NBC Celebrates 90 Years With Three-Hour Special

The National Broadcasting Company, better known as NBC, will be celebrating the network’s 90th anniversary on Sunday, February 19, with a three-hour special. Kelsey Grammer will host The Paley Center Salutes NBC’s 90th Anniversary from 8:00-11:00 p.m. with clips and interviews from nine decades of broadcasting.

Grammer is a five-time Emmy Award winner for playing the character Frasier Craine who first appeared on the sitcom Wings and then Cheers before NBC created his own show, Frasier. (Grammer is tied with James Arness from Gunsmoke for the record of longest-running non-animated character on TV. They both played their roles for 20 years.)

The Cast of "Fraiser"
Peri Gilpin as Roz Doyle, John Mahoney as Martin Crane, Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, Moose as Eddie, David Hyde Pierce as Dr. Niles Crane, Jane Leeves as Daphne Moon -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)

“We’re so pleased to have the Paley Center paying tribute to NBC on its 90th birthday,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment. “Founded in 1926 by RCA, NBC is one of this country’s most significant cultural legacies. The list of iconic stars and programs over the years is mind-boggling, and our thanks to Kelsey Grammer — one of the best — for coming back home to host this special. It’s remarkable for any company to survive for nearly a century, and we’re especially proud that NBC is still going strong as the leading network even to this day.”

NBC has a rich history of pop culture bringing to the airwaves some of television’s most iconic shows and characters. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to appear on television recorded at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair on April 30, 1939. It is estimated that the broadcast was seen about about 1,000 viewers. The first NBC network program, a broadcast of the play, Meet the Wife, aired on January 12, 1940. In 1956, NBC created a new logo featuring a peacock to promote it shows and specials that would be aired in color.

NBC logos over the years: 1943, 1954, 1956, 1959, 1975, 1980. [Image by NBC]

Some of the longest running shows that have aired on NBC include Meet the Press (69 years), Today (65 years), The Tonight Show (62 years), Days of Our Lives (51 years), NBC Nightly News (46 years), Saturday Night Live (41 years), Another World (35 years), Late Night (35 years), NFL on NBC (22 years), The Doctors (20 years), Law & Order, (19 years), Friday Night Videos (19 years), Sportsworld (15 years), Concentration (15 years), ER (15 years), Last Call with Carson Daly (15 years), Watch Mr. Wizard (14 years), Bonanza (13 years), Hollywood Squares (14 years) Truth or Consequences (13 years), Let’s Make a Deal (13 years) and Howdy Doody (13 years).

Gene Shalit, Jane Pauley and Tom Brokaw from "Today"
Cast of "Today:" Movie critic Gene Shalit, anchors Jane Pauley and Tom Brokaw. [Image by NBC]

Favorite shows to be featured during the NBC anniversary special include The Tonight Show, America’s Got Talent, Today, Meet the Press, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Hill Street Blues, The West Wing, L.A. Law, ER, The Monkees, Get Smart, Cheers, The Cosby Show, The Golden Girls, Seinfeld, Frasier, Will & Grace, Friends, The Office and 30 Rock. While different versions of The Wonderful World of Disney aired on the network from 1961-1981, it is unclear if the show will be represented or not since ABC is now owned by Disney.

The cast of "Laugh In."
(top) Gary Owens (2nd row) Dave Madden, Teresa Graves, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Alan Sues (3rd row) Judy Carne, Henry Gibson, Ruth Buzzi, Jo Anne Worley (bottom l-r) host Dan Rowan, host Dick Martin -- (Photo by: NBC)

The NBC anniversary special will also include new interviews with some celebrities often tied to the network including Ted Danson, Tina Fey, Debra Messing, Noah Wyle, Rob Lowe, Blake Shelton, William Shatner, Jennifer Lopez, Bob Costas, Al Michaels and producer Dick Wolf.

“The Paley Center is so proud to bring to life this special celebration of NBC’s 90 incredible years,” said Maureen J. Reidy, the Paley Center’s President & CEO. “As the nation’s leading voice in the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, the Paley Center is uniquely positioned to bring this memorable television experience to TV audiences around the world. This special will show why for 90 years NBC has enthralled generations with its groundbreaking and iconic programing.”

[Featured Image by: NBC]