This was Television on March 21

1980: J.R. is shot

Dallas‘s third-season finale, “A House Divided,” kicked the hit soap’s penchant for high stakes, cutthroat family drama up with one of the most famous episodes in TV history. J.R. Ewing, the patriarch and oil baron who Larry Hagman helped make one of America’s favorite TV villains, was the victim of an unseen would-be assassin. That summer, “Who Shot J.R.?” became the question that dominated pop culture. The cliffhanger lingered for exactly eight months, until it was resolved in the fourth-season episode “Who Done It?” on November 21, 1980-A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Philip Abbott, character actor (d. 1998); James Coco, character actor (d. 1987); Brad Hall, SNLer (55); Sabrina Le Beauf, Cosby kin (55); Rachael MacFarlane, American daughter (37); Rosie O’Donnell, talk show host (51); Jerry Suprian, robot acquaintance (40).

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