This was Television on April 30

1997: Ellen comes out

A two-part episode towards the end of the fourth season of the mid-rated ABC sitcom Ellen became a controversial and lauded flashpoint in the growing gay rights movement. In “The Puppy Episode,” lead character Ellen Morgan—and, by proxy, series star Ellen DeGeneres—confirmed several months of speculation by coming out as a lesbian. Despite a sizable backlash, the episode was credited by GLAAD for helping spur a trend of honest and sympathetic portrayals of LGBT characters on TV—which in turn helped foster broader acceptance of gay equality among the general public. “The Puppy Episode” drew 42 million viewers, ABC’s highest rated program of the season, as well as winning a GLAAD Media Award, a Peabody, and an Emmy for Outstanding Writing. -A.D.

Today’s Birthdays: Dianna Agron, songstress (27); Gary Collins, character actor (d. 2012); Johnny Galecki, physicist (38); Paul Gross, Mountie (54); Perry King, detective (65); Cloris Leachman, landlady (87); Adrian Pasdar, flyer (48); Burt Young, character actor (73).

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