Tag Archives: Chevy Chase

<THIS DATE IN TV HISTORY

30 Oct

 

Chevy Chase autograph signed in October 1976

34 years ago tonight, on Saturday, October 30, 1976, Chevy Chase appeared in his last episode of “Saturday Night Live” as a cast member. The show, then called “NBC’s Saturday Night,” was produced that night at the NBC studios in Brooklyn for the third week in a row (see previous post for the reason).  It was also the night Buck Henry became the show’s first 3-time host. The autograph above was signed by Chevy sometime during that week.                                        

T-shirt identical to the one I presented to Chevy Chase on October 30, 1976

At that night’s dress rehearsal I presented Chevy with a silk-screened T-shirt that a friend and I created. The photo above shows my identical T-shirt as it looks today 34 years later. One difference though; I actually wore my shirt. I doubt Chevy ever wore his. It may be difficult for young people to understand just how popular Chase was at the time. He was the first break-out star from SNL, leaving after just 1 year on the show to make movies. (This was the 6th episode of season 2 and the series’ 30th new episode). The first film Chase released was “Foul Play” with Goldie Hawn in 1978.

 Also on this date…                                                

Paul Messina and Henry Winkler in the garden of NYC's Gracie Mansion, 1977

65 years ago today, on Tuesday, October 30, 1945, Henry Winkler was born in New York City. Best known for his years playing Fonzie on “Happy Days” Winkler has since appeared in many other shows as both a regular cast member and recurring character. The photos above and below were taken at New York City’s Gracie Mansion in 1977.                                           

Paul Messina and Henry Winkler at NYC's Gracie Mansion, 1977

 When I asked him that day in 1977 about ABC Entertainment President Fred Silverman’s involvement in expanding the role of Fonzie on “Happy Days,” Winkler got quite defensive and sharply replied, “Lemme tell you something. Fred Silverman wanted to make the show “Fonzie’s Happy Days” but Ron Howard wouldn’t stand for it, and I don’t blame him.” Thus I learned that an insightful question, that pushes buttons, can get you a wonderful and sincere response.

©Photos by Paul Messina

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< THIS DATE IN TV HISTORY

11 Oct

 

Don Pardo autograph obtained in 1973 or 1974

Don Pardo autograph obtained in 1973 or 1974

 

35 years ago tonight, on Saturday, October 11, 1975, America watched the first episode of a new late night comedy show called “NBC’s Saturday Night.” It replaced reruns of Johnny Carson’s “Tonight Show” at 11:30pm on Saturday nights.

The title of the new program was not producer Lorne Michaels’ first choice. ABC had already used the title he wanted for its new variety show, “Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell,” which premiered in September (see ticket from later episode below).

Ticket to "Saturday Night Live" with Howard Cosell

Ticket to Oct. 18, 1975 episode of "Saturday Night Live" with Howard Cosell

 

One interesting note: Character actor George Coe, who appeared in the first several episodes to bring some maturity to certain roles, was listed onscreen that night as a member of “The Not Ready for Prime Time Players.” But SNL writer Alan Zweibel later told me that Coe was never a “Not Ready for Prime Time Player.” Was the onscreen credit another flub? Or did they decide they didn’t need Coe after all?

Saturday Night Live” has launched the careers of many comedy stars, but the first breakout star from its cast was Chevy Chase, who left the show in November 1976 and became a movie star for a while.

It’s now in its 36th season… but the first ever episode of “Saturday Night Live” (nee “NBC’s Saturday Night”) premiered on this date in TV history.

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