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Broadcast Firsts

Vietnam War - The Ballad of Andy Crocker (1969) is the first made-for-television movie to deal with the traumas of the returning Vietnam veteran. This Thomas/Spelling production starred Lee Majors, Joey Heatherton and Jimmy Dean.

The short-lived military antiwar comedy THE SIX O'CLOCK FOLLIES/NBC/1980 is the first series set during the Vietnam War. It featured the misadventures of the zany personnel assigned to the Armed Forces TV Network news program known as "The Follies."

In the fall of 1987, the military drama TOUR OF DUTY aired on the CBS Network. Inspired by the feature film Platoon (1986), the program was the first TV series dedicated to the exploits of the Vietnam War.

The HBO anthology series THE VIETNAM WAR STORY (predated TOUR OF DUTY by a year) featured new characters each week and told true accounts of soldiers who fought in Vietnam. Its graphic language was used to heighten the dramatic conflicts.

The detective series MAGNUM P.I./CBS/1980-88 did much to relate the traumas and problems of the returning Vietnam veteran during the life of its series run (Magnum and his buddies being Vietnam veterans).

The military drama CHINA BEACH/ABC/1988-91 was the first series to speak to the experiences of the thousands of women who served in Vietnam. The final episode of the series featured an emotional reunion of the program's characters at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The following is a selective list of additional Vietnam War related made-for-television movies and news specials:

  • VIETNAM: THE DEADLY DECISION (4/1/64) a CBS examination of America's increasing involvement in Southeast Asia, anchored by Charles Collingwood

  • LETTERS FROM VIETNAM (9/10/64) an ABC profile of an American Helicopter Squadron, produced by Gregory Shuker

  • THE AGONY OF VIETNAM (8/25/65), an ABC documentary focusing on the impact of the war on the Vietnamese people

  • VIETNAM: DECEMBER 1965 (12/20/65), an NBC documentary special produced by Chet Hagan and hosted by Chet Huntley and Frank McGee

  • WALTER CRONKITE IN VIETNAM (2/27/68), a CBS news special with first-hand reporting by Walter Cronkite. This program was a reaffirmation of Cronkite's documentary drama YOU ARE THERE/CBS/1953-57

  • THE SELLING OF THE PENTAGON (2/23/71) a CBS report on the Pentagon's involvement in the Vietnam War

  • The Forgotten Man (1971) starring Dennis Weaver, Anne Francis, Lois Nettleton about a returning Vietnam POW veteran who finds his home changed and his wife remarried

  • Welcome Home, Johnny (1972) starring Martin Landau, Jane Alexander, Brock Peters about a Vietnam veteran who returns to his hometown that he dreamed of while a POW, but can't find it.

  • POW's: THE BLACK HOMECOMING (7/27/73), ABC news special on the adjustment of the black Vietnam War POW's who returned to the United States

  • Sticks & Bones (1973) starring Cliff De Young, Tom Aldridge, Asa Gim and Anne Jackson. about a blinded Vietnam veteran adjusting to life at home in the states

  • 7,382 DAYS IN VIETNAM (4/29/75) NBC news special retrospective on the Vietnam War

  • Green Eyes (1977) starring Paul Winfield, Rita Tushingham, Jonathan Lippe about a disillusioned Vietnam veteran who returned to Southeast Asia for a son he left behind

  • Just a Little Inconvenience (1977) starring Lee Majors, James Stacy, Barbara Hershey about a disillusioned Vietnam veteran crippled in Southeast Asia (lost a leg) who was helped through rehabilitation by a former soldier buddy

  • My Husband Is Missing (1978) starring Sally Struthers, Tony Musante, James Hong about a wife of an MIA (Missing in Action) who accompanied a correspondent to search for her husband in North Vietnam

  • Friendly Fire (1979) starring Carol Burnett, Ned Beatty, Sam Waterson about a couple who battled government red tape to reveal their son was killed by the "friendly fire" of our own artillery during the Vietnam War

  • When Hell is In Session (1979) an NBC Theater docu-drama starring Hal Holbrook as Admiral Jeremiah Denton, an American POW in North Vietnam

  • Memorial Day (1983) starring Mike Farrell, Shelley Fabares, Edward Herrmann about the memories of a wartime cover up that come back to haunt a Vietnam veteran turned lawyer after a former Marine buddy commits suicide

  • Unnatural Causes (1986) starring John Ritter and Alfre Woodward about the effects of Agent Orange on a former Vietnamese War veteran and the woman who fought to bring the public the true story behind that devastating chemical.

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