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Subject: AOL Top 40 tv shows from the 1950's

Written By: woops on 11/11/09 at 10:59 am

Suprising that there's no "American Bandstand", an iconic music show.

Also the original "Mickey Mouse Club", a widely popular kids' show.

Not to mention several from 1959 are on the list...

As for animation, I'd say "Huckleberry Hound Show" (1958 to 1961).

AOL Top 40 tv shows of the 1950's

40. The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-1963)

Teen Dobie wanted hot girls, money and to do as little work as possible, egged on by equally work-adverse beatnik pal Maynard (Bob Denver).

But Dobie's modest background made that difficult, as did nemeses like golddigger Thalia (Tuesday Weld), the girl Dobie wanted, and handsome rich kid Milton (Warren Beatty), Dobie's rival for Thalia's affections.

39. I've Got a Secret (1952-1967)

The premise was simple: contestants tried to stump a panel of celebs, who were trying to guess what the contestants' secrets were.

The show's charm, and humor, sparked not only from everyday citizens' interactions with the famous folks, but also from guest contestants, like Colonel Sanders (yes, that Colonel Sanders), whose secret was that he started his company with his first Social Security check.

38. Lassie (1954-1973)

The story of a boy and his dog focused on collie Lassie, who stole the show from all her (or his, as the female dog was usually played by male pooches) human co-stars.

Whether it was alongside owners Jeff or Timmy or a forest ranger, Lassie was a smart and loyal hero who earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Emmys, a Peabody Award and an invitation to the White House.

37. The Lone Ranger (1949-1957)

Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels were the Long Ranger and his trusted friend Tonto, two heroes who traveled the Old West, helping to avenge those who had been wronged.

Popular with kids, who loved the series' action (and parents, who appreciated the show's relative lack of violence), the Western was the first (and initially only) hit for the then-struggling ABC network.

36. The Nat King Cole Show (1956-1957)

The first major black performer to host a TV variety series, Cole put everything he had into the NBC show, which lost money for the network, despite Cole performances and guest spots by showbiz pals like Sammy Davis Jr., Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett.

After a year of struggling to find sponsors and viewers, Cole and the network pulled the plug on the show.

35. Our Miss Brooks (1952-1956)

The Emmy-winning comedy was one of the first to focus on a working girl: Eve Arden's Connie Brooks, a young high school teacher.

The hit series was considered such an accurate portrayal of teachers' lives that the National Education Association made Arden an honorary member, and, in 1956, the series spawned a big-screen movie, with the TV cast intact.

34. Playhouse 90 (1956-1961)

The ambitious anthology series -- the 90-minute stories were presented live -- set the standard for the popular '50s genre, thanks to top writers and talent, from Rod Serling's Peabody and Emmy-winning 'Requiem for a Heavyweight' episode to installments penned by Horton Foote and A.E. Hotchner and starring the likes of Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds and Angela Lansbury.

33. Peter Gunn (1958-1961)

Created and produced by Blake Edwards, Gunn (Craig Stevens) was the super cool private eye who solved cases for a living, but really loved hanging out at Mother's, the jazz club where his girlfriend sang.

The show's music was its trademark, in fact, provided by Henry Mancini, whose classic Gunn theme has been repeated everywhere from Sixteen Candles to Monty Python.

32. Have Gun Will Travel (1957-1963)

It spawned a hit radio series and a hit single with its theme song, and was unique in both its immediate favor with viewers and its plotline:

Well-educated Paladin (Richard Boone) ate gourmet food and lived at San Francisco's swanky Hotel Carlton, where he operated as a gun for hire. The high-class hitman "advertised" with a calling card that included his name and a paladin.

31. The Dinah Shore Show (1951-1956)

Shore's program entertained viewers twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday nights, with a 15-minute live show that preceded the evening news on NBC.

Shore would sing, chat with guests and share the spotlight with her piano player, before signing off by blowing a kiss to the audience and crooning "See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet," a nod to her sponsor.

30. The $64,000 Question (1955-1958)

The only series to dethrone I Love Lucy as the No. 1 show was also an inspiration for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, as contestants had to answer an increasingly more difficult series of questions to win an increasing amount of cash.

The show became a phenomenon (President Eisenhower was reportedly a fan) until the quiz show scandal of the '50s did it in.

29. The Phil Silvers Show (1955-1959)

Silvers was U.S. Army Sgt. Ernie Bilko, who spent most of his time at a Kansas Army base trying to, ahem, bilk his fellow enlistees and his superior, Col. Hall, with get-rich-quick scams.

Bilko was always the crafty one, though in the series finale, Hall finally got revenge, catching Bilko (whose persona inspired the cartoon Top Cat) in a con and jailing him.

28. The Rifleman (1958-1963)

Former pro baseball and basketball star Chuck Connors was the titular Rifleman, aka Lucas McCain, a Civil War vet and widowed father raising his son on a New Mexico ranch.

What distinguished McCain (in a series created by filmmaker Sam Peckinpah) from other TV Westerners: his gun, a modified Winchester rifle that could aim rapid-fire shots at troublemakers.

