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In the 1980s, music executives estimated that within two weeks after an appearance on Saturday Night Live by a rock group, sales of its albums increased by 300,000 copies.
In the early 1950s, Clint Eastwood signed a $75-a-week contract with Universal to do walk-ons in low-budget horror flicks like Revenge of the Creature. He was fired when studio executives decided his Adam's apple protruded too much for him to be star material. For some time, Eastwood took on odd jobs, such as digging swimming pools, to augment what little money he could make from small parts in TV series like Highway Patrol. However, once he was cast as Rowdy Yates on the TV western Rawhide in 1958, Eastwood's star began to shoot to the top.
In the early 1970s, Gavin MacLeod initially read for the part of boss Lou Grant in the new TV sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. MacLeod had played heavies and villains for years, and was a strong contender for the part of the gruff supervisor. After auditioning, he left, but returned, asking to read for the role of sentimental Murray Slaughter. He got the part. Some years later, MacLeod was the ship's captain on TV's popular The Love Boat.
Cheech Marin of TV's Nash Bridges, and formally half of the irreverent comedy duo Cheech and Chong, was the surprising winner of the Jeopardy! Celebrity Championship in 1992. He won $25,000 for his charity.
Clayton Moore played the title role on The Lone Ranger for all but a few years on television, when John Hart took up the role. Jay Silverheels was always TV's Tonto; after the series, Silverheels became a successful horse breeder and racer. When he was asked once if he would ever consider racing Scout, Tonto's famous horse, Silverheels replied, “Heck, I can beat Scout.”
Comedian Bill Cosby became the spokesperson for Jell-O pudding in 1974. His upbeat, childlike personality worked well with on-screen youngsters, and he later began the "Kids Love Pudding" TV campaign. As of 2000, Cosby was still going strong in his Jell-O brand TV commercials and print ads.
Comedian George Carlin appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show eleven times.
Comedian Groucho Marx took a turn as a game show host in 1947. With his film career stalling, he was hired to host a radio show called You Bet Your Life. The show was designed to highlight Marx's witty humor, although most of his ad-libs were actually scripted.
Comedian/actor Billy Crystal portrayed Jodie Dallas, the first openly gay main character on network television on ABC's Soap, which aired from 1977 to 1981.
Craig Stevens, married to actress Alexis Smith and lead in TV's Peter Gunn, was born Gail Shikles, Jr.
In the late 1970s, Coca-Cola Co. boycotted the NBC late-night comedy show Saturday NightLive" for several years. The giant soda company was retaliating against a frequent character of comedian John Belushi's, a Greek restaurant owner, who repeatedly said to customers, "No Coke – Pepsi," thus saying the rival company's name dozens of times throughout each skit.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, comedian Bill Cosby was the uncontested king of product endorsements. With his successful Jell-O, Kodak, and Mattel commercials and other income sources under his belt, he was earning an approximate $125,000 an hour by 1992, or a million dollars a day. That figure included earnings from his popular television show, book royalties, comedy concert tours, and financial investments.
In the late 1980s, the lead role of Hayden Fox on the newly developed TV sitcom Coach was considered for many actors, namely Gerald McRaney, Burt Reynolds, Tom Skerritt, James Farentino, Rob Leibman, and Richard Crenna. Craig T. Nelson won the part, and later received an Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy for his performance.
In the ten years it was on the air, Alfred Hitchcock actually directed only 20 of the 362 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
In the TV sitcom Cheers, the legal capacity of the popular Boston bar was 75. It was shown in a notice posted over the door.
In the U.S., prime-time Westerns on TV reached their peak in 1958-1959, when there were 31 shows on the air. The public's taste shifted, and by 1964-1965, the number of TV Westerns had plummeted to 7. Westerns have never enjoyed such popularity on U.S. television since.
Ingenue actress Neve Campbell once auditioned for TV's Baywatch. The casting director turned her down because he thought she was too pale.
Jack Lord wasn't the first choice for the role of Steve McGarrett on TV's Hawaii Five-O. Gregory Peck was.
Jason Alexander of TV's Seinfeld was born Jay Greenspan.
Jenna Elfman, co-star of the TV hit Dharma and Greg, was born Jennifer Mary Butala. In 1995, she married actor Bodhi Elfman, nephew of film score composer Danny Elfman (The Simpsons, Men in Black, Good Will Hunting), and changed her last name.
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