November 21, 1980 a worldwide television audience of an estimated 350 million people tune in to find out who shot J.R. Ewing in the US television series, Dallas.
More than three quarters of American televisions were switched to the episode, although it was also a truly global event: in Turkey, parliament was suspended to allow its members to watch it. Dallas fans had been waiting since the end of the previous season in March to find out who shot the man people loved to hate, played by Larry Hagman. The cliffhanger provided a summer of speculation as to the culprit and became a merchandising gold rush, with T-shirts, hats and mugs bearing the words I shot J.R.! selling like the proverbial hotcakes. Whodunnit? It turned out to be J.R.‘s sister-in-law and mistress Kristin Shepard.
Also on November 21: Thomas Edison invents the phonograph (1877); the ‘Bloody Sunday’ killings take place in Dublin (1920); ‘Rocky’ is released in cinemas (1976).
Born on November 21: Voltaire (1694), René Magritte (1898), Goldie Hawn (1945), Björk (1965).