In the 1950s, you were lucky if your family had a TV and was able to get 4 channels. The medium was new and brought the family together in prime time. There were no reruns. Watching a recorded show meant sitting through a blurry kinescope, which was often reused due to its high cost. Few shows from these very early years survive. Fortunately, I Love Lucy star Desi Arnaz had the foresight to film his show, allowing us the chance to continually relive this golden age of television.
It was a time when radio stars Jack Benny and George Burns found success among cowboys Gene Autry and Gunsmoke's James Arness. Kids could relate to Jerry Mathers as the Beaver, while Robert Young's Jim Anderson supported their dads' theory that a Father Knows Best.
Eventually, the 1950s gave way to the 1960s. Some shows remained on top of the ratings. Others ended, giving way to color programming that featured superheroes, rural settings, unusual families and more!
You may love these shows from their debuts or became familiar with them through reruns. However, do you know them well enough to match these actors to their 1950s and 1960s shows? Test your knowledge of 1950s and 1960s stars and series regulars with this quiz! Click the button below to begin!
Howard McNear, who played Floyd the Barber, appeared on "Leave It to Beaver" as a barber named Andy. He also appeared on "Peter Gunn" and "Maverick."
To convince CBS to cast Desi Arnaz as her husband, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz created a vaudeville show that toured the country. The couple's show was so successful CBS allowed Arnaz to appear on "I Love Lucy" as his real life wife's character's husband.
Micky Dolenz was credited as Micky Braddock for his appearances in "Circus Boy." For "The Monkees," Dolenz would use a form of his full name, George Michael Dolenz.
During "Hogan's Heroes'" run, John Banner appeared as Sergeant Shultz on "The Lucy Show" and "The Red Skelton Hour." Banner's last acting appearance was as Max Ledbetter in "The Partridge Family" episode, "Who is Max Ledbetter and Why is He Saying All Those Terrible Things?"
The LAPD badge Jack Webb used as Joe Friday was a present from Chief William H. Parker. It was authentic LAPD shield from the 1950s. When Webb died, his fictional badge number 714 was retired.
"The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" debuted on CBS in 1959. The show was based on creator Max Shulman's short stories, which were compiled for a book that was published in 1951.
Lorne Greene, who played "Bonanza" patriarch Ben Cartwright, was born Lyon Himan Green in Ottawa, Canada. The actor appeared in all 14 seasons of "Bonanza."
Leonard Nimoy's childhood played a role in the creation of the Vulcan Salute. The actor remembered seeing the gesture as part of an Orthodox Jewish synagogue service. Years later he decided to incorporate it into his "Star Trek" character.
Acting runs in Larry Hagman's family. While Hagman is known for playing Major Anthony Nelson and J.R. Ewing, his mother Mary Martin, played Peter Pan in multiple TV movies.
Before "The Dick Van Dyke Show" featured its star Dick Van Dyke, the show was called "Head of the Family." During the show's "Head of the Family" phase, it starred Carl Reiner, who would later play Rob Petrie's boss.
"The Rifleman" starring Chuck Connors aired 169 episodes over five years. While the show aired on ABC, it was inspired by an episode of Dick Powell's "Zane Grey Theater," which aired on CBS.
Dick York was the first actor to play Darren Stephens. He kept the role for 5 seasons until severe back pain forced him to retire. For the 6th season onward, Dick Sergeant took over the role.
Eddie "Rochester" Anderson's parents, Big and Ella Mae, were both performers. Big Ed performed in minstrel shows, while his wife was a circus tightrope walker.
After "Bewitched" ended, Paul Lynde, who played Uncle Arthur, was given his own show. On short-lived "The Paul Lynde Show," Lynde played an attorney.
The man who starred in 1960s "Batman" was born William West Anderson. He took Adam West as a stage name because he appeared in some westerns.
James Arness became famous for his role as Marshal Matt Dillon. However, the TV role was originally offered to John Wayne. On radio, William Conrad lent his voice to "Gunsmoke's" marshal.
Peter Graves's older brother was James Arness. While the two never appeared onscreen together, Peter Graves directed the "Gunsmoke" episode "Which Dr," which his brother acted in.
The jacket Bob Crane wore as Colonel Hogan had previously appeared on screen. Frank Sinatra donned it in 1965's "Von Ryan's Express."
Gracie Allen retired after "The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show's" eighth season. Once she retired, George Burns decided to keep the show's cast for a spinoff, "The George Burns Show."
Even though he played the eponymous character, Raymond Burr missed several episodes. Bette Davis, Hugh O'Brian, and Mike Connors were among the actors who filled in for Burr.
Bill Daily appeared on two successful shows. In the 1960s, he played Major Roger Healy on "I Dream of Jeannie." In the 1970s, Daily played Howard Borden on "The Bob Newhart Show."
Before DeForest Kelley could play Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Gene Roddenberry first had to convince a network to pick up "Star Trek." Roddenberry described the show s a "space western" to spark interest.
In 1987, Jerry Mathers reprised his role as Theodore "Beaver" Cleaver. He appeared on "The Love Boat" with his fictional brother Wally.
Davy Jones passed away in 2012. However, the rest of "The Monkees" have been keeping his memory alive on the albums Good Times and Christmas Party. The former released in 2016, while the latter was released in 2018.
The ship Bob Denver's Gilligan served as first mate on was called the S.S. Minnow after Newton Minnow. In 1961, Minnow was in charge of the Federal Communications Commission and called television "America's vast wasteland."
Robert Young played Jim Anderson on both the radio and TV versions of "Father Knows Best." He is the only cast member from the radio version to make the transition with the show.
Jack Benny is known for his radio and TV program. However, he also starred in a few movies. They include "The Hollywood Revue of 1929" and "George Washington Slept Here."
Jackie Gleason used his childhood address for Ralph Kramden's fictional address. It was 328 Chancey Street in Brooklyn, New York.
Before "Wanted Dead or Alive," Steve McQueen played the lead in "The Blob," a low-budget sci-fi film. During "Wanted Dead or Alive," McQueen appeared in "The Magnificent Seven" with Yul Brynner.
Jed Clampett himself, Buddy Ebsen, is only one of three actors to appear in every episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies." The other two are Irene Ryan and Donna Douglas.
Don Adams played Maxwell Smart on two channels. The first four seasons of "Get Smart" aired on NBC. The show moved over to CBS for its last season.
Eddie Albert, who played Oliver Wendell Douglas, and Eva Gabor were the first sitcom stars to sing their show's theme song. The "Green Acres" theme song predates "The Monkees" by a year.
Fred Gwynne made appearances as Herman Munster on other shows. These include "The Danny Kaye Show" and "The Red Skelton Hour."
Fred MacMurray, who played Steven Douglas, created a filming technique now called the MacMurray method. It involved shooting all scenes for all episodes in one location before moving on to another.
John Astin, who played Gomez Adams has two children with Patty Duke. They are Mackenzie Astin and Sean Astin.
James Garner was a stage name for the actor who played Bret Maverick. He was born James Scot Bumgarner.
During the run of "I Love Lucy," William Frawley was nominated five times for best sporting actor. He never won for his role as Fred Mertz.
Danny Thomas did more than act as Danny Williams. He also worked behind the camera on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "The Mod Squad."
Alan Young played Wilber Post for 5 years. Later in life, he became known as the voice of Scrooge McDuck in "Ducktales."
Jonathan Harris's character was not in the original pilot for "Lost in Space." However, he was added to the second pilot and remained for the series.