I Love Lucy (and one of the shrewdest deals in television)
October 15, 1951
The I Love Lucy show debuts on CBS TV, starring Lucille Ball. When Ball was offered a TV show she insisted her real-life Cuban husband Desi Arnaz play the part of her husband. The TV executives were reluctant, because they didn’t think audiences would believe the marriage between an all-American girl and a Latin man. To prove them wrong, Ball and Arnaz began performing a vaudeville act together. The act was a hit and they were given their TV show.
Most TV shows of the time were broadcast live in the New York area markets and the rest of the country watched later from low-quality kinescopes. Arnaz wanted to film the shows live and broadcast the higher-quality films later. The studio balked at the idea due to cost, so Arnaz agreed to cover the cost in exchange for the rights to the films. This was later considered one of the shrewdest deals in television, as Arnaz reaped huge profits from the rights to the reruns.
October 16, 1987
18-month-old baby Jessica McClure is rescued from a 22-foot-deep shaft she had fallen into 58½ hours earlier.
San Francisco Earthquake of 1989
October 17, 1989
The opening of the World Series in San Francisco is interrupted by an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. An Oakland freeway collapsed killing 42 people. In all, the damage was $10 billion with 67 people killed.