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October 4 in Nerd History
Here are five things that happened on October 4th at the intersection of nerd and pop culture.
Birthdays of honor: Alicia Silverstone (1976), Christoph Waltz (1956), Susan Sarandon (1946), Liev Schreiber (1967), Charlton Heston (1923), Buster Keaton (1895), Robert Patrick (1958), Russel Simmons (1957), Jackie Collins (1937), Anne Rice (1941).
Today in 1957 we met the Cleavers for the first time when Leave It to Beaver premiered on CBS.
While generations of kids remember watching this show, it actually never did too well during its original run. CBS dropped it after one season, with ABC picking it up for another five. Both networks tried airing the sitcom, starring Jerry Mathers as Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver, on different nights and times to improve its viewership, but it was never able to crack the Nielsen top 30. Even attempts to reboot the show have been spotty at best, with a 1997 film bombing at the box office.
Where Leave It to Beaver always shined was in reruns. Kids from the 80s, 90s, and even the 2010s got the chance to see a piece of history that portrays a romanticized kind of life from the late '50s to early '60s. And there's just something satisfying about saying "Beaver Cleaver."
In 1986 Dan Rather was walking to his apartment building along Park Avenue in New York City when he was suddenly attacked from behind. As the assailant punched and kicked Rather, he kept repeating a question: "Kenneth, what is the frequency?"
Between Rather sort of shrugging it off as a mugging and the timing of the alleged attack occurring around the same time he had stormed off set, many thought the news anchor was either losing his marbles or just seeking attention. He even went on to seemingly make light of the event when he joined R.E.M. on stage to sing a song inspired by the attack, "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"
But a decade later all the accounts were confirmed and the suspect was tied to separate crimes, including a shooting. He believed he had been receiving messages through the news. As for the meaning of the question? Still, nobody really knows.
In 1970, Janis Joplin was found dead at the Landmark Motor Hotel, just off Hollywood Blvd. in Los Angeles. An autopsy revealed that she had overdosed on heroin.
Joplin was the third musician that year alone to pass away at the age of 27 — Alan Wilson of Canned Heat and Jimi Hendrix had preceded her. Some call it the "27 Club," a group of musicians and other creatives who have all died at the same age. This would also include Brain Jones and Jim Morrison, and the death of Kurt Cobain in 1994 would bring the concept back into popular culture.
Today in 1990 Beverly Hills, 90210 debuted on Fox, created by Darren Star (who would also go on to create Melrose Place and Sex and the City, among other shows) and produced by the legendary Aaron Spelling.
Initially receiving poor ratings, Fox aired a special "summer season" which allowed the show to gain attention when most others were showing reruns. The tactic worked, and soon 90210 became a pop culture phenomenon and Luke Perry could be spotted on the cover of teen magazines across the world.
The show lasted 10 seasons, despite quite a bit of cast turnover, and helped to define the Zeitgeist of the '90s. A short-lived reboot only made it a few months in 2019.
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