This was Television on March 31

1971: The Man in Black departs

During a high point of musical variety shows on primetime TV, even country music’s preeminent outlaw got into the act. The Johnny Cash Show aired two seasons and 58 episodes on ABC from 1969–71, hosted by Cash along with a repertory of regulars including his wife and musical partner, June Carter Cash. Taped in Nashville, the show featured an assortment of musical acts but concentrated in the genres of country and folk, with guests including Kris Kristofferson, Merle Haggard, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Tammy Wynette. It was canceled in 1971, part of the late-’60s/early-’70s trend sometimes called the “rural purge,” in which the three broadcast networks culled many of their offerings with a country aesthetic or older-skewing demographics. -A.D.

Also on March 31

1975Gunsmoke ends one of the longest tenures in TV history, airing its 635th and final episode after 20 seasons on CBS.

1992Dateline NBC debuts. In its more than two decades on the air, the newsmagazine has occupied a plethora of different roles and timeslot in the Peacock Network’s primetime lineup.

Today’s Birthdays: Richard Chamberlain, priest (79); William Daniels, educator (86); Shirley Jones, musical matriarch (79); Gabe Kaplan, high school teacher (68); Kate Micucci, ukulele enthusiast (33); Rhea Perlman, barmaid (65); Josh Saviano, best friend (37); Kyle Secor, cop (56); Jessica Szohr, gossiper (28).

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