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Today in History: Friday, May 7, 2021

© by Photo courtesy of NBC

Television, Radio and Live Events:
Early dramatic antholgy “Kraft Television Theater” premiered on NBC in 1947…Bruno Sammartino became the WWF champion in 1963…NBC action/adventure “Daniel Boone” ended its six season run in 1970. It starred Fess Parker…Short-lived comedy “Quark“, created by Buck Henry (“Get Smart”) and starring Richard Benjamin, debuted on NBC in 1977. It would next run the following February before being canceled in April 1978. Only 8 episodes were telecast…Classic bad career move: Shelley Long departed “Cheers” on NBC in the fifth season finale in 1987. The sitcom lived on for another six seasons with Kirstie Alley, sparking the debate of which era of “Cheers” is more preferredLong-running sitcom “The Facts of Life” ended in 1988. The “Diff’rent Strokes” spinoff starred Charlotte Rae, Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, Nancy McKeon and Mindy Cohn ran for nine seasons on NBC. When Rae exited at the beginning of season eight, Cloris Leachman joined the cast…Also, in 1988, the original series run of ABC crime drama “Spenser: For Hire” starring Robert Urich and Avery Brooks concluded after three seasons. The pair returned in the form of four made-for-TV films from 1993 through 1995…Early Fox sitcom “Duet” ended after three seasons in 1989. Supporting actress Alison LaPlaca was upgrade to the lead role in upcoming spin-off “Open House”, set at a real estate office, the following fall. The one season series also starred Mary Page Keller and Chris Lemmon continuing their roles as Laura Kelly and Richard Phillips, and Ellen DeGeneres as the office secretary Margo Van Meter…Legal drama “Matlock, starring Andy Griffith, concluded on ABC in 1995 after a nine season and two network (NBC and ABC) run…The start of the two-part reunion movie “Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac” originally aired on CBS in 1997…The 1993 blockbuster theatrical “Jurassic Park” made its broadcast network premiere on NBC in 1995. It was the most-watched telecast of the May Sweeps that year, averaging 39.1 million viewers with an estimated 68 million having tuned in to at least some portion. At a 23.3 household rating and 36 share, “Jurassic Park” was the highest-rated network movie telecast since Part 2 of Stephen King’s “It” on ABC in November 1990 and the highest-rated theatrical since a rerun of “Trading Places” on NBC in April 1987…The infamous controversial episode of NBC sitcom “Seinfeld” titled “The Puerto Rican Day” aired in 1998. In this installment, Kramer accidentally burned and then stomped on the Puerto Rico flag. After protests by the Puerto Rican community, including from TV personality Geraldo Rivera, NBC was forced to apologize and prohibited it from ever re-airing on the network. The episode was not shown in syndication until 2002…In 1999, a Michigan jury found “The Jenny Jones Show” was at least partly liable for the shooting death of one of its guests after he revealed he was a secret admirer of another man. Later, however, an appellate court overruled that decision…Morgan Spurlock‘s famous fast-food documentary “Super Size Me” opened in theaters in 2004…“Keven Can Wait”, the sitcom comeback vehicle for Kevin James, ended after two seasons in 2018. After a marginally successfully first season, the network made the poor decision to kill off Erinn Hayes has his wife Donna and bring in his former “The King of Queens” co-star, Leah Remini, as his former rival Vanessa Cellucci on the police force and now his partner at their new security company…Five other series concluded: 1) NBC crime drama “Blacke’s Magic”, starring Hal Linden and Harry Morgan in 1986; 2) ABC police procedural “Ohara”, starring Pat Morita in 1988; 3) Fox science fiction drama “Alien Nation” in 1990; 4) The WB siblings sitcom “Run of the House”; and 5) CBS police procedural “Tommy” with Edie Falco in 2020

Movies:
Science fiction film “The Fifth Element” starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich opened in theaters in 1997. At the time it was the most expensive European film ever made…”The Mummy”, the remake of the 1932 film of the same name, opened in theaters in 1999. It starred Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. “The Mummy” grossed over $416.4 million worldwide against a production budget of $80 million. The film’s success spawned the sequels “The Mummy Returns” in 2001 and “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor” in 2008, as well as an animated series and the prequel/spinoff film “The Scorpion King” in 2002 (which generated its own sequels)…“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” starring Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz opened in 2011. It was the fourth installment in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series and a standalone sequel to “At World’s End” in 2007.

Music:
Glenn Miller recorded “Chattanooga Choo Choo” for RCA in 1941…The Mamas & Papas single “Monday Monday” hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1966…Hitting No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 — “Hotel California” by The Eagles in 1977, “Wishing Well” by Terence Trent D’Arby in 1988.

Sports:
Bruno Sammartino became the WWF champ in 1963…The Denver Nuggets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in 1994 to become the first No. 8 seed to eliminate a No. 1 seed in a playoff series in NBA history….In 2014, NBC signed a $7.75 billion extension to carry the Olympic Games through 2032. Just three years prior, they outbid ABC/ESPN and Fox for rights to carry the Olympics thru 2020.

Automotive:
The Honda Company introduced the Accord in 1976…Mercedes-Benz bought Chrysler for $40 billion in 1998 and formed DaimlerChrysler in the then largest industrial merger in history.

Celebrity Birthdays:
Actress Robin Strasser (“One Life to Live”) is 76; singer Thelma Houston is 75; director Amy Heckerling (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”, “Clueless”) is 69; actor Michael E. Knight (“All My Children”) is 62; actress Traci Lords is 53; actor Morocco Omari (“Empire”) is 51; single Eagle-Eye Cherry is 50; actor Breckin Meyer (“Clueless”) is 47; “Saturday Night Live’s” Aidy Bryant is 33.

-Did You Know?:
A landmark in the history of the “Kraft Television Theatre” was the use of color, which began intermittently in April 1954 and became permanent in July 1956…“Cheers” was ranked third overall in all of primetime in Shelley Long’s final season in 1986-87 (behind lead-in sitcoms “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties”). By the 1990-91 season, featuring Kirstie Alley, it was the top-rated series…In the final episode of “The Facts of Life,” Blair Warner (Lisa Whelchel) bought Eastland and changed it to a co-ed school, which was a backdoor pilot for a new sitcom focused on Blair and a new set of supporting characters. The new Eastland students included Juliette LewisSeth Green and Mayim Bialik. But it did not move forward.