1982 in American Television
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1982 in American Television

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


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 PBS member station WNET/Newark, New Jersey 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 NBC's Today Show.
ABC 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.
In Panama City, Florida, NBC affiliate WMBB swaps affiliations with ABC affiliate WJHG-TV.
January 10 CBS televises the NFC Championship Game between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. In what would become one of the most iconic images in NFL history, San Francisco tight end Dwight Clark makes "The Catch" to enable the 49ers to defeat the Cowboys, 28-27, and go to their first ever Super Bowl. Vin Scully called the game alongside Hank Stram on television while Pat Summerall (who would do the play-by-play for Super Bowl XVI with John Madden two weeks later) called the game with Jack Buck for CBS Radio.
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.
Two months after new owners Pacific Media Corporation changed its call letters from KECC-TV, CBS affiliate KECY-TV in Yuma, Arizona leaves the network to join ABC. This will leave Yuma without a CBS affiliate for 3 years, until KECY-TV rejoins the network in 1985 (it is now a Fox affiliate).[1][2][3]
February 3 Singer Jermaine Jackson guest-features as Tootie (Kim Fields), gets to meet the person she admires on a very special episode of the NBC sitcom The Facts of Life.
February 7 As part of a two-night event, ABC airs the network television broadcast premiere of Superman: The Movie.
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 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 21 Norman Lear purchases Avco Embassy Pictures and rechristens his TAT Communications Company as Embassy Television.
WGXA in Macon, Georgia signs-on the air, giving the Macon market its first full-time ABC affiliate.
WTTO in Birmingham, Alabama signs-on the air, giving the Birmingham market its first independent station.
May 2 The Weather Channel is begun in the U.S.
May 22 In Boston, Massachusetts, CBS affiliate WNAC-TV ceases operations due to improprieties by its parent company RKO General, having lost the license (as well as those of KHJ-TV and WOR-TV, both of which RKO temporarily retain on appeal) after General Tire admitted to a litany of corporate misconduct (including, among other things, committing financial fraud over illegal political contributions and bribes) as part of a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and RKO General withheld evidence from the FCC of General Tire's misconduct, and also failed to disclose evidence of accounting errors on its own part. Several hours later, New England Television begins operations of WNEV-TV (now independent station WHDH) on channel 7, retaining WNAC-TV's former CBS affiliation.[4][5]
May 28 At about 5:00 pm, Joseph Billie Gwin, wanting to "prevent World War III", forces his way into the studios of Phoenix CBS affiliate 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.[6][7][8]
July 13 ABC broadcasts the Major League Baseball All-Star Game from Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It's the first time that the Mid-Summer's Classic is played outside of the United States.
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 later revealed to have been staged.
September 6 After Tom Wopat and John Schneider quit the CBS action series 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 21 The USA Cartoon Express airs for the first time.
September 25 Future Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus begins a 3-year stint (1982-1985) as a featured player/regular cast member of NBC's Saturday Night Live.
Queen performs on the eighth-season premiere of NBC's Saturday Night Live.
October 1 KDOC-TV commences broadcasting in Los Angeles.
October 2 Mary Jo Catlett replaces Nedra Volz on the NBC sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, as the new housekeeper, Mrs. Pearl Gallagher, from 1982 until the series ending during 1986.
October 3 During the National Football League players strike (on what would have been Week 5 of the season), CBS broadcasts four Division III football games using their regular NFL broadcast crews.
October 4 KMTR signs-on in Eugene, Oregon as a NBC affiliate. Due to NBC's persistent low ratings, the network's former affiliate KVAL-TV had been preempting NBC programming (with increasing regularity) in favor of programs from CBS (shared with ABC affiliate KEZI), forcing a frustrated NBC to seek a new station. With the move, KVAL-TV becomes a full-time CBS affiliate.
October 12 Cindy Williams makes her final appearance as Shirley Finney on Laverne & Shirley.
October 22 Susan Stafford departs as co-host of the NBC game show Wheel of Fortune 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.
November 20 At the age of 7, Drew Barrymore becomes the youngest person to ever guest-host Saturday Night Live. It was in this same episode that Andy Kaufman was banned from ever performing on the show again.
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.
TBS in association with Sports Productions, Inc. broadcasts a heavily anticipated college basketball match-up between the Virginia Cavaliers (led by Ralph Sampson) and Georgetown Hoyas (led by Patrick Ewing). TBS paid approximately US$600,000 for the broadcasting rights to the game that was called by Skip Caray and Abe Lemons.
Eddie Murphy becomes the first and to date, only person to guest-host Saturday Night Live while still cast member. Murphy's 48 Hours co-star Nick Nolte was originally supposed to host until he fell ill.
December 27 SuperStation WTBS debuts one of the first video game-themed TV series, Starcade.
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.
December 31 Texas and The Doctors have their final episodes aired on NBC.


