Can You Match These Actors to Their 1950s TV Shows?

Olivia Cantor

Image: CBS Television via Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

Any TV lover worth his or her pop culture badge would definitely know the many successful television shows of each decade. And what decade would provide those rightful TV-watching stripes than having them identify the shows during the Golden Age of Television.

Indeed, each media produced by humankind always came out with its own respective golden age era. For television, whose technicalities were still being polished, debated upon, and even being fought in court during the 1940s, the latter part of that decade became the Golden Age of Television, continuing it well up to the 1950s and even the early 1960s. The 1950s was the definitive decade for this era since there were many kinds of innovations that appeared ever since the first commercial television broadcast was made.

And what were those innovations? For one, the kinds of programs that were shown were always being experimented upon. Genres borrowed from TV's earlier audiovisual cousin, cinema, which also developed and got enhanced as the television industry unfolded more. TV commercials also had a different approach of selling back then, but all of these early innovations were pivotal in the development of the television industry today.

So, do you think you can name the '50s TV shows where some prominent actors first appeared or got popular? Take a shot and take the quiz!

Everyone had a Ball watching Madame Lucille in this sitcom. What show was this?

"I Love Lucy" is a show everybody loved back then, which showed people that women can also successfully carry a show, and headline it for a long time. The original sitcom aired in 1951 and ended in 1957, which featured Desi Arnaz as her partner in life and in laughs, both onscreen and off.

Jackie Gleason played Ralph Kramden in which couples-focused sitcom?

The New York-set story of "The Honeymooners" featured comedic storylines coming out of two married couples’ interactions in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. It premiered on TV in 1955, and had the story revolve around funnyman Jackie Gleason’s bus driver character named Ralph Kramden.

Michael Landon was one of the dapper young sons in which male family bonding-themed TV western?

"Bonanza" came on the air in 1959, and lasted on television up to the early ‘70s, which proves that an all-male western with some drama depicted on it could last for a long time back then. The series was about a widower living on a ranch with three grown sons he sired from three different women.

Robert Young stood as the head of the family in which show?

"Father Knows Best" starred Robert Young who first essayed the role of all-American dad Jim Anderson on radio, and continued it when it became a TV series in 1954. It was shown in black and white, and lasted until 1960.

Ricky Nelson was the heartthrob son featured in which family-oriented sitcom?

It’s not so strange to have a real-life family star in one TV show these days, thanks to reality TV fare, but this was a rare occurrence in the 1950s. So when the popular radio-originating show called "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" crossed over to television in 1952, Americans welcomed the Nelson family in their living rooms via the new media technology, until the show ended in 1966.

Clayton Moore played this titular cowboy character who rode a distinct-colored horse, and befriended an indigenous person. What’s this show?

The heroic adventures of "The Lone Ranger" first aired in 1949, and it ran its course until 1957. Its distinct opening theme music, the “William Tell Overture,” is forever connected to this character.

Jerry Mathers was the little big star of this show, as the inquisitive troublemaker son of the Cleaver family. What’s the show?

The popular show called "Leave It To Beaver" aired in 1957 and concluded in 1963, but it forever cemented its place in American pop culture for what it showed, and how it told stories. The show unfolded from the point of view of the young Theodore Cleaver, who is the one being referred to as “The Beaver” in the narrative, showing America a glimpse of American childhood told from a young boy’s perspective, which was rare back then.

George Reeves played this all-American superhero before all the DC vs. Marvel hullaballoo. In what show did he star?

It was in 1952 when Superman first debuted on American screens via the TV show, "Adventures of Superman," which lasted until 1958. While the original run was broadcast in black and white, the latter seasons were originally filmed in color, and the colored versions were the ones shown when the series went on syndication in 1965.

Jack Webb was the one who created, directed, and starred as Sgt. Joe Friday in this police drama. What’s the title?

Like other shows of the 1950s, "Dragnet" first came to life on radio, where it was a successful crime drama. When it came to television in 1952, the success continued, even spawning a reboot in later decades.

Moe Howard and Larry Fine were the longstanding “mainstays” of which vaudeville act, which also crossed over to television in the ‘50s?

"The Three Stooges" were originally a vaudeville comedy act that began in the 1920s. Moe Howard and Larry Fine were present during its start and were also there with a third stooge as they made short films that aired on television in 1958, gaining them more popularity that transcended until the ‘70s.

Raymond Burr starred as the popular lawyer featured in which legal drama?

