Pop Culture TV Events
Our Pop Culture Criteria is based upon factors such as amount of viewers, impact of the event over time and overall impression on our society. These are allusions that include major events that were unscripted and covered live on TV, which is one of the reasons that we are not including these listings with Top Pop Television shows.
The Moon Landing
July 20, 1969, the Moon and broadcast worldwide
“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong’s first words upon being the first person to walk on the Moon. Apollo 11 landed in the Sea of Tranquility and our world would never be the same.
The JFK Assassination
November 22, 1963, Dallas, Texas
As his motorcade entered Dealey Plaza shots rang out from the Texas Schoolbook Depository and moments later America’s 35th President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated at ~12:30pm Central Standard Time.
The Morning of September 11, 2001, New York, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania
Four passenger airliners were hijacked by al-Qaeda terrorists who then crashed them into World Trade Center North Tower, World Trade Center South Tower, and The Pentagon. The fourth plane crashed into a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania where it is believed to have been recaptured from the terrorists by passengers. Nearly 3,000 died and ~25,000 sustained injuries as a result of the attacks.
“Who Shot JR?” episode of Dallas
November 21, 1980, CBS
Estimates indicate that ~76% of every television in America tuned into to find out Who Shot JR. As one of the most watched scripted TV Shows ever, Who Shot JR went far beyond the mere 83 million viewers who tuned in, the episode has lived on throughout Pop Culture. By the way, Kristin Shepard did it!
Superbowl LI, New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons
February 5, 2017,
Trailing 28-3 late in the 3rd Quarter it appeared as if the Patriots were headed for defeat. But then one of the most epic comebacks in sports history took place and the Patriots went on to further cement their football dynasty.
Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show
September 9, 1956, CBS
An emerging star with a big hit appearing on a hit TV Show led to this iconic moment, which may have even helped launch the concept of Pop Culture. With ~82% of viewers tuning in, Elvis proceeded to dance and move his hips as he sang “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Love Me Tender,” “Hound Dog”.
The Funeral of Diana Princess of Wales
September 6, 1997, London England, All Major Networks
The tragic death of Princess Diana shocked and saddened the entire world. The fairytale life of a common girl becoming princess had come to an abrupt end just when it had seemed that her best days were still ahead.
The funeral service had all the pomp and circumstance of British Royalty and the somberness of the day was observed in nearly every Country, State, City, Town and Village across the globe.
The Rumble in the Jungle, Muhammad Ali Vs. George Foreman
October 30, 1974, Kinshasa, Zaire, Pay-Per-View Via Closed Circuit TV
An epic battle of two great fighters it
Nixon vs. Kennedy Debate, 1960 Presidential Debate
September 26, 1960, Washington D.C., NBC Studios
Those who watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy won and those who listened to the debate on Radio thought Nixon won. A watershed moment for politics, TV and our country.
The Royal Wedding, Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton
April 29, 2011, London, England, All Major Networks
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thanksgiving Day 1924, broadcast nationally since 1953, New York, New York (Herald Square)
The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show
February 9, 1964, CBS
With nearly 73 million people watching (60% of all TV sets), John, Paul, George and Ringo would make history and leave an indelible mark on Pop Culture.
Aloha from Hawaii
Elvis Presley’s Aloha from Hawaii Special Via Satellite
January 14, 1973, Honolulu Hawaii, NBC
Evel Knievel Jumps the Fountains at Caesar’s Palace
December 31, 1967, Las Vegas Nevada
Attempting to jump over the Fountains at Caesar’s Palace the American daredevil crashes in epic fashion. The videotaped event would go on to superstardom and becoming a household name. Ever the showman, Evel was a savvy marketer and managed to place his image on everything from lunchboxes, to toys.
The World Cup
Every four years since 1930
Inauguration of Barack Obama
January 20, 2009, Washington D.C.
The swearing-in of America’s 44th President had many Pop Culture implications. As the nation’s first African American President, the crowds for the Inauguration are reported to be the largest attended event ever in the nation’s Capital.
July 13, 1985, London England & Philadelphia USA
New Year’s Eve Celebrations
I Have a Dream
August 28, 1963, Speech Delivered by Martin Luth King, Jr., Lincoln Memorial Washington D.C.
The Tournament of Roses Parade
Held annually on January 1st since 1890, Colorado Boulevard Pasadena California
The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon
ABC, 1966 – 2014
Raised over $2.5 billion for the Muscular Dystrophy Association
The OJ Simpson Trial & *OJ Simpson Police Pursuit
January 1994 – October 1995, Los Angeles California, ~150 million people watched the verdict live on Oct. 3, 1995. ~95 million people watched the Ford Bronco “chase” on June 17, 1994
Trump vs. Clinton Presidential Debate
September 26, 2016, Hofstra University, Hempstead New York, ~84-90 million people watched making it the most watched debate in history
The Kentucky Derby
Since 1875, held annually on First Saturday in May, Churchill Downs, Louisville Kentucky
The SuperbowlSpace Shuttle Challenger Explosion
At 73 seconds into the flight on January 28, 1986, ~48,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean
Jack Ruby Shoots Lee Harvey Oswald
November 24, 1963, Basement of the Dallas Texas Police Station
Rodney King & the L.A. Riots
March 3, 1991, (Initial Incident), April 29 – May 4, 1992, (Verdict Triggers Riots), Los Angeles California
Bill Clinton & Monica Lewinsky Affair/Scandal