1983 in American television

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For the American TV schedule, see: 1983-84 United States network television schedule.

The year 1983 in television involved some significant events.


Date Event
January 1 After episode 410 of Soul Train was broadcast this day, the series goes on hiatus for Don Cornelius's brain surgery. Original episodes return on April 30 after Cornelius returns from his convalescence.
January 3 Plinko is added as a Pricing Game for the series The Price Is Right; it would become one of the most popular of all the show's games. Also on this date, three new game shows debut on rival NBC: $ale of the Century, Just Men! and Hit Man. The two latter shows would cease being broadcast after 13 weeks, whereas $ale (itself a revived version) would go on to have a six-year run.
February 23 Public Broadcasting Service broadcasts The Operation, a live telecast of an actual open-heart surgery.
February 28 More than 125 million Americans watch the 251st and final episode of M*A*S*H on CBS, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen".
March 6 Country Music Television (CMT) begins in the United States.
March 7 The Nashville Network (TNN) (known later as The National Network; now known as Spike TV) begins broadcasting.
March 10 MTV broadcasts the video of Michael Jackson's song "Billie Jean" for the first time. The video is the first by a black artist to gain great airplay on MTV, and is credited with helping the album Thriller, in which the song is included, become the best-selling album of all time.
March 19 US First Lady Nancy Reagan makes a special appearance on an episode of Diff'rent Strokes, beginning her Just Say No anti-drug campaign.
March 20 NBC broadcasts the TV movie Special Bulletin, a fictional—yet realistic—depiction of a TV network's coverage of a nuclear terrorism threat in Charleston, South Carolina. The movie is an early collaboration between Edward Zwick (who directed) and Marshall Herskovitz (who wrote the teleplay); both men would create and produce thirtysomething later in the 1980s.
April 4 Archie Bunker's Place broadcasts its last original episode; CBS would cancel the series after 4 seasons (and without a proper series finale), ending Carroll O'Connor's run as Archie Bunker, which began during 1971 with All in the Family.
April 12 David Canary makes his first appearance on the series All My Children.
April 18 The Disney Channel is initiated on American cable TV.
May 6 A fire at Southfork threatens the lives of the Ewings for the season finale of the series Dallas.
May 16 The concert special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever is broadcast by NBC; Michael Jackson, after a performance with The Jackson Five, provides the centerpiece highlight by performing, to "Billie Jean," his "moonwalk" dance for the first time on TV.
June 16 Pope John Paul II arrives in his native Poland, with ABC and NBC broadcasting his arrival live (CBS, hampered by budget reductions of its news division, broadcasts The Price Is Right instead).
August 4 The cast of NBC's series Search for Tomorrow is forced to do a live show for the first time since the program began using videotape format during 1967; both the regular transmission tape and a backup were lost, something that is disputed by outside sources after the fact.
August 30 Though the station is still regarded as profitable, Field Enterprises closes down WKBS-TV/Philadelphia after failing to find a buyer.
September 5 Public Broadcasting Service's series The MacNeil/Lehrer Report becomes The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, the first American network news program to expand from a half-hour to one hour in length.
Tom Brokaw becomes the sole main anchor of the NBC Nightly News, ending a 17-month stint co-anchoring the broadcast with Roger Mudd.
Peter Jennings becomes sole anchorman of ABC's series World News Tonight, after the death of Frank Reynolds two months earlier.
Pam Long becomes co-main writer of Guiding Light.
September 8 The comedy series We Got it Made debuts, the first new series on NBC's autumn list to premiere—and the start of one of the least successful new autumn show rosters for a network in history, as none of the series would survive a 2nd season (the other series being Manimal, Jennifer Slept Here, Mr. Smith, Bay City Blues, The Yellow Rose, Boone, For Love and Honor, and The Rousters).
September 12 The animated G.I. Joe mini-series based on the toys of the same name debuts in syndication. Another mini-series airs the following year, with an ongoing show premiering in 1985.
September 19 The nighttime syndicated edition of the NBC daytime game show Wheel of Fortune premieres. The show is only picked up by 59 markets and is shut out of the top 3 markets. However, by late 1984, the show overtook Family Feud as the number one show in syndication. The show entered its 30th season in 2013 and continues being the number one show in syndication.
Press Your Luck premieres; the game show ran on CBS until 1986.
September 27–29 NBC broadcasts Live... and in Person, a live variety special program broadcast during 3 nights. Sandy Gallin is host, and performers include Neil Diamond, Liberace, Linda Ronstadt, and the cast of A Chorus Line.
October 3 During a live NBC news update, anchor Jessica Savitch appears incoherent, slurring her speech, deviating from her copy and ad-libbing her report. Savitch, dogged by rumors of drug abuse and instability, still has her contract renewed, but drowns in a car accident three weeks later.
October 6 American rock band R.E.M. makes its television debut on Late Night with David Letterman.
October 10 Adam, a TV-movie about the mysterious disappearance of Adam Walsh, makes its world premiere on NBC. The broadcast ends with a series of missing children's photographs and descriptions, along with a telephone number viewers could call to provide information on their disappearances.
November 20 An estimated 100 million people watch the controversial made-for-television movie The Day After, depicting the start of a nuclear war.
November 24 This day's episode of Sesame Street confronts the sensitive issue of death when Big Bird learns the concept as it relates to his late friend, Mr. Hooper (Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, died of a heart attack in November 1982).
December 2 The epic (nearly 14 minutes) music video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is broadcast for the first time. It will become the most often repeated and famous music video of all time and increase Jackson's own popularity and the sales of the record album Thriller.
December 21 Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, and Henry Kissinger make cameo appearances on Dynasty.[1]



