Pioneers of Television


THIRTEEN salutes 1950s and 60s TV legends with Pioneers of Television, airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. in August. To celebrate, we’ve created an interactive slide show highlighting memorable moments in TV history and notable recent events. Satisfy your thirst for TV trivia and let us know what you think: Has television changed dramatically throughout the years or is everything old new again?

And don’t miss season two of Pioneers of Television – coming to THIRTEEN in Winter 2011!
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Mad Men and the Women Who Love Them

Bewitched, 1967

While ad man Darrin Stevens (Dick York) is at McMann and Tate trying to land the Madame Marushka lipstick account, his wife Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) keeps the home fires burning with a witchy twitch of her nose and some not-so-divine intervention from her meddlesome mother Endora.

Mad Men, 2007:
While Sterling Cooper’s dreamy Don Draper (Jon Hamm) is at the office wowing the Belle Jolie lipstick honchos, his wife Betty (January Jones) is at home in the burbs shooting birds and singing The Feminine Mystique blues.
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Baby Love

I Love Lucy, 1952

When Lucy and Ricky Ricardo (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) are expecting their first child, network censors won’t permit the writers to use the word “pregnant” in the scripts. Instead, Lucy announces that she’s “having a baby.” The “P” word is never uttered.

Murphy Brown, 1992:
The hit CBS comedy achieves political notoriety when Murphy (Candice Bergen) becomes a single mother and Vice President Dan Quayle criticizes the character for “ignoring the importance of fathers by birthing a child alone.” The show responds with an episode celebrating the diversity of the modern American family – and mocking Quayle’s widely-reported “potatoe” faux pas at a New Jersey spelling bee.
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You’ve Come a Long Way, Betty

Betty White, 1973

Betty debuts on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, playing Sue Ann Nivens, the sugary sweet, man-hungry host of The Happy Homemaker.

Betty White, 2010:
At age 88, after an unlikely but determined Facebook campaign, Betty becomes the oldest host in Saturday Night Live history, generating big laughs and big ratings in skits teeming with sexual innuendo and double entendres.
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Late Night Wars

Leno vs. Letterman, 1991-93

When Johnny Carson retires, Jay Leno seizes the Tonight Show throne and David Letterman leaves NBC to host his own show on rival CBS. A ratings war ensues.

Leno vs. Conan, 2009-10:
In May 2009, NBC announces a fall lineup that includes a new Jay Leno show at 10pm. Conan O’Brien becomes the new host of The Tonight Show at 11:35 p.m. Months later, due to lackluster ratings, NBC decides to move Leno back to 11:35 p.m. and bump O’Brien to 12:05 a.m. O’Brien says thanks but no thanks and exits NBC, garnering universal adoration from fans and a $32 million severance deal. In March 2010, Leno reclaims the Tonight Show and the Leno-Letterman ratings war resumes.
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Can We Tawk?

Joan Rivers, 1983

Joan Rivers makes television history as the first permanent guest host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show. When FOX offers Joan her own late-night talk show in 1986, Johnny Carson excommunicates her and she is blacklisted from late-night television.

Joan Rivers, 2009:
Joan Rivers wins Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice, beating out other celebs on the popular NBC reality show including poker champ Annie Duke, country superstar Clint Black, basketball great Dennis Rodman – and her own daughter Melissa.

Joan discusses her unique brand of comic chutzpah in THIRTEEN's Make ‘Em Laugh
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Goin’ Gaga

The Ed Sullivan Show, 1964

On February 9, 1964, The Beatles make their historic American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, singing “All My Loving,” “Till There Was You,” and more. Thousands of teenagers scream in the streets, 73 million viewers watch on TV, and Beatlemania is born.

The Today Show, 2010:
On July 9, 2010, a record-breaking 20,000 fans pack Rockefeller Plaza to watch Lady Gaga’s free live performance on The Today Show. Some fans wait in line for days, sleeping on the street, and many are decked out in their best Gaga costumes (cue the blond wigs, cigarette eyeglasses, soda can hair rollers, and glam bustiers). Despite a mid-concert rainstorm, the show goes on. Fabulously.
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This Quiz Will Count as 10% of Your Final Grade

Quiz Show Scandals, 1959

Charles Van Doren, a handsome Columbia English professor, is cast on the quiz show Twenty-One in 1956 to boost faltering ratings. Coached by the producer, he wins $138,000 and becomes an instant celebrity. When the rigging is uncovered, ratings plummet and Van Doren goes down faster than you can say, “I’d like to buy a vowel.”

Jeopardy! Winning Streak, 2004:
Software engineer Ken Jennings enjoys a 74-game winning streak on Jeopardy!, amassing $2.5 million – an unprecedented victory that leads to more good fortune and fame.
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One Small Step for Man, One Giant Waltz for Mankind

Television Sets Everywhere, 1969

On July 20, 1969, astronaut Buzz Aldrin makes history during the Apollo 11 mission as the second human to set foot on the moon – an extraordinary event that is witnessed by the largest worldwide television audience in history.

Dancing With the Stars, 2010:
At age 80, Aldrin hoofs it up with dance pro Ashley Costa on ABC’s Dancing With the Stars. He’s eliminated during the third week of the competition, earning 13 out of 30 points for his waltz.
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