55 Bizarre Stories From Sitcoms Of The 1950s and 1960s
Lucille Ball Struggled with the "Vitameatavegamin" Episode of "I Love Lucy".
This collection of colorized images from classic 1950s and 1960s black and white television shows will have you reminiscing about some of your favorite series of the past. If you were a fan when these shows originally aired, you will love to learn the behind-the-scenes secrets, fun facts, feuds, and tragedies that were not publicly known about these classic shows at the time. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a blast from the past with these colorized screen stills from classic black and white television shows.
Who could forget this episode of I Love Lucy in which Lucy becomes a spokesperson for a new product, a medicinal elixir called “Vitameatavegamin”? In this episode, which originally aired in 1952, Lucy must reshoot the commercial over and over again, each time taking a spoonful of the medicine. Unbeknownst to her, the elixir has a high alcohol content. With each take, Lucy gets drunker and drunker, slurring her words and losing her train of thought. While this episode remains one of the most popular ones among I Love Lucy fans, Lucille Ball didn’t agree. This episode was challenging for her. Why? Because Ball, a consummate professional, had a phobia about botching her lines. To combat this, she always made sure she had all her lines perfectly memorized. For this episode, she had to memorize all the jumbled words and mispronunciations rather than try to improvise her lines.
Marriage Killed "I Dream of Jeannie".
Who knows? I Dream of Jeannie may still be going strong today, 52 years after it was canceled, had it not been for the one thing that totally killed the TV series … marriage. For five seasons, fans of the fantasy show tuned in to see the obvious sexual tension between Larry Hagman, the dedicated career astronaut, and Barbara Eden, the beautiful 2000-year-old genie in a bottle. In fact, it was that sexual tension that kept the show exciting. When an exec at NBC announced that the two would marry, everyone spoke out against it – Hagman, Eden, the show’s creator Sydney Sheldon. But NBC went ahead with the TV wedding anyway. As predicted, I Dream of Jeannie’s ratings plummeted afterward. Larry Hagman later said that he heard that the show had been canceled from the guy working the gate at the studio.
Gee Whiz! "Dennis the Menace" Star Jay North Went On To Work With Juvenile Delinquents.
Jay North was just seven years old when he earned the role of the rambunctious and mischievous Dennis in the TV series, Dennis the Menace, which was based on a comic strip of the same name. The show’s title may lead you to believe that the young Dennis was a rotten brat who was always causing trouble. In reality, aside from the pilot episode of the series, in which Dennis tricks his babysitter, sneaks out at night, and goes to the movies, Dennis never misbehaves. All of the antics are the result of him trying too hard and being overzealous. You may find it ironic that Jay North, the precocious child actor who played Dennis, quit show business and, as an adult, he worked as a corrections officer and administrator for the Florida juvenile justice system, devoting his career to troubled youths.
June Lockhart Wasn't the Original Ruth in TV's "Lassie".
Before June Lockhart assumed the role of Ruth Martin on the long-running TV series, Lassie, actress Cloris Leachman had the role. She appeared in 28 episodes of Lassie in 1957 and 1958, but she was not a good fit on set. According to reports, she disliked her role and felt stifled playing a farm wife. In fact, Leachman refused to sign her contract, in part because she refused to engage in promoting the sponsor’s products, as was customary in the 1950s. One of the sponsors of Lassie was Campbell’s Soup. Leachman reportedly told the execs at Campbell’s, “I make my own soup. I don’t eat yours.” On screen, viewers found Leachman to be stiff and unappealing. After the 1958 season, she was fired and replaced by June Lockhart.
"Wagon Train's" Two Stars Were Bitter Rivals Off Screen.
On TV’s Wagon Train, Major Seth Adams, played by Ward Bond, and Flint McCullough, played by Robert Horton, worked together to lead pioneers into the western wilderness. Off screen, however, the two were bitter rivals. According to stories, Bond was jealous because Horton was a fan favorite. As the actor getting top billing on the show, Bond thought he should be getting the most fan mail, but that wasn’t happening. He complained to the show’s producers, and they asked the writers to reduce the number of lines Horton’s character had and to write storylines that made Bond’s character stand out more, but that just fueled the feud. Horton accused Bond of spreading rumors that he was gay even though he had been married twice. Allegedly, the two actors talked it out and settled their differences, then two days later, Bond suddenly died after having a massive heart attack.
"Leave It to Beaver's" Bathroom Caused Quite a Shock.
Here’s a weird fact about the wholesome family sitcom, Leave It to Beaver, which ran from 1957 to 1963. It was the first television show to show a toilet on air. Well, it wasn’t the whole toilet – it was just the tank part – but it was still enough to throw the critics into a tizz. Maybe the writers wanted to purposely shock the critics or maybe they just want to inject some realism into the show. Either way, there were so many shots of Wally and Beaver’s bathroom that the show made television bathroom history. Viewers could see into the boys’ bathroom, glimpsing the bathtub, sink, and shower curtain. In one episode, Wally puts a baby alligator in the toilet tank. Yet another episode takes place almost entirely in the boys’ bathroom. Leave It to Beaver helped normalize bathrooms on TV and remove the shock value of them.
