11 influential TV shows turning 70 years old in 2022

The dawn of TV brought us superheroes, sitcoms, and a boomer heartthrob.

In 1952, the were merely 16,939,100 television sets in use in the United States, just one unit for every ten Americans. More than half of those TVs could be found in just 10 major cities. 

So, television had not quite become the dominant form of entertainment in the country. That did not stop the four major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC and… DuMont) from piling on the new programming. It was a banner year for the budding medium, with groundbreaking sitcoms, soaps, superheroes, morning shows, and musical shindigs. Let's take a look.

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1. The Abbott and Costello Show

The comedic duo of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello had made people laugh on radio and the silver screen. They had faced Frankenstein and asked, "Who's on first?" They had hosted The Colgate Comedy Hour, one of the earliest variety shows in TV history. The pair was a natural pick for a sitcom, which cast them as struggling actors sharing an apartment in L.A. It also happened to be syndicated.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet

The Nelson clan were the first family of early television, as the youngest son, Ricky, became a heartthrob to adolescent Boomers. The sitcom would air for a staggering 14 seasons. Ricky started as a 12-year-old kid and finished the series as 26-year-old "Rick." Talk about growing up in the public eye.

Image: The Everett Collection

3. Adventures of Superman

An entirely different kind of "Adventures" could be found in syndication. Adventures in the more traditional sense. The comic book superhero sensation that so dominates pop culture began here. George Reeves, born George Brewer in the heart of the Midwest, was perfectly cast as Clark Kent and the Man of Steel. He would infamously die of mysterious circumstances in 1959.

Image: The Everett Collection

4. American Bandstand

When it kicked off on local Philadelphia television, it was known simply as "Bandstand." Deejay Bob Horn was the original host. Dick Clark would take over in 1956 and the "American" was added a year later, as the show spread nationwide. Nevertheless, Clark would host 30th and 40th anniversaries in 1982 and 1992. Everyone from Bill Haley and Chuck Berry to the Beastie Boys and "Weird Al" Yankovic appeared on the series, as generations of teens danced.

Image: The Everett Collection

5. Biff Baker, U.S.A.

Before he was The Skipper, Alan Hale Jr. played "importer" and spy Biff Baker in this espionage thriller. The show gave young actors like Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin exposure, too. The show would continue to air in reruns for most of the decade.

Image: The Everett Collection

6. Death Valley Days

Gunsmoke and Bonanza garner all the attention and acclaim for their longevity, but Death Valley Days saddled up for a stunning 18 seasons. The Western goes overlooked as it ran in syndication — and it was an anthology series with no regular cast. Stanley "The Old Ranger" Andrews hosted the cowboy show for the first 12 years. You've probably heard of his successor — Ronald Reagan.

Image: The Everett Collection

7. I Married Joan

Another Gilligan's Island castaway got his early break in 1952, as Jim Backus landed his first TV role in this sitcom heavily indebted to I Love Lucy, which had premiered the prior year. Backus was mostly known as the voice of Mr. Magoo at that point. Which is why Joan Davis got top billing playing the scatterbrained, slapstick wife. 

Image: The Everett Collection

8. Life With Elizabeth

Two words: Betty White. The American icon booked her first regular TV role as Elizabeth, alongside her hubby, Alvin (Del Moore). No last names were given. It was not your typical sitcom. Episodes were broken down into vignettes — short, stand-alone segments that could often just be the couple doing dialogue.

Image: The Everett Collection

9. Mister Peepers

Bespectacled Wally Cox, "Mister Peepers" himself, was the first adorable nerd on television. The teacher character may have been the titular lead, but the scene-stealer was Tony Randall, playing ladies man Harvey Weskit. Randall was not intended to be a regular but clicked immediately. Everything about this show screaming "underdog," but it became a massive hit, 

Image: The Everett Collection

10. Our Miss Brooks

Like many shows of the era, Our Miss Brooks was adapted from a radio program, giving star Eve Arden a chance to showcase her charm and physical comedy skills. As an unmarried English teacher, Arden was a pioneering single woman on television, a true rarity in 1952. It was also one of the first TV shows to spawn a big-screen movie, as the movie Our Miss Brooks hit theaters in 1956.

Image: The Everett Collection

11. The Today Show

Before Willard Scott, Barbara Walters and Gene Shalit, there was J. Fred Muggs. J. Fred Muggs was a chimpanzee. Yeah, an ape was the unlikely star of this NBC institution in its early days. Okay, technically, Dave Garroway, pictured here with the chimp, was the host. Garroway picked "Sentimental Journey" as the wake-up program's theme and held court for the first nine years. It brought a lighthearted touch to news, which of course would become the norm.

