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1980 in American television

The year 1980 involved some significant events. Below is a list of television-related events in the United States.



Date Event
January 1 In Dayton, Ohio, the decade begins with an affiliation swap between NBC affiliate WDTN and ABC affiliate WKEF-TV; the swap is reversed in 2004.
January 25 Black Entertainment Television launches in the United States as a block of programming on the USA Network; it won't be until 1983 that BET becomes a full-fledged channel.
February 1 After 29 years on the air, the soap opera Love of Life airs its 7,316th and last episode on CBS.
February 3 Bob Hope's Overseas Christmas Tours, a two-part six-hour retrospective of Bob Hope's more than 30 years of entertaining at military bases and hospitals in the U.S. and abroad, airs on NBC.
February 4 The Young and the Restless airs its first one-hour long episode.
February 14 Walter Cronkite announces his retirement from the CBS Evening News, which takes effect in March 1981.
February 22 ABC Sports announcer Al Michaels delivers his now immortal line "Do you believe in miracles?! Yes!" in the closing moments of the Winter Olympic medal-round men's ice hockey game between the United States team and the heavily favored Soviet team.
March 16 The first regularly scheduled use of closed captioning on American network television occurs on ABC, with captions of spoken dialogue added to programming received through a decoding unit attached to a standard TV set.[1]
March 21 On the season finale of Dallas on CBS, J. R. Ewing is shot by an unseen assailant, leading to the catchphrase "Who shot J.R.?".
March 31 In Jacksonville, Florida, NBC affiliate WTLV, in search of stronger programming, swaps affiliations with ABC affiliate WJKS. The swap will be reversed in 1988.
April 5 Hawaii Five-O airs series finale on CBS.
April 7 The Oldest Living Graduate, a live drama on NBC, is broadcast; the first such program on the network since 1962. The production is aired from Southern Methodist University and stars Henry Fonda, George Grizzard, and Cloris Leachman.
April 11 WMDT in Salisbury, Maryland signs on, giving the Delmarva Peninsula market its first full-time ABC affiliate. It also takes WBOC-TV's secondary NBC affiliation, leaving WBOC-TV as a full-time CBS affiliate.
April 29 The NFL Draft is televised for the first time on ESPN.
May 6 Ron Howard and Donny Most leave the cast of ABC's Happy Days as regulars, following the episode "Ralph's Family Problem". When Happy Days returns in the fall, Henry Winkler is given top billing in the opening credits.
May 24 NBC airs The Not Ready For Prime Time Players' final episode on Saturday Night Live, after five seasons.
CBS broadcasts Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals[2] between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders.[3][4] The Saturday afternoon game is the first full American network telecast of an NHL game since Game 5 of the 1975 Stanley Cup Finals aired on NBC, and the last NHL game on American network television until NBC televises the 1990 All-Star Game.[5][6]
June 1 The Cable News Network (CNN) begins broadcasting.
June 20 Hollywood Squares presents its 3,536th and final network telecast on NBC, ending a 14-year daytime run; it remains the second-longest-running daytime game show in the network's history, behind the original 1958–73 run of Concentration. Two other NBC game shows, High Rollers and Chain Reaction, end their runs on this date as well.
June 23 The David Letterman Show debuts on NBC. Letterman's humor does not go over well with a morning audience, and the show is canceled in October. Letterman would stay at NBC and go on to host a late night show on the network two years later.
June 30 The ABC game show Family Feud moves from airing at 11:30 am ET to 12:00 noon. It is one of the few network daytime shows to survive at noon, a time slot where many stations preempt network fare for local news broadcasts.
July 4 The Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA launch a three-month strike against television and movie studios. The strike greatly delays US networks' fall seasons (some shows don't see their fall debuts until late October or November, if not much later), and prompts a union boycott of the 1980 Emmy Awards in September. The unions would ratify a new deal on October 25 to officially end the strike.
August 1 Ending a failed experiment, the NBC soap opera Another World airs its last regularly scheduled ninety-minute episode. The show returns to sixty minutes on August 4, allowing room for a spin-off, Texas, based around Beverlee Mckinsey's Another World character, Iris Cory Carrington.
The 24/7 cable movie network Cinemax launches.
September 1 In Atlanta, Georgia, long-time NBC affiliate WSB-TV swaps affiliations with ABC affiliate WXIA-TV, citing a stronger affiliation (at the time, NBC is in last place among the three major networks). Over the summer, in preparation for the switch, both stations had conducted an experiment unusual for a market Atlanta's size: WXIA-TV aired NBC's daytime programs in the morning and ABC's afternoon programs, and vice versa for WSB-TV.
September 28 The PBS documentary Cosmos, hosted by legendary astronomer Carl Sagan, premieres. It deals with scientific topics like biology, chemistry, and linguistics, but primarily focuses on astronomy, Sagan's field of study.
November 2 The CBS comedy Archie Bunker's Place begins its season with the episode "Archie Alone", in which Archie Bunker grieves over the death of wife Edith (prompted by Jean Stapleton's departure from the series). Carroll O'Connor's performance in this episode earns him a Peabody Award.
November 15 Saturday Night Live premiers its sixth season on NBC with a new cast and new writers under the reins of Michaels' replacement Jean Doumanian, to widespread negative reviews.
November 18 Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters (Barbara, Louise and Irlene Mandrell) makes its debut on NBC, with a special guest appearance by Dolly Parton. The show was the last variety show on network TV with over 40 million viewers.
Suzanne Somers makes her final "full" appearance in an episode of the ABC sitcom Three's Company. Her remaining seven appearances would be cameos in the episode's closing tag in which Chrissy would call from her parents' home in Fresno to speak with Jack or Janet, who would sometimes fill Chrissy in on what happened in the episode.
November 19 CBS bans a controversial Brooke Shields Calvin Klein Jeans ad because, according to CBS, the commercial was ‘too suggestive.’ The ad featured the 15-year-old Shields saying: ‘You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.’
November 21 The mystery of "Who Shot J.R.?" is solved on Dallas; the revelation that Sue Ellen Ewing's sister Kristin Shepard (played by Mary Crosby) was responsible draws a record number of viewers.
November 22 Eddie Murphy made his first Saturday Night Live appearance, appearing in a non-speaking role in the sketch "In Search Of The Negro Republican".
WPDE-TV in Florence, South Carolina signs on, giving the Pee Dee market its first full-time ABC affiliate.
December 8 On ABC, Howard Cosell announces the murder of former Beatle John Lennon in the closing seconds of a Monday Night Football game. NBC also reports the murder of Lennon, interrupting The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson for a news bulletin.
December 20 NBC Sports broadcasts the New York Jets 24–17 season-ending victory over the Miami Dolphins without announcers, the only time that has ever been done with an NFL game.
December 24 WVGA in Valdosta, Georgia signs-on the air and targets the neighboring Albany market, giving that market its first full-time ABC affiliate.
December 30 After 26 years on the air, 20 of which were on NBC, the network announces that the long-running anthology Disney's Wonderful World will not be on its fall 1981 schedule; however, the show will be picked up by CBS.