Many Fans Didn't Notice the "The Munsters" Cast Change.
The Munsters pulled a switch-ero and fooled many of their loyal followers. Here’s what happened. When the show debuted in 1964, pretty blonde Beverley Owen was cast in the role of Marilyn, the only normal member of the Munster family. As the story goes, Owen only accepted the part because she assumed the show would bomb. After all, the premise of the show was rather ridiculous. Surely it would be canceled after just one season. That’s the only reason Owen agreed to move to Los Angeles and leave her beloved boyfriend behind in New York City. But the show wasn’t a flop. Owen was heartbroken to be away from her boyfriend and spent so much time crying on the set that the other cast members begged the studio to release her from her contract. Owen was replaced by another pretty blonde, Pat Priest, who looked so much like Owen that many fans didn’t even notice the switch.
"The Goldbergs" Depicted the First Jewish American Family on TV.
When The Goldbergs hit the small screen in 1949, it marked the first time that a Jewish American was represented on television. The series, which ran from 1949 to 1956, showed audiences that Jewish families were no different than other American families. There were family dynamics, moments of profound sadness, and times when the family laughed and joked together. The Goldbergs enjoyed a long and diverse run. The show began as a radio broadcast (from 1929 to 1946), then was adapted into a stage play in 1948 called Me and Molly. In 1944 and 1945, the characters were used in a comic strip. Finally, the show hit television. It was all thanks to the efforts of Gertrude Berg who developed the characters and the format and who starred in the radio and television versions of the show.
Patty Duke's 18th Birthday Killed "The Patty Duke Show".
The Patty Duke Show from the mid-1960s turned talented teen actress Patty Duke into a big star. On the series, the young star showed off her talents by playing two characters, typical American teen Patty Lane and her prim and proper identical Scottish cousin, Cathy Lane. Since the show’s star was only 16 years old when the series premiered, it was decided that show would be filmed in New York. This was an unusual move, but it allowed the studio to get around California’s strict child labor laws. As an added bonus, Patty Duke lived in New York, so it was an easy commute to the set every day. During the 1964-1965 season, Duke turned 18. ABC announced it was moving the production of the show to Los Angeles, but Duke refused to make the move. She also refused to commute back and forth from NYC. As a new adult, Duke was also trying to free herself from the control of her managers and guardians and the toxic environment that they created for her. It was all a perfect storm that left ABC with no choice but to cancel the series at the peak of its popularity.
The Most Famous Line From "Lost In Space" Was Uttered Only One Time.
Lost in Space, the campy mid-1960s sci-fi family adventure series has become synonymous with the catchphrase, “Danger, Will Robinson!”. But did you know that that line was only used once in the series? The Robot warns, “Danger! Danger!” several times throughout the 83-episode run of the show, but Bill Mumy’s character’s name, Will Robinson, was only added after the warning one time. Yet, it remains a memorable moment in the show. In fact, it is the catchphrase that is most commonly associated with the show, beating out Dr. Smith’s “Oh, the pain! The pain.”
"Gilligan's Island" May Have Had a Completely Different Cast.
It is difficult to envision the castaways on Gilligan’s Island being played by any other actors or actresses, but that came close to happening. Did you know that Jerry Van Dyke turned down the role of Gilligan? Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, wasn’t hip on casing Bob Denver in that role. Denver had most recently played a beatnik on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and Schwartz could only envision him as a hippie. As for the Skipper, that role might have gone to Carroll O’Connor. Dabney Coleman auditioned for the part of the Professor. It is hard to imagine Jayne Mansfield as Ginger and Raquel Welch as Mary Ann, but both of these actresses read for the respective roles.
"Route 66" Wasn't Really Filmed on the Famous Highway.
A television series meant to appeal to the counterculture generation that loved Jack Kerouac’s1957 novel On the Road, Route 66 followed the adventures of two drifters wandering around America’s Highway in their corvette. The show aired from 1960 to 1964. Despite the title of the series, not all of the episodes were set along the “Mother Road”, which stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles. Some episodes took place in New England, in Maine and Vermont. Even the episodes that were supposed to be set along the actual Route 66, none of the filming was done on the famous road. When ask why, the show’s producers explained that the real Route 66 had boring, uninteresting scenery.
"Have Gun - Will Travel" Was Involved in a 30-Year Lawsuit.
