This Was Television On October 9

1986: Fox launches broadcast operations

Entering a TV field that had been dominated by the Big Three since the dissolution of the DuMont Network 30 years prior, Fox Broadcasting Company took its first step towards becoming America’s fourth network. The first program it aired was The Late Show, a late night talk show helmed by veteran Tonight Show guest host Joan Rivers. It was poorly received, but it gave the fledgling network its first look at a performer who would become one of its biggest early stars: Arsenio Hall, who took over as permanent host shortly after Rivers was fired in May 1987.

Fox began primetime operations in April 1987. The Late Show was canceled in 1988, leaving behind a cadre of slavishly devoted superfans who still rail against Fox on Internet message boards to this day. -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Edward Andrews, character actor (d. 1985); Scott Bakula, leaper (58); Brian Blessed, monarch (75); Steve Burns, Blue’s buddy (39); Fyvush Finkel, attorney (90); John O’Hurley, catalog magnate (58); Sharon Osbourne, talent scout (60); Tony Shalhoub, OCD detective (59), Nick Swardson, Reno cop (36).

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