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The Week in Nostalgia: ‘SNL’ Launches, O’Reilly Debuts & More (VIDEO)

The week in pop-culture history: the first ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ‘American Bandstand’ debuts, and more.


What happened this week in pop-culture history? American Bandstand, Saturday Night Live, and the Broadway musical CATS were among some of the many cultural touchstones that celebrated anniversaries this week.

Check out our video rundown for your weekly dose of nostalgia.

October 11, 1975

Saturday Night Live is “live from New York” for the first time.

George Carlin was the first host of what was then known as NBC’s Saturday Night. Billy Preston and Janis Ian joined Carlin as musical guests. For the first and only time in SNL history, the host did not appear in any of the sketches. Carlin only performed standup and introduced that night’s musical guests. Original cast member Chevy Chase was the first person on the show to say “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” Coincidentally, 30 Rock, the brainchild of former SNL writer and cast-member Tina Fey, premiered this week in 2006.

October 8, 1982

CATS opens on Broadway.

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of two of the longest-running musicals: The Phantom of the Opera and CATS. CATS’s historic 18-year run on Broadway ended on September 10, 2000. (Phantom? It’s still running.) Marlene Danielle was the only actress who stayed with the musical from its first performance through to the end. In 1983, CATS won seven Tony Awards, most notably Best Musical and Best Original Score.

October 7, 1989

The curtain closes on American Bandstand

On October 7, 1989, the Dick Clark-hosted music-performance show ended its 37-year run. Over the years, American Bandstand featured performances from some of the greatest musical acts of all time, including the Jackson 5, Run-DMC, and Madonna. In 2002, the show celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special performance by Michael Jackson. There were plans to revive the show in 2004, but none came to fruition after Clark suffered a severe stroke that year.

October 7, 1996

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Hey Arnold! premieres on Nickelodeon

Little-known fact: Hey Arnold!’s football protagonist Arnold is actually based on a minor character from Pee-wee’s Playhouse who was created by Hey Arnold!’s mastermind, Craig Bartlett. The pilot of Hey Arnold! was completed in Bartlett’s living room in 1993. When the animated series ended in June 2004, it had aired 100 episodes.

The O’Reilly Factor premieres on Fox News Channel

The O’Reilly Factor, then known as The O’Reilly Report, was one of Fox News’s original shows when the channel went live in 1996. The “no spin zone” was in full effect when O’Reilly interviewed his first guest, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was at the time the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. For the past 10 years, The O’Reilly Factor has been America’s most watched cable news program. The O’Reilly Factor’s biggest claim to fame? It’s the main inspiration for The Colbert Report.