Can You Name These Black and White TV Shows?

By: Sameena Mughal
Image: Wiki Commons by CBS Television

About This Quiz

When television was new, people everywhere were curious about it and clamored to get one. Families were just beginning to huddle around the TV to watch their favorite shows. So many shows have come and gone in past decades. The old black and white programs left their marks for different reasons over time. Some were funny. Some were serious. Some introduced the world to music that was never heard before.  

The black and white TV shows set the stage for what would come after. These shows either depicted life as it was or how people wanted it to be. The family-friendly shows like "My Three Sons" and "Leave It to Beaver" had dads that everyone wanted. For adventure seekers and cowboy lovers, there were shows like "Gunsmoke" and "Have Gun — Will Travel" that showed cowboys saving the day. Then, more mysterious and artistic shows captured the imagination. Programs like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Twilight Zone" may have been creepy at times, but they had the audience glued to their seats.

All of these shows were models for what would come later. We still watch many of these classics. We remember some episodes like we just saw them. Go into your memory banks; then, take a look at our pics and see what you know about vintage television!

The classic TV Western "Rawhide" ran for eight seasons. Its star, Clint Eastwood, would achieve more success in movie Westerns. He gave a nod to his "Rawhide" days when he wore the boots from the show in his movie "Unforgiven."

"Father Knows Best" was not a hit when it first aired on CBS in 1954. The network canceled it, and after public outcry, NBC picked it up. When ratings soared, the show made its way back to CBS.

"The Honeymooners" started as a sketch, first on "The Cavalcade of Stars" and then on the "Jackie Gleason Show." Eventually, it became a standalone show. CBS shot 39 episodes live in front of a studio audience before they canceled it less than a year later.

The first two seasons of "Bewitched" were shot in black and white; then it switched to color. That wasn't the only change. Two different actors played the male lead, Darrin Stephens, since the original actor, Dick York, left the show due to a lingering back injury.

Ozzie and Harriet Nelson fashioned their show after their real life. They had the same first and last names in real life and on the show, as did their sons, Rick and David. Even the house on the show looked like their real house.

The Beatles made their first appearance on American television on "The Ed Sullivan Show," live on February 9, 1964. It was a history-making moment that 73 million people tuned in to watch.

"I Love Lucy" is one of the most beloved shows of all time. The show's stars, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, changed how television operated by producing the show themselves, which was unheard of at the time.

"Howdy Doody" was one of the first children's television shows when it debuted in 1947. The host of the show, Bob Smith, had been on a radio show in which a character named Elmer often said, "howdy doody." The show became a huge success, and he became known as Buffalo Bob.

A show about seven people stuck on an "uncharted desert isle," "Gilligan's Island" was not a success with critics when it first aired in 1964. Its original run was about three years. It became popular through syndication.

"The Donna Reed Show" was a family show that focused on the lives of the Stones. During the show's run, the two young stars of the show, Shelley Fabares and Paul Petersen, had songs that became hits.

"The Fugitive" wasn't just a hit movie starring Harrison Ford. It was also a successful television program about the plight of the wrongly accused Richard Kimble, played by David Janssen. The series finale was one of the highest rated of the time.

One of the original monster sitcoms, "The Addams Family" followed the adventures of Morticia and Gomez Addams. Their eclectic brood included Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsley, Lurch and Cousin Itt. Oh, and don't forget Thing, a severed hand.

"Dragnet" first aired in black in white from 1951 to 59. It starred Jack Webb as tough cop Joe Friday. He directed many of the episodes and was one of the reasons the show was so realistic.

"The Life of Riley" was originally a radio show during WWII and beyond, following the antics of blue collar dad, Chester A. Riley, the well-intentioned but bumbling hero. The actor who played Riley on the radio show, William Bendix, also played him on the TV show, after a couple of seasons that featured Jackie Gleason in the role.

"The Lone Ranger" was a classic hero-saving-the-day kind of show. The masked man and his Native American sidekick, Tonto, did good deeds and never waited around to be thanked, highlighting the goodness of people.

"Hazel" follows the adventures of a live-in housekeeper named Hazel who has a lot to say. She works for the Baxter family and is often butting heads with George Baxter, the family patriarch. Because of her strong will, she mostly gets her way.

"The Bing Crosby Show" only lasted a season. Despite the singer's vocal stylings, audiences just didn't connect with Bing Crosby playing a former crooner teaching electrical engineering.