27. The Donna Reed Show (1958-1966)

Reed was an uncredited producer on this typical '50s family sitcom, which made up for a lack of powerhouse ratings with its longevity.

Donna (Reed) and Alex Stone (Carl Betz) were 'rents of teens Mary and Jeff, played by Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen, who enjoyed spin-off pop music careers with songs introduced on the show, including Fabares' gold record 'Johnny Angel.'

26. This Is Your Life (1952-1961)

A sort of video scrapbook, Life was hosted by Ralph Edwards, who surprised ordinary citizens and celebs by bringing them to the studio and recalling highlights of their lives, with friends and family in attendance.

The presentation was usually a surprise to the honoree, with a few exceptions. Singer Eddie Cantor, for example, was warned, because he had a heart condition.

25. Make Room for Daddy (1953-1964)

Star Danny Thomas had flopped with a variety show and vowed never to do TV again, but he signed on for this sitcom, modeled after his real life as a traveling entertainer.

The series was a hit, and ratings only increased after Jean Hagen, the actress playing Thomas' wife, quit the show and her character was killed off, the first character death on a prime-time comedy.

24. You Are There (1953-1957)

Walter Cronkite served as anchorman on this documentary series that re-created historical events like the Salem witchcraft trials, the Gettysburg Address and the Hindenburg disaster.

Cronkite then wrapped up the "news report" by telling viewers, "What sort of day was it? A day like all days, filled with those events that alter and illuminate our times ... and you were there."

23. Wagon Train (1957-1962)

Sparked by the 1950 John Ford movie Wagon Master, the show followed a group of post-Civil War cowboys wagon-training it from Missouri to California.

Adventures along the way revolved around regulars as well as guest stars like Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis and Leonard Nimoy.

Another Star Trek connection: Gene Roddenberry reportedly pitched Trek as "Wagon Train to the stars."

22. The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (1950-1958)

The showbiz couple starred together in this charming series that followed their Vaudeville and radio careers with this format, set in the Burns/Allen home and revolving around George playing straight man to and breaking the fourth wall while commenting on Gracie's daffy adventures.

The show was a ratings hit, and ended only when Gracie decided to retire.

21. Maverick (1957-1962)

James Garner became a star as gambler Bret Maverick in this first comedy Western.

Garner's comedic chops made him the breakout, even though the show split episodes between Bret and his more serious brother, Bart (Jack Kelly).

Garner even played the brothers' "Pappy" in one memorable installment, while in another, guest Clint Eastwood played Bret's murderous nemesis.

20. The Red Skelton Show (1951-1971)

Skelton was a beloved radio star whose audience followed him to this Emmy-winning series on NBC and CBS.

The sketch-comedy series opened with Skelton's monologue, and included celeb guests and his regular lineup of characters (like Freddie the Freeloader), with sketches penned by show writers like Johnny Carson and Brady Bunch creator Sherwood Schwartz.

19. What's My Line? (1950-1967)

It's the longest-running game show in primetime history, and its winning premise was simple -- a panel asked yes or no questions to determine contestants' occupations.

Among the panelists: humorist Bennett Cerf and Steve Allen, who coined the phrase "Is it bigger than a breadbox?" for the show.

One of Line's most memorable contestants: a breadbox maker, whose job Allen guessed.

18. 77 Sunset Strip (1958-1964)

The detective series, set on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, became a TV phenomenon thanks to the hair-combin', slang-talkin' presence of secondary character Kookie, the parking attendant played by Edd Byrnes.

Sales of combs went up, as did Byrnes' paycheck when he quit the show and was enticed back with a role that promoted Kookie to detective alongside P.I.s Stu and Jeff.

17. You Bet Your Life (1950-1961)

There were prizes, but the real point of this game show was host Groucho Marx, whose chatter with contestants and unflappable announcer George Fenneman led to classic Groucho wisecracks.

Contestants also tried to guess the "secret word" of the day, which would earn them $100 and a visit from the stuffed duck (and, once, Harpo Marx) that dropped down from the ceiling.

16. The Untouchables (1959-1963)

The drama was inspired by real-life Prohibition agent Eliot Ness (Robert Stack), who, with his brave "untouchable" team, battled Chicago crime baddies like Al Capone.

Critics dinged the show for its violent shootouts and Italian-Americans disliked that villains often had Italian names, but viewers embraced the unique, action-packed series, making it one of ABC's first hits.

15. Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955-1965)

Featuring one of the most famous TV openings in history as Hitchcock walks into a caricature of himself, the anthology series brought the Oscar-nominated director to the tube with top stars (Bette Davis and Walter Matthau among them) and suspenseful tales, including one story -- involving a woman being sawed in half -- that NBC originally deemed too gruesome for TV.

14. Dragnet (1951-1959)

Until actor/producer Jack Webb (who starred as Sgt. Joe Friday) brought Dragnet from radio to TV, the tube had been dominated by variety shows and comedies.