The western TV show about a hired gun with a gentlemanly persona, Have Gone - Will Travel, aired from 1957 to 1963. During that time, the audience never learned the true name of the main character, played by Richard Boone. He is simply known as Paladin, a word based on an Old French term for “knight”. In fact, in the TV show, Paladin’s business card included the image of a knight from a chess set. Clever, right? But it was not very original. CBS was sued by a gentleman named Victor de Costa who claimed he used the name Paladin and handed out business cards with the phrase “have gun, will travel” long before the TV show came out. De Costa claimed that the studio used his character without permission or consent. The lawsuit dragged through the court system for three decades. Finally, on April 28, 1991, the courts ruled in de Costa’s favor. He was not able to celebrate his long-fought victory. He died years earlier.
"The Ann Sothern Show" Was Produced by Ann's Bestie, Lucille Ball.
Today’s television viewers are used to seeing occasional crossover shows in which their favorite characters from one TV show appear as those same characters in another series. But when this was done for the first time in 1959, the viewing audience was surprised and thrilled. It all came about because Lucille Ball and Ann Sothern were such close friends and had been for some time. Although Ball was the star of I Love Lucy and its various spin-off shows, she was also the head of Desilu Studios. In that capacity, she was the executive producer of The Ann Southern Show. In the memorable crossover event, Ball’s character, Lucy Ricardo, checks into the hotel where Sothern’s character Katy works as the assistant manager. Lucy explains that she needs a break from her husband, Ricky, after a fight. In typical Lucy fashion, she attempts to do good, but it all backfires in a comic fashion.
The Nat King Cole Show Fell Victim to 1950s Racist Attitudes
Nat King Cole was a superstar and a household name who sold millions of records across the country and globally. In the mid-1950s, anyone with credentials like that was almost certain to have a huge hit if they launched their own television show. The Nat King Cole Show, which debuted in 1956, checked all the boxes – a well-known host, top-notch musical guests, high-quality production, witty banter, and faithful fans. On paper, the show looked like it would be a smash hit, yet The Nat King Cole Show was canceled after just one season. How could that be? Chalk it up to racism. Nat King Cole was the first African American to host his own television variety show. Although the television audience loved the show, it could not secure a national sponsor. Sadly, no major corporation was willing to align itself with an African American show, especially one with a popular host who did not take a subservient role in the show. To the great disappointment of Cole, the show folded after the first season.
Don't Try This At Home: Samantha's Adorable Nose Twitch on "Bewitched" Was All Cinematic Magic.
On TV’s Bewitched, Samantha, played by Elizabeth Montgomery, could conjure up some witchy magic with a twitch of her nose. How many of us spent hours in the mirror trying to figure out how to twitch our own noses in such a way? Turns out, no one can make their nose move like that. It is impossible, thanks to the limits of our facial muscles. According to the stories, it was Montgomery herself that suggested the magical twitch for her character. The only issue was that Montgomery, as a mere mortal actress, couldn’t actually get her nose to move in that manner. Fortunately, the cameramen had a few tricks up their sleeves. Thanks to the magic of special effects, Samantha’s darling nose sprang to life when she needed to cast a discreet spell or two.
"Rawhide" Star Eric Fleming Lived a Hard Life.
Eric Fleming received top billing in Rawhide over Clint Eastwood. Fleming lived a tragic life. He was born with a club foot which required surgery and crutches in his childhood. He also had an abusive father. Fleming was often severely beaten by his father. He was only eight years old when he decided to put an end to his abuse. He tried to shoot his dad with a gun, but it jammed. Fleming left home a short time later. During his time in the Navy, Fleming was hit in the face with a 200-pound steel block. His injuries were so severe that he had to have several reconstructive surgeries on his face, nose, jaw, and head. In 1966, when Fleming was just 41, he was filming High Jungle on location in Peru. He was in a dugout canoe that overturned on the Huailaga River. He drowned in this incident.
"My Favorite Martian" Nearly Ruined Ray Walston's Acting Career.
When it debuted in 1963, My Favorite Martian was the first television sitcom with a science fiction theme. It was often lumped with Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie as the earliest sci-fi series, but the later two are really based in magic, whereas My Favorite Martian is a focused on science and technology. Character actor Ray Walston was cast as the title role. Later, Walston said he regretted taking the role, but he did so because he needed the money. After the show ended in 1966, Walston had trouble landing other roles. Casting directors had trouble seeing him in more serious roles. Despite this, Walston said that the best thing about the show was meeting his co-star, Bill Bixby. Walston and Bixby became good friends.
77 Sunset Strip Will Stump Your GPS.
If you were a fan of the 1958-1964 television detective series, 77 Sunset Strip, then you know that the show took its name from the address where private detectives Stu Bailey and Jeff Spencer had an office in Los Angeles. According to the show, this office was next door to a swanky restaurant where the hip and cool Kookie worked as a valet. Don’t go cruising the Sunset Strip looking for address number 77, though. This address number actually falls on an overpass above the 101 Freeway. In the opening credits of the show, viewers can see the Sunset Tower Hotel which appears to be fairly close to Stu and Jeff’s office. The address of the Sunset Tower Hotel is 8358 Sunset Strip. By estimate, the famous detective office is more likely supposed to be located around 8000 Sunset Strip … a long way away from 77 Sunset Strip.
