On this day in pop culture history: Bill Murray replaced Chevy Chase on ‘SNL’

39 years ago today, Bill Murray appeared on “Saturday Night Live” for the first time.

In the show”s second season, Murray replaced Chevy Chase on the “SNL” cast shortly after Chase left to pursue a movie career. It may be hard to imagine now, but Murray had a shaky start on the show, as he struggled to fill audience favorite Chase”s shoes. He even delivered an on-air apology and plea for support from viewers, saying “I don”t think I”m making it on the show” and begging them to “laugh whenever I saw something” – not for his sake, of course, but for the widowed mother he cares for.

It wasn”t until later on “SNL” that Murray began to develop his sarcastic, sleazy slacker persona and became the celebrated comedian we know him as today. He gave us such memorable sketches as “Family Feud” with a Coneheaded clan, Nick the Lounge Singer”s “Star Wars” song, and as his turn as Superman.

Other notable January 15 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1968: “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” ended its four-season run.

• 1972: Don McLean”s “American Pie” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. For four weeks, it held the top spot on the chart.

• 1974: “Happy Days” premiered on ABC.

• 1975: Space Mountain opened at the Magic Kingdom in Florida.

• 1982: Men at Work”s “Down Under” hit No. 1on the Billboard Hot 100. It topped the chart for three weeks.

• 1987: News was reported that Paramount Pictures would put a Diet Pepsi commercial at the front of its VHS tape for “Top Gun.” The New York times wrote that this was a “dramatic example of changing trends in the video-cassette market.”

• 2001: Wikipedia launched.