Whether you grew up in the '50s and '60s or not, you more than likely have seen most of these iconic TV shows from that time - and not surprisingly, 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 screenshot? Some may be easier for you, while others... well, let's just say the '50s and '60s were notorious for challenging viewers with competing themes. Consider the most popular genre of the time - Westerns. There were literally hundreds 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"? Or can you identify Oliver Douglas or Jed Clampett? Just a hint, one is on "Green Acres" and the other is on "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Both "I Love Lucy" and "The Honeymooners" took on the harsh yet loving realities of 1950s homelife. You've likely seen them both, but could you identify one from the other with a screenshot?
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 shaped the world as well as yourself. Let's take a little time away from "Nick at Night" and see if you are as good at couch potato-ing as you think you are.
"The Honeymooners" (created by and starring Jackie Gleason) ran for only one season -- 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 The Flintstones was based on "The Honeymooners'" characters and theme.
Although the character, Lassie, is female, the acting dog was played by Pal, a male dog. 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.
Upon its initial release, many critics gave "The Beverly Hillbillies" negative reviews. Television viewers, however, loved the show as evidenced by its #1 placement in the Nielsen rankings for its first two seasons. The show remained in the top 20 for eight of its nine seasons, but did not make the top 30 in season number nine.
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'."
"Dragnet" featured unmistakable theme music and matter-of-fact narration from Sergeant Joe Friday (portrayed by Jack Webb). The show was created by Webb from its beginnings as a radio series. Webb starred in the radio episodes, as well as both the 1951 – 1959 and 1967 – 1970 TV series.
"Wagon Train" ran from September, 1957 – May, 1965 with Ward Bond taking on the starring role of wagon master. Ward had earlier played opposite John Wayne in the 1930 epic western, "The Big Trail."
George Reeves played Superman in this 1952 – 1958 television series. His surname is, coincidentally, very similar to Christopher Reeve’s who later played the film role to 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’s (Hoss) mother was Swedish, and Joseph’s (Little Joe) mother was French Creole.
Both Raymond Burr and Barbara Hale were Emmy Award winners for their portrayal of Perry Mason and his ever-present secretary, Della Street. Burr and Hale both appeared in their roles for over 30 years, including the TV series and numerous Perry Mason TV movies.
"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."
"Rawhide" co-starred Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood. While several episodes focused on Eastwood’s character, Rowdy Yates, Eric Fleming, who portrayed trail boss Gil Favor, almost always received top billing. In the eighth season (which ran for only 13 episodes), Fleming left the show and Eastwood took over as trail boss.
During the shows five-season run, Jay Siverheels acted as Tonto, the Lone Ranger's American Indian companion. "The Lone Ranger" was, however, portrayed by two actors – Clayton Moore in seasons 1, 2, 4 and 5 and John Hart in season 3.
The "Peter Gunn" title theme was composed by Henry Mancini (who also composed the widely known Pink Panther title theme). Mancini also composed several jazz-themed pieces which can be heard throughout the "Peter Gunn" TV series.
The "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" TV series was later renamed "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" and extended from its original running time of 25 minutes to 50 minutes. This was an indication of the show’s popularity, which saw it running for a total of 10 years (1955 – 1965) and 360 episodes.
"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.
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.
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 8 years old, but his career began when he was just 2. He had appeared in campaign ads, commercials and movies before becoming a part of the "Leave it to Beaver" cast.
Johnston McCulley created the Zorro character in 1919 (making Zorro just short of his 100th birthday as of this writing). 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."
One of the duo’s most memorable sketches is Who’s on First? It featured Bud Abbott trying to describe his baseball team to Lou Costello, but only ending up confusing and infuriating him because of the team members’ names. They include Who on first base; What on second base; I Don't Know on third base; and l Don't Give a Darn as shortstop.
Comic strip hero Flash Gordon is featured in a wide range of movies, novels, and TV and radio series. The 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. Daws also supplied the voice of Barney Rubble in a few of the show’s season two episodes.
"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.
Like several other TV shows at the time, "Cheyenne" focused on the main character, Cheyenne Bodie, but had a long list of guest stars who were either famous at the time or went on to be. These include Dan Blocker and Peter Breck who later played Eric "Hoss" Cartwright in "Bonanza" and "Nick Barkley" in The Big Valley, respectively.
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.
By the time Shirley Booth played the part of the titular character in "Hazel," she already had three Tony Awards (one for Best Supporting Actress and two for Best Actress), one Academy Award and one Golden Globe Award, both in the Best Actress category. She would go on to win two Primetime Emmy Awards for her role as Hazel.
For the show’s two seasons (60 episodes), Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynne played Officers Gunther Toody and Francis Muldoon, respectively. Fred Gwynne went on to gain widespread fame for his role as Herman Munster in "The Munsters."
"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, as proof of his popularity. 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."
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.
William Conrad was the original Marshal Matt Dillon on the radio series, "Gunsmoke" (1952 – 1961). When the series moved to television, he was not selected as the actor to portray Dillon – James Arness 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."
The "Gomer Pyle, USMC" TV series is one of two spin-offs of "The Andy Griffith Show." The other was "Mayberry, R.F.D." 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.
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 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 (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 fice-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.
"Bachelor Father" ran for 157 episodes over five seasons, from September, 1957 to September, 1962. The show aired on CBS (1957 – 1959), NBC (1959 – 1961) and ABC (1961 –1962 when it was finally cancelled).
"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 five movies from 1996 to 2015.
"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 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).
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 gangster Al Capone’s empire. The TV series, however, only features Capone in its two-hour pilot, as well as in a 2-part episode.
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."
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 and real-life cases 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 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."
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."