Steve McQueen and wife Neile Adams in an Episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents".
For a ten-year period between 1955 and 1965, Alfred Hitchcock hosted and produced an anthology show that he created called Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Each episode was a stand-alone story, but they all had the common thread of being mysteries or thrillers. Several major stars or future stars appeared in episodes of the show. As this photograph showed, actor Steve McQueen and his wife, Neile Adams star in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It was titled “Man from the South” and it ran in 1960. McQueen was married to Adams, a Filipino dancer and actress, from 1956 to 1972 when the couple divorced.
The Rifleman was ahead of it's time...
Did you know that The Rifleman, which ran from 1958 to 1963, was the very first network television series to feature a single parent who was raising a child alone? In the show, Chuck Connors played Luke McCain, a widower with a young son and a special modified Winchester rifle. He raised his son on a New Mexico ranch and used his sharpshooting skills to keep peace in the region. In the original script, the title character did not have a child. The show’s producer, Arnold Laven, suggested adding a layer of complexity to the character by making him a widowed father. One of McCain’s character traits was his high moral standard so including a child provided a reason for this trait.
Some "The Outer Limits" Monsters Were Recycled for "Star Trek".
The Outer Limits, a scary, psychological thriller-type anthology television series, is often confused with The Twilight Zone. It is easy to see why. Both shows follow an anthology format and both include stories of the supernatural. The Outer Limits ran from 1963 to 1965. When the series ended, many of the writers, cast, and crew immediately went to work on a new sci-fi series, Star Trek. Both Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, who had appeared on The Outer Limits, were cast in Star Trek. Even a number of the scary monsters that were created for The Outer Limits showed up again in Star Trek. The make-up artists working on Star Trek even learned how to do the pointy ear technique from The Outer Limits.
Who Remembers the "Who's On First?" Scene from "The Abbott and Costello Show"?
When The Abbott and Costello Show debuted in the early 1950s, Lou Costello was in his mid-fifties. Despite this, he did nearly all of his own stunts on the show, which was known for its slapstick humor. Costello had been quite athletic in his youth. During the silent movie era, long before he partnered with fellow comedian Bud Abbott, Costello even worked as a Hollywood stuntman. He was well-versed in the techniques of stuntmen. There was one issue, though. Back in the winter of 1943, Costello embarked on a tour of US Army bases overseas. When he returned, he was stricken with a severe case of rheumatic fever. The painful muscles and joints left him nearly immobile. He was unable to work for six months while he slowly recovered. Later, during the filming of The Abbott and Costello Show, he suffered a relapse of the rheumatic fever.
"The Addams Family" Was Based On an Unnamed Comic Strip with Unnamed Characters.
TV’s The Addams Family, the macabre, gothic kooks that graced the small screen from 1964 to 1966 was based off a popular comic strip that began appearing in The New Yorker in 1938. The comic strip was the brainchild of cartoonist Charles Addams. But did you know that Addams’ original comic strip never had a name? Neither did any of the characters? When David Levy decided to turn the comic strip into a television series, he chose the name The Addams Family as a homage to Addams. Levy reached out to Addams for his suggestions on the names of the characters. Morticia, a variation of ‘mortician’, was an obvious choice for the mother. As for the father, Addams offered two suggestions, Gomez or Repelli. Daughter Wednesday’s name was taken from the “Monday’s child” poem in which it states, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” Addams suggested the son be named “Pubert” but the network thought this sounded too close to ‘puberty,’ a word that wigged people out in the 1960s. “Pugsley” was selected instead.
Did Ozzie and Harriet Exploit Their Children For Show Business?
Ozzie and Harriet Nelson were already America’s favorite couple from their vaudeville and radio days when they took their family’s reality show to the small screen. In today’s world of reality television and oversharing on social media, we are beginning to understand how psychologically damaging it can be for children to grow up in front of TV cameras, therefore there are many people who take issue with how Ozzie Nelson used his two young sons on his radio and television versions of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. The boys, David and Ricky, grew up in the public eye, essentially broadcasting all their childhood experiences and personal struggles to the audiences.
"Bachelor Father" Brought Asian American Characters to the Small Screen.
The TV sitcom, Bachelor Father, starring John Forsythe, debuted in 1957 and is notable for being the only primetime television show to run back-to-back on all three of the major television networks, ABC, NBC, and CBS. But the series, which follows the exploits of a confirmed bachelor who is suddenly tasked with raising his teenage niece, has also been praised for being the first television show that featured Asian American characters in major roles. Comedian Sammee Tong played the houseboy and Victor Sen Yung played Uncle Charlie. Both characters played major roles in series and shows the 1950s television audience that Asian Americans were no different than anyone else.
