I guess my first exposure was the D&D cartoon as well. But I don't think I realized D&D was an actual game at the time.
Then I got a computer in the late 80s and started in on the old goldbox SSI games. Though technically, I think Hillsfar was the first one I played before I jumped back to Pool of Radiance and the others. Ah, those were the days ... a time when DRM was equated with a couple symbols and a decoder wheel (or opening the manual to page 6 and typing the fourth word).
HeroQuest would probably have to be my next big stepping stone before I was formally introduced to the game in high school.
I got turned on in the most direct way, by experience of play back in '76 or '77 ...
... but it was a while before I got my hands on a rule-book, after grasping the essential concept. By "essential," I do not mean the tons of stuff that largely were not even written up yet; I mean the basic idea of a "role-playing" game (a term itself perhaps not yet much current in the D&D scene then).
Anyway, that seems almost the reverse of what's common today. Books and video games and whatnot are widespread with certain trappings, and those can get confused with What It's All About (which some books try to explain, in accordance with the latest corporate line).
I come back to thinking that at heart it's about not knowing what it's about. You descend into some tenebrous cavern, and get assaulted by something toothy. What the ??!!
For me it was a combination of factors. I was already into fantasy novels as a kid but it wasn't until a friend introduced me to the Robotech RPG that I got into gaming. That in turn led to me looking for a fantasy game. There was this new thing called Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition so I used my savings from my job and bought it.
From then on I bought tons of 1e and 2e material and gamed whenever I could with whomever I could.
I vaguely recall a really spiffy Robotech "coffee-table" book that could easily have led one to pursue the subject even without ever having seen the TV show ... and Palladium was there with an RPG!
The Dragonlance novels in my experience sold well beyond their associated game products. I think that's too bad, because I think (with a masculine mind) that D&D is one of those things all the better with more girls in it!
A combination of Fantasy Lego's and Baldur's gate. We enjoyed the idea of roleplaying games back in elementary school and created a simple dice-roll mechanic for winning (horribly broken, btw).
Shortly after high-school, Baldurs Gate was released. In the box was an advertisement for AD&D 2.0 core rules cd. I picked it up and started learning how to play. over a weekend I read the rules and started a game with my buddies that Monday. Been playing ever since.