1989: The Day the Space Needle [Almost] Collapsed
It was on this day in 1989 when Seattle’s local comedy sketch show, Almost Live went too far with an April Fool’s joke that fell flat. The show was called Almost Live because it was always filmed days before airing on the weekend, but on this day, the show was actually shown live. But just before it began, it was “interrupted” for an important announcement. An actor portraying a KING 5 news reporter began a “special report” that the Space Needle had collapsed earlier that evening. Even though on the screen it clearly displayed “Space Needle–April 1, 1989. April Fool’s Day” twice during the segment and featured an “interview” with one of the show’s cast members, many of Seattleites went into a panic. The volume of 911 calls shut the lines down and hundreds of other calls flooded the KING 5 switchboard. Even some medical volunteers from Eastern Washington came over to help with the “disaster” that never was. The following week, the show’s host made an apology for the prank. Well, at least a few people thought it was funny.
1970: Cigarette Ads are Banned on TV and Radio
Health studies go back as far as 1939 concluding the cigarette smoking led to higher incidences of cancer and heart disease, but cigarettes were not only a common element of many TV series, but many were sponsored by cigarette makers as well. It wasn’t until this day in 1970 that cigarette ads were banned on television and radio. In what must have seemed like an April Fool’s joke to many smokers, President Richard Nixon officially banned cigarette ads despite that fact that he himself was an avid pipe smoker.
1891: The Wrigley Company is Formed
The William Wrigley Jr. Company was formed on this day in 1891 in Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois and began selling items like soap and baking powder. In what sounds like an April Fool’s joke, Wrigley began including packs of chewing gum with the baking powder. It is no surprise that the gum became more popular and the company began to focus sole only chewing gum. Today, it is still the largest manufacturer of chewing gun in the world. The company’s big three brands were and still are Juicy Fruit (1893), Spearmint (1893) and Doublemint (1914). In 2005, the company bought out Lifesavers and Altoids from Kraft Foods. Then, in 2008, Mars purchased Wrigley.
‘General Hospital’ Debuts
General Hospital is the longest-running program ever produced in Hollywood. The show was created by Frank and Doris Hursley and premiered on April 1, 1963. At the time, it was set in the fictional town of Port Charles in New York and focused on the lives of those working on the 7th floor at the “general hospital” with many revolving around Dr. Steve Hardy (John Beradino) and Nurse Jessie Brewer (Emily McLaughlin). Ironically, on this same day, NBC launched the soap opera The Doctors. The ratings for General Hospital dropped significantly during the 1970’s but regained status as the #1 daytime drama in 1978. The most-watched event in soap opera history occurred in 1981 at the wedding of Luke and Laura.
- 1932: Debbie Reynolds (actress)
- 1939: Ali MacGraw (actress)
- 1952: Annette O’Toole (actress)
- 1961: Susan Boyle (singer)
- 1973: Rachel Maddow (jounalist)
- 1995: Logan Paul (YouTube star)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.