The TV version of "Perry Mason" debuted in 1957 and lasted on air until 1966, proving that early legal dramas were also a hit among TV viewers of the Golden Age of Television. Raymond Burr became known for this role, playing the criminal defense lawyer who was first popularized in many novels and on radio, prior to becoming a TV show.

Hugh O’Brian starred as the titular character of a show about this old west iconic figure. What’s the show?

"The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" was a western series primarily marketed to adults. It began airing in 1955 and concluded in 1961. They say that Hugh O’Brian was cast in the lead role because his profile resembles that of the real Earp's profile.

Phil Silvers appeared in the sitcom, "The Phil Silvers Show," but the show was known by another name in reruns. What’s its other title?

"The Phil Silvers Show" was actually titled "You’ll Never Get Rich" in the beginning because that was basically the premise of the sitcom’s story lines. But since Phil Silvers’ Sgt. Bilko character made a huge mark in pop culture, sometimes the show also gets called "Bilko" or "Sergeant Bilko."

James Arness was the actor who essayed the role of Marshal Matt Dillon in which long-running western drama?

"Gunsmoke" debuted on television in 1955 and lasted until 1975, counting a total of 20 seasons to its credit. Audiences loved watching Marshal Matt Dillon’s adventures in this western set in Dodge City, Kansas.

Guy Williams donned the TV mask and the black hat of this titular character. What’s the show?

Guy Williams played rich intellectual Don Diego de la Vega, who secretly became "Zorro" to fight for the oppressed. The TV version of this character first aired in 1957 and concluded in 1958.

Bud and Lou were the dynamic duo of radio comedy that headlined which TV show in the ‘50s?

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello got their own show called "The Abbot and Costello Show" in 1952. It lasted until 1954 but continued to run in syndication afterward. While their original style is reflective of vaudeville comedy acts, the TV show actually had a narrative arc that featured fictionalized scenarios.

Clint Eastwood portrayed a very young cowboy in this successful TV western. What’s the title?

Before honing his craft playing moody cowboys in spaghetti western films, Clint Eastwood honed his cowboy poses in "Rawhide." He played the character of Rowdy Yates, and the show ran successfully from 1959 to 1965.

Richard Crenna was the actor who played Luke in all episodes of this TV sitcom. What’s the title?

"The Real McCoys" is about the McCoy family, originally from Virginia, who had to move to California. Richard Crenna starred as Luke McCoy while Walter Brennan played his Grandpa Amos. The series aired from 1957 until 1963.

Richard Boone played a unique cowboy in this western drama series because he had higher education, sophistication, and gentlemanly style. What show is this?

It’s interesting to note that the roster of writers who made "Have Gun, Will Travel," from 1957 to 1963, also became legendary in their own right later on. Gene Roddenberry, for instance, went on to create "Star Trek," Harry Julian Fink became a co-creator of the Dirty Harry character in movies, and Bruce Geller created the original concept for "Mission: Impossible" that also became a TV series.

Steve McQueen starred as a cowboy in this western. What’s the title?

Before getting into cars and racing on film, Steve McQueen played a bounty hunter character in the TV western, "Wanted: Dead or Alive." The show aired from 1958 to 1961, and this is where he showcased the cool persona he brought along successfully into the movies when he transitioned into a movie star.​

Fess Parker appeared as which popular American folk figure-fighter?

In modern-day language, Davy Crockett was technically a "mini-series." It aired between 1954 and 1955, featuring five episodes that ran for one hour each. The popular song, “The Ballad of Davy Crockett,” actually came from this series, which was later edited together and became films.

Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams played the main leads in this comedy show. What’s the title?

Amos Jones and Andy Hogg Brown were characters of African-American descent, but were originated by two white men – Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll -- on radio and later on film. But as they realized that black actors needed to portray the two on television, Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams got cast to play the comedic duo in the TV show, which aired from 1951 to 1953.

James Garner was the original card-playing star of which TV western?

James Garner starred as Bret Maverick, the poker player who roamed around the old west, in the TV show called "Maverick," which aired from 1957 to 1962. Coincidentally, when Mel Gibson adapted the show into a 1994 movie, taking the role of Bret Maverick, an older James Garner co-starred with him, this time playing Marshal Zane Cooper.

Reed Haley played the lead lawyer in this legal drama. What’s the title?

Reed Haley essayed the role of Bart Matthews, the lawyer who usually worked pro bono in the TV series called "Public Defender." This legal drama aired from 1954 to 1955and had notable guest stars such as Natalie Wood, Lyle Talbot, and Charles Bronson, to name a few.

Richard Greene robbed the hearts of audiences as he portrayed the titular character in which show?