Date Show Network
January 3 Hit Man NBC
Just Men!
Sale of the Century
January 10 Fraggle Rock HBO
January 22 Mama's Family NBC
January 23 The A-Team
February 5 The Dukes CBS
February 10 Amanda's ABC
February 26 Wizards and Warriors CBS
March 2 High Performance ABC
March 4 At Ease ABC
March 7 Small & Frye CBS
March 15 Ace Crawford, Private Eye
April 1 Baby Makes Five ABC
April 2 Goodnight, Beantown CBS
April 6 Zorro and Son ABC
April 10 Casablanca NBC
April 15 Bare Essence ABC
May 31 Buffalo Bill NBC
Star Search Syndication
June 6 Reading Rainbow PBS
June 27 Loving ABC
July 29 Friday Night Videos NBC
September 5 He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Syndication
September 8 We Got It Made NBC
September 9 Lottery! ABC
September 10 The Littles
Rubik, the Amazing Cube
The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show
September 12 Inspector Gadget Syndication
September 16 Webster ABC
September 17 Alvin and the Chipmunks NBC
Mister T
Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince CBS
The Biskitts
Dungeons & Dragons
Saturday Supercade
September 18 Hardcastle and McCormick ABC
September 19 Love Connection Syndication
Welcome to Pooh Corner
Wheel of Fortune
Press Your Luck CBS
September 20 Just Our Luck ABC
September 21 Hotel
September 23 Mr. Smith NBC
September 26 Boone
September 27 Oh Madeline ABC
September 30 Manimal NBC
October 1 The Rousters
Cutter to Houston CBS
October 2 The Yellow Rose NBC
October 3 Scarecrow and Mrs. King CBS
October 5 Whiz Kids
October 17 The Sally Jessy Raphael Show KSDK-TV
October 21 Jennifer Slept Here NBC
October 25 Bay City Blues
October 31 Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour
December 3 Riptide
December 15 Automan ABC

Returning this year[edit]

Show Last Aired Previous Network Retitled as/Same New/Returning/Same Network Return Date
Sale of the Century 1973 NBC Same Same January 3
Dream House 1970 April 4
Battlestars 1981 The New Battlestars

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
February 3 The Greatest American Hero 1981
February 28 M*A*S*H 1972
April 12 Ace Crawford, Private Eye 1983
May 10 Laverne & Shirley 1976
May 31 Bring 'Em Back Alive 1982
June 1 Tales of the Gold Monkey
June 15 Small & Frye 1983
June 24 Second City Television/SCTV Network 90 1981
July 7 The Crystal Cube 1983
July 17 CHiPs 1977
July 20 Taxi 1978
September 5 The All-New Popeye Hour
Little House on the Prairie 1974
Quincy, M.E. 1976
September 10 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends 1981
September 12 Square Pegs 1982
September 21 Archie Bunker's Place 1979
September 24 Walt Disney anthology series (returned in 1986) 1954

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Show Moved from Moved to
Fame NBC Syndication
Too Close for Comfort ABC

Made-for-TV movies and miniseries[edit]

Scales of Justice
The Dismissal
The Thorn Birds
The Winds of War


Date Name Notability
January 2 Kate Bosworth Actress (Young Americans)
February 23 Emily Blunt Actress
February 27 Kate Mara Actress (American Horror Story)
March 8 Jessica Collins Actress (The Nine)
March 10 Carrie Underwood Singer (American Idol)
April 4 Amanda Righetti Actress (The O.C., North Shore, The Mentalist)
April 27 Francis Capra Actor (Veronica Mars)
April 29 Megan Boone Actress (The Blacklist)
May 6 Adrianne Palicki Actress (Friday Night Lights, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
May 11 Holly Valance New Zealand-born actress (Prison Break)
May 14 Amber Tamblyn Actress (Joan of Arcadia, Two and a Half Men)
May 20 Michaela McManus Actress (One Tree Hill, Awake, Aquarius)
August 3 Mamie Gummer Actress (Emily Owens, M.D.)
August 14 Mila Kunis Actress (That '70s Show)
September 21 Maggie Grace Actress (Lost)
October 9 Spencer Grammer Actress (As the World Turns, Greek, Rick and Morty)
October 24 Katie McGrath Irish actress (Merlin, Dracula)
December 12 Mathew Valencia Voice of Robin in The New Batman Adventures


Date Name Age Notability
March 16 Arthur Godfrey 79 Host (Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts)
July 20 Frank Reynolds 53 ABC news journalist
July 29 Raymond Massey 86 Actor (Dr. Gillespie on Dr. Kildare)
August 3 Carolyn Jones 53 Actress (Morticia on The Addams Family)
August 28 Jan Clayton 66 Actress (Ellen Miller on Lassie)
August 29 Simon Oakland 68 Actor (Baa Baa Black Sheep)
October 23 Jessica Savitch 36 NBC news anchor
November 22 Michael Conrad 58 Actor (Sgt. Phil Esterhasz on Hill Street Blues)
November 28 Christopher George 52 Actor (Sgt. Sam Troy on The Rat Patrol)
December 28 William Demarest 91 Actor (Uncle Charlie on My Three Sons)


  1. ^ Also Starring Gerald Ford – Entertainment Weekly. Accessed 2009-07-27. Archived 2009-07-29.