STAGE TUBE: NBC's TODAY Celebrates 60 Years on Air!
With a ceremony fitting a diamond anniversary, TODAY toasted six decades on the air with an anchor homecoming that brought current and former hosts to NBC. The show has come a long way, from flickering on black-and-white TV sets to broadcasting in high-def to homes around the world. "Essentially, the program has remained the same. And that is you get up to find out if the world is still there. Is everything OK," Barbara Walters said. "We're the people you trust."
TODAY nodded to its history by staging a scene from the past on New York City's 49th street. The screen went black and white as a stand-in Dave Garroway broadcast from the "Window of the World." Actors dressed in period costume marveled at the scene, and from the crowd came Matt Lauer to introduce the big reunion.
Hugh Downs, Barbara Walters, Jim Hartz, Tom Brokaw, Jane Pauley, Bryant Gumbel, Willard Scott, Deborah Norville, Katie Couric, Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer, Ann Curry, Al Roker, Natalie Morales, Kathie Lee Gifford, Hoda Kotb and Savannah Guthrie, all gathered in Studio 1A to share their stories. "We have more anchors than the Sixth Fleet!" Ann Curry joked. "Boy, after the week we've had celebrating, I feel like 60," said 54-year-old Matt Lauer. The moment turned more reflective as the past anchors recounted their time on the broadcast.
"The genius of Pat Weaver when he first started this is still true today," Browkaw said. "It is the electronic breakfast table. It is the great national morning newspaper." Matt asked each to name the broadcast icon they watched before joining the show. And several named Garroway as their inspiration. "I admired that his approach was so easy going and so ab-libbed, literally. It was so new then," Hugh Downs said. "Garroway was a model."
Tom Hanks, a guest on the show 22 times previously, brought out the cake for the champagne toast. "The only reason I pushed out the cake was that the trainer didn't have enough time with J. Fred Muggs," Tom joked about the TODAY chimpanzee, our former animal anchor.
The first family, national landmarks and celebrities also toasted the show's celebration. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama saluted the broadcast in a special message. "Over decades and across generations, the TODAY show has become a part of American culture," said the president. "We know you'll have many more years of success," Michelle added.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed the day as a "TODAY Show Day." "This show I think sets the standards for a lot of other television," he said. "And you should be very proud and all of the people that have worked here over the years.
National landmarks across the U.S. marked the occasion Thursday night and Friday morning. The Empire State Building lit up in red, yellow and orange - the first time it has ever been illuminated for a television show - while Niagara Falls glowed with TODAY hues.
A New York Fire Department fireboat in front of the Statue of Liberty shot off orange-colored water, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and the Cira Centre in Philadelphia also saluted TODAY, while the Goodyear Blimp congratulated the show with a special message while flying over the Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles. Throughout the week, celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Tom Hanks and Justin Bieber have been wishing TODAY well.
To view today's 60th Anniversary Retrospective, click below!