• 121
    Texaco Star Theater

    Texaco Star Theater

    Follow
    NBC (ended 1953)
    This new medium needed something to get people talking and looking. It came in the form of a visual comedian who was larger than the tiny screens on which he appeared. On June 8, 1948, television's first hit series and superstar were born with Milton Berle starring on Texaco Star Theater.
    When the series began, there was little else on the TV landscape: an occasional cooking show, a low budget talent show, a newsreel or two, but nothing compelling. In fact, some stations were staying on the air longer hours just to show their test pattern for viewers' entertainment. That was about to change as 1948 was the year networks became serious about programming. Big-time entertainment also became possible at that time as a boycott by the musicians union finally came to an end.
    In the summer try-out, Berle was the first of several hosts who were tested. Comedians like Henny Youngman,Morey Amsterdam, and Jack Carter all gave it a shot, but Berle was an immediate hit and signed for the series within a few weeks of his debut.
    The show opened with four men in Texaco uniforms singing a jingle about the sponsor ("We are the men of Texaco/We work from Maine to Mexico..."). Then, they would give Milton an introduction that was a set-up for whatever goofy outfit he was wearing. One on occasion he was introduced as a man who had just paid his taxes so he came out dressed as a hobo wearing a barrel. More than once, Miltie came out in drag--very, very bad drag--walking on the sides of his feet while teetering in his heels. Berle would do absolutely anything to get a laugh! The crowd howled, especially his mother Sarah. She was always in the audience as a "plant" to egg on the laughter. You can easily pick her out on any episode; she's the loudest laughter in the studio.
    Texaco was a boon for vaudevillians. Besides big name singers and stars who performed in slapstick sketches and production numbers, novelty acts were a staple. It wasn't unusual to go from a dramatic torch song into a trained animal act. (On one show, a group of unfortunate dancers had to follow an elephant act that left a few "gifts" on the stage.) But ultimately, the show was all about Berle. He horned in on every performer's act. He personally ran the rehearsals armed with a referee's whistle that dangled from his neck. He'd even use his hands to give camera instructions while he was performing.
    In the first years, he was drawing more than 80% of all viewers--a feat that hasn't been accomplished since. NBC was so intent on keeping Berle around that, in 1951, they signed him to an exclusive 30-year contract worth $200,000 annually.
    During 1952, Berle's ratings began to slip, thanks in part to his taking a week off each month. The agencies, client and network all panicked and demanded changes. A new writing staff, headed by Goodman Ace, was brought in and the crazy Berle and his vaudeville format were out. In its place was a more dignified show that was set primarily "behind the scenes" of the Berle show, in much the same way as The Jack Benny Program. There were plenty of big production numbers and a staff of malcontents for Berle to do battle with. Now, instead of being Milton Berle, he was playing Milton Berle, something he says he was never comfortable with. Despite his misgivings, the show's ratings rebounded.
    Texaco Star Theater ended it's run June 9, 1953 when Texaco moved its sponsorship to another series. That fall, Miltie continued his Tuesday night reign with a new title: The Buick-Berle Show). "Mr. Television" began his final season in September 1955 under the simple title The Milton Berle Show. (That same title was used on his ABC variety series in the late 1960s.)
    A few notes on this episode guide: Texaco Star Theater, the Buick-Berle Show and The Milton Berle Show are all included under this listing; the episodes' air dates are correct but the episode numbers are relative; information from these earliest days of live television is sketchy at best. This guide has been pieced together using various reference books, newspapers and magazines of the day (NY Times, Variety, Time among them), various performers websites and Milton Berle's autobiography.moreless
  • 122
    The Vise

    The Vise

    Follow
    ABC (ended 1955)
    This anthology series, filmed in England, told stories of people caught in "the vise" of their own scheming and nefarious misdeeds. The series was also seen in the U.K. Following the final episode (12/16/1955), ABC kept the title The Vise in the same Saturday night time slot and began using it as the title for a new Mark Saber series.moreless
  • 123
    Mama

    Mama

    Follow
    CBS (ended 1957)
    Mama, based on the stage and screen classics I Remember Mama (which in turn were derived from Kathryn Forbe's bookMama's Bank Account), was a long-running program that dates from the earliest days of network television. Mixing simple humor with some mild dramatic situations, the show centered around the happenings of the Norwegian Hansen family in early 20th century San Francisco. The primary characters were Mama and Papa Hansen and their children, though the extended family was also highlighted. Members of the cast were noted for touring during the short Summer hiatus, giving theatrical performances of episodes around the country.

