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Today in History: Sunday, July 23, 2023

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Half-hour western “The Gene Autry Show, featuring the singing cowboy, began its six season run on CBS in 1950. Pat Buttram (pre con artist Mr. Haney on “Green Acres”) was his sidekick…The first Arby’s restaurant opened in 1964 in the town of Boardman, Ohio. Owners Forrest and Leroy Raffel wanted to call their restaurants “Big Tex”, but that name was already used elsewhere…Vanessa Williams relinquished her Miss America crown in 1984 after nude photos of her were published in Penthouse magazine. The Miss America Organization made amends with Williams in 2016 and she returned to the pageant that year as guest performer and judge…Weekly syndicated music showcase series “Solid Gold” concluded in 1988. It lasted eight years. The series featured an in-house crew of professional dancers that performed routines choreographed to the week’s featured songs…“Cops” parody comedy “Reno 911!” made its debut on Comedy Central in 2003. It starred Thomas LennonNiecy NashWendi McLendon-Covey and Cedric Yarbrough. Its original run aired for seven seasons and 100 episodes across six years.

Three films opened in 1993: comedy “Coneheads“, based on the classic 70’s “SNL” sketch, starring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin; comedy “Another Stakeout” starring Richard DreyfussEmilio Estevez and Rosie O’Donnell; and John Singleton‘s drama “Poetic Justice” starring Janet Jackson and Tupac Shakir.


The Beatles’ “Help” was released in UK in 1965…Napoleon XIV released “They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha! Ha!” in 1966. The lyrics of the song appear to describe a man’s mental anguish after a break-up with a woman, and his descent into madness leading to his committal to a “funny farm.” At the end of the song it is revealed that he is not being driven insane by the loss of a woman — but by a runaway dog…Also in 1966: Frank Sinatra’s album “Strangers In The Night” was No. 1 on the U.S. charts. It ultimately won the Grammy for Record Of The Year and Best Male Vocal Performance…Wings released “Let ’em In” in 1976… the Richard Marx ballad “Hold On To The Nights” hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1988.

Kerri Strug stuck the landing in her second attempt at the Vault despite an injured ankle and earned a score of 9.712 — enough for her and the rest of “The Magnificent Seven” U.S. women’s team to win the team gold medal in gymnastics at the Summer Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta. An estimated 41.8 million viewers tuned in to the NBC for that entire evening.

Celebrity Birthdays
Actress Edie McClurg (“Small Wonder”; “The Hogan Family”) is 77; New York TV news anchor Kaity Tong is 76; actress Lydia Cornell (“Too Close for Comfort”) is 70; actor Woody Harrelson (“Cheers”) is 62; actor Eriq La Salle (“ER”) is 61; “Guns N’ Roses” guitarist Slash (aka Saul Hudson) is 58; NBA legend Gary Payton is 55; actress Charisma Carpenter (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) is 53; country singer Alison Krauss is 52; comedian Marlon Wayans is 51; actor Omar Epps (“House”) is 50; former White House intern Monica Lewinsky is 50; former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra is also 50; actress Kathryn Hahn (“Crossing Jordan”) is 49; “Destiny’s Child” singer Michelle Williams is 43; actor Paul Wesley (“The Vampire Diaries”) is 41; “Harry Potter” actor Daniel Radcliffe is 34; “The Voice” season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery is 27.

Did You Know?
Pat Buttram made the often-quoted observation about the 1971 “rural purge” when CBS canceled many programs with a rural-related theme or setting. “CBS canceled everything with a tree in it – including “Lassie,” he said, referring to the cancellations of “Green Acres,” “The Beverly Hillbillies, “Mayberry RFD” and “Hee Haw” (among other shows)…According to the autobiography of “Saturday Night Live” alum Chris Kattan, “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels mandated that the poster for any movie he produced (including the aforementioned “Coneheads“) had to have the characters in front a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.