This Day in Pop Culture for April 18

1924: The First Crossword Puzzle Book is Published

Although crossword puzzles had arrived a few years earlier in 1913 in the pages of the New York World, it wasn’t until this day in 1924 when Simon & Schuster published the first book of the addicting craze. The story is that Richard Simon’s aunt asked him if there were any books about the puzzles that she could give to a friend. When he discovered that there wasn’t, he and M. Lincoln Schuster printed the first one. The very first book came with a pencil and to this day, Simon & Schuster are still the company to beat in the publishing world of crossword puzzle books. (Image: Wikipedia)

1983: The Disney Channel

Disney fans could hardly catch their breath on this day in 1983 when the new pay TV network, The Disney Channel debuted. The very first show to air was Good Morning Mickey which was essentially a half hour of old Mickey Mouse cartoons. The network only aired for about 12 hours a day. Some of the shows that aired during the early years included reruns of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the fitness show Mousercise, Welcome to Pooh Corner, old theatrical Disney movies, the classic and revivals of The Mickey Mouse Club and something called Good Morning Miss Bliss which was canceled after one year but became Saved By the Bell on NBC. Today, Disney Channel looks completely different and as of November 2020, is available to 88 million households in the U.S.


1930: The Day Without News

It’s hard to imagine, but on this day in 1930, the BBC announced during its 20:45 news bulletin that the news announcer stated that “there is no news” and with that, continued to play 15 minutes of piano music before returning back to a broadcast of the Wagner opera, Parsifal, at the Queen’s Hall in Langham Place, London.


1979: ‘Real People’ Premieres

Before YouTube was a thing, NBC aired Real People that promoted real, everyday people (instead of celebrities) who either had odd occupations or hobbies. Hosted by John Barbour, Sarah Purcell, Byron Allen, Skip Stephenson, Bill Rafferty, Mark Russell, Peter Billingsley, David Ruprecht and Fred Willard, the show featured segments filmed around America interviewing these real people. At least one household celebrity name can from the show boosting his career. Fitness icon Richard Simons was featured doing what he does best from his first studio in Los Angeles. Real People was an instant hit and in 1980, the network tried to capitalize on that be creating two spinoffs: Speak Up, America and Real Kids. Neither saw much success. However, the show did inspire ABC to host a similar show called That’s Incredible. Real People aired through 1984.

2018: Saudi Arabia Returns to the Theater

While there were once many movie theaters in Saudi Arabia, they all closed up in the 1980’s thanks to religious conservatives during the Islamic revival movements and the government closed all of the theaters except one. It was an IMAX theater located at the Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center and only showed documentaries (mostly from the U.S. dubbed in Arabic). Many years later, a new movie theater opened within a hotel in 2005 that was intended for women and children only and it only showed cartoons. This caused many to question the reasoning of the ban in the first place and in December of 2017, the Saudi Arabian Minister of Culture and Information made the announcement that movie theaters would once again be allowed to open. The first public film to screen to the general public on this day in 2018 was Marvel Studios’ Black Panther.

Movies Released

  • 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag (1997)
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
  • Grey Gardens (2009)
  • Holes (2003)
  • Legend (1986)
  • Rails & Ties (2008)
  • Transcendence (2014)

TV Series Debuts

  • Mare of Easttown (2021)
  • Real People (1979)
  • Rescue 911 (1989)
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters (2000)

Famous Birthdays

  • 1946: Hayley Mills (actress)
  • 1947: Dorothy Lyman (actress)
  • 1953: Rick Moranis (actor)
  • 1956: Eric Roberts (actor)
  • 1961: Jane Leeves (actress)
  • 1962: Jeff Dunham (ventriloquist)
  • 1963: Eric McCormack (actor)
  • 1972: Eli Roth (film director)
  • 1976: Melissa Joan Hart (actress)

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