    For much of its history, episodes of the series were broadcast live (from New York City) and the fragile kinescope copies used for broadcast on the West coast were unsuitable for re-runs or syndication and are now mostly gone. In most cases, the remaining handful of kinescopes belong(ed) to cast members from the series. Any surviving examples of early episodes are very rare.

    The final season of the series (the only episodes to be filmed) was composed of Sunday network broadcasts and others that were later added to regional syndication packages.moreless
  • 124
    Judge Roy Bean

    Judge Roy Bean

    Follow
    (ended 1956)
    Set in the Texas town of Langtry just this side of the Pecos, there was only one law and his name was Judge Roy Bean. This color series held an audience in rapture in 1955-56 with Edgar Buchanan as Judge Roy Bean and Jackie Loughery as his niece Letty Bean.moreless
  • 125
    Panic

    Panic

    Follow
    NBC (ended 1958)
    half-hour anthology series retitled "No Warning" in its second season
  • 126
    Sandy Dreams

    Sandy Dreams

    Follow
    ABC (ended 1951)
    primetime children's show
  • 127
    The New Adventures of Spin and Marty

    The New Adventures of Spin and Marty

    Follow
    (ended 1959)
    The New Adventures of Spin and Marty was an animated television series from 1957 that followed the characters of Spin (Tim Considine) and Marty (David Stollery). The pair went on adventures together and always got themselves into some sort of trouble. Each episode was filled with their adventures, and then the pair would have to figure out how to get out of whatever problem they were having. The show was for little kids and often brought along a good message for the child to take from each episode.moreless
  • 128
    Probation Officer

    Probation Officer

    Follow
    ITV (ended 1960)
    Based on real-life court cases, the show centred on the work of individual probation officers, men and women responsible for the supervision of offenders released into the community with restrictions on their movements or associations. Probation Officer was an ATV production, and the first one-hour drama series to be carried on the ITV network.moreless
  • 129
    Chesterfield Sound Off Time

    Chesterfield Sound Off Time

    Follow
    NBC (ended 1952)
    The Chesterfield Sound Off Time was a black and white live variety show that was sponsored by Leggit and Myers Tobacco the makers of Chesterfield cigarettes. The show had alternating hosts, Bob Hope one week and Fred Allen the next. The show did not do well in the ratings and lost it's sponsorship on December 16, 1951 when it aired a preview episode of the upcoming cop show Dragnet . The show lasted a few more months but was canceled in 1952.moreless
  • 130
    Life with the Lyons

    Life with the Lyons

    Follow
    BBC (ended 1960)
    Life with the Lyons stars the American husband and wife duo Ben Lyon and Bebe Daniels. Long resident in Britain, Lyon and Daniels came over in 1935 after having both enjoyed successful movie careers in Tinseltown, where they were known as 'Hollywood's happiest married couple. In Britain they became just as popular in films and several successful radio series, which included Life with the Lyons, a family sit-com that also featured their real-life children, Barbara and Richard. Not wanting to miss the chance of making yet another film with built-in audience appeal, Hammer secured the movie rights from the BBC. The film proved successful enough to provoke a sequel, The Lyons in Paris, which appeared the following year. The result was a cheap but cheerful romp centred on the Lyons family moving into their new home. They create such chaos that the landlord refuses to sign the lease. They try to persuade him, but disasters pile one on top of another. After a broken chandelier, a flooded basement, parties, craters in the garden, explosions in the kitchen, the landlord finally relents and signs the lease. -------------------------------------- Written by: Bebe Daniels, Bob Block, Ronnie Hanbury, Bob Ross, Richard Waring, Bill Harding Directed by: John Phillips, Joan Kemp-Welch --------------------------- Company credits: Production Companies * Associated-Rediffusion Television (1955-1956) * British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) (1957-1960)moreless
  • 131
    Playboy's Penthouse

    Playboy's Penthouse

    Follow
    (ended 1960)
    coming soon
  • 132
    Mike Hammer (1958)

    Mike Hammer (1958)

