This Was Television On January 6

1963: Wild Kingdom debuts

Zoologists Marlin Perkins and Jim Fowler hosted this Emmy-winning documentary series which took viewers into every corner of the planet’s wildlife. Often known by its sponsored title, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, it aired on NBC until 1971 before entering first-run syndication, where it continued until 1988. In 2002, the series was revived by Animal Planet, once again under the famous sponsorship of the Nebraska-based insurance company that helped create the show a half century ago. -A.D.

Also on January 6

1975Wheel of Fortune premieres. In its original incarnation, Merv Griffin’s hit game show aired on NBC and was hosted by Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford. In 1983 it began its run as one of the longest syndicated game shows in TV history; it continued to air in daytime on NBC and CBS as well until 1991.

Today’s Birthdays: Rowan Atkinson, schemer (58); Julie Chen, emcee (43); Bonnie Franklin, divorcée (69); Danny Pintauro, little brother (37); Norman Reedus, zombie apocalypse survivor (44); Vic Tayback, diner proprietor (d. 1990); Danny Thomas, daddy (d. 1991); Andrea Thompson, detective (53).

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