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On This Day in Sitcom History — April 12th
1965: The Lucy Show’s Last Episode in New York and Black and White
The season three finale of The Lucy Show, “Lucy the Disc Jockey,” aired on this day in 1965. It was the final episode aired in black and white (although it was shot in color) and the last episode to take place in New York. The show was re-tooled for season four with Lucy (Lucille Ball) moving to California.
1977: Diana Hyland’s Last Episode of Eight is Enough
Diana Hyland played Joan Bradford, Tom’s (Dick Van Patten) wife and mother of eight children, in four episodes in the first season of Eight is Enough. Unfortunately, she was suffering from breast cancer, which caused her intense back pain and made it difficult for her to continue acting full time. After shooting “Turnabout,” which aired on this day in 1977, she left the show. She passed away on March 27, 1977, two weeks before the episode aired. For the rest of season one, her character was said to be “away,” and in season two, it was finally explained that Joan had passed away.
1989: Growing Pains Kills Matthew Perry in a Very Special Episode
“Second Chance,” a very special episode of Growing Pains, aired on this day in 1989. In this episode, a young Matthew Perry (of Friends fame) plays Carol’s (Tracey Gold) boyfriend, Sandy, who drives drunk and gets into a car accident after dropping her off. Carol visits him in the hospital, and he seems OK except for a few bruises, but later she gets a phone call saying he died from internal bleeding. After the original broadcast, the following message displayed over an image of the Seavers’ house: “While you have been watching this program, this is the number of people killed or injured in alcohol-related automobile accidents in the United States: 29.” After about 10 seconds, the “29” changed to a “30.”
1990: Ted Danson and Sam Malone Get Chickenpox on Cheers
The Cheers episode, “The Ghost and Mrs. Lebec,” aired on this day in 1990. At the time of shooting, Ted Danson was unavailable because he had contracted chickenpox. The writers re-wrote the episode to explain Sam’s absence by having him call the bar to say he has chickenpox. Of course, Sam being Sam, he was still surrounded by beautiful women.