Debuting in 1980Edit

Date Show Network
January 6 Skag NBC
January 14 3-2-1 Contact PBS
Chain Reaction NBC
January 22 Goodtime Girls ABC
January 25 Black Entertainment Television USA
January 27 Galactica 1980 ABC
February 5 Mystery! PBS
March 1 Pink Lady NBC
March 3 That's Incredible! ABC
March 4 The Big Show NBC
March 5 Beyond Westworld CBS
March 11 United States NBC
March 15 Sanford
March 22 Me and Maxx
The Tim Conway Show CBS
March 24 Flo
The Stockard Channing Show
April 11 Fridays ABC
May 5 America's Top 10 Syndication
June 1 Moneyline WTBS/CNN
TBS Evening News
June 26 Nobody's Perfect ABC
August 4 Texas NBC
August 9 That's My Line CBS
August 21 Games People Play NBC
September 6 Livewire Nickelodeon
The Tom and Jerry Comedy Show CBS
September 13 The Lone Ranger ABC
Solid Gold Syndication
September 28 Cosmos PBS
October 4 Heathcliff ABC
Thundarr the Barbarian
October 27 Blockbusters NBC
Ladies' Man CBS
October 30 It's a Living ABC
October 31 I'm a Big Girl Now
November 8 Richie Rich
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo
November 11 Too Close for Comfort
November 12 Enos CBS
November 18 Barbara Mandrell & the Mandrell Sisters NBC
November 27 Bosom Buddies ABC
November 29 Breaking Away
December 6 Freebie and the Bean CBS
Secrets of Midland Heights
December 10 Number 96
December 11 Magnum, P.I.

