1982 in American television

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The year 1982 in television involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events during 1982.

For the American TV schedule, see: 1982-83 American network television schedule.


Date Event
January 1 Cable News Network (CNN) initiates an associated channel, dubbed CNN2, that features a round-the-clock "news wheel" format. The channel would be renamed CNN Headline News a year later and is now known as HLN.
The National Association of Broadcasters ends its long-standing Television Code in response to a Washington, D.C. circuit court ruling which declared parts of it unconstitutional.
January 2 American Playhouse on Public Broadcasting Service/Channel 13 presents John Cheever's teleplay The Shady Hill Kidnapping, featuring George Grizzard, Polly Holliday, Judith Ivey, E. Katherine Kerr, and Celeste Holm as The Celebrity.
January 4 Bryant Gumbel begins his 15-year stint as co-anchor of The Today Show.
American Broadcasting Company broadcasts a TV adaptation of The Elephant Man, with Philip Anglim and Kevin Conway reprising the roles they originated for the Broadway version of the story.
January 23 CBS Reports broadcasts The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception, a documentary alleging a manipulation of intelligence estimates before the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Retired Gen. William Westmoreland, the commander of U.S. military operations at the time of the alleged estimates, would file a libel suit against CBS believing the report described him unfairly.
February 1 Late Night with David Letterman debuts on NBC; Letterman's first guests are Bill Murray (who dances around to the songs "Physical") and "Mr. Wizard" Don Herbert.
February 3 Singer Jermaine Jackson guest-features as Tootie, gets to meet the person she admires on a very special episode of The Facts of Life.
February 7–8 Superman: The Movie is broadcast on American television for the first time, with ABC broadcasting it during 2 nights.
March 4 The crime drama spoof Police Squad! premieres on ABC; though it only lasts 6 episodes (the last being broadcast July 8); the comedy would serve as the origin of the Frank Drebin character and the inspiration for the Naked Gun movie series.
March 8 Night of 100 Stars, a benefit for the Actors' Fund taped at Radio City Music Hall, is broadcast by ABC.
March 26 Series Password Plus is cancelled by NBC after 801 episodes.
The soap opera series Search for Tomorrow is broadcast for the final time by CBS; NBC immediately purchases it and begins broadcasting it March 29.
April 2 John Chancellor anchors the NBC Nightly News for the final time, replaced on April 5 by the team of Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw, a partnership that lasts 17 months.
April 9 The season finale of the series Dallas finds J.R. Ewing's longtime enemy Cliff Barnes fighting for his life after a suicide attempt.
April 21 Norman Lear purchases Avco Embassy Pictures and rechristens his TAT Communications Company as Embassy Television.
May 2 The Weather Channel is begun in the U.S.
May 28 At about 5:00 pm, Joseph Billie Gwin, wanting to "prevent World War III", forces his way into the studios of Phoenix station KOOL-TV, fires a gunshot, takes 4 people hostage (holding one of them, cameraman Louis Villa, at close gunpoint), and demands national broadcasting time. Three hours later, Gwin releases 2 hostages, Jack Webb and Bob Cimino. At 9:30 pm, with Gwin sitting next to him with a gun, KOOL anchor Bill Close reads a 20-minute statement; when finished, Close takes Gwin's gun and sets it on the table.[1][2][3]
July 29 Professional wrestler Jerry Lawler slaps actor Andy Kaufman in the face on the program Late Night with David Letterman; Kaufman responds by throwing coffee and shouting profanities at Lawler. The incident was revealed later to have been staged.
September 6 After Tom Wopat and John Schneider quit The Dukes of Hazzard as a result of a contract dispute, their characters, Bo and Luke Duke, are written out of the series as joining a NASCAR team and are replaced by cousins Coy and Vance (played respectively by Byron Cherry and Christopher Mayer). Bo and Luke—and Wopat and Schneider—would return to the series by season's end.
September 11 NBC resurrects Texaco Star Theater as a one-time special; however, instead of inviting Milton Berle, the man who hosted the original series during the 1950s, the special presents a salute to musicals.
September 13 Mary Hart joins Entertainment Tonight as reporter and later co-host; the latter role she had until 2011.
September 25 Future Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus begins a 3-year stint (1982–1985) as featured player/regular castmember of Saturday Night Live.
October 1 KDOC-TV commences broadcasting in Los Angeles.
October 2 Mary Jo Catlett replaces Nedra Volz on the series Diff'rent Strokes, as the new housekeeper, Mrs. Pearl Gallagher, from 1982 until the series ending during 1986.
October 22 Susan Stafford departs as Wheel of Fortune co-host to do humanitarian work. Auditions occur for who will replace her, with Vanna White formally replacing Stafford on December 13; White continues on Wheel to this day.
December 11 ESPN broadcasts its first live college football game, simulcasting the Independence Bowl match-up between Kansas State University and the University of Wisconsin.
December 29 Nastassja Kinski makes a puzzling appearance on the program Late Night with David Letterman, seeming somewhat oblivious to the jokes and everything else that was going on around her and appearing with an unusual hair style Letterman describes as "looking like there was an owl perched on top of her head." (Letterman's second guest, John Candy, comes out with his own hair moussed up in a pile as a spoof of Kinski's hair.)
Surround Sound is introduced for home use by Dolby.

