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Today in History: Friday, April 23, 2021

© by Photo courtesy of NBC

Television and Radio: 
Game show “Whew, hosted by Tom Kennedy, launched on CBS in daytime in 1979. It ran for one year…The pilot episode of the long-running beach-themed drama “Baywatch” debuted as a TV movie on NBC in 1989…Also in 1989, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar played his last regular season game in the NBA…Canadian TV movie “Due South,” which introduced the four season comical detective drama, aired on CBS in 1994…“Forensic Files”, the documentary-style program that profiles crime investigations via scientific methods, debuted on TLC in 1996. Originally titled “Medical Detectives”, its initial run was 14 seasons where it aired on Court TV, truTV and briefly, in 2002, on NBC. Reruns currently air on HLN, along with the 2020 rebooted series “Forensic Files II”…Cartoon Network debuted two animated series in 2010: “Ben 10: Ultimate Alien” and “Generation Rex”. Each lasted for three seasons…Two short-lived unscripted series launched: NBC reality prank comedy “The Real Wedding Crashers” in 2007 and MTV docuseries “Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life” in 2013…“Girl Code”, the comedy spin-off to “Guy Code” where actresses, musicians, stand-up comics discuss the sisterhood that women share, debuted on MTV in 2013. A total of 75 episodes within the span of two years had aired. The series was revived on the social media platform Snapchat in 2017. The revival ran for one year…Sports drama “Games People Play” debuted on BET in 2019. “Claws” star Karrueche Tran joins the cast for its upcoming second season…Eleven short-lived series concluded: NBC daytime game show 1) “Blockbusters” in 1982; ABC late-night sketch comedy 2) “Fridays” in 1982; 3) CBS high school comedy “Fast Times” in 1986; 4) Fox sketch comedy “House of Buggin” in 1995; 5) ABC sitcom “Arsenio” in 1997; 6) CBS police drama “Turks” in 1999; 7) ABC sitcom “Married to the Kellys” in 2004; 8) Fox action-drama “Drive” in 2007; 9) CW talent competition “Pussycat Dolls Present” in 2008; 10) A&E crime drama “The Beast” in 2009 — the last project starring Patrick Swayze; 11) NBC reality series “Ready for Love” in 2013…NBC’s reboot of  “Will & Grace” concluded after three seasons in 2020. Combined with the original run from 1998 to 2006 and that is a total of 11 seasons (and 246 episodes)…Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), Meredith Grey’s (Ellen Pompeo) longtime flame, died in an automobile accident in the “Grey’s Anatomy” episode entitled “How To Save A Life” in 2015. It was that season’s second most-watched episode (its season premiere slightly drew more) and was the conclusion of Dempsey’s initial 11-year stint on the long-running medical drama. The character of Shepherd returned this season in Grey’s dreams while she was in a COVID-19-related coma…“Being Mary Jane”, the drama centered on the life of a female TV news anchor (Gabrielle Union), concluded as a two-hour movie special on BET in 2019. Winner of three NAACP Image Awards throughout its run, it aired for 52 episodes across five condensed seasons.

Movies:
US gangster film “The Public Enemy” starring James Cagney and Jean Harlow opened in theaters in 1931…Theatrical “Election, starring Reese Witherspoon, opened in theaters in 1999…Marvel’s “Avengers: Infinity War” starring Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr. premiered in Los Angeles in 2018.

Broadway:
Peter Townshend’s musical “Tommy” opened in New York City in 1993.

Music:
Song releases: Thelma Houston’s “Don’t Leave Me This Way” in 1977; “Come on Eileen” by Dexys Midnight Runners in 1983; and Whitney Houston’s “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” in 1988…Fatboy Slim released single “Weapon of Choice” in 2001…The first video was uploaded to YouTube.com in 2005…The iTunes Tunes Music Store reached 1 billion applications downloaded. in 2009…Beyonce released her sixth album, “Lemonade”, in 2016.

News:
In 1985, the Coca-Cola introduced “The New Coke,” which was the first formula change in 99 years. It was renamed “Coke II” in 1992, and then faded into the soft drink sunset.

Sports:
In 2020, the NFL Draft aired across ABC, ESPN and NFL Network. With a nationwide lockdown on major events including sports having occurred six weeks prior, this draft — taking place remotely among TV staff and teams’ personnel — was seen as America’s first major sports-related event of the pandemic. At a combined 15.6 million viewers, it became the most-watched NFL Draft ever, smashing the previous record set two years prior by over 4 million.

Celebrity Birthdays:
William Shakespeare was born in 1564. He passed on this same date in 1616…Actor David Birney (“St. Elsewhere,” “Serpico”) is 82; Lee Majors (“The Six Million Dollar Man,” “The Fall Guy”) is also 82; actress Blair Brown (“The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd”) is 74; “Three’s Company” star Joyce DeWitt is 72; documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is 67; actress Judy Davis is 66; “One Day at a Time” and “Hot in Cleveland” star Valerie Bertinelli is 61; comedian George Lopez is 60; 
Melina Kanakaredes (“Providence,” “CSI: NY”) is 54; Kal Penn (“Harold and Kumar”) is 44; late night talk show host John Oliver is 44; wrestler John Cena is also 44.

-Did You Know?
In the fall of 1972, David Birney was featured opposite his then wife Meredith Baxter Birney in CBS sitcom “Bridget Loves Birney.” Despite a 5th place finish for the season (it aired out of “All in the Family”), the then controversial nature of the show (newlyweds Bridget and Bernie were of a mixed faith – she was Catholic; he was Jewish) resulted in its premature cancellation after one season…NBC axed “Baywatch” after just one season, but it lived on for another 10 seasons in first-run syndication. In the fall of 1999, it officially became “Baywatch Hawaii.” The spin-off “Baywatch Nights” aired from 1995 to 1997. In 2017, a film based on the series was released starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Priyanka Chopra.