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Television Trivia

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When originally conceived, the series Cheers was set in Barstow, California, and the character of Sam Malone was a retired football player. Actor Ted Danson was chosen for the role, necessitating his character be rewritten to be that of a retired Boston Red Sox baseball player, better matching Danson's body type.

When Sesame Street's Big Bird visited the Nixon White House as a guest of First Lady Patricia Nixon, the Secret Service's radio frequency got mixed up with Big Bird's microphone frequency – so the Secret Service was picking up Big Bird's lines in their earpieces.

William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols, as Capt. James T. Kirk and Communications Officer Lt. Uhura, shared network television's first interracial kiss in the episode "Plato's Children" on the popular sci-fi series Star Trek. The revolutionary episode aired in 1968.

A 1999 survey revealed that perpetrators of violent acts on TV dramas go unpunished 73 percent of the time.

A coalition of fire prevention groups demanded that Jim Carrey's Fire Marshall Bill comedy sketches on In Living Color be taken off the air because of the negative effect they were reportedly having on children.

ABC's Head of the Class, which ran from 1986 through 1991 and starred Howard Hesseman, was, surprisingly, the first American entertainment TV series ever to film an episode in Moscow, Soviet Union. A few TV news programs and specials, such as Candid Camera in 1961, had preceded it.

Actor Jamie Farr, who played Klinger on M*A*S*H, was the only member of the television show cast who actually served as a soldier in the Korean War.

Actor Yaphet Kotto, co-star Lt. Al "Gee" Giardello on TV's acclaimed Homicide: Life on the Street, has an unusual background. He was raised a Jew and attended Roman Catholic schools. He is also of royalty: his father is a Cameroonian crown prince. In a scenario of life imitating art, Kotto's oldest son, Fred, works in San José, California as a police officer.

Actress Veronica Hamel was the first choice to play Kelly Garrett on TV's Charlie's Angels. Hamel rejected the part, and Breck shampoo model Jaclyn Smith was ultimately hired.

Actress Wendie Malick, who plays former model Nina Van Horn on NBC's sitcom Just Shoot Me, auditioned for the role of Diane Chambers in Cheers in the 1980s. Prior to that, Malick was a Wilhelmina model in the 1970s.

After 11 years of living together, Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman were married during a Taxi lunch break.

After a childhood bought of polio left future television game show host Bill Cullen with a limp, he had a hard time finding work on TV. In 1952, he surpassed his disability to be a panelist on I've Got a Secret. He won a host position by 1954, on Place the Face. By the time of his death in 1990, he had hosted more game shows than anyone in history, including stints on The Price is Right and Name That Tune. With seven TV Guide covers under his belt, he is the magazine's most featured game show host.

After a tragic fall on The Andy Williams Show in 1965, comedian Jerry Lewis suffered a skull fracture that led to an addiction to the painkiller Percodan. His surprise reunion with former partner Dean Martin on the 1976 Muscular Dystrophy telethon made entertainment history, but Lewis said he was in such a drug fog, he didn't remember it and had to watch it on videotape.

After her success in the stage and film treatments of The Miracle Worker, Patty Duke was the first teenager to be given her own American TV show – The Patty Duke Show – which aired from 1963 through 1966.

After ten years on Canadian television, game show host Alex Trebek mad his American debut in 1973, hosting The Wizard of Odds. In 1984, Trebek was hired to host Jeopardy! and has continued there for the last sixteen years.

After the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, William Katt's character name on TV's The Greatest American Hero was changed from Ralph Hinkley to Ralph Hanley to avoid association with would-be assassin John Hinkley, Jr.

American TV's Judge Judy Sheindlin is a petite size 2, and her silk judge robe cost $400.

Andy Kaufman, best known for his comedy work as Latka Gravas on the TV sitcom Taxi, died of lung cancer. Ironically, he was a life-long non-smoker.

Anne Francis, star of the popular 1960s action TV show Honey West, was a model and cover girl from age 5.

April is a promising month to be born if you aspire to be a television talk show host. David Frost (April 7), David Letterman (April 12), Conan O'Brien (April 18), Charles Grodin (April 21), and Jay Leno (April 28) all share April birthdays.

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