Remembering the Great Television Shows of the 50's and
By Victoria Miller
Call me nostalgic, but I miss the
television programs of yesteryear. In the 1950's and early
1960's, television was still coming into its own, so there was
innocence and a simplicity that seems to have been lost over the
Variety shows such as Ed Sullivan's
"Toast of the Town", "Cavalcade
of Stars" and "The Milton Berle Show" were popular family fare.
Game shows were also big-- shows like "You Bet Your Life" and
"What's My Line" often made it to the top of the ratings.
In 1951, a daffy redhead
and her Cuban husband blew everyone away with their televise
show, which was a mix of romance and comedic genius. "I Love
Lucy", starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, William Frawley and
Vivian Vance became a smash hit comedy and it stayed at the top
of the ratings for most of its six year run. A hint to how
innocent television was in the 1950's? The Ricardo's, Lucy and
Desi's fictional counterparts, were a happily married couple who
never the less slept in separate twin beds. Still, when Lucille
Ball's real life pregnancy coincided with the Ricardo's
fictional pregnancy, fans across the country gathered in front
of their television sets to watch the Ricardo baby's birth. The
show garnered record breaking ratings and a brand new television
magazine called TV Guide marked the occasion by placing the
Arnaz baby on the front cover of their very first issue. History
was indeed in the making!
Other family shows
like "The Honeymooner's" and
"Father's Knows Best" were popular during this time, as well as
dramas and westerns like "Gunsmoke", "77 Sunset Strip" and
As the 1950's came to a close,
television began to change. Programming was becoming bolder, and
by the mid 1960's, many shows were even beginning to be shown in
color. Fantasy-like comedies such as "Bewitched", "I Dream of
Jeannie" and "The Munster's" were in vogue. Far fetched comedy
series like "Get Smart", "The Flying Nun" and "Gilligan's
Island" were loved by fans. Variety shows were back, albeit a
tad more risqué than in the 50's, with shows like "Rowan and
Martin's Laugh In" taking center stage. A 1964 appearance by the
Beatles on "The Ed Sullivan Show" cemented the Liverpool rockers
into television history.
In the 1950's and 1960's,
television families were much
different than they are today. The kids on "Leave it to Beaver"
were polite, obedient children (okay, except for that Eddie
Haskell-- he was a rascal). Families ate dinner together every
night. Divorces didn't happen. Even a mischievous child like
Dennis Mitchell from the hit series "Dennis the Menace" was
really good hearted when all was said and done. He just had bad
luck, that's all. Hired help, like Shirley Booth's "Hazel"
provided laughs as well as a day's work.
Even by the late 60's,
when the real world was really changing, television was still a
safe haven. A blended family came to the airways-- not via
divorce, though. A widow and a widower, each with three
children, married and became "The Brady Bunch". Still seen in
syndication 35 years later, "The Brady Bunch" has proved to be a
timeless pop culture phenomenon. Deemed unrealistic by critics,
the kids on that show generally got along and never called each
other anything worse than a "dumb head". But it was okay.
Sure, I may be nostalgic,
but I'm not the only one. DVD box sets of classic TV series of
the past are popping up all over the place-- and they're as
popular as ever. I enjoy taking that ride down memory lane, to a
time when life was simpler. And besides, in times like these, a
little innocence and simplicity never hurt anyone.