Dragnet was the first series to realistically portray gritty Los Angeles cop life, focusing episodes on actual LAPD robbery and homicide cases and challenging his set designers to copy details from real police offices.

13. The Jack Benny Program (1950-1965)

Benny's TV hit was an almost exact transfer of his long-running radio show to the tube, with his money-hoarding, bad-violin-player persona also prevalent on the TV series.

Benny's subtle humor was also bolstered by co-stars Dennis Day, Don Wilson and voiceover legend Mel Blanc, and the show also featured one of Marilyn Monroe's only TV appearances, in a 1953 skit.

12. Perry Mason (1957-1966)

A talented sleuth and attorney, Perry Mason (Raymond Burr) always got his culprit.

Perry's specialty was representing clients who seemed overwhelmingly guilty, but by the time he and associates Della and Paul rearranged the facts, and Perry hounded witnesses in the courtroom, the real wrongdoers were always unmasked and TV's first star legal eagle was born.

11. The Jackie Gleason Show (1950-1957)

Gleason's variety show was popular on its own, but its biggest contribution to '50s TV was as the birthplace of The Honeymooners sketches, which Gleason spun off into its own series.

In fact, the comedian halted production on Jackie Gleason for a year to film The Honeymooners, resuming the variety show in 1956 and eventually adding Buddy Hackett as a sidekick.

10. The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet (1952-1966)

So true to its stars' lives that it was almost like a reality show, Ozzie & Harriet was mostly about Nelson brothers Ricky and David, whose real-life wives even played their TV wives.

The series also mirrored Ricky's real-life career as a rock star, with TV Ricky crooning real Ricky's songs, and real-life Ozzie editing them into early versions of music videos.

9. The Milton Berle Show (1948-1956)

The show was originally titled Texaco Star Theater, and Berle was not originally the permanent host; only after a few months of winning over viewers was he given the full-time gig.

Uncle Miltie ran with it, making the show the most popular hour on TV, and truly earning his "Mr. Television" title by getting credit for the sales of more than 30 million TV sets.

8. Father Knows Best (1954-1960)

It would go on to become a big hit on CBS and NBC, but the first season of Father's transition from radio to TV earned such low ratings that CBS canceled it.

A save-the-show campaign by viewers prompted a pickup by NBC, where the series thrived as a beloved and top-rated family sitcom until star Robert Young wanted to move on and quit the show.

7. The Steve Allen Show (1956-1961)

Comedian Allen hosted this live variety show that was most notable for the careers it helped launch, including those of comic stars Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington (and, in a brief 1961 reincarnation of the show, Tim Conway and the Smothers Brothers) and Elvis, who sang 'Hound Dog' to an actual dog on Allen's show before his famous Ed Sullivan Show appearances.

6. Leave It to Beaver (1957-1963)

The Cleavers made Americans wish they were part of a family where everything could be made better with a home-cooked meal by pearl-wearing mom June or a pithy bit of advice from papa Ward.

Mischievous Beaver and bro Wally were always getting into one scrape or another (thanks, often, to instigating Eddie Haskell), but the Cleavers remained the ideal suburban family.

5. The Honeymooners (1955-1956)

He was a scheming, not-so-bright loudmouth, but Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden set the stage for future blue collar TV heroes because viewers could embrace the efforts of the Bensonhurst bus driver who, despite his frequently loutish ways, just wanted a better life for himself, sewer worker pal Norton and wife Alice, who he really did think was the greatest.

4. Gunsmoke (1955-1975)

The first and most successful of the "adult Westerns," Gunsmoke was a radio hit that was conceived as a TV show CBS hoped would star big-screen legend John Wayne.

Wayne nixed the part, but recommended his pal James Arness, who would spend 20 seasons with Chester, Festus, Doc and Miss Kitty, playing Dodge City's pillar of law, order and Old West justice, Marshal Matt Dillon.

3. The Ed Sullivan Show (1948-1971)

Originally called Toast of the Town, Sullivan's live variety series became known for bringing to viewers the A-list among established performers (the series premiere included Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) and the best of soon-to-be-stars like, most famously, Elvis Presley in 1956 and '57, and the Beatles' 1964 performances, which drew more than 70 million viewers.

2. I Love Lucy (1951-1957)

One of television's first major hits was also one of the first hit shows with a female star -- comedy legend Lucille Ball, whose interactions with hubby Ricky and the Mertzes led to hilarity and some of the most classic moments in TV history, from the grape-stomping scene and the candy factory episode to Lucy's tango with the egg-filled shirt and her Vitameatavegamin commercial.

1. Your Show of Shows (1950-1954)

The sketch comedy series with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca was a hit on its own, but it was even more successful for the projects it inspired from its writing staff:

Carl Reiner's TV classic The Dick Van Dyke Show, Neil Simon's play 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor' and the flick My Favorite Year, produced by Your Show of Shows writer Mel Brooks.

Subject: Re: AOL Top 40 tv shows from the 1950's

Written By: Womble on 11/22/09 at 11:37 am

Most of the shows on that list are classics. Interesting thread.

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