Richard Greene portrayed Robin Hood in the British TV series called "The Adventures of Robin Hood," which ran from 1955 to 1959. It also aired in the U.S., as well as in Canada and Australia, and was actually produced by American Hannah Weinstein who had already moved to the U.K. by that time.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. played a detective in this LA-set TV show. What’s the title?

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. played a secret agent-turned-private detective in "77 Sunset Strip." The series aired from 1958 to 1964. His daughter, Stephanie Zimbalist, also played a detective in the ‘80s series, "Remington Steele."

Donna Reed played a housewife. What’s the title of the show?

The 1950s American TV landscape featured many suburban family life scenarios and "The Donna Reed Show" was no exception. Donna Reed played a middle-class housewife who was married to a doctor and had two teenage children. This scenario played successfully on television from 1958 to 1966.

Eve Arden became a pivotal teacher in which iconic TV show?

"Our Miss Brooks" aired from 1952 to 1956, coming out of a successful radio series that started airing in 1948. Eve Arden played the titular teacher character, and the narratives revolved around her life as a public high school teacher.

Roy Rogers headlined which western TV series?

Roy Rogers is the quintessential all-American cowboy Dale Evans in "The Roy Rogers Show," whose aim is to help those in need. The show successfully aired from 1951 to 1957, and as reruns from 1961 to 1964, targeting Saturday morning viewers – namely, children.

Broderick Crawford played the police officer in which crime drama show?

"Highway Patrol" was supposed to depict the California Highway Patrol but was developed into a more generic-sounding highway patrol to reach a wider audience. The series starred Broderick Crawford as the police chief of the patrol, and also featured notable guest stars such as Barbara Eden, Larry Hagman, and Leonard Nimoy, to name a few.

Dwayne Hickman was the teenage lead star in which teen-oriented show?

While the sitcom called "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" made Dwayne Hickman a star, it also featured a very young actor who would transition into a big Hollywood movie star later on: Warren Beatty. This sitcom ran successfully from 1959 to 1963 and also featured "Gilligan’s Island" lead actor Bob Denver as Dobie’s best friend.

Duncan Renaldo played this titular Mexican caballero character. What’s the show's title?

"The Cisco Kid" is a character created by American literary writer O. Henry, so it’s no surprise that he also ended up writing episodes of this TV series. This ‘50s program is also notable for being shot in color, even though it aired in black and white.

Arthur Lake played Dagwood Bumstead. What is the series?

"Blondie" is the TV series version of the popular comic strip, which features the same female-driven narrative headlined by Blondie and her hubby, Dagwood. The TV series version, which aired in 1957, featured Pamela Britton as Blondie.

Before heading the Impossible Mission Force, Peter Graves starred as a cowboy in which western TV series?

"Fury" was the name of the horse that’s also a character in the TV series starring Peter Graves. The show was aimed at children and starred a boy in the lead. It aired from 1955 to 1960.

While this show’s real protagonist was not human, Tommy Rettig played the first pivotal BFF, Jeff Miller. What show is this?

Tommy Rettig played Jeff Miller at the start of the show called "Lassie," from 1955 to 1957. Lassie had several humans as the dog was transferred to different places, until the long-running show ended in 1973.

Jay North starred as this rambunctious kid from the comics in what show?

The memorable comics character of "Dennis the Menace" was turned into a cute TV series which aired from 1959 to 1963. It starred Jay North as Dennis Mitchell and famous voice actor Mel Blanc also had a guest role.

Comedian Danny Thomas headlined the sitcom bearing his own name, but what was its original title?

"Make Room for Daddy" first aired in 1953 and ran for three seasons before it was revised to "The Danny Thomas Show" but with similar continuing storyline content. The show transferred networks and ran successfully until it ended in 1964.

Lloyd Bridges starred as the lead actor of which TV series?

"Sea Hunt" was a TV series that aired from 1958 to 1961. It focused on the character of Mike Nelson who was played by Lloyd Bridges. The show also had notable guests, like Bridges' sons. Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges, as well as Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern, to name a few.

Vaudeville star Joan Davis transitioned into TV comedy with which show?

"I Married Joan" became a new star vehicle for an already popular vaudeville star, Joan Davis, when it aired in 1952. She was able to bring her radio comedy persona into the show until it ended in 1955.

Athlete Chuck Connors was the lead actor of which western TV series?

"The Rifleman" aired from 1958 to 1963, featuring a father raising a son in the New Mexico territory of the late 1800s. The notable single parent storyline was very unique for American media.

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