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Today in History: Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Television and Radio
Detective Phil Fish (Abe Vigoda) found his name listed in the obituaries in short-lived “Barney Miller” spin-off “Fish” on ABC in 1978…Val (Joan Van Ark) discovered she was having twins on serialized drama “Knots Landing” on CBS in 1984. Those pending twins, of course, set the stage for a memorable season-ender…In 1983, 97 PBS stations across the country broadcast television’s first live open-heart surgery during a special entitled “The Operation”NBC sitcom “Gimme A Break, starring Nell Carter, was broadcast live before a studio audience in 1985. It was the first scripted sitcom to be seen live since the 1950s…Charles Gibson first became the co-anchor of ABC’s “Good Morning America” in 1987. His successful pairing with Joan Lunden made “GMA” the No. 1 morning news program in the nation from 1987-95…An average of 33.1 million viewers tuned in to the network television premiere of Steven Spielberg‘s “Schindler’s List” starring Liam NeesonBen Kingsley and Ralph Fiennes on NBC in 1997. The movie, which won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture of 1993 and Best Director (for Spielberg), aired commercial-free on NBC and drew the largest audience of the 1996–97 season for a theatrical film on television…”WWE NXT“, the weekly showcase for the next generation of wrestling stars, launched on Syfy in 2010. With brief stints on WWE’s website, Hulu and WWE Network, it arrived on USA Network in 2019, airing on Wednesday nights in direct competition to TNT’s “AEW Dynamite”…Comedy “Growing Up Fisher” debuted on NBC in 2014, following the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia. It starred J.K. Simmons as a blind attorney and beloved patriarch of a family of two kids despite the separation from his wife (Jenna Elfman). The series ran for just 13 episodes…Spy drama “The Blacklist: Redemption“, the spin-off of “The Blacklist“, debuted on NBC in 2017. The series about an elite mercenary team of former criminals starred Ryan Eggold and Famke Janssen. It only lasted eight episodes.

Walt Disney’s “Pinocchio” was released nationwide in theaters in 1940. It was the second animated feature film produced by Disney, made after “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”Trainspotting“, based on the book by Irvine Welsh, starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller opened in cinemas in the U.K. and Ireland in 1996.

Luciano Pavorotti made his debut at the Vienna State Opera in “La traviata” in 1963…Hip Hop artist Eminem released his first major record album “The Slim Shady LP” in 1999. It won the Grammy for Best Rap Album.

Danielle Steel’s novel “Big Girl” was published in 2010.
The U.S. Marines raised the American flag on top of Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima in 1945.

In 1968, Wilt Chamberlain became the first NBA player to score 25,000 points… in 1985, Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight infamously hurled a plastic chair across the court during a game.

Celebrity Birthdays:
Actress Patricia Richardson (“Home Improvement”) is 70; actress Kristin Davis (“Sex and the City”) is 56; actor Mark Price (“Family Ties”) is 53; “Shark Tank’s” Daymond John is 52; Niecy Nash (“Reno 9-1-1”) is 51; Josh Gad (“The Book of Mormon”) is 40; “Masters of None” star Aziz Ansari is 38; Emily Blunt (“The Devil Wears Prada”) is also 38.

Did You Know?
ABC was interested in renewing “Fish” for a third season, but Abe Vigoda did not agree on the financial terms. The sitcom officially concluded on May 18, 1978 after 35 episodes.