1976 in American television

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This is a list of American television-related events in 1976.

Events[edit]

Date Event
January 1 NBC officially replaces its snake and peacock logos with a "modern N," composed of blue and red trapezoids—and nearly identical to the logo for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications' TV network, prompting NET to sue NBC for trademark infringement.
January 11–12 Eleanor and Franklin, a two-part miniseries starring Jane Alexander and Edward Herrmann, airs on ABC.
January 17 The Blues Brothers make their debut on NBC's Saturday Night Live, singing Slim Harpo's song "I'm a King Bee" in their Killer Bees costumes. Their first appearance as The Blues Brothers proper occurred in 1978.
February 1 The miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man debuts on ABC, becoming a critical and ratings success over its 12-episode run.
February 2 Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, and Art Carney reunite in an ABC special, The Honeymooners – The Second Honeymoon.
February 29 The movie The Sound of Music is televised for the first time, on ABC.
April 1–2 Helter Skelter, a two-part adaptation of Vincent Bugliosi's book about the Charles Manson case, airs on CBS, with Steve Railsback portraying Manson.
April 12 ABC airs its first Monday Night Baseball broadcast, taking over the package from NBC.
April 24 Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels makes an on-air offer to pay The Beatles $3,000 to reunite on the show. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were apparently watching the show together in New York and considered walking down to the studio to accept the check. Michaels would raise his offer to $3,200 on SNL's May 22 episode.
June 7 After several years providing commentaries for the show, David Brinkley joins John Chancellor as co-anchor of NBC Nightly News, an attempt by the network to bolster ratings against the CBS Evening News and to harken back to the success it had with The Huntley-Brinkley Report.
July 1 The pay TV network Showtime makes its debut, appearing only on a Dublin, California cable system. The network would expand nationally in 1978.
July 4 U.S. television networks present extensive coverage of nationwide events commemorating the country's bicentennial.
July 11 KEVN commences programming in Rapid City, South Dakota, ending the problem of CBS duplication in western Nebraska.
July 12 Family Feud premieres on American Broadcasting Company and would become daytime television's number 1 game show within the next few years and beyond.
September 6 In an experiment, New York City station WOR-TV replaces its normal programming for 5 exclusive nights of British shows from Thames Television.
September 23 The first of three debates between U.S. presidential candidates Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter air in prime time; they are the first debates between major party nominees for U.S. President since 1960.
October 4 Newly arrived from NBC, Barbara Walters joins Harry Reasoner as co-anchor of the ABC Evening News. The pair have a noticeable lack of on-air chemistry, and by 1978 Reasoner would leave ABC to return to CBS and 60 Minutes.
October 11 Jane Pauley makes her debut on NBC's Today.
November 7–8 The film Gone with the Wind makes its broadcast television debut on NBC; it would be the highest-rated program ever aired on a single network, only to be surpassed by Roots the following January.
November 9 The Museum of Broadcasting opens on the first 3 floors of the Paley Foundation building in New York City. The museum would later be renamed the The Paley Center for Media.
December 14 Barbara Walters airs her first interview special for ABC, with guests Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Barbra Streisand, and Jon Peters.
December 17 At 1:00 p.m. (ET), Atlanta, Georgia station WTCG-TV begins satellite transmission of its regular programming to four cable systems, thus becoming the first superstation.
December 31 President Gerald Ford presents the last of the Bicentennial Minutes on CBS; the vignettes had been airing nightly on the network since July 4, 1974.
Also in 1976 CBS' Match Game is the #1 rated game show on daytime television for the fourth consecutive year.
Matsushita introduces the VHS home video cassette recorder to compete with Sony's Betamax system.

Programs[edit]

^[e] signifies that this show has a related event in the Events section above.

Debuts[edit]

Date Show Network
January 13 The Adams Chronicles PBS
January 14 The Bionic Woman ABC
January 21 Dance in America PBS
January 27 Laverne & Shirley ABC
January 28 The Dumplings NBC
January 30 The Practice
February 13 Sara CBS
March 9 Family ABC
May 31 Viva Valdez
June 14 The Gong Show NBC
July 12 Family Feud ABC
August 5 What's Happening!!
August 14 Clue Club CBS
August 30 New Howdy Doody Show Syndication
August 31 Alice CBS
September 6 In Search of... Syndication
September 9 Delvecchio CBS
September 11 Ark II
Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle
Way Out Games
Big John, Little John NBC
The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.
McDuff, the Talking Dog
Monster Squad
Muggsy
Jabberjaw ABC
The Krofft Supershow
The Mumbly Cartoon Show
The Scooby-Doo/Dynomutt Hour
September 17 Spencer's Pilots CBS
September 19 Cos ABC
September 20 All's Fair CBS
September 21 Rich Man, Poor Man Book II ABC
Baa Baa Black Sheep NBC
September 22 The Quest
Ball Four CBS
Charlie's Angels ABC
September 23 The Tony Randall Show
Gemini Man NBC
September 24 Serpico
September 25 Holmes & Yo-Yo ABC
Mr. T and Tina
September 27 The Muppet Show Syndication
September 30 The Nancy Walker Show ABC
October 3 Quincy, M.E. NBC
October 4 50 Grand Slam
Stumpers
October 16 Most Wanted ABC
November 11 Gibbsville NBC
December 1 C.P.O. Sharkey
The McLean Stevenson Show
Sirota's Court
December 6 The Feather and Father Gang ABC
December 13 Double Dare CBS

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
March 3 Cannon 1971
March 30 The Rookies 1972
March 31 The Dumplings 1976
April 29 Harry O 1974
May 7 Sara 1976
July 29 Marcus Welby, M.D. 1969
September 6 Medical Center
Viva Valdez 1976
October 28 Gemini Man
December 30 Gibbsville

Births[edit]

Date Name Notability
January 6 Danny Pintauro Actor (Jonathan on Who's the Boss?)
January 23 Tony Lucca Actor (Mickey Mouse Club, Malibu Shores)
March 13 Danny Masterson Actor (That '70s Show)
March 23 Keri Russell Actress (Mickey Mouse Club, Felicity)
April 6 Candace Cameron Actress (Full House)
April 20 Joey Lawrence Actor (Gimme a Break!, Blossom)
May 10 Rhona Bennett Singer and actress (Mickey Mouse Club)
June 5 Marc Worden Actor (Mickey Mouse Club), voice-over actor (Iron Man)
July 9 Fred Savage Actor and director (The Wonder Years)
August 6 Soleil Moon Frye Actress (Punky Brewster)
August 8 JC Chasez Actor (Mickey Mouse Club) and singer (*NSYNC)
August 11 Will Friedle Actor (Boy Meets World), voice actor (Kim Possible)
August 20 Kristen Miller Actress (USA High)
August 27 Sarah Chalke Actress (Roseanne, Scrubs)
September 19 Alison Sweeney Actress and host (Days of Our Lives, The Biggest Loser)
October 19 Desmond Harrington Actor (Dexter)
Omar Gooding Actor (Hangin' with Mr. Cooper)
October 23 Ryan Reynolds Actor (Two Guys and a Girl)
November 27 Jaleel White Actor (Steve Urkel on Family Matters)
November 29 Anna Faris Actress (Mom)

Deaths[edit]

Date Name Age Notability
August 28 Anissa Jones 18 Child actress (Family Affair)
December 12 Jack Cassidy 49 Actor (He & She)