This Was Television On October 11

1975: Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night

Saturday Night Live, one of the most enduring, divisive, revered, and reviled mainstays on the network dial, began a run of 38 seasons and counting. Known in its first season as Saturday Night (its better known title was in use on ABC at the time, but would be purchased by NBC the following year), the show was originally more of a variety program than a strict sketch comedy showcase. George Carlin hosted the first episode, which featured musical appearances by Billy Preston and Janis Ian and segments starring Andy Kaufman, Albert Brooks, and The Muppets. SNL‘s celebrated original cast membersDan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Laraine Newman, and Gilda Radner—were collectively dubbed the “Not Ready for Prime Time Players.”

Although SNL has evolved over its nearly four decades, it retains many of the signature elements developed in these early days, such as recurring characters, political parody, and fans complaining that the show has really gone downhill lately.  -A.D.

Also on October 11

2006: Based on creator Tina Fey’s time as head writer for Saturday Night Live, the zany NBC sitcom 30 Rock shares a debut date with its inspiration. Low-rated but critically acclaimed, it enters its seventh and final season in 2012.

Today’s Birthdays: Claudia Black, humanoid alien (40); Matt Bomer, con man (35); Emily Deschanel, forensics savant (36); Sean Patrick Flanery, adolescent archaeologist (47); Dawn French, sketch comic (55); Jane Krakowski, diva (44); David Morse, Boston doc (59); Michael J. Nelson, satellite dweller (48); Luke Perry, bad boy (47); Michelle Trachtenberg, key (27); Constance Zimmer, agent (42).

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