"The Patty Duke Show" had the actress performing double duty as cousins who look like identical twins. The show explains the unusual biological occurrence by the girls' fathers being identical twins. Still, audiences watched for three seasons.

"Tales of the Texas Rangers" is one of many television programs that started off as a radio show. The police drama was like a "CSI" of its time, attempting to be as true-to-life as possible.

"Perry Mason" was based on books of the same name. The author, Erle Stanley Gardner, started his own production company to bring his character to life. He even brought on real attorneys to the production team.

"Green Acres" had a fish-out-of-water premise, following the lives of New Yorkers Oliver Wendell Douglas and Lisa Douglas as they figure out how to live as farmers in a place called Hooterville. The breakout character of the show was Arnold Ziffel, a pig.

A television classic, "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was the winner of 15 Emmy Awards and only ended because of the stars wanting to move on. Mary Tyler Moore is credited for creating the capri pants trend at the time.

The sitcom "Dennis the Menace" was based on a comic strip of the same name. The title character got into many adventures and annoyed his neighbor, Mr. Wilson, to no end. Both Dennis and Mr. Wilson also made an appearance on "The Donna Reed Show."

You would think a show that premiered the same day that the Sputnik satellite launched would have an auspicious start. That wasn't the case for "Leave to Beaver," however. It was canceled by CBS, only to be picked up by ABC, then lasting five seasons.

"Peyton Place" was a prime time serial based on a book. The show's original cast included Mia Farrow and Ryan O'Neal, before they went on to their successful Hollywood careers.

"The Roy Rogers Show" had a successful six-year run on television. It starred the cowboy himself and his wife, Dale Evans. The show also made Rogers' horse, Trigger, a star who eventually had a comic book named after him.

Before Kevin Costner played Eliot Ness in the movie version of "The Untouchables," Robert Stack played the real-life federal agent in a TV drama of the same name. After a rocky start due to critics' disapproval, the show went on to film for four seasons.

The Robin Hood story has received many treatments, following the adventures of noble thieves. The television series "The Adventures of Robin Hood" was filmed in England and saw success on both sides of the pond.

"Mister Ed" was based on a short story that first appeared in "Liberty" magazine in 1937. In the show, the horse was played by a palomino named Bamboo Harvester and a stunt double called Pumpkin.

"The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin" followed a young orphan named Rusty and his trusty German shepherd, Rin Tin Tin. They are cared for by U.S. Cavalry troops in Arizona, where they all work to tame the American West.

"The Phil Silvers Show" is considered by many to be comedy genius. The cocreator of "Seinfeld," Larry David, has said the show was a favorite of his, and it inspired episodes of the popular show.

"Abbott and Costello" was a slapstick comedy show featuring Bud Abbott as the straight man and Lou Costello as the wise guy. Their classic routine "Who's on First?" is forever remembered as a comedy classic.

"Texaco Star Theatre" took its host, Milton Berle, to superstardom in its eight-year run. The former vaudeville performer eventually earned the nicknames "Uncle Miltie" and "Mr. Television" on the show.

"Peter Gunn" was created by none other than comedy filmmaker Blake Edwards. He also directed and wrote episodes of the Emmy-nominated show. The film's theme song won Emmy and Grammy awards for composer Henry Mancini.

Due to filming in visually stunning locations and using artsy camera angles, "Highway Patrol" had flash and style that audiences loved. They also loved the leader of the squad, Dan Mathews, who barked orders from his radio.

Larry, Moe and Curly — or sometimes Shemp or Joe — were the characters featured on the "Three Stooges" television show. The show was actually made up of a series of short films they made for Columbia Pictures.

Although Lassie was referred to as female on the show, the canine was actually male, played by many different dogs during its 20-year run, from 1954 to 1974. Lassie also lived with several different families.

"The Rifleman" wasn't just your ordinary gunslinger series. It focused on widower, rancher and single father Lucas McCain, who was raising his son in the New Mexico territory. It was the first series to show a single parent household.

"Wagon Train" was number one when it first premiered in 1957. It depicted the journeys of a wagon train and the people they encountered along the way, which included characters played by movie stars like Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, the future president.

Before the time of Britney Spears, "The Mickey Mouse Club" had its first run, from 1955 to 1958. Mouseketeer Annette Funicello went on to great success doing beach movies with Frankie Avalon.

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