Debuting this year

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 3 The Kids of Degrassi Street Showtime
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 12 Blackstar
September 17 The Powers of Matthew Star NBC
September 18 The Gary Coleman Show
The Incredible Hulk
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 2 The Devlin Connection
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

Resuming this year

Show Last aired Previous network Return date
Tattletales 1978 CBS January 18

Ending this year

Date Show Debut
January 8 Behind the Screen 1981
January 29 Late Night with Tom Snyder 1973
February 24 The Lawrence Welk Show 1955
March 1 In Search of... (returned in 2002) 1977
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
June 11 Making a Living (returned in 1985)
September 4 The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show
September 10 Match Game (returned in 1990) 1962
September 11 The Flintstone Comedy Show 1980
September 13 Lou Grant 1977
December 18 Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo 1980
December 25 The Devlin Connection 1982
December 31 Texas 1980
The Doctors 1963

Changing networks

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

Made-for-TV movies and miniseries

Title Network Premiere date
The Elephant Man ABC January 4
A Woman Called Golda CBS April 26
Inside the Third Reich ABC May 9
Little Gloria... Happy at Last NBC October 24
The Blue and the Gray (miniseries) CBS November 14
The Executioner's Song NBC November 28, 29

Television stations

Station launches

Stations changing network affiliation

Market Date Station Channel Prior affiliation New affiliation
Eugene, Oregon October 4 KVAL-TV 13 NBC CBS
Hartford/Waterbury, Connecticut March 22 WTXX 20 NBC Independent
Panama City, Florida January 4 WJHG-TV 7 ABC NBC
Yuma, Arizona/El Centro, California February 1 KECY-TV 9 CBS ABC

Station closures

Date Market Station Channel Affiliation
May 21 Boston, Massachusetts WNAC-TV 7 CBS