"The Donna Reed Show" Switched Up the Family Sitcom Genre.
The Donna Reed Show was a 1950s favorite, but did you know that it was unique in the family sitcom genre in that the show centered around the mother character, not the father character. In the past, the father of television families was always the central character, perhaps because of the patriarchal 1950s culture. But on The Donna Reed Show, the star of the show was Donna Stone, played by actress Donna Reed. Reed, however, wasn’t always comfortable being the center of attention. Since she wrote many of the episodes of the show, she was able to make sure that other characters had their time in the spotlight.
Where Was "Father Knows Best" Set?
Just like the hit animated series, The Simpsons, the wholesome 1950s series Father Knows Best was set in a town called Springfield. And like The Simpsons, the audience never really knows which state the town is in. When it comes to Father Knows Best, however, there are some clues that seem to indicate that Springfield in question is in Illinois. In various episodes, there is mention of someone coming from Chicago, there is a wedding in Milwaukee, and in one episode, Bud’s homing pigeon ends up in Rockford. All of these are relatively close to Springfield, Illinois.
One One Cast Member Profited from "The Honeymooners" Reruns.
The Honeymooners, which debuted in 1955, starred Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph as two married couples. When all was said and done, however, Audrey Meadows raked in more royalties than her co-stars, thanks to her forward-thinking manager. In the mid-1950s, television reruns weren’t really a thing. But Meadows’s manager believed reruns would have a profound impact on the television industry. On his advice, Audrey Meadows had a line inserted into her contract that stated that she would be paid royalties if the show was rebroadcast in the future. None of her co-stars thought to include this in their contracts. In fact, almost no one did at that time, but is now standard in television contracts. Because of Meadows’s astute manager, she continued to receive royalties from The Honeymooners long after the show ended.
Fred MacMurray of "My Three Sons" Had a Cushy Work Schedule.
Did you know that Fred MacMurray, who played Steve Douglas on the long-running television series My Three Sons, worked out a great arrangement with the studio before signing a contract? MacMurray leveraged his star-power status as Hollywood’s highest-paid entertainer of 1943 in a television contract that stipulated he could only work 65 days per session with a ten-week break in between. This unusual arrangement was great for MacMurray but not so great for the director and the rest of the cast. MacMurray’s extended absences created some challenges. Scenes for multiple episodes had to be shot ahead of time, when MacMurray was available. That caused there to be numerous, albeit minor, continuity goofs in the series that didn’t go unnoticed by fans.
"Gunsmoke's" Miss Kitty Was a Total Cat Person.
Actress Amanda Blake lived up to her Miss Kitty persona even after TV’s Gunsmoke ended in 1975. Blake and her fourth husband, Frank Gilbert, ran an experimental breeding program for big cats and were among the first people to successfully breed cheetahs in captivity. Even while she was starring as Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke, Blake had an interest in animal welfare. She was known for bringing her pet lion to the Gunsmoke set and she donated heavily to the Performing Animal Welfare Society. She even served on the board of directors of the Humane Society of the United States.
"Hazel" Made a Drastic Change for its Final Season.
After four successful seasons on NBC, Hazel, a series that followed the life of a live-in housekeeper for the busy Baxter family, the show was abruptly canceled. Soon after, CBS acquired the show, but they made some notable changes. The actors who played Mr. and Mrs. Baxter were dropped from the series and only Shirley Booth, the actress who played Hazel, and the two Baxter children were kept. The storyline was written that the Baxters moved out of the country to pursue a work opportunity, but they wanted their children to remain in school. The writers made this plausible by having Hazel and the children move in with a never-before-mentioned uncle and aunt. This new rendition of the show lasted only one season on CBS, but it did feature a new cast member, a young, teenage Ann Jillian who played Millie, the uncle’s receptionist.
"Mr. Ed" Owes His Creation to a Warner Bros. Story Reader.
If you watch the credits for Mr. Ed, you will see an unusual screen credit that says, “Format Developed by Sonia Chernus”. Here’s how that came about. Liberty magazine printed a short story called “The Talking Horse” by Walter Brooks in its September 18, 1937, issue. This was the first introduction of the Mr. Ed character. Sonia Chernus loved the short story. A few years later, after Sonia Chernus graduated from UCLA, she took a job at Warner Bros Studio as a story editor, working under Arthur Lubin. She repeatedly pushed for the development of a TV sitcom about a talking horse, based on the short story Brooks wrote. Finally, Warner Bros. agreed to develop the talking horse character into a television show and Mr. Ed was born.
There Was an Actor Feud on "The Andy Griffith Show".
