The 1950s were a very different time. Women were expected to stay home and take care of their families, while men went to work, so that they could financially support those families. Even though times have changed, many 1950s television shows live on in reruns, the memories of those who were around to watch them the first time, and the history books.
While the first commercial television broadcast took place from NBC's experimental station W2XBS in 1939, and NBC and CBS both had TV operations in 1941, World War II halted further development of commercial television. After the war, television rebounded quickly. By 1948, there were four networks, NBC, CBS, ABC, and DuMont, broadcasting over 128 stations. Each network had a full prime-time schedule, which meant they could fill the air with programming from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. However, television wouldn't get some of its most iconic shows until the 1950s.
Most beloved television shows from this era aired in prime time and were shows that the entire family could watch together. Kids and parents alike enjoyed "I Love Lucy," "Rawhide," "Father Knows Best," "Gusmoke" and various variety and anthology series.
Many shows from this era are lost to time, but that doesn't make them less influential. Test your 1950s TV knowledge with this quiz!
In 1929, CBS was founded as a radio network. The network would launch as a television one on July 1, 1941.
On October 29, 1956, "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" aired on NBC. It continued until July 31, 1970.
On June 8, 1948, "Texaco Star Theatre" debuted as a TV program with Milton Berle as its host. Originally, "Texaco Star Theatre" was a radio program.
From January 9, 1959 to September 3, 1965, CBS aired "Rawhide." It starred Clint Eastwood and Eric Fleming.
Jack Barry hosted "Twenty-One" from September 12,1956 to October 15, 1958. In 2000, the game show was revived with Maury Povich as host.
"The Honeymooners" aired on CBS for 39 episodes. Alice Kramden was originally played by Pert Kelton.
Geroge Tibbles created "Life with Elizabeth." The series lasted 65 episodes. Betty White, of course, has lasted a LOT longer.
On February 11, 1960, Jack Paar walked off the show because he did not agree with a decision the censor had made the night before. On March 7, 1960, Paar returned to the show and said, "As I was saying before I was interrupted..."
"Who Do You Trust?" was originally called "Do You Trust Your Wife?." The show aired from 1956 to 1963. After Johnny Carson left, Woody Woodbury took over as host.
"Leave It to Beaver" aired on both ABC and CBS. It ran for 6 seasons with a total of 234 episodes.
"Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" started on CBS in 1950. It would air on ABC, NBC and DuMont. After its DuMont run, the show went back to NBC, airing its final episode on June 25, 1955.
In 1954, "Twelve Angry Men" teleplay aired as part of Westinghouse Studio One. The film was released on April 10, 1957.
At different times, "Beulah" starred Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters and Louise Beavers as the eponymous character. Originally, "Beulah" was a radio show on CBS radio. The TV program aired on ABC television from 1950 to 1952.
In 2002, TV Guide ranked "Your Show of Shows" as number 30 on its list of "50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time." In 2013, "Your Show of Shows" came in at 37 on "TV Guide Magazine's 60 Best Series of All Time."
Ralph Edwards created and hosted the American version from 1952 to 1961. Britain, Australia and New Zealand all received versions of this show.
"The Philco Televison Playhouse" was briefly renamed "Repertory Theatre." "Marty" aired as part of this program on May 24, 1953.
The TV show "You Bet Your Life" aired on NBC-TV from 1950 to 1961. The series originated on radio.
NBC-TV started on April 20, 1939. CBS started broadcasting television on July 1, 1941. ABC started broadcasting television on April 19, 1948.
"Our Miss Brooks" was a TV show and a radio show. The radio show ran from 1948 to 1957. The TV show aired from 1952 to 1956.
Annette Funicello was 12 when she joined the Mouseketeers. She also starred in the Disney produced "The Shaggy Dog" and "Babes in Toyland."
"The Ed Sullivan Show" aired on CBS. During its entire run, the network kept the show on Sunday night from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
"Tonight Starring Steve Allen" aired from September 27, 1954 to January 25, 1957. It was broadcast from the Hudson Theatre in New York.
Bud Collyer hosted "To Tell the Truth" from 1956 to 1968. During that time, the show aired on CBS.
Jay Silverheels appeared as Tonto in all 221 episodes of "The Lone Ranger." ABC aired the series from 1949 to 1957.
Gunsmoke ran for 635 episodes. For all 20 seasons, the show aired on CBS.
"Peter Gunn" aired on NBC and ABC. The NBC run went from 1958 to 1960. When the show moved to ABC, it lasted from 1960 to 1961.
"77 Sunset Strip" ran for 6 seasons on ABC. It aired from October 10, 1958 to February 7, 1964.
"The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" starred a family who had the same names as their characters. ABC aired the show from 1952 to 1966.
"Make Room for Daddy" received a sequel called "Make Room for Granddaddy." "Make Room for Granddaddy" aired from 1970 to 1971.
"Queen for a Day" started on radio. Jack Bailey hosted the television version from 1956 to 1964.
The first iteration of "Dragnet" starred Jack Webb as Detective Joe Friday and Ben Alexander as Officer Frank Smith. It aired from 1951 to 1959.
"Bat Masterson" starred Gene Barry. It lasted 3 seasons and ran for 107 episodes.
Sylvester "Pat" Weaver created "Today." Dave Garroway hosted "Today" from 1952 to 1961.
"Sea Hunt" aired in syndication from 1958 to 1961. The show lasted 4 seasons.
"Captain Kangaroo" lasted 6,090 episodes. The show aired from 1955 to 1984.