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'The Wonderful World of Disney' was must-see TV growing up

Today marks what would have been Walt Disney's 115th birthday!

Image: Disney Store

As far as television goes in the 1960s and 1970s, it was hard being a kid. Remember, these were the days before multiple TVs in every home and hundreds of channels to choose from.

Primetime programming was oriented towards adults, while kids only had Saturday mornings to look forward to. The five-hour block of programming had all the best cartoons and live-action shows, but it was only one measly day a week.

But we can thank one person for making primetime television a bit more kid friendly back then. Today, we think of Walt Disney as the genius behind the successful production company. But for many of us growing up, he was the man at the beginning of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.

Before the series launched in 1961, it was known as Walt Disney's Disneyland. Premiering in 1954, the series originally tied together the newly constructed Disneyland theme park with programming highlighting certain rides and attractions.

Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color shamelessly promoted the program's biggest change in the title — it was one of the only ones broadcast in color.

If kids were lucky enough to have a color television in their home, they could watch classic Disney films along with original productions like The Prince and the Pauper (below, left), The Horse Without a Head (center) and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh (right) in brilliant technicolor. 

Disney

When Disney died in 1966, producers dropped the host segment. Two years later, the program's named was changed to The Wonderful World of Disney to coincide with the standardization of colored broadcasting. However, the format remained the same.

The late '60s and 1970s brought more classics (usually involving animals) like Atta Girl, Kelly! (left), A Boy Called Nuthin' (center, starring Ron Howard!), Little Dog Lost (right) and Stub: The Best Cowdog in the West. 

Disney

Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (and later The Wonderful World of Disney) was "must-see TV" for kids, way before the term was first uttered by NBC exec in the 1990s.

What were your favorite movies from Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color?

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