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Today in History: Thursday, December 21, 2023

In 1983, NBC’s “St. Elsewhere” tackled a subject then taboo on TV: AIDS. In this episode titled “AIDS and Comfort,” everyone at St. Eligius was fearful when a Boston city councilman was diagnosed with AIDS…Also in 1983, former president Gerald R. Ford and his wife, Betty Ford, appeared as themselves on an episode of the original “Dynasty” on ABC.

The classic holiday film “A Christmas Story” made its television premiere on HBO in 1985…Animated “A Garfield Christmas Special” first aired on CBS in 1987…Eddie Murphy returned to NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in 2019, for the first time in 35 years. As host, he revived his former “SNL” characters Mr. Robinson (from “Mr. Robinson’s Neighborhood”), Velvet JonesBuckwheat and Gumby.

Shirley Temple, age 5, was signed to a studio contract by Fox Films in 1933. Her movies, of course, became a staple in repeats on the small screen.

The first full-length animated feature film and the earliest in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, premiered in Hollywood in 1937. “Snow White” was nominated for Best Musical Score at the Academy Awards in 1938, and the next year, producer Walt Disney was awarded an honorary Oscar for the film. This award was unique, consisting of one normal-sized, plus seven miniature Oscar statuettes.

Samson and Delilah”, directed and produced by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature, premiered in New York in 1949…Released in theaters: “Beaches” (Bette Midler) in 1988, “Kindergarten Cop” in 1990.

Music and Videos:
Glen Campbell’s album “Wichita Lineman” role to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1968…In 2012, “Gangnam Style” by Psy became the first video to reach one billion views on YouTube.

Reaching No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard hot 100 chart: “Cats in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin in 1974; “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie in 1985.

The first known published crossword puzzle appeared in Sunday newspaper, the New York World, in 1913. It was created by a journalist named Arthur Wynne from Liverpool…In 1970, President Richard M. Nixon and music superstar Elvis Presley famously met at the White House…In 1988, a bomb hidden inside an audio cassette player exploded on board Pam Am Flight 103 over Lockerbee, Scotland, killing 270 people including 190 Americans.

In 1969, Vince Lombardi coached his last football game. His last season was with Washington, but his greatest success came with his 1958-67 stint as coach of the Green Bay Packers, leading them to five NFL championships and two Super Bowl wins. Lombardi passed away from cancer in September 1970 at the age of 57.

Celebrity Birthdays:
Former daytime talk show host Phil Donahue is 88; Oscar winner Jane Fonda is 86; “Samuel L. Jackson is 75; entertainment executive Jeffrey Katzenberg is 73; tennis champion Chris Evert is 69; actress Jane Kaczmarek (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 68; “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Ray Romano is 66; actor Andy Dick (“NewsRadio”) is 58; “24” star Kiefer Sutherland is 57; actress Khrystyne Haje (“Head of the Class”) is 55; actor Steven Yeun (“The Walking Dead”) is 40.

Did You Know?
Mark Harmon as Dr. Bobby Caldwell on “St. Elsewhere” was the first instance of an ongoing character contracting the virus on network television. When his HIV status became known to others, Bobby was told he could no longer be involved in patient care at the hospital, though he initially refused to leave. He ultimately left St. Eligius, and Boston, towards the end of season four, to go and work part-time in an AIDS hospice on the West Coast. Bobby’s former St. Eligius colleagues and friends would be informed of his death during a season six episode; several of them held a memorial for him in St. Eligius’ chapel.