Andy Griffith and Don Knots got along famously on the set of The Andy Griffith Show even if their characters seem to have some good-natured conflict. But there was one cast member who often butted heads with Griffith. That was Frances Bavier who played Aunt Bea. Aunt Bea was such a loving and nurturing character on the show so you might be surprised to hear that she was described as contentious, moody, overly sensitive, and difficult to direct. She was not happy with her role as Aunt Bea and took out her frustrations on Griffith and others. As the story goes, Griffith and Ron Howard tried to visit Bavier at her home in 1972, more than four years after The Andy Griffith Show ended, and Bavier refused to let them in. In 1989, a terminally ill Bavier reached out to Griffith to apologize for her past behavior.
Richard Crenna Showed Off His Voice in "The Real McCoys".
Richard Crenna purposely spoke in a squeaky, high-pitched voice when he played Walter Denton on Our Miss Brooks in 1952. So, when he took the role of Luke McCoy on the TV western series, The Real McCoys, and used his natural speaking voice, a deep, rich voice, fans were stunned. The Real McCoys followed a family who relocated to California from West Virginia. The family included a grandfather, his grandson (Crenna’s character), the grandson’s young wife, and the grandson’s two young siblings. The show followed their family dynamics and how they worked to make a living on a farm the family inherited. The series ran for six seasons on two different networks. From 1957 to 1962, it was broadcast on ABC. For the 1962-1963 season, it ran on CBS.
That's a Young Ann B. Davis on "The Bob Cummings Show".
The TV sitcom, The Bob Cummings Show, which ran from 1955 to 1959, was notable for a few reasons. First, it was the first show in television history to make its debut as a midseason replacement show. Second, The Bob Cummings Show helped launch the careers of several people both in front of and behind the camera. Actress Ann B. Davis, who went on to play Alice in The Brady Bunch, portrayed Cummings’ assistant, Schultzy. In fact. Davis won two Emmy Awards for this role. In addition, Paul Henning got his start on The Bob Cummings Show. The writer, creator, and producer went on to such memorable projects as Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and The Beverly Hillbillies.
Spike Appeared in Every Episode of "The Westerner".
Do these two guys in this promo pic for the short-lived TV western, The Westerner, look familiar? The tall one is Brian Keith who later plays Uncle Bill on Family Affair. The other one is Spike, one of Hollywood’s most memorable canine actors. In The Westerner, Spike plays the role of Brown, the faithful companion of Keith’s drifter character, Dave Blassingame. In his best-known role, Spike plays a dog named after a different color … yellow. Yep, Spike was the loveable lab-mastiff mutt who starred in the 1957 tear-jerker Old Yeller. The former rescue pup also appeared in A Dog of Flanders, The She-Creature, and The Silent Call.
Unlikely Partners Made "Car 54, Where Are You?" a Fan Favorite.
It was like The Odd Couple, but in a squad car. The creators of Car 54, Where Are You? wanted to depict two different personalities but they also wanted a visual representation of their differences. That’s why they cast 6-foot, 5-inch Fred Gwynne as Francis Muldoon and 5-foot, 7-inch Joe E. Ross as his partner, Gunther Toody. Appearances aside, Gwynne’s character was a reserved, brainy, and shy bachelor, while Ross’s character was dim-witted, loud-mouthed, and married to a hen-pecking wife. The juxtaposition of the two unlikely partners made the series popular among viewers from September of 1961 to April of 1963.
"Make Room for Daddy" Made Some Bold Changes After Its Fourth Season.
After four years on the air, Make Room for Daddy underwent some major changes. First, the series was renamed The Danny Thomas Show. More significantly, Jean Hagen, who played Thomas’s wife in the series, announced she was quitting the show. Thomas and the show’s producers were left in a pickle. Should they end the series or readjust without Hagen? They opted to continue. At the start of the fourth season, the audience learned that Hagen’s character had died and Thomas’s character, a nightclub entertainer, was left a widower with children to raise. This was controversial stuff in the 1950s. No TV sitcom character had been killed off before and the studio wasn’t sure how fans would handle it. The alternative, however, was to have the couple divorce, but that certainly wouldn’t have gone over well with the 1950s audience.
Do the Characters on "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis" Remind You of the Gang on "Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?"
Here’s a fun fact about the 1959-1963 television sitcom, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Joe Ruby and Ken Spears, the creators of the Hanna-Barbera animated cartoon, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? were inspired by the characters on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and based their own characters on them. The handsome and heroic Freddie Jones was, of course, patterned after Dobie Gillis, who was played by Dwayne Hickman in the TV series. Bob Denver’s hapless hippie character, Maynard Krebs, was the inspiration for Norville Rogers, better known as Shaggy. The brainy Zelda Gilroy, played by Sheila James Kuehl, on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was the model for Velma Dinkley, and pretty Daphne Blake was inspired by Thalia Menninger, played by Tuesday Weld.
"The Ed Sullivan Show" Was a Taste of Vaudeville for TV Audiences.