    Follow
    USA (ended 1959)
    Welcome to the Mike Hammer (1957) guide at TV com. Private-eye Mike Hammer is based on Mickey Spillane's famous novels. This series was every bit as violent as the books described by TV Variety as a "mixture of blood, violence and sex." In the premiere episode Angie Dickinson was bumped off early. Hammer had a knack for wise-cracking and smart-alec responses to anyone and everyone. The setting New York City, the city that never sleeps.moreless
  • 133
    Richard Diamond, Private Detective

    Richard Diamond, Private Detective

    Follow
    CBS (ended 1960)
    Richard Diamond, Private Detective, was originally a radio program from 1949 to 1952, created by famed writer/director Blake Edwards and starring Dick Powell, who was also the producer. Too busy to do the TV series in 1957, Powell hired a young actor named David Meyer to play the role, but suggested he change his name to the more exotic David Janssen. Diamond was an ex-cop, which explained his easy access to information and help from his former boss, Lieutenant McGough. For the first two seasons, Diamond remained in New York City, but then he moved to Los Angeles and acquired a girlfriend, played by Barbara Bain, and a car with a telephone in it. This allowed him to converse regularly with a sexy answering-service operator known only as "Sam", whose legs were seen but never her face. Also, in addition to a pal on the force, Lt. Kile, he also had an enemy, Sgt. Alden. Laura Renault was a recurring client, a once-famous movie star who had a knack for getting into difficult situations. On revealing that she played "Sam" and using her now-famous legs to model hosiery for an article in TV Guide, Mary Tyler Moore was abruptly dropped from the series and replaced by Roxanne Brooks. The show ran on CBS for the first 3 seasons, but for the 4th season switched to NBC. In syndication, the early episodes of the series were retitled Call Mr. 'D' and had different theme music. There are two titles on record with no matching episode: "Secret Cargo", production number 9612, was slated for broadcast at the end of the 1st season on 30 Sep 57. It may have been re-titled and shown in the 2nd season as perhaps #25 "Short Haul". "The Botticelli Miniatures" was slated for broadcast on 23 Jan 58, and may also have been re-titled and shown in the 2nd season as perhaps #30 "Widow's Walk" or #33 "Snow Queen". Broadcast History: season 1 CBS Mondays 9:30pm (1 Jul 57 - 30 Sep 57) season 2 CBS Thursdays 8:00pm (2 Jan 58 - 25 Sep 58) season 3 CBS Sundays 10:00pm EST (15 Feb 59 - 20 Sep 59) season 4a NBC Mondays 7:30pm (5 Oct 59 - 28 Dec 59) season 4b NBC Tuesdays 9:00pm (11 Jan 60 - 6 Sep 60)moreless
  • 134
    December Bride

    December Bride

    Follow
    CBS (ended 1959)
    December Bride debuted in the fall of 1954 on CBS and centered around the life of the widow, Lily Ruskin. Lily Ruskin's life centered around her daughter, Ruth Henshaw and Ruth's husband Matt, with whom she lives with in Westwood, California. Stories often revolved around Ruth and Matt's attempts at pairing Lily up with suitable bachelors. Pete Porter was the next door neighbor who was married to the never seen Gladys but was finally seen in the form of Cara Williams in the December Bride, spinoff, Pete and Gladys which debuted in the fall of 1960. The series ended production after the 1958-1959 season but CBS aired reruns of December Bride in primetime from 1960 through 1961, most likely to promote the spinoff, Pete and Gladys.moreless
  • 135
    Tightrope

    Tightrope

    Follow
    CBS (ended 1960)
    Tightrope featured Mike Connors as Nick Stone, a cop who was assigned the task of infiltrating organized crime as an undercover special agent. Many of the police units he helped did not know he was a plant, requiring him to dodge bullets from both sides. Stone wore a gun up front like normal, but also had a hidden one holstered sideways on the back of his belt with the result being any time he was frisked for a weapon, they always quit the search after the first weapon was found, leaving him still armed for the final showdown. Although the series was a hit with viewers, it was eventually canceled due to pressure and complaints about excessive violence. For syndication, the show was heavily edited to remove most of its violence and grittiness, causing the episodes to loose the edge of their original showing.moreless
  • 136
    Lassie

    Lassie

    Follow
    CBS (ended 1973)
    Lassie currently airs on Discovery Kids @ 12:00/12:30 P.M. and 4:00/4:30 A.M. weekdays. Awards & Nominations 1959 - Emmy Awards - Nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Continuing Character) in a Dramatic Series - to June Lockhart 1956 - Emmy Awards - Won Best Children's Series 1955 - Emmy Awards - Won Best Children's Seriesmoreless
  • 137
    Lawman (1958)