Ending in 1980Edit

Date Show Debut
January 3 Spider-Woman 1979
January 5 A New Kind of Family
Scooby-Doo and Scrappy-Doo
February 1 Love of Life 1951
March 26 The Ultraman 1979
April 26 Hawaii Five-O 1968
April 30 Hello, Larry 1979
June 20 Chain Reaction (returned in 1986) 1980
High Rollers 1974
June 27 Pyramid (returned in 1981) 1973
July 25 The Rockford Files 1974
August 28 Nobody's Perfect 1980
September 4 Barnaby Jones 1973
October 23 Angie 1979
Armchair Thriller 1978
Dinah! 1974
Magpie 1968

Made-for-TV movies and miniseriesEdit

Premiere date Title Network
April 15 Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones CBS
May 11 The Return of the King ABC
May 19 The Scarlett O'Hara War NBC
September 15 Shogun (miniseries) NBC


Date Name Notability
January 4 Greg Cipes Voice actor (Codename: Kids Next Door, Teen Titans, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, Ben 10, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Fish Hooks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teen Titans Go!)
June Diane Raphael Actress (Burning Love, NTSF:SD:SUV, Grace and Frankie)
January 8 Rachel Nichols Actress (The Inside, Alias, Criminal Minds, Continuum)
January 10 Sarah Shahi Actress (The L Word, Fairly Legal, Person of Interest)
January 17 Zooey Deschanel Actress (New Girl) and singer
January 18 Jason Segel Actor (Freaks and Geeks, How I Met Your Mother)
Estelle British singer and voice actress (Garnet on Steven Universe)
January 19 Luke Macfarlane Canadian actor (Brothers & Sisters)
January 22 Christopher Masterson Actor (Malcolm in the Middle)
January 28 Nick Carter Actor (House of Carters) and singer (Backstreet Boys)
January 30 Wilmer Valderrama Actor (That '70s Show, Handy Manny)
January 31 James Adomian Actor (The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Mad TV, WordGirl, Conan, Future-Worm!)
February 9 Margarita Levieva Russian-born actress (Vanished, Revenge, Allegiance)
February 11 Matthew Lawrence Actor (Drexell's Class, Brotherly Love, Boy Meets World)
February 12 Sarah Lancaster Actress (Saved by the Bell: The New Class, Chuck)
Christina Ricci Actress (Pan Am)
February 17 Jason Ritter Actor (Joan of Arcadia, The Class, Parenthood, Gravity Falls) and son of John Ritter
February 21 Justin Roiland Voice actor (Fish Hooks, Adventure Time, Rick and Morty)
February 25 Chris Knowings Actor (Taina)
Christy Knowings Actress (All That)
February 27 Brandon Beemer Actor (Days of Our Lives)
February 29 Peter Scanavino Actor (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
March 3 Katherine Waterston English actress (Boardwalk Empire)
March 7 Laura Prepon Actress (That '70s Show, Orange is the New Black)
March 9 Matthew Gray Gubler Actor (Criminal Minds)
March 12 John-Paul Lavoisier Actor (One Life to Live)
March 20 Mikey Day Actor and comedian (Kath and Kim, The Jay Leno Show, Saturday Night Live)
March 22 Melissa Paull Actress (Mad TV)
March 31 Kate Micucci Actress (The Big Bang Theory, Raising Hope, Steven Universe, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!, Milo Murphy's Law, DuckTales')
April 1 Bijou Phillips Actress (Raising Hope) and singer
Randy Orton WWE wrestler
April 8 Katee Sackhoff Actress (Battlestar Galactica, Longmire)
April 13 Kelli Giddish Actress (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
April 14 Claire Coffee Actress (General Hospital, Franklin & Bash, Grimm, Chelsey and Kelsey)
April 17 Nicholas D'Agosto Actor (Masters of Sex, Gotham)
Alaina Huffman Canadian actress (Smallville, Stargate Universe, Supernatural)
April 24 Austin Nichols Actor (One Tree Hill)
Reagan Gomez-Preston Actress (The Parent 'Hood, Love, Inc, The Cleveland Show, Steven Universe)
April 26 Jordana Brewster Actress (As the World Turns, Dallas)
Channing Tatum Actor
Darris Love Actor (The Secret World of Alex Mack)
May 2 Ellie Kemper Actress (The Office, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and singer
May 19 Drew Fuller Actor (Charmed, Army Wives)
May 27 Ben Feldman Actor (Superstore)
May 31 Andy Hurley American musician (Fall Out Boy)
June 10 Jessica DiCicco Voice actress (The Buzz on Maggie, Loonatics Unleashed, The Emperor's New School, The Mighty B!, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, The Loud House, Future-Worm!)