Do you want to get a general idea of what old-time Vaudeville was like? Watch some old episodes of The Ed Sullivan Show. The TV variety show was really patterned after Vaudeville shows, with musical acts, guest appearances, comic sketches, and zany slapstick skits. For many people today, The Ed Sullivan Show makes us immediately think about the Beatles, who made their American TV debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, or Elvis, who was famously filmed from the waist up so that viewers – and censors – wouldn’t see his gyrating hips. While these entertainers may be fixed in our memories, it was actually a comedy duo from Canada, Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster, who logged the most The Ed Sullivan Show appearances with close to 80 guest appearances.
"The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show": Reality ... Up to a Point.
One of the early forerunners of the reality family show genre, The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, which ran from 1950 to 1958, was a television sitcom but it was based on the real lives of husband and wife, George Burns and Gracie Allen. Gracie Allen knew that many of their viewers believed they were actually glimpsing the couple living their normal lives, therefore she wanted the show to be as realistic as possible. She made sure the set was decorated how she would have decorated her own home. And she insisted on actually doing the various tasks her on-screen character was doing, whether it was writing out an envelope, rolling a cigarette, or chopping vegetables for dinner. The irony of that is that Allen was shown cooking in many of the episodes, but she was really a terrible cook. She and Burns had a family chef to prepare their meals for them or they dined out.
"Highway Patrol" Star Broderick Crawford Had a Suspended License During Filming of the American TV Series.
If you pay close attention, you will notice that Broderick Crawford, who starred as officer Dan Matthews in Highway Patrol, is not shown driving his squad car very often. And when he is shown driving, it is almost always on a rural, two-lane road with no other traffic. The reason for this may surprise fans of the fast-paced police drama. Broderick Crawford didn’t have a valid driver’s license. His driver’s license had been revoked for drunk driving. Initially, the series was supposed to be based on the adventures of the California Highway Patrol, but the producers thought it would be limiting and boring to show cops enforcing driving laws. The show was broadened to include all types of law enforcement.
"Dragnet" Mentioned a Real-Life Police Officer Several Times.
Pay close attention the next time you are binge-watching reruns of Dragnet, the 1967-1970 police drama. In many episodes, Sergeant Joe Friday, played by Jack Webb, and Officer Bill Gannon, played by Harry Morgan, mention an off-screen police officer name Lieutenant Klingin. Most of the references have to deal with suspects taking lie detector tests with Klingin. But did you know that Lieutenant Klingin was a real police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department? He served as an advisor on the set of Dragnet. Interestingly, Gene Roddenberry the creator of Star Trek, used to work with Lieutenant Klingin during Roddenberry’s stint in the public relations department of the LAPD. He honored Klingin by morphing his name into the name of his Star Trek villains, the Klingons.
"Laramie" Actors Did More than Act on the Show.
One of the unique things about the television western, Laramie, which ran from 1959 to 1963, was devoted to authenticity. For that reason, the show’s two main characters, Slim Sherman, played by John Smith, and Jess Harper, played by Robert Fuller, actually did the required work on the ranch. When an episode showed the characters chopping wood, the actors were really chopping the wood. They fed chickens, repaired the roof, washed dishes, and cleaned stalls. Other westerns of the time – and there were a lot of them – weren’t as dedicated to this degree of authenticity. It helped to add a dose of realism to the show.
"McHale's Navy" Had Its Roots in a BBC Radio Show.
The American television series, McHale’s Navy, was based on a BBC radio program called The Navy Lark. Like the British radio show, the antics on McHale’s Navy follow a zany naval crew based in a fictional location. In the BBC version, the setting is the fictional country of Potarneyland which is vaguely noted as being somewhere near the Indian subcontinent. In McHale’s Navy, there are two fictional settings. One is a base in the South Pacific called Taratupa. The other is a town in southern Italy named Voltafiore. Keeping the locations fictional and vague allowed the writers of both The Navy Lark and McHale’s Navy to take liberties with the storylines.
"My Living Doll" Explored Human Emotions.
Bob Cummings and Julie Newmar starred in the mid-1960s sitcom, My Living Doll. This series is one of the first science fiction shows that explores the quest for human emotions (or at least, to understand them) by a robot. In this case, Newmar plays the robot, a realistic android that is under the care of Dr. Bob McDonald, played by Cummings. The majority of the storylines revolve around Newmar’s character trying to understand human emotions, misinterpreting human emotions, or striving to acquire human emotions. We see this concept in plenty of future television shows and movies, such as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
"My Sister Eileen" Was Based on a Series of Short Stories.
One unique aspect of the 1960-1961 sitcom, My Sister Eileen, was that the two main characters, Eileen Stritch and Shirley Boone who play sisters, Ruth and Eileen Sherwood, were single, career-minded women trying to earn their own way in life. The series was adapted from a series of short autobiographical stories that were written by Ruth McKenney and ran in The New Yorker magazine. The short stories were later published into a book, then made into a 1940 stage play. Two film versions of the short stories were made, in 1942 and 1955, before the television series was created.
