Whether or not you grew up in the 50s and 60s, you've more than likely seen most of these iconic TV shows. Unsurprisingly, a couple of them may rank among your all-time favorites. But do you think you can recall the names of these shows from a single image? Because the genres were somewhat limited at the time, some shows may seem eerily similar to one another. Consider the most popular genre of the time--Westerns. There were literally dozens of different programs with a Western theme during these two decades. Would you be able to tell the difference between "Gunsmoke," "Bonanza," or "Have Gun - Will Travel?" Do you think you can identify Oliver Douglas or Jed Clampett? Just a hint, one is on "Green Acres" and the other is on "The Beverly Hillbillies."
"I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners" took on the comedic side of home life in the 50s. You've likely seen them both, but could tell them apart with only a single photo?
From wholesome to mysterious, the 50s and 60s produced some of the most dramatic and iconic television shows of all time. They transcend generations and have helped to shape the world. Let's take a little time away from "Nick at Night" to take this quiz and see if your tenure as a couch potato has paid off!
When Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were expecting their second child, the pregnancy was written into their show, "I Love Lucy." Since the TV station would not allow the word “pregnancy” to be said on air, “expecting” was used. Desi Arnaz’s character, Ricky Ricardo, would hilariously pronounce this as “spectin'."
William Conrad was the original lead, Marshal Matt Dillon, on the radio series, "Gunsmoke" from 1952 to 1961. When the series moved to television, he was not selected as the actor to portray Dillon–James Arness, who was chosen instead, would play that role for 20 years! Conrad went on to star in what was perhaps his most famous role, the titular character of the TV series, "Cannon."
"Father Knows Best" originally aired as a radio series from 1949 – 1954 for a total of 197 episodes. It was a common practice for a successful series on the radio to be turned into a television series. There were 203 episodes of the "Father Knows Best" TV series, which ran from 1954 – 1960.
"Dragnet" featured unmistakable theme music and matter-of-fact narration from Sergeant Joe Friday (portrayed by Jack Webb). The show, which began as a radio series, was created by Webb. Webb starred in the radio episodes, as well as both the 1951–1959 and 1967–1970 TV series.
Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver was played by Jerry Mathers in every one of the show’s 234 episodes. Mathers got the part when he was eight years old, but his career began when he was just two. He had appeared in campaign ads, commercials and movies before becoming a part of the "Leave it to Beaver" cast.
"The Honeymooners" (created by and starring Jackie Gleason) ran for only one season--just 39 episodes. That was enough, however, for it to secure a place as one of the most iconic TV series of the 50s and 60s. It is widely believed that Hanna Barbera’s cartoon, "The Flintstones" was based on "The Honeymooners'" characters and theme.
"Have Gun – Will Travel" starred Richard Boone as Paladin, a gun-for-hire based out of San Francisco. Although he was a high-priced gunslinger, he much preferred solving his clients’ “problems” without violence (when he could.) "Star Trek" creator, Gene Roddenberry, wrote 24 of the show’s 225 episodes.
"Wagon Train" ran from September of 1957 to May of 1965 with Ward Bond taking on the starring role of wagon master. Ward had earlier acted opposite John Wayne in the 1930 epic Western, "The Big Trail."
Although the character, Lassie, is female, she has always been played by a male dog. The dog who originally portrayed Lassie was named Pal, but while he appeared in seven Lassie films and did the pilots for the TV series, he retired soon after. His descendants continue to be cast in the role.
George Reeves played Superman in this 1952 – 1958 television series. His surname is, coincidentally, very similar to the late Christopher Reeve's, who later played the film role with overwhelming success.
In "Bonanza," Lorne Greene played Ben Cartwright who is thrice widowed and has one son from each marriage. The show revealed that his wives were each of a different ancestry. Adam’s mother was English, Eric (Hoss') mother was Swedish, and Joseph (Little Joe's) mother was French Creole.
"The Twilight Zone" was created by Rod Serling, who wrote over 90 of the 156 episodes in the series and was its narrator. Serling won numerous awards (including at least six Emmys) for his writing on several projects, including "The Twilight Zone."
During the shows five-season run, Jay Siverheels acted as Tonto, the Lone Ranger's Native American companion. "The Lone Ranger" was, however, portrayed by two actors – Clayton Moore in seasons one, two, four and five, and John Hart portrayed him in season three.
James Garner, Jack Kelly, Roger Moore and Robert Colbert all took turns as lead actor of the "Maverick" TV series. There were some episodes that featured two of the leads, but never more. Garner led off the series as the sole lead, but was joined in the first season by Kelly. Upon Garner’s departure, Moore was added, and later Colbert.
Several of the show’s stars had notable success in other projects. Donna Reed had a stint as Miss Ellie Ewing on the hit TV soap opera, "Dallas," and Shelly Fabares, who played Donna’s daughter, Mary Stone, recorded the #1 hit song, "Johnny Angel." Bob Crane, who portrayed Dr. Dave Kelsey, a friend of the Stone family, became the main star in "Hogan’s Heroes."
Johnston McCulley created the Zorro character in 1919. In the 1957-1959 TV series, Guy Williams portrays Zorro/Don Diego de la Vega. Williams went on to play the role of the father of the Robinson family in the popular series, "Lost in Space."
From autobiographical novel to TV series to blockbuster film, the story of "The Untouchables" depicts how a team of special agents worked to bring down Al Capone’s mob empire. The TV series, however, only features Capone in its two hour pilot, as well as in a two part episode.
Comic strip hero Flash Gordon is featured in a wide range of movies, novels, and TV and radio series. The particular Flash Gordon TV series which ran from 1954 –1955, was filmed in West Berlin, Germany and in Marseille, France. Although it lasted for only one season of 39 episodes, it was still very popular with viewers.
