Happy New Year, America

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Happy New Year, America
Presented byVarious hosts
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes16
Running time120 minutes
Original networkCBS
Original releaseDecember 31, 1979 (1979-12-31) –
December 31, 1995 (1995-12-31)

Happy New Year, America is an American television special that aired on the CBS television network to celebrate the New Year. It first aired on December 31, 1979 (leading into 1980), and last aired December 31, 1995 (leading into 1996).

The show was commissioned to replace Guy Lombardo's New Year specials. Though Lombardo had died in 1977, Guy's brother, Victor Lombardo, led the Royal Canadians band for two more New Year specials (1977 and 1978) after that. Happy New Year, America featured coverage of the Times Square Ball in New York City and the party in the ballroom of The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, both of which were also covered during the Lombardo years. However, the show also featured pre-taped segments from Billy Bob's Texas and Walt Disney World. (Billy Bob's was a location made popular as a result of CBS's hit TV series Dallas.)

The show had a different host year after year, unlike its competitor New Year's Rockin' Eve (which was annually hosted by Dick Clark). Andy Williams was the most frequent guest host of the show. Other hosts include Paul Anka, who did the first one, Donny Osmond, Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight (1986–87; 1988–89) and Al Jarreau (who substituted for Knight when she was sick in the 1985–86 show), along with Kermit The Frog. Other people who have covered the countdown from Times Square include Catherine Bach (1979–80, 1980–81), Donna Mills, Michelle Lee, Jim Varney (in character as Ernest P. Worrell, 1988–89), Terry Bradshaw (1990–91), Brent Musburger (1986–87)' Christie Brinkley (1987–88), Natalie Cole and Lily Tomlin (in character as "Ernestine the Telephone Lady" 1984–85), having made appearances over the course of the show's run.

The show did not air in 1991–1992.

In 1992–93, CBS aired the Hard Rock Cafe New Year's Special, with Jay Thomas hosting from the Cafe[1] and Nia Peeples reporting from Times Square. Stars were Keith Richards, Robert Cray, Genesis, Pearl Jam, The B-52s, Bo Diddley, The Kids in the Hall, Judy Tenuta and U2.

In 1993–94, the Late Show with David Letterman New Year's Eve episode aired, with Tom and Roseanne Arnold and Bon Jovi as guests, and a live countdown from Times Square. [2]

The event was one of two New Year specials CBS regularly aired at the time; the other was the Cotton Bowl Parade, which CBS aired until 1992. CBS also previously carried coverage of the Tournament of Roses Parade (with Bob Barker as host), but this too has also been discontinued.

Paul Shaffer hosted the return of HNYA in 1994–95.[3]

The last one was in 1995–96 and featured Montel Williams as host. In 1996, Disney pulled out of producing the program (and several other CBS holiday specials) when it bought ABC, and CBS decided to discontinue its New Year's coverage. Since then, reruns of the Late Show have aired in the show's time slot, although a first-run episode, with live coverage of Times Square's countdown to midnight, aired on December 31, 1998. CBS aired a one-off America's Millennium special on December 31, 1999, which was hosted by Will Smith and Dan Rather and featured performances by (amongst others) Trisha Yearwood and the premiere of a short film by Steven Spielberg called The Unfinished Dream.[4]


  2. ^ "Bon Jovi's performance on the Late Show, December 31, 1993, with coverage from Times Square". Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  3. ^ "Happy New Year America 1994". The Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  4. ^ JENSEN, ELIZABETH; LOWRY, BRIAN (1999-11-26). "Welcoming the New Year From the Sofa". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-12-31.