June 15 Christopher Castile Actor (Step by Step, Hey Arnold!)
June 18 David Giuntoli Actor (Grimm, A Million Little Things)
June 19 Lauren Lee Smith Canadian actress (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Mutant X)
June 20 Tika Sumpter Singer and actress
June 23 Melissa Rauch Actress (The Big Bang Theory)
June 24 Minka Kelly Actress (Friday Night Lights, Charlie's Angels, Almost Human)
June 25 Shannon Lucio Actress (The O.C., Prison Break)
July 3 Olivia Munn TV host and actress (Attack of the Show!, The Daily Show, The Newsroom)
July 4 Carrie Keagan TV host and actress
July 10 Jessica Simpson Singer and actress (Fashion Star)
July 12 Kristen Connolly Actress (House of Cards, The Whispers, Zoo)
July 18 Kristen Bell Actress (Veronica Mars, Heroes, Gossip Girl, House of Lies)
July 19 Chris Sullivan Actor (This Is Us)
July 23 Michelle Williams Singer (Destiny's Child) and actress
July 29 Rachel Miner Actress (Guiding Light, Californication)
July 30 April Bowlby Actress (Two and a Half Men, Drop Dead Diva)
August 3 Hannah Simone British-born Canadian actress (New Girl)
August 6 Monique Ganderton Canadian actress
August 8 Michael Urie Actor (Ugly Betty)
August 9 Texas Battle Actor (The Bold and the Beautiful)
August 12 Maggie Lawson Actress (It's All Relative, Crumbs, Psych, Back in the Game)
Dominique Swain Actress (Lolita, Totally Awesome)
August 26 Macaulay Culkin Actor (Robot Chicken)
August 28 Carly Pope Canadian actress (Popular)
September 4 Max Greenfield Actor (New Girl)
September 9 Michelle Williams Actress (Dawson's Creek) and singer
September 13 Ben Savage Actor (Boy Meets World, Girl Meets World)
September 21 Autumn Reeser Actress (The O.C., Valentine, No Ordinary Family)
September 29 Zachary Levi Actor (Chuck, Heroes Reborn, Tangled: The Series, Alias Grace)
Chrissy Metz Actress (This Is Us)
October 1 Sarah Drew Actress (Daria, Everwood, Grey's Anatomy) and singer
October 8 Nick Cannon Actor (All That, The Nick Cannon Show, America's Got Talent)
October 13 Ashanti Singer and actress
October 16 Jeremy Jackson Actor and singer (Baywatch)
October 17 Angel Parker Actress (Lab Rats)
Justin Shenkarow Actor (Eerie, Indiana, Picket Fences, Life with Louie, Hey Arnold!, Recess, Lloyd in Space)
October 18 Erin Dean Actress (The Journey of Allen Strange)
October 21 Kim Kardashian Actress (Keeping Up with the Kardashians)
October 24 Casey Wilson Actress (Happy Endings, The Hotwives, Marry Me)
October 29 Michele Boyd Actress (The Guild, Team Unicorn)
October 30 Sarah Carter Actress (Shark, Falling Skies)
October 31 Samaire Armstrong Actress (The O.C., Resurrection)
Eddie Kaye Thomas Actor (Brutally Normal, American Dad!, Scorpion)
November 4 Emme Rylan Actress (Guiding Light, General Hospital, The Young and the Restless)
November 5 Luke Hemsworth Australian actor (Neighbours, Westworld)
November 12 Ryan Gosling Actor (Breaker High, Young Hercules)
November 13 Monique Coleman Actress (High School Musical)
November 17 Isaac Hanson Singer (Hanson)
November 25 Valerie Azlynn Actress (Sullivan & Son)
November 26 Jessica Bowman Actress (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman)
November 29 Jason Griffith Voice actor (Sonic X)
December 1 Angelique Bates Actress (All That)
December 3 Anna Chlumsky Actress (Veep)
Jenna Dewan Tatum Dancer and actress (American Horror Story)
December 4 James Francis Ginty Actor
December 5 Tamara Feldman Actress (Gossip Girl)
December 9 Simon Helberg Actor (The Big Bang Theory, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil)
December 18 Christina Aguilera Singer and child actress (Mickey Mouse Club, The Voice)
December 19 Marla Sokoloff Actress (The Practice, Big Day The Fosters)
December 22 Chris Carmack Actor (The O.C., Nashville)
December 27 Elizabeth Rodriguez Actress (New York Undercover, All My Children Orange Is the New Black, Power, Grimm, Fear the Walking Dead)
December 28 Vanessa Ferlito Actress (Graceland)
December 30 Eliza Dushku Actress (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Tru Calling, Dollhouse, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.)