Date Name Notability
January 5 Allen Evangelista Actor (Zoey 101, The Secret Life of the American Teenager)
January 7 Lauren Cohan Actress (Supernatural, The Walking Dead)
January 10 Josh Ryan Evans Actor (Timmy on Passions) (d. 2002)
January 17 David Blue Actor (Stargate Universe)
January 19 Jodie Sweetin Actress (Full House, Fuller House)
January 29 Adam Lambert Singer, songwriter and actor (American Idol, Glee)
Heidi Mueller Actress (Passions)
January 31 Jon Gabrus Actor (CollegeHumor Originals)
February 3 Bridget Regan Actress (Legend of the Seeker, Jane the Virgin, Agent Carter)
February 7 Cory Doran Canadian actor (George of the Jungle, Jimmy Two-Shoes, Stoked, Pearlie, Wild Kratts, Total Drama, Rocket Monkeys)
February 8 Danny Tamberelli Actor (The Adventures of Pete & Pete, The Magic School Bus, All That, Fillmore!)
February 12 Carter Hayden Canadian actor (Total Drama, Camp Lakebottom)
February 17 Carter Hayden Canadian actress (6teen, Happy Hour)
March 1 Alexis Fields Actress (Roc, Sister, Sister, Kenan & Kel, Moesha)
March 3 Jessica Biel Actress (7th Heaven)
March 10 Thomas Middleditch Canadian actor (Silicon Valley, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero)
March 11 Lindsey McKeon Actress (Saved by the Bell: The New Class, One Tree Hill)
Robbie Daymond Voice actor (Breadwinners, Sailor Moon, Get Blake!, OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes, Spider-Man, Pinky Malinky)
Thora Birch Actress (The Outer Limits)
March 20 Nick Blood English actor (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Erica Luttrell Voice actress (The Magic School Bus, Dave the Barbarian, Steven Universe)
March 22 Constance Wu Actress (Fresh Off the Boat)
March 24 James Napier Robertson New Zealand actor (Power Rangers Dino Thunder)
March 25 Sean Faris Actor (Life as We Know It, Pretty Little Liars)
Jenny Slate Actress, comedian (Saturday Night Live, Bob's Burgers, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Muppet Babies)
Alex Moffat Actor, comedian (Saturday Night Live)
March 30 Jason Dohring Actor (Veronica Mars)
April 1 Taran Killam Actor, comedian (The Amanda Show, Wild 'n Out, Mad TV, Saturday Night Live)
April 3 Cobie Smulders Canadian actress (How I Met Your Mother) and model
April 5 Hayley Atwell English actress (Agent Carter, Conviction) and singer
April 6 Bret Harrison Actor (Grounded for Life, The Loop, Reaper, Breaking In)
April 10 Chyler Leigh Actress (Grey's Anatomy, Supergirl)
April 15 Seth Rogen Canadian-American actor, comedian (Freaks and Geeks, Saturday Night Live)
April 22 Cassidy Freeman Actress (Smallville, Longmire)
April 24 Kelly Clarkson Singer and actress (American Idol)
April 27 Katrina Johnson Actress (All That)
April 28 Harry Shum, Jr. Actor (Glee, Shadowhunters)
April 30 Drew Seeley Canadian-American actor (Glory Daze)
Kirsten Dunst Actress (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Fargo)
May 1 Jamie Dornan Northern Irish actor (Once Upon a Time)
May 6 Lindsay Pulsipher Actress (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, True Blood, The Beast)
May 9 Rachel Boston Actress (American Dreams, Witches of East End)
May 11 Cory Monteith Actor (Glee) (d. 2013)
May 14 Anjelah Johnson Actress (Mad TV)
May 15 Alexandra Breckenridge Actress (Family Guy)
May 28 Alexa Davalos Actress (Reunion, The Man in the High Castle)
June 2 Jewel Staite Canadian actress (Firefly, Stargate Atlantis)
June 14 Lawrence Saint-Victor Actor (Guiding Light)
June 16 Missy Peregrym Canadian actress (Life as We Know It, Reaper, Rookie Blue)
June 17 Arthur Darvill English actor (Legends of Tomorrow)
June 21 Jussie Smollett Actor (On Our Own, Empire, Underground)
June 29 Lily Rabe Actress (American Horror Story)
Colin Jost Actor, comedian (Saturday Night Live)
June 30 Lizzy Caplan Actress (Related, The Class, Party Down, Masters of Sex)
July 1 Hilarie Burton Actress (One Tree Hill)
July 4 Michael Sorrentino ("The Situation") TV personality (Jersey Shore)
July 8 Pendleton Ward Voice actor (Adventure Time)
Sophia Bush Actress (One Tree Hill, Chicago P.D.)
July 18 Ryan Cabrera American musician
July 19 Jared Padalecki Actor (Gilmore Girls, Supernatural)
July 20 Percy Daggs III Actor (Veronica Mars)
July 23 Paul Wesley Actor (American Dreams, The Vampire Diaries)
Tom Mison English actor (Sleepy Hollow)
July 24 Anna Paquin Canadian actress (True Blood)
Elisabeth Moss Actress (The West Wing, Mad Men)
July 25 Brad Renfro Actor (d. 2008)
July 28 Tom Pelphrey Actor (Guiding Light, Iron Fist)
July 29 Allison Mack Actress (Smallville, Wilfred)
July 30 Martin Starr Actor (Freaks and Geeks, Party Down, Silicon Valley)
Yvonne Strahovski Actress (Headland, Chuck)
August 7 Abbie Cornish Actress (Outriders)
Brit Marling Actress (Babylon, The OA)
August 9 Jes Macallan Actress (Mistresses)
August 10 Katrina Begin Actress
August 16 Todd Haberkorn Voice actor (Ever After High, Ben 10)
August 17 Mark Salling Actor (Glee) (d. 2018)
August 19 Erika Christensen Actress (Six Degrees, Parenthood) and singer
Melissa Fumero Actress (One Life to Live, Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
August 20 Meghan Ory Canadian actress (Once Upon a Time)
Jamil Walker Smith Actor (Hey Arnold!, Waynehead, Stargate Universe)
August 25 Benjamin Diskin Voice actor (Hey Arnold!, Codename: Kids Next Door, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Stitch!, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spider-Man, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, Muppet Babies, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle)
August 29 Echo Kellum Actor (Ben and Kate, Arrow, Sean Saves the World)
September 1 Zoe Lister-Jones Actress (Delocated, Whitney, Friends with Better Lives, Life in Pieces)
September 4 Whitney Cummings Comedian and actress (Whitney)
September 10 Bret Iwan Voice actor (current voice of Mickey Mouse)
September 13 J. G. Quintel Voice actor (Regular Show)
September 23 Alyssa Sutherland Australian actress (Vikings)
September 27 Anna Camp Actress (The Mindy Project)
September 28 Matt Cohen Actor (South of Nowhere)
September 30 Kieran Culkin Actor (Long Live the Royals)
Lacey Chabert Actress (Party of Five, The Wild Thornberrys, Family Guy, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Young Justice, Transformers: Rescue Bots, Shimmer and Shine, The Lion Guard, Justice League Action)
October 3 Erik von Detten Actor (Recess, Odd Man Out, So Weird, The Legend of Tarzan, Complete Savages)
October 9 Colin Donnell Actor (Arrow, The Affair, Chicago Med)
October 15 Lane Toran Voice actor (Arnold on Hey Arnold! (1996-97))
Brandon Jay McLaren Canadian actor (Power Rangers S.P.D.)
October 19 Gillian Jacobs Actress (Community, Love) and singer
October 20 Katie Featherston Actress (Paranormal Activity)
October 30 Clémence Poésy French actress (The Tunnel)
November 12 Anne Hathaway Actress (Get Real)
November 14 Laura Ramsey Actress (Hindsight)
November 18 Damon Wayans Jr. Actor (New Girl, Happy Endings, Happy Together)
November 25 Natalia Cordova-Buckley Mexican actress (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
November 28 Adam McArthur Voice actor (Marco Diaz on Star vs. the Forces of Evil)
November 29 Lucas Black Actor (American Gothic, NCIS: New Orleans)
November 30 Elisha Cuthbert Actress (Are You Afraid of the Dark?, 24, Happy Endings)
December 5 Gabriel Luna Actor (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
December 7 Jesse Johnson Actor
December 15 George O. Gore II Actor (New York Undercover, My Wife and Kids)
December 29 Alison Brie Actress and singer (Mad Men, Community, BoJack Horseman, GLOW)
December 30 Kristin Kreuk Canadian actress (Edgemont, Smallville, Beauty & the Beast)
December 31 Jermaine Williams Actor (The Jersey)


