“Friday Night Lights”) and starred Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as mother-and-son Norma and Norman Bates. A total of 50 episodes across five seasons had aired…The first season finale of hip-hop prime time soap “Empire” aired on Fox in 2015. One of the 2010s decade’s biggest instant hits, the episode drew 23.1 million viewers in Live+7 data — 65 percent larger than its series premiere figures…The first three episodes of the eight-episode miniseries “Little Fires Everywhere” were released on Hulu in 2020. The drama, based on the best-selling novel by Celeste Ng, centered on a matriarch (Reese Witherspoon) of a seemingly picture-perfect suburban family who cross paths with a single mother (Kerry Washington) and her daughter in the Ohio town of Shaker Heights.

Two classic hit songs reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: from the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack, “Night Fever” by The Bee Gees in 1978; Destiny’s Child‘s “Say My Name” in 2000…. The Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

In 1945, Maurice “Rocket” Richard became the first NHL player to score 50 goals.

Barnum & Bailey Circus, traveling as “The Greatest Show on Earth”, debuted at Madison Square Garden in New York City in 1881… President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill that established Hawaii as the 50th state of the Union in 1959…In 1965, Cosmonaut Alexey Leonov left his spacecraft Voskhod 2 for 12 minutes to become the first person to walk in space.

Celebrity Birthdays:
Singer Irene Cara (“Fame”) is 63; film director Luc Besson (“The Fifth Element”) is also 63; actor Geoffrey Owens (“The Cosby Show”) is 61; TV personality Mike Rowe (“Dirty Jobs”) is 60; singer-actress Vanessa Williams (“Desperate Housewives,” ″Ugly Betty”) is 59; Olympic gold medalist speed skater Bonnie Blair is 58; actor David Cubitt (“Medium”) is 57; actor Michael Bergin (“Baywatch”) is 53; rapper-actor Queen Latifah is 52; comedian Dane Cook (“Employee of the Month”) is 50; actress Sutton Foster (“Younger”) is 47; “Monday Night Football” analyst Brian Griese is also 47; singer Adam Levine of Maroon 5 is 43; actor Adam Pally (“The Mindy Project”) is 40; actor Cornelius Smith Jr. (“Scandal”) is also 40; actress Lily Collins (“Emily in Paris”) is 33; actress Ciara Bravo (“Big Time Rush”) is 25; actor Blake Garrett Rosenthal (“Mom”) is 18.

Did You Know?
Pernell Roberts inherited the role of “Trapper John” McIntyre in medical drama spin-off “Trapper John, MD., which aired on CBS from 1979 to 1986. Roberts, of course, is also remembered for his six year (1959-65) stint as Adam Cartwright on classic NBC western “Bonanza.” Unlike other actors who exit hit TV series prematurely (think aforementioned McLean Stevenson), Roberts for the most part did not receive any negative press for his departure.