Noted Debuts[edit]

Date Show Network
January 7 Fame NBC
January 12 American Playhouse PBS
January 16 King's Crossing ABC
January 23 One of the Boys NBC
February 1 Late Night with David Letterman
March 1 Chicago Story
March 12 T.J. Hooker ABC
March 17 Herbie the Matchmaker CBS
March 19 The Phoenix ABC
March 23 Joanie Loves Chachi
March 25 Cagney & Lacey
March 29 Capitol
April 5 Report to Murphy
April 14 Teachers Only NBC
May 4 The Book of Lists CBS
July 5 America This Morning ABC
August 9 Filthy Rich CBS
September 8 Speed Buggy
September 12 Blackstar
September 17 The Powers of Matthew Star NBC
September 18 The Gary Coleman Show
Gilligan's Planet CBS
Meatballs & Spaghetti
September 19 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
September 20 Child's Play
September 22 Family Ties NBC
Tales of the Gold Monkey ABC
September 24 Bring 'Em Back Alive CBS
September 25 The Little Rascals ABC
Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour
The Scooby & Scrappy-Doo/Puppy Hour
Silver Spoons NBC
September 26 Knight Rider
At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert Syndication
Matt Houston ABC
Gloria CBS
September 27 Square Pegs
September 30 Cheers NBC
October 1 Remington Steele
October 3 Voyagers!
October 4 CBS Morning News CBS
October 6 Tucker's Witch
October 10 Nature PBS
October 14 It Takes Two ABC
October 19 St. Elsewhere NBC
October 22 The Quest ABC
October 25 Newhart CBS
October 26 Gavilan NBC
October 29 The New Odd Couple ABC
December 12 Powerhouse PBS
December 27 Starcade TBS

Made-for-TV movies and miniseries[edit]

The Blue and the Gray
The Executioner's Song
Inside the Third Reich
Dramatic Adventure of Sara Dane
Women of the Sun
Once Upon a Time... Space

Television shows[edit]














Returning this year[edit]

Show Last Aired Previous Network Retitled as/Same New/Returning/Same Network Returning
Tattletales 1978 CBS Same Same January 18

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
January 29 Late Night with Tom Snyder 1973
February 24 The Lawrence Welk Show 1955
March 1 In Search of... 1976
March 6 Spider-Man 1981
March 22 Mr. Merlin
March 26 Password Plus (returned in 1984) 1979
April 21 WKRP in Cincinnati 1978
April 23 Blockbusters 1980
May 12 The Incredible Hulk 1977
May 20 Barney Miller 1975
May 27 Mork & Mindy 1978
Bosom Buddies' 1980
September 4 The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show
September 11 The Flintstone Comedy Show
September 13 Lou Grant 1977
December 31 The Doctors 1963
Texas 1980

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Show Moved from Moved to
Search for Tomorrow CBS NBC
Taxi ABC


Date Name Notability
January 19 Jodie Sweetin US actress (Full House).
March 3 Jessica Biel US actress
March 11 Thora Birch
April 30 Kirsten Dunst
May 15 Alexandra Breckenridge
June 29 Lily Rabe
September 30 Lacey Chabert US actress, voice actor (Party of Five, The Wild Thornberrys, Mean Girls).
October 15 Toran Caudell voice actor ("Arnold" from Hey Arnold! in 1996–1997 and "Wolfgang" in 1997).
November 12 Anne Hathaway US actress


Date Name Age Notability
January 1 Victor Buono 43 actor
January 5 Hans Conried 64 actor (Make Room for Daddy, Rocky and Bullwinkle)
January 10 Paul Lynde 55 actor and comedian (Bewitched, Hollywood Squares)
January 18 Trent Lehman 20 child actor (Nanny and the Professor)
March 5 John Belushi 33 actor (Saturday Night Live)
May 14 Hugh Beaumont 73 actor (Ward Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver)
July 21 Dave Garroway 69 journalist and host (The Today Show)
August 13 Joe E. Ross 68 actor (Gunther Toody on Car 54, Where Are You?)
November 4 Dominique Dunne 22 actress
December 7 Will Lee 74 actor (Mr. Hooper on (Sesame Street)
December 22 Jack Webb 62 actor, producer (Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet)


  1. ^ "Gunman releases TV-station hostages". google news (The Ledger). May 30, 1982. Retrieved October 22, 2009. [dead link]
  2. ^ "Gunman forces TV anchorman to read message". google news (The Free-Lance Star). May 29, 1982. Retrieved October 22, 2009. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Gunman holds two in TV studio". google news (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). May 29, 1982. Retrieved October 22, 2009.