Exhibit / December 14, 2016
Object Name: Advertisement for Evening Magazine from TV Guide, Boston Edition, September 12, 1983
Maker and Year: Group W Broadcasting (Evening Magazine)/Triangle Publications (TV Guide), 1983
Object Type: Print Advertisement
Description: (Michael Grasso)
Maine schoolgirl Samantha Smith sent a momentous letter to Yuri Andropov, then General Secretary of the USSR, in autumn of 1982. She asked the Soviet leader, “Are you going to vote to have a war or not?” and “why [do] you want to conquer the world or at least our country?” Andropov’s response, sent in April 1983 via the Soviet Embassy, invited Smith to come to the Soviet Union that summer and be part of a cultural exchange program, spending time in the Crimea at a Pioneer camp.
Smith became a media sensation worldwide, but especially in the U.S., where her appearances on The Tonight Show and Nightline showcased her peace activism. In the time after her trip to Russia, she worked with the Disney Channel covering the 1984 election, made a cameo appearance on sitcom Charles in Charge, and earned a starring role in the Robert Wagner series Lime Street. Smith’s life was tragically cut short on August 25, 1985, when her small commuter plane crashed near Lewiston-Auburn Regional Airport in Auburn, Maine, killing all six passengers and two crew members. Tributes followed from both U.S. and Soviet leaders, and her memory was enshrined, especially in the Soviet Union (where many believed that “President Reagan” was behind the crash), with civic tributes.
Evening Magazine, a nightly newsmagazine television format pioneered by Group W’s San Francisco affiliate KPIX and subsequently adopted by many Group W affiliates around the U.S., featured human interest and entertainment stories with local hosts introducing the content, aping popular network shows like Real People and That’s Incredible. In Boston, then-NBC affiliate WBZ-TV featured a version of the show with future America’s Funniest Home Videos host Tom Bergeron.