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Today in History: Saturday, June 15, 2024

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New York City’s WPIX Channel 11 began broadcasting in 1948…Country-themed variety hour “Hee Haw,” hosted by Roy Clark and Buck Owens and inspired by “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, premiered on CBS in 1969. A victim of the infamous “rural purge,” the network canceled “Hee Haw” in 1971 (along with sitcom “The Beverly Hillbillies, “Green Acres” and “Mayberry R.F.D.”). But it immediately found a new home in first-run syndication and remained on the air until 1993…CBS debuted a new variety series “The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show” in 1977. It lasted for only six episodes…Late night syndicated talk show “Thicke of the Night, hosted by Alan Thicke, concluded its one season run in 1984. Thicke found far greater success in sitcom “Growing Pains, which aired on ABC from 1985 to 1992…Saturday morning children’s series “Pryor’s Place, featuring comedian Richard Pryor, exited the airwaves after one season in 1985…Vice President Dan Quayle erroneously instructs a New Jersey student to spell the word “potato” as “potatoe” during a spelling bee in 1992…Paul McCartney performed in his first live televised concert in the U.S. with the Fox network special “Paul McCartney Live in the New World” in 1993…In 2012, daredevil Nik Wallenda became the first person to successfully walk the tightrope over Niagara Falls…Nickelodeon kids comedy sketch show “All That” was revived for the second time in 2019. Its previous runs were from 1994 through 2000 and from 2002 through 2005. The most recent version brought back original “All That” star Kel Mitchell.

“Our Gang” theatrical short “Party Fever” was released in theaters in 1938. This was the second short produced by MGM and it featured Carl Switzer (Alfalfa), Darla Hood (Darla), Billie Thomas (Buckwheat), Eugene Lee (Porky) and the final appearance of Pete the Pup“The Apartment,” directed by Billy Wilder and starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, opened in New York in 1961. It won the Oscar for Best Film that year…“The Dirty Dozen, starring Lee MarvinErnest Borgnine and Charles Bronson, was released in the U.S. in 1967…Theatrical “American Graffiti” opened in New York in 1973. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture (but lost in that category to “The Sting…”Rocky II“, sequel to the 1976 Best Picture-winning original, opened in 1979…The baseball comedy film classic “Bull Durham” starring Kevin CostnerSusan Sarandon and Tim Robbins premiered in 1988…“Dick Tracy, starring Warren Beatty and Madonna, opened in 1990…Disney’s animated  “The Lion King” opened at the El Capitan Theater in Los Angeles and Radio City Music Hall in New York City in 1994…”Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” starring Angelina Jolie premiered in 2001… Warner Bros. restarted the Batman movie franchise with “Batman Begins” starring Christian BaleKatie HolmesMichael Caine and Morgan Freeman. It opened nationwide in 2005.

“Sukiyaki” sung by Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto, hit #1 on the Billboard charts in 1963…“Back Home Again,” the 8th studio album by John Denver, came out in 1974…Paula Abdul’s first ballad “Rush Rush” hit No. 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.

Celebrity Birthdays
Actor Jim Belushi (“According to Jim”) is 70; actress Julie Hagerty (“Airplane”) is 69; actress Polly Draper (“thirtysomething “) is also 69; “Mad About You” star Helen Hunt is 61; “Friends” star Courteney Cox is 60; rapper Ice Cube (real name O’Shea Jackson) is 55; “The King of Queens” star Leah Remini is 54; Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”) is 51; actress Elizabeth Reaser (“True Detective”) is 49.

Did You Know?
The “Hee Haw” cornfield set, along with the costumes worn my some of the cast members, is on display at the Country Hall of Fame in Nashville.