Date Name Age Notability
January 29 Jimmy Durante 86 Actor (The Jimmy Durante Show)
February 13 David Janssen 48 Actor (The Fugitive, Harry O, O'Hara, U.S. Treasury)
February 27 George Tobias 78 Actor (Abner Kravitz on Bewitched)
March 5 Jay Silverheels 67 Actor (Tonto on The Lone Ranger)
April 29 Alfred Hitchcock 80 Film director, host of (Alfred Hitchcock Presents)
June 12 Milburn Stone 75 Actor ("Doc" on Gunsmoke)
August 14 Dorothy Stratten 20 Actress, (Playboy) model
September 3 Duncan Renaldo 76 Romanian-born actor (The Cisco Kid)
September 12 Lillian Randolph 81 Actress (Amos 'n' Andy)
November 7 Steve McQueen 50 Actor (Josh Randall on Wanted: Dead or Alive)
December 8 John Lennon 40 Musician (The Beatles), co-hosted (The Mike Douglas Show) for a week

See alsoEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Gannon, Jack. 1981. Deaf Heritage–A Narrative History of Deaf America, Silver Spring, MD: National Association of the Deaf, pp. 384–387 (PDF)
  2. ^ Paul D. Staudohar (1989). The Sports Industry and Collective Bargaining. ILR Press. p. 140. ISBN 9780875461519.
  3. ^ Francis Rosa (May 18, 1980). "Goring Finds His Paradise". Boston Globe. p. 1.
  4. ^ Jerry Kirshenbaum (June 16, 1980). "Scorecard". Sports Illustrated. Time Inc.
  5. ^ "Around the NHL". The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company. March 29, 1989.
  6. ^ Rachel Shuster (March 29, 1989). "'American Sportsman' makes strong comeback". USA Today. Gannett Company. p. 3C.