Date Name Age Notability
January 1 Victor Buono 43 Actor (King Tut on Batman)
January 5 Hans Conried 64 Actor (Make Room for Daddy, The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, Dr. Seuss special)
January 10 Paul Lynde 55 Actor (Bewitched), comedian (Hollywood Squares)
January 18 Trent Lehman 20 Child actor (Nanny and the Professor)
March 5 John Belushi 33 Comedian/Singer (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)
July 23 Vic Morrow 53 Actor (Sgt. "Chip" Saunders on Combat!) Killed by negligence of director John Landis on set of Twilight Zone: The Movie
August 12 Henry Fonda 77 Actor
August 13 Joe E. Ross 68 Actor (Gunther Toody on Car 54, Where Are You?)
October 18 Bess Truman 97 First Lady of the United States and spouse of President Harry S. Truman
November 1 James Broderick 55 Actor (Family) and father of Matthew Broderick
November 4 Dominique Dunne 22 Actress (Poltergeist) murdered by abusive boyfriend, first victim of 'Poltergeist Curse')
December 7 Will Lee 74 Actor (Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street)
December 22 Jack Webb 62 Actor, producer (Sgt. Joe Friday on Dragnet)

See also


  1. ^ "For the Record", Broadcasting, p. 78, November 16, 1981
  2. ^ "Call Sign History". FCC CDBS database. Retrieved 2016.
  3. ^ "InterMedia", Broadcasting, p. 104, February 8, 1982
  4. ^ "It's all over for RKO's WNAC-TV." Broadcasting, April 26, 1982, pp. 27-28. [1][2]
  5. ^ "In brief." Broadcasting, May 10, 1982, pg. 128.
  6. ^ "Gunman releases TV-station hostages". google news. The Ledger. May 30, 1982. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved 2009.
  7. ^ "Gunman forces TV anchorman to read message". google news. The Free-Lance Star. May 29, 1982. Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved 2009.
  8. ^ "Gunman holds two in TV studio". google news. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 29, 1982. Retrieved 2009.

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