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Today in History – Wednesday, May 19, 2021

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The first “American Comedy Awards” aired on ABC in 1987. Betty White and Johnny Carson were two of the winners..Linda Gray as Sue Ellen Ewing exited the original “Dallas” on CBS in the 11th season finale in 1989. She returned for the series finale (on May 3, 1991), TV movies “Dallas: J.R. Returns” in 1996 and “Dallas: War of the Ewings” in 1998; and the reboot series on TNT from 2012 to 2014…NBC drama “Elvis”, with Michael St. Gerard in the title role of Elvis Presley, concluded in 1990. Only 10 of the 13 produced episodes aired…NBC’s “L.A. Law” concluded its eight-season run in 1994…The teens at West Beverly graduated from high school on the third season finale of Fox’s “Beverly Hills 90210” in 1993. Gabrielle Carteris, who played the valedictorian Andrea Zuckerman, was 32 years old in real life…At a taping of CBS daytime game show “Press Your Luck” in 1984, ice cream truck driver Michael Larson from Ohio became the game’s most famous contestant by winning $110,237. Comparably, that was the largest one-day total earnings on a daytime game show at the time and a record that would last until 2006. With technology at its infancy in the early 1980’s, Larson had noticed in previous episodes that the lighted squares on the show’s big board of cash, prizes and Whammies had moved in repeated limited patterns, making it simple to avoid Whammies while continuing to earn money without losing spins. Larson’s game ran so long that it aired across two episodes on CBS on June 8 and 11, 1984, with the latter date being the series’ highest-rated episode ever. GSN aired a hit 2003 documentary detailing Larson, his “Press Your Luck” stint, and his life thereafter…Vecepia Towery narrowly defeated Neleh Dennis by a 4-3 jury vote to become the first Black Sole Survivor on the fourth season of CBS’ “Survivor” in 2002, in the edition entitled “Survivor: Marquesas”. During the finale, the game introduced a purple rock to determine an elimination in case of a tie vote at Tribal Council. Paschal English was the unfortunate recipient of that rock and was ousted at the Final Four. Other notables among the season’s cast included TV host Hunter Ellis (third to get voted out) and “Survivor” legend “Boston Rob” Mariano (7th eliminated castaway)…On ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars”, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson (with professional dancer Mark Ballas) was crowned the winner of season 8 in 2009. Also on this day, in 2015, actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) and pro dancer Val Chmerkovskiy won the season…Eleven series of note concluded: 1) The original “Fantasy Island” on ABC in 1984; 2) NBC police drama “Hill Street Blues” in 1987; 3 and 4) Fox sketch comedy “In Living Color” and NBC legal drama “L.A. Law” — both in 1994; 5) CBS mystery drama “Murder, She Wrote” in 1996; 6) CBS action drama “Walker, Texas Ranger” in 2001; 7) the original run of Fox science-fiction detective drama “The X-Files” in 2002; 8) “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” spin-off vampire drama “Angel” in 2004; 9)  CBS police procedural “Without A Trace” in 2009; 10) “Warehouse 13” on Syfy in 2014; and 11) HBO fantasy epic “Game of Thrones” in 2019…Nine short-lived series concluded: 1) syndicated Don Bleu-hosted version of “The Gong Show” in 1989; 2) Fox sitcom “Babes” in 1991; 3) syndicated sci-fi “The Cape”, 4) UPN sitcom “Goode Behavior” and 5) CBS sitcom “Ink” — all in 1997; 6) UPN sitcom “Good News” in 1998; 7) FX sci-fi “Harsh Realm” in 2001; 8) NBC’s Dick Wolf legal drama “Conviction” in 2006; and 9) CBS limited series “The Red Line” in 2019…Syndicated daytime talk show “Donny & Marie” hosted by the two famous Osmond siblings ended after two seasons in 2000…Nickelodeon kids sitcom “Cousin Skeeter” starring Bill Bellamy and a teenage Meagan Good concluded after three seasons in 2001…Attorney Lindsay Dole (Kelli Williams) was convicted of murder of an obsessed former client on the sixth season finale of David E. Kelley’s legal drama “The Practice” on ABC in 2002…ABC celebrated its 50th anniversary with airing a four-hour prime time special in 2003…Music cable network MuchMusic USA was officially rebranded as Fuse in 2003…MTV docuseries “Life with Ryan” starring professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler concluded after three condensed seasons in 2008…Ryan Murphy’s high school musical comedy-drama “Glee” made its initial bow, airing out of the eighth season’s final performances episode of “American Idol” on Fox in 2009. It starred Matthew Morrison, Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Jayma Mays, and Jessalyn Gilsig. The series became an immediate hit and made actress Jane Lynch a household name with her Emmy-winning role as misanthropic gym teacher Sue Sylvester. The cast’s rendition of Journey’s 80’s classic “Don’t Stop Believin'” closed out the series’ pilot episode. Weeks later, it peaked as the No. 4 song on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Glee” ran for six seasons…Action comedy “The Good Guys” starring Bradley Whitford and Colin Hanks debuted on Fox in 2010. It ran for only 20 episodes in its lone season…Two key departures in 2011: Dick Ebersol resigned as NBC Sports chairman after 22 years, and Katie Couric concluded her near-five-year stint as anchor of the “CBS Evening News”…“Life Below Zero”, the docuseries focused on Alaskan subsistence hunters, debuted on National Geographic Channel in 2003. To date, 16 seasons have been produced…During the 20th season finale of “Dancing With The Stars” in 2015, host Tom Bergeron announced that Alfonso Ribeiro was named the new host of “America’s Funniest Home Videos”, replacing Bergson…In 2018, an estimated global audience of 1.9 billion people watched the royal wedding of Prince Harry and former “Suits” star Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel in England’s Windsor Castle…The first season of romantic comedy “Sweet Magnolias” starring JoAnna Garcia Swisher was released on Netflix in 2020. It was renewed for a second season…In 2020, Ruby Rose announced her exit from The CW’s “Batwoman” after the show’s freshman season. Javicia Leslie became the new Batwoman in season two.