Fred is voiced by Alan Reed (who bears a physical resemblance to the character.) Although it is Reed’s voice we hear throughout the entire six seasons of the show, the pilot featured the voice of Daws Butler as Fred. Butler also supplied the voice of Barney Rubble in a few of the show’s season two episodes.
"The Jetsons" was originally on TV from 1962-1963, but then had a resurrection in the 1980s. "The Jetsons" are often described as a futuristic version of "The Flintstones." Although the two families live millennia apart, there is a 1987 made-for-TV movie in which they meet; In it, both families time travel and get a taste of what it is like to live in the other’s era.
"The Dick Van Dyke" show was nominated for 25 Primetime Emmy Awards and won a very impressive 15 of them. Out of this, the series creator, Carl Reiner, won five; Van Dyke won three; and Mary Tyler Moore won two. Their co-star, Rose Marie, was nominated three times but never won.
Edgar Buchanan, who played Uncle Joe Carson, is the only cast member to have appeared in each of "Petticoat Junction’s" 222 episodes. Linda Kaye Henning (as Betty Jo Bradley) appeared in 220.
Young Richard Chamberlain was virtually unknown as an actor when he began as the titular character in the "Dr. Kildare" TV series. He quickly rocketed to fame, however, and won several awards. Chamberlain won the Golden Globe Award for his role in this series and would go on to win the award two more times for his work in "Shogun" and "The Thorn Birds."
Patty Duke was only 16 years old when "The Patty Duke Show" was first released. Despite her age, she was already an Academy Award Winner, having received the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Helen Keller in the 1962 film, "The Miracle Worker."
Of the three women stranded on the island (along with five men), Tina Louise played Ginger Grant, the movie star, and Dawn Wells was Mary Ann Summers, a farm girl from Kansas. The question of which of the two was more popular among fans has been the subject of much discussion, and was even featured as part of a 1993 Budweiser commercial.
While "The Munsters" TV series ranked poorly during its two seasons, it became very popular after it was released in syndication. There have been several movies made based on the series. The first was released in theaters, and the others (one animated) were made-for-TV.
The "Gomer Pyle, USMC" TV series is one of two spin-offs of "The Andy Griffith Show." In its 5-year run, from 1964 – 1969, the show placed at numbers 3, 2, 10, 3, 2 in the Nielsen Rankings. A novel bearing the same name as the series was released in 1966.
The cast of "Bewitched" saw several changes during the show’s eight seasons. Aside from Dick York, then Dick Sargent, playing the part of Darrin Stephens, there were five different children acting as Tabitha Stephens. Also, the characters of Gladys Kravitz, Louise Tate, and Frank Stephens, each had two actors portraying them during the show’s run.
Don Knotts won a total of five Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Deputy Barney Fife on"The Andy Griffith Show." Though neither Griffith nor the show itself won any awards, the Nielsen Ratings never ranked the series lower than 7th for its entire eight-season run of 249 episodes.
During its run, "The Fugitive" peaked at #5 in the Nielsen Ratings. The premise for the series was not new, as there were other shows similar to it (someone wrongly accused and on the run from the law while seeking the actual perpetrator). The series was the basis for the hugely successful 1993 movie and its 1998 sequel.
The 1966–1968 "Batman" TV series was shown twice weekly for two of its three seasons. The first evening’s episode ended with a cliffhanger that was resolved in the following evening’s episode. The show is noted for the creation of the Batgirl character, which was also incorporated into the comic book series.
In 1970, near the end of the show’s run, its star Bob Crane (who played Colonel Hogan) married fellow cast member Sigrid Valdis (who acted as Fräulein Hilda.) Their wedding took place on the show’s set. The two remained married until Crane’s murder in 1978.
"Get Smart" stars Don Adams as Maxwell Smart (Agent 86) and Barbara Feldon as Agent 99. In the penultimate of its five seasons, the pair marry and have twins. In real-life, however, Feldon married the show’s producer, Burt Nodella.
The international spy series, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," became quite popular during its four season run, and generated a spin-off titled, "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E." That series starred Stephanie Powers, and featured Leo G. Carroll acting as Mr. Waverly concurrently in both series.
Both Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor ( who played Oliver Wendell Douglas and Lisa Douglas) appeared in all 170 episodes of "Green Acres’" six season run. The show began in 1965 and was a spin-off of "Petticoat Junction," which started two years earlier. There were several instances in which characters from "Green Acres" appeared on "Petticoat Junction."
Sebastian Cabot played Giles French, valet to Brian Keith’s character, bachelor Bill Davis. While Cabot became very popular and was easily recognizable due to his role in the five season long "Family Affair," it is his voice with which some audiences are more familiar. Cabot is the narrator in several of the "Winnie the Pooh" films.
"Mission: Impossible" was created by Bruce Geller who was also, at one point, the show’s producer. The 1966–1973 TV series spawned a 1988–1990 revival starring Peter Graves, who also starred in the original series. The "Mission: Impossible" feature film franchise, with Tom Cruise in the lead, currently includes six movies as of 2018.
"The Jack Benny Program" began as a radio comedy series, then successfully transitioned to television. The program ran on both radio and television for several years out of its total 30-year media lifespan.
The original "Amos 'N Andy" radio series was created and voiced by white actors, Freeman Gosden (Amos) and Charles Correll (Andy.) When the show was produced for television, black actors were used: Alvin Childress (Amos) and Spencer Williams (Andy.) The series ran from 1951-1955.
"The Defenders" won 13 Emmy Awards from a total of 20 nominations. E.G. Marshall won two awards for his work as one of the show’s lead actors. Robert Reed, the show’s other lead, did not receive any nominations. He, however, went on to continued fame after "The Defenders" ended by starring as Mike Brady in the hit sitcom, "The Brady Bunch."