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Today in History: Friday, December 15, 2023

© by CBS

Television and Radio
Disney’s Davy Crockett, portrayed by Fess Parker, made his TV debut in 1954 on the ABC show “Disneyland.” In the editing room, the program was originally short on its alotted time. They added an animated segment to pad its length but Walt Disney suggested to enhance it there be a song about Crockett. Thus, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” was written in just 20 minutes and it went on to sell 18 million units thereafter…Two action dramas premiered on ABC in 1983: Sci-fi police drama “Automan” starring Desi Arnaz Jr.; and spy series “Masquerade” starring Rod Taylor and Oliver Reed. Both ran for only ran for 12 episodes…The clan called Brady reunited for original TV movie “A Very Brady Christmas” on CBS in 1988, which finished as the second most-watched movie of the year and led to short-lived dramedy “The Bradys”Jaleel White made his first appearance as Steve Urkel on ABC sitcom “Family Matters” in 1989…In 1956, game show “To Tell the Truth” debuted on CBS in primetime as “Nothing But the Truth” (but it became “To Tell the Truth” one week later).

Classic “Gone With the Wind starring Clark Gable, Vivien LeighOlivia de Havilland and Hattie McDaniel, opened in Atlanta in 1939. It won 8 Oscars including Best Film, Best Actress in a Lead Role (Leigh) and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (McDaniel)…“Spice World” movie starring girl group the Spice Girls premiered in the UK in 1997…“Million Dollar Baby”, directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman was released in theaters in 1993. It won 4 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Swank) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Freeman).

Single “Folsom Prison Blues” was released by Johnny Cash. It was Billboard Song of the Year…The Everly Brothers recorded single “Let it Be Me” in 1959… former N.W.A. rapper Dr. Dre‘s debut solo studio album “The Chronic” was released in 1992… “U Got It Bad” by Usher reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2001.

Celebrity Birthdays:
Singer Cindy Birdsong (The Supremes) is 84; drummer Dave Clark (The Dave Clark Five) is 84; actor Don Johnson (“Miami Vice”) is 74; director Julie Taymor (Broadway’s “The Lion King”) is 71; “Supergirl” film star Helen Slater is 60; actress Molly Price (“Third Watch”) is 58; actor Stuart Townsend (“Queen of the Damned”) is 51; actor Geoff Stults (“Grace and Frankie”) is 47; “The OC” star Adam Brody is 44; “Downton Abbey” star Michelle Dockery is 42; “Shameless” star Christian Isaiah is 16.

Did You Know?
Following the success of “A Very Brady Christmas,” the plan was to produce at least three new made-for television movies featuring the fictional Brady family. But CBS convinced creator Sherwood Schwartz that a new regular scheduled series would be a better idea, which led to “The Bradys.” Scheduled in the Friday 8 p.m. hour, ratings plummeted and this mishmash of comedy and drama Brady style was canceled after just six episodes…The original plan for Jaleel White on “Family Matters” was a one episode guest shot as Steve Urkel. Following the reaction from the audience, he was immediately upgraded to series regular and basically took over the show.