Are the first instances of specific curse words on prime-time network TV known? For instance, could I look up somewhere the first time “ass” was used in prime time? “Bitch”? Other words of that ilk?
The first time I personally can remember “ass” was on a 1998 episode of *Everybody Loves Raymond (IIRC, Raymond told Robert that his socks smelled like “a skunk that crawled out of another skunk’s ass”). But I’m sure that particular word was broken out of the bag sometime earlier.
I remember hearing Alan Alda, as Hawkeye, use the phrase “son-of-a-bitch” on a MAS*H rerun, and thinking that was rather unusual. According to several websites, that was one of the first times that phrase was used on national tv. Sorry, but I can’t remember the year.
The first time I remember hearing “ass” in other than a “donkey” context was on Saturday Night Live, during Weekend Update. Dana Carvey appeared as guest commentator Jimmy Stewart, and he stated that if anyone tried to colorize one of his movies, “I’d kick his ass.” Got a huge cheer from the audience. I’d guess the time frame to be about 1989.
I remember Gilda Radner (as Emily Latella) calling Anchorwoman Jane Curtan a bitch. I don’t remember if that was before or after Phoebe Cates said, “Which one of you bitches is my mother?” on a primetime mini-series (Lace).
I believe Lace aired in 1984. I don’t remember when the SNL “bitch” happened.