This Day in Pop Culture for November 19

Della Reese Passes Away

Perhaps best known for playing the older and wiser Tess in the CBS drama, Touched by an Angel, Della Reese passed away on this day in 2017 at the age of 86. Like many others, Reese began her career in music at her church, the Olivet Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan. In 1959, Reese had her first #1 R&B and #2 pop hit, “Don’t You know.” Ten years later she gave TV a try by hosting Della, the first talk show hosted by a black woman. It lasted for about a year. She later co-starred in a few TV series (including Chico and the Man, Charlie and Company and The Royal Family) as well as making numerous guest appearances in many others. In 1994, she starred in Touched by an Angel with Roma Downey and John Dye. She even sang the show’s theme song. The show ran through 2003. Reese was also an ordained minister and officiated Downey’s marriage to Mark Burnett in 2007. Reese’s last TV appearance was in two episodes of the Hallmark Channel show, Signed, Sealed and Delivered in 2014. The show was created by Martha Williamson who also created Touched by an Angel. It was also the year in which the singer and actress retired from performing.

"Rocky and His Friends" debuted on November 18, 1959.

‘Rocky and His Friends’ Debuts

While many remember The Bullwinkle Show, the cartoon series was first called Rocky and His Friends when it debuted for the first time on this day in 1959 on ABC. The show featured Bullwinkle the Moose (voiced by Bill Scott) and Rocky the Flying Squirrel (voiced by June Foray) and their adventures doing battle against Boris and Natasha. The show also featured other segments including Fractured Fairy Tales, Peabody’s Improbable History, Dudley to-Right of the Mounties, Aesop and Son, Bullwinkle’s Corner and Mr. Know It All. The show aired after American Bandstand on Tuesdays and Thursdays and was the highest-rated daytime network program at the time. In 1961, the show moved to NBC, aired at 7:00 p.m. on Sunday nights (just before Walt Disney’s World of Color) and was also broadcast in color. However, the show’s ratings took a beating going up against Lassie. It was later cancelled in 1964, but reruns of the series continued to air for many years.

Ford Discontinues the Edsel

Beginning in 1958, Ford began production of the Edsel in hopes of making a huge dent in sales against GM and Chrysler. It was not to be. On this day in 1959, Ford announced that they would discontinue production of the car with the name that became synonymous with the word, “failure.” The next day, UPI wire service reported that book values for the car had declined by as much as $400 immediately following the press release. In turn, Ford offered rebates of up to $400 worth of new Ford products to leery buyers. In the end, only 118,287 Edsels were built and total sales of the car were about 116,000 which was less than the projected break-even point! 

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