1981 in American television
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|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2013)|
|List of years in American television:|
|1980–81 United States network television schedule|
|1981–82 United States network television schedule|
|List of American television shows currently in production|
The year 1981 in television involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events during 1981.
|February 20||Comedian Andy Kaufman disrupts sketches and starts a brawl while broadcasting during ABC's sketch series Fridays.|
|March 6||After a 19-year run, Walter Cronkite resigns as main anchorman of The CBS Evening News and is succeeded the next Monday by Dan Rather.|
|March 30||An assassination attempt against President Ronald Reagan in Washington, D.C., in which the President and several other people were wounded, interrupted programming on the three major networks and CNN at 2:42 PM. ABC News was flooded with unconfirmed reports following the assassination attempt which pestered the chief anchor Frank Reynolds, one of which falsely stated that the President's press secretary James Brady had died in the shooting. This was also reported by CBS News and ABC News. Coverage of the attempt continued for hours on the big three networks, and for two days on CNN. As a result of the assassination attempt, the Academy Awards were postponed for a day.|
|April 1||Berlinda Tolbert and Michael Jonas Evans makes their final appearance as Lionel and Jenny Willis Jefferson in the seventh (1980–1981) year, of The Jeffersons, also departing with Tolbert and Evans, Paul Benedict makes his final appearance as the British neighbor of George and Louise, Harry Bentley, Benedict returns to the series during 1983.|
|April 11||Van Halen's main guitarist Eddie Van Halen marries One Day at a Time actress Valerie Bertinelli.|
|April 12||The Alpha Repertory Television Service (also known as ARTS) is initiated right after the Nickelodeon time period.|
|April 21||"Weird Al" Yankovic makes his first television appearance on The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder.|
|May 1||The fourth season finale of Dallas, entitled "Ewing-Gate", ends with a woman found dead.|
|June 30||Fred Silverman is dismissed as president of NBC, after failing to improve that network's third-place rating, and is replaced by Grant Tinker.|
|July 4||Showtime ends its part-time status and inaugurates a 24/7 schedule.|
|August 1||The MTV network debuts on cable television, playing music videos 24 hours a day. "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles was the first video broadcast on the network.|
|September 7||During the course of the year, all soap opera programs produced by Procter & Gamble change title sequences and theme songs. Another World, Guiding Light, Search for Tomorrow, and The Edge of Night all have new title sequences.|
|September 21–25||Fourth September week when soap opera supercouple Victor and Nikki Newman first meet each other on The Young and the Restless.|
|October 12||CBS Cable is initiated.|
|November 1||The NBC soap opera The Doctors broadcasts its 5,000th episode.|
|November 2||American soap opera As the World Turns debuts a new opening sequence and theme song for the first time in its 25-year history.|
|November 8||Series ESPN televises its first live flag-to-flag NASCAR race, the Atlanta Journal 500.|
|November 9||The cast and crew had begun work on episodes for the series The Incredible Hulk's fifth season on CBS when the network's manager of programming, Harvey Shepherd, delivered a surprise: despite maintaining good ratings, The Incredible Hulk was to be canceled immediately. Author Frank Garcia, while interviewing Johnson, learned that CBS executive Harvey Shepherd disliked The Incredible Hulk and felt that there "wasn't a full season left in it", thus putting an end to David Banner's struggles. Producer Kenneth Johnson tried to convince Sheppard to buy six additional episodes so that CBS could have a half-season of new episodes but he refused. The series was canceled so suddenly that Johnson never had a chance to film an Incredible Hulk series finale which would feature David on trial for the murder of Elaina Marks. Several scripts including "David Banner, RIP", and "Killer On Board" were never filmed. The notice was so quick and so sudden that Johnson and Corea were unable to film a proposed two hour finale in which David was brought to trial for the murder of Elaina Marks. Production officially halted during the summer of 1981.|
|November 16–17||Luke and Laura's wedding for series General Hospital becomes one of the most watched weddings in American television history, second only to the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.|
|December 24||Premium cable company HBO begins broadcasting its 24-hour programming.|
|December 25||Chuck Woolery hosts his last episode of the game series Wheel of Fortune after a salary dispute with series producer and creator Merv Griffin. Pat Sajak becomes host the next Monday, December 28. He hosts the daytime Wheel until 1989.; Sajak hosts the nighttime Wheel to this day.|
Made-for-TV movies and miniseries
|The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy|
|A Town Like Alice|
- Truth or Consequences (1950–1988).
- Search for Tomorrow (1951–1986).
- Hallmark Hall of Fame (1951–present).
- American Bandstand (1952–1989)
- Guiding Light (1952–2009)
- The Today Show (1952–present)
- Face the Nation (1954–present).
