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Ten Biggest Moments on TV
THE TEN BIGGEST MOMENTS ON TV
Expert picks 10 most memorable events
IF you had to name the 10 most memorable moments you've seen on television, what would they be? Tom Soter, a New York writer who specializes in TV, has picked his top 10 moments - from tons of research and a lifetime of watching the tube. The things that influenced his choices are the historical significance, the effect on world ""story and the size of the audiences, Here is Soter's list in chronological order:
The Checkers speech. Richard Nixon, then vice-presidential candidate, defended himself against charges that he kept a secret campaign slush fund with a live speech to the nation on September 23, 1952. His homespun talk included a reference to his dog, Checkers-which he said he would keep "regatdless of what they say about it." Positive viewer response the next day led Dwight Eisenhower to keep him on the Republican ticket-demonstrating for the first time TV's power to sway voters.
Lucy's baby. The birth of Little Ricky on January 19, 1953, caused a stampede to the tube - 70 percent of all viewers saw it, representing the peak of the interest that CBS had built around Lucille Ball's real-life pregnancy.
Godfrey axes LaRosa. Arthur Godfrey was TV's first superstar variety show host, and his immense power and popularity was matched by his ego, On October 19, 1953, when Godfrey thought his show's young crooner, Julius LaRosa, was getting too big, he waited for LaRosa to finish his song - then fired him on the air. "That was Julie's. swan song," said Godfrey - a line that would become famous.
Elvis and the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. These two events, eight years apart, introduced the rock and roll legends that were to change music and tastes. Presley swiveled his hips on September 9,1956 (causing a storm that led to a future appearance showing him only from the waist up). John, Paul, George and Ringo hit the airwaves on February 9, ·1964.
A Moon landing. Some 750 million people saw Neil. Armstrong take his "small step" on the moon, on July 20,1969.
Oswald murdered. During TV's . round-the-clock coverage of the assassination of President Kennedy, millions watched in horror on a Sunday afternoon as assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down by Jack Ruby in the garage of a Dallas police station, at 12:21, November 24, 1963.
All in the Family debut. Never before had viewers heard hatreds spouted so gleefully by a TV character as when the bigoted Archie Bunker hit the screen on January 23, 1971. Once taboo topics like sex, abortion and racism became common.
Nixon quits. Before a rapt nation, . the Watergate drama, which had boiled for two years, climaxed with the on-air resignation of an embattled, unapologetic President Nixon· on August 9, 1974.
Who shot J.R.? The episode of V Dallas, on November 21, 1980, set a record with 50 million viewers. CBS had played up the mystery of J.R. Ewing's attacker to the hilt all summer long, and the show that revealed Kristin as the culprit rocketed the show to the top of the ratings. -
M*A*S*H finale. The 251st and W last episode of the series was a sentimental experience for 120 million viewers on February 28, 1983, breaking records for a regular series episode.
New York Star, 1983
AUTHOR NOTE: This is a condensed version of a longer story I wrote for Diversion. It was picked up by the New York Times Syndicate and sold all over the world.