60-years-of-today

Vote for your favorite: 6 iconic TODAY moments for our 60th

Jan. 9, 2012 at 8:03 AM ET

Update Jan. 13:

Matt's first Where in the World broadcast was our viewers' favorite TODAY moment during our past 60 years!

Read the original post below, and weigh in on the choices in the comments.

Original post:

As TODAY celebrates its 60th anniversary this week, we want viewers to take part: Tell us your favorite moment from our history.

Staffers whittled down our nearly 22,000 broadcasts to six iconic TODAY moments. Vote for your favorite at the bottom of the page or add your own suggestion in the comments!

TODAY will reveal the winner during Friday's 60th anniversary celebration.

1. NBC debuts TODAY

"Well here we are and a good morning to you. The very first good morning of what I hope and suspect will be a great many good mornings between you and I."

That's how Dave Garroway welcomed America to TODAY on Jan. 14, 1952 at 7 a.m.

The world was a different place in 1952: A gallon of gas set you back 20 cents and Johnnie Ray and The Four Lads' "Cry" was the most popular song. Harry Truman was president and King George VI reigned over the United Kingdom.

Only one in three families owned a television, and it seemed fewer thought a television show could be successful before noon.

"As pervasive as television had become in a relatively short time, it had virtually no place in people's lives during the hectic early hours of the morning," Steven Battaglio wrote in his book, "From Yesterday to TODAY: Six Decades of America's Favorite Morning Show." "None of the networks believed there was enough of an audience to program the hours before 11:30 a.m."

But NBC believed otherwise, and a different sort of broadcast took to the airwaves on Jan. 14.

It was named TODAY, and its mission was to "put you more closely in touch with the world we live in," Garroway said on the first broadcast.

2. Monkey business in the morning

TODAY struggled with viewer and advertiser support during its first year, and rumors at the time suggested it could be canceled.

What saved the broadcast? Ratings soared after producers added an unlikely anchor to the program: A chimpanzee named J. Fred Muggs.

The chimp debuted on Feb. 3, 1953. "Muggs leapt up onto the desk on the TODAY set and into Garroway's arms," Battaglio wrote. "He then grabbed the host's tortoise shell glasses and put them into his mouth before Garroway could quickly snatch them back. From that moment forward, Muggs was a hit with viewers."

Despite sometimes gnawing on Garroway's fingers, the chimp's antics lightened up the show. In one memorable moment, Muggs was given his first desk only to reject it so he could playfully attack announcer Jack Lescoulie's desk.

Muggs left the show in 1957 and currently lives in Citrus Park, Florida. 

3. Barbara Walters learns secrets of Playboy Bunnies

Barbara Walters started at TODAY in 1961 as a copy writer; she departed 15 years later as the broadcast's first female co-host.

She was also the show's final TODAY Girl, a female correspondent position that existed between 1952 and 1966 whose responsibilities included reporting on lighter subjects like fashion or lifestyle segments.

Walters aimed higher, interviewing such high-profile guests like Princess Grace of Monaco, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and President Richard Nixon.

"During the early days of the feminist movement of the 1960s, Walters' emergence on TODAY was heralded as a significant inroad for women in television news," Battaglio wrote. Read an excerpt and find more details about his book, "From Yesterday to TODAY."

One of Walters' most memorable segments — and a piece that shows how far TODAY has come through the years — included her training to become a Playboy Bunny in the iconic New York City club. It aired Dec. 31, 1962.

"When my turn came I felt pretty awkward, but at least I didn't spill anything on the customers," she said in the piece, adding that when she was leaving the doorman confused her as one of the models instead of a reporter for NBC. "I must admit that secretly I was kind of pleased."

4. Matt Lauer debuts Where in the World from Egypt

The concept is simple: Matt Lauer travels to a different secret destination around the world every day for five days, and viewers are only given one hint to help them guess where he'll end up next. And the series that started in April 1998 became the show's most successful in its 60-year run.

Matt spanned the globe nine more times after his first trip, earning hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer miles along the way. He landed in such far-away places as Zimbabwe, Easter Island, Bhutan, Malaysia and Monaco. He paraskied in the Swiss Alps and ate fried silk worms in Laos. Click here to see a slideshow of all 49 locations he's visited.

The location of his first trip was the most iconic: The pyramids in Egypt.

5. Katie Couric flies in from Never Land

Halloweens at TODAY are always among the most talked-about moments of every year.

Our anchors have dressed up in the past as "Star Wars" characters, popular fairy tale icons and, this past year, members of the royal family celebrating Will and Kate's wedding.

No entrance was more memorable than Katie Couric's when she dressed up as Peter Pan. She flew over the crowd attached to a wire, soaring over the plaza. But the best part was when she tried to land.

6. Ann Curry reports from the South Pole

TODAY traveled to the Ends of the Earth in 2007 to explore the diversity of life on the planet.

Ann was dispatched to Antarctica, and after days of weather delays in reaching the South Pole, she finally made it.

"Just a few moments ago we touched down at the South Pole!" she proclaimed live on TODAY in negative 53 degree Fahrenheit temperatures (not counting the windchill)! "There were many many many days of waiting, but I guess perseverance pays off," Ann said via satellite phone. 

It was the first-ever live network broadcast from the earth's southernmost point, where only about 7,000 people had ever visited previously. Click here to watch Ann Curry's report from Antarctica, which aired the following day.

Which do you think is TODAY's most iconic moment over the past 60 years?

TODAY at 60 online experience

Steve Veres is an editor for TODAY.com. He's humbled that a chimpanzee has made a much bigger impact at TODAY than he ever could.

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