Today in TV history: The Greatest American Hero debuts

Believe it or not, The Greatest American Hero first aired on this date in 1981 as a two-hour pilot movie. The series ran through 1983. William Katt starred as a high school teacher named Ralph who is given superpowers. You might remember the actor as the guy who took Sissy Spacek to the prom in Carrie. The theme song, “Believe It or Not,” reached #2 on the Billboard charts for two weeks in 1981.

Opening, The Greatest American Hero, “Believe It or Not” (1981)

Pop culture references:

On Family Guy, Peter wears the Greatest American Hero suit and declares his superpower is the ability to remain somewhat memorable after a relatively short run on TV.

On Seinfeld, George’s answering machine features him singing a modified version of the theme song: “Believe it or not, George isn’t at home…”

George Costanza’s “Believe It or Not” answering machine greeting, Seinfeld (1997)

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