Age Meant Nothing on "Our Miss Brooks".
Did you know that Richard Crenna was the first actor who was over the age of 21 and was cast to play a teenage high school student? He played the role of high schooler Walter Denton in Our Miss Brooks even though he was 25 years old at the time. To make it seem more plausible, Crenna spoke in a higher-pitched voice. Crenna set a standard for adults portraying teens on the small screen and big screen. For example, Stockard Channing was 33 when she played Rizzo in Grease. Alan Ruck was 29 when he played Cameron, Matthew Broderick’s wingman in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. And, Ben Platt, age 27, recently starred as a high school student in Dear Evan Hansen.
The Dog on "Petticoat Junction" Was The Biggest Star.
Although he is not featured in this photograph from a scene of the TV comedy, Petticoat Junction, the family’s adorable dog may have been the most recognizable performer on the show. Higgins the dog, who was named “Dog” on Petticoat Junction, was a tan and black mutt with Cocker Spaniel, Schnauzer, Norwich Terrier, and Border Terrier. He was rescued by accomplished animal trainer Frank Inn from a Burbank animal shelter in 1960 and trained to be a performer. Following his appearances on Petticoat Junction, Higgins the dog went on to star in Benji, making him one of the most beloved animal actors of all time.
"The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show" Lasted Only a Few Months.
Many TV historians call The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show the couple’s last desperate attempt to regain their once-former glory. The singers, actors, dancers, and performers had both enjoyed long and successful careers, working on the stage, on radio, in movies, and on television. By the early 1960s, their brand of entertainment was becoming less and less relevant. The couple, who had been married since 1947, was attempting to cling to their former fame. The variety show was over almost as soon as it started. It ran for 13 episodes between September 29 and December 29, 1962. When the show was canceled, the couple dedicated their time to launching the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Museum.
The Filming Schedule for "The Lone Ranger" Was Grueling.
When TV’s The Lone Ranger first debuted in 1949, the show followed a grueling filming schedule. A total of 78 episodes were produced and filmed consecutively for 78 straight weeks. There were no breaks in between. The demands of the filming schedule naturally took a toll on the cast and crew. At renewal time, the number of episodes dropped to 52, with scheduled breaks in between filming. The next year, actor Clayton Moore, who played the title character, left due to a contract dispute and what replaced by John Hart. As per this new filming schedule, the cast and crew filmed 52 episodes and then took a break while 52 reruns were broadcast. By the final season of the show, the production schedule finally switched to a 39-episode format which had become the industry standard.
"The Untouchables" Shined a Spotlight on the Mafia.
On the famous FBI agent crime drama, The Untouchables, which aired from 1959 to 1963, Robert Stack’s Elliot Ness and his crack team of agents target the mafia and organized crime in 1930s Chicago. It was later learned that the mafia wasn’t happy about the series. Aladena Fratianno, known as Jimmy the Weasel, was a Mafia boss who turned FBI informant, testified that the Chicago mafia was so rattled about The Untouchable. They were upset that the show was shining a light on the Mafia and organized crime and unhappy with how the TV show portrayed Italian Americans. As a response, according to the informant, the Mafia put out a hit on Desi Arnaz (yes, Ricky Ricardo!) who was the head of Desilu Studio at the time. The hitmen apparently waited outside Desi’s home one night, waiting for him to return home. Fortunately, Arnaz did not go home that night. After that, the Mafia rescinded the hit order because the Mafia realized that they would be in the spotlight even more if Arnaz was killed.
"To Tell the Truth" Panel Had to Weed Out the Imposters.
To Tell the Truth, a long-running television game show was popular from 1956 to 1968. Two imposters and one actual contestant were presented to a panel of judges who peppered them with questions. The panel had to determine which one was the correct one. One of the first times that the show used a guest celebrity on the show ended tragically. That celebrity was Joan Crawford. The two imposters were Arlene Francis and Dorothy Kilgallen. All three women wore black veils and their voices were distorted. The episode was recorded six days before it was set to air. However, Dorothy Kilgallen was found dead just hours before the show was set to air, on November 8, 1965. CBS execs were unsure how to handle this situation, but they decided to broadcast the show as scheduled. Following the closing credits, the network announced Kilgallen’s death. The recording was later erased.
"Zorro" Was a Hit For Disney.
When the television action series Zorro made its debut in late 1950s, it joined two well-established Disney-produced shows, The Magical World of Disney and The Mickey Mouse Club. Zorro was different than the other two in that it was not a variety show, but an adventure serial. Each episode continued a storyline that was about 13 episodes long. As a special birthday gift for his favorite Mouseketeer, Walt Disney gave Annette Funicello a guest role on Zorro. Disney was the only one who knew that Funicello had a huge crush on Guy Williams, the actor who played Zorro. There were no sparks between Funicello and Williams … he was a married man at the time.