    Lawman (1958)

    Follow
    ABC (ended 1962)
    Dan Troop is the new marshall in Laramie, Wyoming. He quickly hires Johnny McKay as his deputy, and together they work to clean up the town. Each week, the two lawmen are engaged in helping the citizens solve problems, fight injustice, and keep peace. Dan is tall, taciturn, and has the highest moral standards. Johnny tries hard to live up to Dan's example. After the first year, Lily Merrill opens the Bird Cage Saloon, and soon the three lonely people form a bond, much as a family, looking out for one another's interests. This western was a highly professional show in the midst of a time when formula westerns were the norm. It ran four years before it was cancelled.moreless
  • 138
    The Woody Woodpecker Show

    The Woody Woodpecker Show

    Follow
    ABC (ended 1958)
    Woody Woodpecker was a brash, high-strung woodpecker whose trademark was his staccato laugh, "ha-ha-ha-HA-ha". The character first appeared in the 1940 Andy Panda short, Knock Knock, voiced by Mel Blanc. When Blanc signed an exclusive contract with Warner Brothers, he was replaced by the man who originally designed Woody, Ben "Bugs" Hardaway, a former Schlesinger Studios animation director who had helped develop Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny. Woody received a permanent voice in 1952, when Lantz's wife, actress Grace Stafford, anonymously auditioned for and was awarded the job. The theatrical cartoon business was losing money in the 1950's. By 1956 there were only seven animation producers in the short-subjects business, and by the end of the decade that number would dwindle down to three. Movie theater owners were finding that they could release features with reissued cartoons, or no cartoons at all, and the audiences would still come. Walter Lantz and his distributor, Universal Pictures, knew that the only way to subsidize the rising costs of new shorts was to release their product to television. Norman Gluck from Universal's short-subjects department made a deal with the Leo Burnett Agency to release some older Lantz product on television. Burnett handled the Kellogg's cereal account, and Lantz soon met with the Kellogg's people to sign the contract. Lantz complied his best films into a half-hour TV show which he hosted himself. Additional live action & animation segments were created, such as "Woody's Newsreel" and "Around The World with Woody". 30-minute animated escapades of the world-famous woodpecker and other Walter Lantz character, including Andy Panda and Chilly Willy. Host-producer Lantz intergrated new footage with his theatrical cartoons and appeared with informative looks at the animation process. The Woody Woodpecker Show originally ran on the ABC-TV network from October 3, 1957 through September 25, 1958. Sponsored by Kellogg's, each episode featured three theatrical cartoons, with new animated Woody wraparounds and live action hosting chores handled by Lantz himself. The live-action segments were directed by Jack Hannah. Hannah was fresh from the Disney Studio where he had done similar live-action/animation sequences for the Disney show. Woody also appeared in animated commercials for Kellogg's. The series was seen once a week, on Thursday afternoons, replacing the first half hour of the shortened Mickey Mouse Club. After the initial year on ABC, The Woody Woodpecker Show was syndicated until 1966. In 1970, it reappeared on network television, with 26 additional episodes assembled by Lantz for NBC-TV. The 1976 show featured cartoons (and additional cartoons) from the early days to the later days, all products of full animation that created the appearance of natural movement. Other characters featured were Buzz Buzzard, Gabby Gator, Space Mouse, Homer Pigeon, Charlie Beary, Charles Beary Jr., Sugarfoot, Cuddles, Smedley, and Knothead and Splinter. Voices were Grace Stafford(Mrs. Walter Lantz) as Woody, and Daws Butler, Walter Tetley, Dal McKennon, June Foray, and Paul Frees.moreless
  • 139
    The Cisco Kid

    The Cisco Kid

    Follow
    (ended 1956)
    The Cisco Kid and his sidekick Pancho roam the old west looking for people to help.
  • 140
    The Goldbergs

    The Goldbergs

    Follow
    CBS (ended 1953)
    "Yoo-hoo,Mrs. Bloom" calls each of us to the intimate daily gossip of this warm ethnic family comedy. Gertrude Berg starred in the show and won an Emmy Award for her portrayal of "Molly" the Jewish Mother who cared a lot about everyone.moreless
  • 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11