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Euthanasia Practiced on “Dr. Kildare,” a TV First

Mar. 21, 1963 - Euthanasia is practiced by a doctor for the first time on a television series in an episode filmed for NBC’s “Dr. Kildare” show. The episode may touch off a heated controversy. In allowing a doctor to practice euthanasia, the segment has not only broken new ground for a television series, it has gone beyond the Hollywood movie code, which is generally more liberal than television’s code. The movie industry’s code of censorship declares that “mercy killing shall never be made to seem right or permissible.” In the episode, called “Tightrope Into Nowhere,” the patient is in a terminal coma because of an unnamed incurable disease. Dr. Kildare can prolong the patient’s existence by using certain equipment. But after tormenting himself, he reverses the switch of the equipment, thereby ending the patient’s life. The script was approved by the American Medical Association, which is consulted on segments for this series. It will air on NBC on April 25.


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