- The Tonight Show (1954–present; full title has generally included the host's name)
- Captain Kangaroo (1955–1984).
- The Lawrence Welk Show (1955–1982).
- As the World Turns (1956–2010).
- The Edge of Night (1956–1984).
- The Mike Douglas Show (1961–1981).
- General Hospital (1963–present).
- The Doctors (1963–1982).
- Another World (1964–1999).
- Days of our Lives (1965–present).
- 60 Minutes (1968–present).
- One Life to Live (1968–present).
- Hee Haw (1969–1993).
- Sesame Street (1969–present).
- All My Children (1970–present).
- Monday Night Football (1970–present).
- Masterpiece Theatre (1971–present).
- Soul Train (1971–present).
- Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1972–1984).
- M*A*S*H (1972–1983).
- The Price Is Right (1972–present).
- The Waltons (1972–1981).
- Match Game (1962–1969, 1973–1984, 1990–1991, 1998–1999).
- Schoolhouse Rock! (1973–1986).
- The Tomorrow Show (1973–1982).
- The Young and the Restless (1973–present).
- Happy Days (1974–1984).
- Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983).
- The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1974–1984).
- Barney Miller (1975–1982).
- Good Morning America (1975–present).
- One Day at a Time (1975–1984).
- Ryan's Hope (1975–1989).
- Saturday Night Live (1975–present).
- The Jeffersons (1975–1985).
- Wheel of Fortune (1975–present).
- Alice (1976–1985).
- Charlie's Angels (1976–1981).
- Family Feud (1976–1985, 1988–1995, 1999–present).
- Laverne & Shirley (1976–1983).
- Quincy, M.E. (1976–1983).
- The P.T.L. Club (1976–1987).
- CHiPs (1977–1983).
- Fantasy Island (1977–1984).
- In Search of... (1977–1982).
- Lou Grant (1977–1982).
- Soap (1977–1981).
- The Love Boat (1977–1986)
- This Week in Baseball (1977–1998, 2000–present)
- Three's Company (1977–1984)
- 20/20 (1978–present).
- Battle of the Planets (1978–1985).
- Dallas (1978–1991).
- Diff'rent Strokes (1978–1986).
- Mork & Mindy (1978–1982).
- Taxi (1978–1983).
- WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–1982).
- Archie Bunker's Place (1979–1983).
- Benson (1979–1986).
- Disney's Wonderful World (1979–1981) ends on September 13 to resume on September 26 as Walt Disney
- Knots Landing (1979–1993).
- Real People (1979–1984).
- The Dukes of Hazzard (1979–1985).
- The Facts of Life (1979–1988).
- Trapper John, M.D. (1979–1986).
- Nightline (1979–present)
- SportsCenter (1979–present)
- This Old House (1979–present).
- It's a Living (1980–1982, 1985–1989).
- Magnum, P.I. (1980–1988).
- Solid Gold (1980–1988).
- Texas (1980–1982).
- That's Incredible! (1980–1984).
- Too Close for Comfort (1980–1986).
Ending this year
|March 7||The Tim Conway Show||1980|
|April 16||Buck Rogers in the 25th Century||1979|
|August 19||Charlie's Angels||1976|
|August 20||The Waltons||1972|
|August 29||Eight is Enough||1977|
|October 23||Card Sharks||1978|
|November 30||The Mike Douglas Show||1961|
Changes of network affiliation
|Show||Moved from||Moved to|
|Walt Disney anthology series||NBC||CBS|
|January 22||Beverley Mitchell||actress (7th Heaven)|
|January 28||Elijah Wood||actor|
|January 31||Justin Timberlake||singer and actor, originally appeared on a version of (The Mickey Mouse Club) in the US.|
|February 8||Ralf Little||actor|
|February 17||Joseph Gordon-Levitt|
|Paris Hilton||heiress and television personality in the United States.|
|April 28||Jessica Alba||US actress|
|May 5||Danielle Fishel||actress|
|May 15||Jamie-Lynn Sigler|
|Samantha Noble||Australian actress|
|August 7||Dan Griffin||television producer.|
|August 25||Rachel Bilson||actress|
|September 4||Beyoncé Knowles||singer and actor. (Destiny's Child)|
|September 8||Jonathan Taylor Thomas||US actor/comedian (Home Improvement)|
|October 9||Zachery Ty Bryan|
|November 8||Azura Skye||US actress|
|December 2||Britney Spears||singer, originally appeared on a version of (The Mickey Mouse Club) in the US.|
|April 26||Jim Davis||72||actor (Jock Ewing) on (Dallas)|
|June 9||Allen Ludden||64||game show host|
|August 1||Paddy Chayefsky||58||writer|
|September 27||Robert Montgomery||64||actor|
|November 25||Jack Albertson||74|