This Was Television On September 26

1960: The first televised presidential debate is held

As first reported by This Was TelevisionVice President Richard Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy squared off in the first presidential debate held for a television audience. Over the years, the contrast between the young, handsome Democrat and the stiff, glowering Republican has taken on a greater import in TV legend than its true impact on the election would warrant. But if its “game-changing” effect is somewhat apocryphal, its significance influencing the tone for a new era of political theater is not. The supposed lessons of the Kennedy-Nixon debates were on the minds of every national politician and campaign advisor grappling with how to best navigate and exploit the medium of television for decades to come.

An old adage held that if you listened to the debate on the radio you thought Nixon won, if you saw it on TV you thought Kennedy won, and if you only followed it on Twitter you thought both candidates’ positions would be funnier if they were replaced with “bacon.” -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Jim Caviezel, interested (44); Donna Douglas, Clampett kin (79); Linda Hamilton, beauty (56); Richard Herd, Costanza coworker (80); Jack LaLanne, fitness buff (d. 2011); Kent McCord, L.A. officer (70).

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