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.

Events[edit]

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 on the CBS game show The Price Is Right; it will go on to become one of the most popular of 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 will leave the air after 13 weeks, whereas $ale (a revival of the hit NBC game show of the late 1960's-early 1970's) will go on to have a six-year run.
February 23 PBS 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 the NBC comedy 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 as CBS cancels the series after four 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 ABC soap opera All My Children.
April 18 The Disney Channel is initiated on American cable TV.
April 21 WTWC-TV in Tallahassee, Florida signs on, giving the Tallahassee market its first full-time NBC affiliate.
May 6 A fire at Southfork threatens the lives of the Ewings on the season finale of the CBS drama 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.
May 29 WVSB-TV in West Point, Mississippi signs on, giving the Tupelo market its first full-time ABC affiliate.
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).
June 20 KLDH (now KTKA-TV) in Topeka, Kansas signs on, giving the Topeka market its first full-time ABC affiliate.
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 due to the loss of both the regular transmission tape and a backup.[citation needed]
August 22 In Fargo, North Dakota, ABC affiliate KTHI-TV (now KVLY-TV) swaps affiliations with long-time NBC affiliate WDAY-TV and its semi-satellite in Grand Forks, WDAZ-TV.
August 30 Though the station is still regarded as profitable, Field Enterprises closes down WKBS-TV/Burlington, New Jersey-Philadelphia after failing to find a buyer.
September 5 PBS'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 newscast World News Tonight, after the death of Frank Reynolds two months earlier.
Pam Long becomes co-main writer of the CBS soap opera 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 will overtake Family Feud as the number one show in syndication. The show enters its 30th season in 2013 and continues being the number one show in syndication.
Press Your Luck premieres on CBS; the game show would end its run on September 26, 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.[citation needed]
October 6 The rock band R.E.M. made its television debut on NBC's 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 watched the controversial made-for-TV movie The Day After on ABC, depicting the start of a nuclear war.
November 24 Sesame Street on PBS dealt with 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 ABC's Dynasty.[1]

Programs[edit]

Debuts[edit]

Date Show Network
January 3 Hit Man NBC
Just Men!
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
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
April 18 Good Morning, Mickey! Syndication
May 31 Star Search
Buffalo Bill NBC
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
The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show
Dungeons & Dragons
Saturday Supercade
September 18 Hardcastle and McCormick ABC
September 19 Love Connection Syndication
Welcome to Pooh Corner
Wheel of Fortune
September 20 Just Our Luck ABC
September 21 Hotel
September 23 Mr. Smith NBC
September 26 Boone
AfterMASH CBS
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
Masquerade

Returning this year[edit]

Show Last aired Network Retitled as/Same New network/Same Return date
Sale of the Century 1973 NBC Same Same January 3
Dream House 1970 April 4
Battlestars 1981 The New Battlestars
Second Chance 1977 ABC Press Your Luck CBS September 19

Ending this year[edit]

Date Show Debut
February 3 The Greatest American Hero 1981
February 28 M*A*S*H 1972
March 21 Little House on the Prairie 1974
April 12 Ace Crawford, Private Eye 1983
May 10 Laverne & Shirley 1976
May 14 Wizards and Warriors 1983
May 24 Joanie Loves Chachi 1982
May 31 Bring 'Em Back Alive
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
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
November 5 Pac-Man 1982

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]

Title Network Premiere date
Kennedy NBC November 20 (5 episodes)
Malibu ABC January 23
The Thorn Birds ABC March 27 (4 episodes)
The Winds of War ABC February 6 (7 episodes)
V NBC May 1 (2 episodes)

Births[edit]

Date Name Notability
January 2 Kate Bosworth Actress (Young Americans)
January 7 Robert Ri'chard Actor (Cousin Skeeter)
February 27 Kate Mara Actress (American Horror Story)
March 8 Jessica Collins Actress (The Nine)
March 10 Carrie Underwood Singer (American Idol)
March 15 Sean Biggerstaff Scottish actor (Harry Potter)
March 20 Michael Cassidy Actor (The O.C., Privileged, Men at Work)
March 31 Melissa Ordway Actress (Hollywood Heights, The Young and the Restless)
April 1 Ellen Hollman Actress (Spartacus: War of the Damned)
April 4 Amanda Righetti Actress (The O.C., North Shore, The Mentalist)
April 26 Ryan Sommers Baum Actress (The Famous Jett Jackson)
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.)
Gabourey Sidibe Actress (The Big C, Empire)
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)
May 28 Megalyn Echikunwoke Actress (Like Family, The 4400, CSI: Miami)
June 10 Leelee Sobieski Actress (Charlie Grace, NYC 22)
July 1 Lynsey Bartilson Actress (Grounded for Life)
Tanya Chisholm Actress (Big Time Rush)
July 6 Gregory Smith Actor (Everwood)
July 23 Andrew Eiden Actor (Complete Savages)
July 27 Blair Redford Actor (The Lying Game, Satisfaction)
July 29 Tania Gunadi Actress (Aaron Stone, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero)
July 30 Nathan Carter Canadian actor
August 3 Mamie Gummer Actress (Emily Owens, M.D.)
August 4 Adhir Kalyan Actor (Aliens in America, Rules of Engagement, Second Chance)
August 9 Ashley Johnson Actress (Growing Pains, Jumanji, Recess, Ben 10, Blindspot)
August 14 Mila Kunis Actress (That '70s Show, Family Guy)
August 20 Andrew Garfield American actor
August 21 Brody Jenner Actor (The Hills, Keeping Up with the Kardashians)
August 22 Laura Breckenridge Actress (Related)
September 2 Tiffany Hines Actress (Beyond the Break, Nikita)
September 14 Amy Winehouse English singer (d. 2011)
September 21 Maggie Grace Actress (Lost)
October 5 Jesse Eisenberg Actor (Get Real)
October 9 Spencer Grammer Actress (As the World Turns, Greek, Rick and Morty)
October 20 Alona Tal Israeli-American actress (The Pyjamas, Cane, Cult, Hand of God)
October 24 Adrienne Bailon Actress (That's So Raven, The Cheetah Girls, The Real)
October 29 Dillon Casey Actor (Nikita)
Richard Brancatisano Australian actor (Power Rangers Mystic Force, Chasing Life)
November 7 Adam DeVine Voice actor (Uncle Grandpa, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero)
December 12 Mathew Valencia Voice of Robin in The New Batman Adventures

Deaths[edit]

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 14 Junior Samples 57 Comedian (Hee Haw)
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 Charley on My Three Sons)

References[edit]

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