In the 1950s, there was only one television in most houses. During prime time, the entire family would gather in the living room to watch one of three channels, four if you were lucky. There was no cable. If NBC, CBS, ABC, or the now defunct DuMont Network didn't have something that interested you, you watched whatever was popular or what mom and dad wanted to watch. Considering the quality of television produced, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
This Golden Age of television gave us classics that are still rerun today. "I Love Lucy" and "The Twilight Zone" are as popular today as they were 60 years ago. The game show formats pioneered during this decade are revived every few years. "To Tell the Truth," "Beat the Clock," and "The Price Is Right" have all been revived and re-imagined during multiple decades.
The 1950s also gave us a few long-runners that have stood the test of time. NBC's "Meet the Press," "The Tonight Show," and "Today" were groundbreaking at the time and have lasted to the present day.
You know these 1950s shows. You love these 1950s shows. You've seen these 1950s shows a million times. Now prove you can answer these questions about them!
Jess Oppenheimer created, produced, and served as head writer on "I Love Lucy." He also invented the "Through the Lens" teleprompter, which is now standard in the TV industry. His invention was first used in a Philip Morris cigarette commercial featuring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
The debut episode of "See It Now" featured the first coast to coast television broadcast. The November 18, 1951 broadcast showed a split screen of New York Harbor and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Fred Allen and Steve Allen were frequent panelists on "What's My Line?" Despite not being related, many viewers assumed they were father and son, which they joked about. In one episode, as a continuation of this gag, Steve Allen mentions how proud he is of his son, Woody, who is not related to the former two.
"The G.E. College Bowl" aired from 1959 to 1970. However, the British version is called "University Challenge." It has aired continuously since 1962.
"The Twilight Zone" lasted five seasons for a total of 156 episodes. Of those 156 episodes, Rod Serling wrote or co-write 92.
"Alfred Hitchcock Presents" aired for 10 seasons. It used Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette" as the opening theme song.
Dick Clark hosted the show from 1956 to 1989. Before he took over, the show was called "Bandstand" and was hosted by Bob Horn. It originated in Philadelphia.
Audrey Meadows was the second actress to play Alice Kramden. In 1951, Pert Kelton played Ralph Kramden's wife on "Cavalcade of Stars."
"The Tonight Show" debuted on September 27, 1954. Steve Allen hosted it until January 1957. Later that year, Jack Paar would take over as the second permanent host of the show.
"Meet the Press" started in 1947. When it debuted, Martha Rountree moderated. She was the first and to-date only female host of the show.
Mel Brooks, Neil Simon, and Carl Reiner were writers on "Your Show of Shows." All three men would go on to write for its successor, "Caesar's Hour."
Clayton Moore played "The Lone Ranger" from 1949 to 1957. However, John Hart replaced Moore from 1952 to 1954 because the latter had a contract dispute.
"Twenty One" was not the first show canceled as a result of the cheating happening on quiz shows. The first one to fall was "Dotto," which was canceled after contestant Marie Winn's answer-filled notebook was found.
The $64,000 Question aired from 1955 to 1958. During that time, the show was adapted for UK television as the $64,000 Question with the title currency kept in dollars.
"Leave It to Beaver" aired from 1957 to 1963. However, only the first season aired on CBS, which cancelled the show. The remaining seasons aired on ABC.
"The Howdy Doody Show" began as "The Triple B Ranch," a radio show airing on NBC's New York affiliate. When it made the transition to television, it became the first nationally televised American children's TV show.
"Adventures of Superman" aired in syndication from 1952 to 1958. The first two seasons were shot in black and white before the series made the switch to color in 1955.
"The Donna Reed Show" aired from 1958 to 1966. In 1963, Donna Reed won the Golden Globe for Best Female TV Star.
"Our Miss Brooks" started as a radio show. The radio show debuted on July 19, 1948. It ended in 1957, outlasting the TV series by a year.
"Amos 'n' Andy" started on radio with two white men, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, playing the title characters. When the show moved to television, black actors took over the roles. On television, Alvin Childress played Amos Jones, and Spencer Williams played Andy Brown
"The Colgate Comedy" hour debut with Eddie Cantor as host. In his autobiography, Cantor wrote that he told NBC he would host a show once every four weeks and that the other weeks should rotate comedians. In Cantor's off weeks, Fred Allen, Donald O'Connor, Abbot and Costello, and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were among the hosts.
Groucho Marx hosted the original "You Bet Your Life" from 1950 to 1961 on NBC. In 1980, Buddy Hackett hosted a short-lived revival.
The Red Skelton show aired on CBS for 16 years. However, it started in 1951 on NBC.
Jack Benny's first radio appearance was on Ed Sullivan's show in 1932. Shortly after, Benny was given his own show. That should would make the move to television in 1950.
Fred Allen hosted the original radio version of "Texaco Star Theatre." That version ended in 1944. Milton Berle would host the television version, which ran from 1948 to 1956.
"Captain Kangaroo" originally aired live on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Once the East Coast show was over, the crew would start the Midwest edition a minute later.
Wagon Master Major Seth Adams was played by Ward Bond. During the fourth season, Bond died and producers replaced his character with John McIntire's Christopher Hale.
This Mark Goodson - Bill Todman production was created by Allan Sherman. It was intentionally created as a variation on "What's My Line?"
Gunsmoke originally aired in the United Kingdom as "Gun Law." It eventually reverted to the name "Gunsmoke."
ABC, NBC, and CBS have all aired a version of the price is right. The show started on NBC and moved to ABC in 1963. The current "The Price is Right" airs on CBS and has a different format.
Arthur Godfrey fired singer Julius La Rosa on the air. Before his firing, La Rosa was a regular on "Arthur Godfrey Time" and "Arthur Godfrey and His Friends."
Candid Camera started as the radio series Candid Microphone. It moved to TV in 1948.
During the early years, a chimpanzee named J. Fred Muggs appeared as Today's mascot. The show is currently the fifth-longest-running series on American TV.
"The Mickey Mouse Club" ran from 1955 to 1959. Its theme song was called the "Mickey Mouse March."
Bud Collyer hosted "Beat the Clock" from 1950 to 1961. Other hosts included "Concentration" and "Now You See It's Jack Narz," announcer Gene Wood, and "Let's Make a Deal's" Monty Hall.