“Do the Right Thing”, directed by Spike Lee and starring Danny Aiello and Ossie Davis premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 1989…Smokey & the Bandit” starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason premiered in ew York City in 1977. It was the second highest-grossing domestic film of that year, with $126 million against a budget of $4.3 million…“The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jeff Goldblum and Julianne Moore opened in the U.S. In 1997…“Star Wars Episode I – The Phantom Menace”, directed by George Lucas and starring Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman and Liam Neeson was released in 1999…“Sicko”, a documentary on the US health care system, directed by Michael Moore had its premiere at the Cannes Film festival in 2007…Also in 2007: “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”, starring Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom opened in Anaheim, California. At $300 million, it was the most expensive film made at the time.

The “South Pacific” soundtrack album rose to #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1958 and stayed there for 31 straight weeks…The “Some Gave All” debut album by Billy Ray Cyrus was released in 1992. It won the Billboard Album of the Year…Country rock singer Laine Hardy became the winner of the 17th season of “American Idol” in 2019, the second season the singing competition has aired on ABC. Hardy was the first Asian-American to win the show, and third contestant ever to return victorious after being cut from the Top 50 in a previous season.
Amy Fisher shot Mary Jo Buttafuoco in the face in an altercation over an affair with her husband, in Massapequa, New York in 1992. Buttafuoco survived the attack, and a few months later, Fisher pleaded guilty to first degree assault, a felony which put her behind bars for seven years. Their story even inspired three TV movies: “Lethal Lolita” (“Amy Fisher: My Story”), “Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story” starring Alyssa Milano, and “The Amy Fisher Story” starring Drew Barrymore…Actress Meghan Markle married Prince Harry at a ceremony in Windsor Castle, England in 2018.

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky led the Edmonton Oilers to their first NHL Stanley Cup championship title in 1984, having scored two goals in the fifth and final game of the Stanley Cup Final. The Oilers defeated the then four-time defending champion New York Islanders four games to one.

Celebrity Birthdays:
TV personality David Hartman is 86; actress Nancy Kwan (“Flower Drum Song”) is 82, musician Pete Townshend is 76; singer-bassist Dusty Hill of ZZ Top is 72; singer-actress-model Grace Jones is 70; actor Steven Ford is 65; basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett is 45; TV personality Kim Zolciak Biermann (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”) is 43; comedian Michael Che (“Saturday Night Live”) is 38; singer Sam Smith is 29.

-Did You Know?:
Linda Gray’s next regularly scheduled TV role after “Dallas” was on “Party of Five” spin-off “Models, Inc.” on Fox as Amanda Woodward’s (Heather Locklear) mother Hillary Michaels. It ran for one season (from 1994-95).