Image: The Everett Collection

 
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bagandwallyfan52 5 days ago
Unanswered TV Questions
On The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet what did Ozzie Nelson
Do for a living?.
On HAPPY Days whatever happened to Chuck Cunningham
And Bag Zombroski?
On Gomer Pyle USMC why was
Cpl Boyle Roy Stuart Replaced by Cpl Duke Slater Ronnie
Schell?
Why was Bag replaced by Sticks
As the new person to play the drums in Richie's band on
Happy Days?
Why did Mrs Brown's daughter
Angela Brown (Ann Marshall)
Disappear from My Favorite Martian after only 3 episodes?.
On HAPPY Days how come
Moose(Barry Greenberg ) never
Talked on HAPPY Days.?
Who played Mr Schamp
On The Andy Griffith Show?
On The Andy Griffith Show
If ED SAWYER really did move to
Mayberry because Mayberry
Was his home town then
Where was ED SAWYER hiding .in Mayberry for the next 8 years
Of The Andy Griffith Show and
3 years of Mayberry RFD!?
And whatever happened to
Lucy Mathews on TAGS!
Who played Ralph on Mayberry RFD?
Who played Ralph Tom Smothers boss on The
Smothers Brothers Show?
What was the name of Amos
McCoys late wife on The.Real
McCoys?
Why did Goobers girlfriend. Flora Mallorby Alberta Nelson
Vanish from TAGS?
Why does Superman have a
Cape?
Part 2 of Unanswered TV
Questions
Why does Superman need
A Secret Identity?
Why can't he be Superman
All the time?
Was Mighty Mouse modeled after Superman?
Why was Cpl Nick Cuccinelli Tommy Leonetti
Replaced by Cpl Boyle Roy Stuart on Gomer Pyle USMC?
Why wasn't the characters
Newt Kiley (Kay Kuter)and
Roy Trendell (Robert Foulk)
On season 6 of Green Acres?
Why did Junior Hocker (Russ Horton ) and Herbie Bates (Don Washbrook)
Disappear from Petticoat Junction at the end of season one?
Why did Ginger(Charlene
Salerno) the girlfriend of Wally Plumstead (Skip Young) vanish from The
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet at the end of season 13 and on season
14 it looks like Ginger was
Nowhere to be seen on
Season 14??
Why did Kelly have 3 different last names on
Bachelor Father a TV Show?
Why did Bunny have 3 different last names on
Gomer Pyle USMC?
Why was the last name of
Wally (Skip Young) changed
From Dipole to Plumstead?
Why did Clara have two different last names(Johnson and Edwards)on The Andy Griffith Show ?
Why did Emma(Cheerio
Meredith ) have 2 different
Last names (Brand and
Watson) on The Andy Griffith Show?
OlgaBagley 12 days ago
(3) the man of steel The S guy could Fly over buildings but He Could. Not stop a bullet
vinman63 OlgaBagley 11 days ago
At least heading to the temple.
OlgaBagley 12 days ago
Today show with Dave Galloway he didn’t take his own life he piss the. Chimp off & Chimp pulled the Trigger
OlgaBagley OlgaBagley 12 days ago
(9) mr peppers why didn’t Aunt Clara zap mr peppers into a #1 hit
PERRY Mason Fans:
Does anyone besides me know who
The Two Guest Stars were in the
LAST EPISODE of PERRY MASON
And the name of the FINAL EPISODE
Of Perry Mason was THE CASE OF
THE FINAL FADEOUT.
Dick Clark and Marlyn Mason.
You could also add James Best and Denver Pyle.
Also Earle Stanley Gardner
Who created Perry Mason
Played the judge in the last
Episode of Perry Mason called The Case Of The
Final Fadeout.
STTOS 16 days ago
Wow, I never heard of Biff Baker, U.S.A. or Life With Elizabeth!! Of these I would love to see MeTV bring back Superman!!

Also this coming May, instead of another Month of Mayberry (which I like very much), how about a Month of Mayfield!! They can show the Leave it to Beaver pilot called "It's a Small World", some themed episodes of Leave it to Beaver, the reunion movie "Still the Beaver", as well as some of the sequel series "The New Leave It To Beaver". Just a thought.
TheDavBow3 STTOS 16 days ago
Yeah, I never heard of Biff Baker either!
Toonhead TheDavBow3 15 days ago
I was just arriving in 52, but I don’t remember Biff Baker even in reruns. Love to celebrate my b-day with a couple of episodes. I always liked both Alan Hales, sr & jr. 👍😎
TheDavBow3 Toonhead 15 days ago
Happy Birthday, Toon!
Some of the BEST TV CHARACTERS
Are the ones who vanished INTO
THIN AIR Like These Characters:
Petticoat Junction
Vanishing Characters
HERBIE BATES (Don Washbrook)
JUNIOR HOCKER(Russ Horton)
GREEN Acres
Newt Kiley(Kay Liter)
Roy Trendell(Robert Foulk)
Leave It To Beaver
Chester Anderson(Buddy Hart)
Tooey Brown (Tiger Fafara)
Judy Hensler (Jeri Weil)
Penny WOODS(Karen Sue Trent)
Bill Scott (David Kent)
Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens)
Happy Days
Chuck Cunningham 1 Gavan O Herlihy
Chuck Cunningham 2 Randolph Roberts
Bag ZOMBROSKI Neil J Schwartz
Moose Barry Greenberg
Eugene Belvin Denis Mandel
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein
KC Cunningham Crystal Bernard
Flip Phillips Billy Warlock
Trudy Tita Bell
Wendy Misty Rowe
Marsha Simms Beatrice Colen
Gloria Linda Purl
Sticks Downey Jr John Anthony Bailey
GOMER PYLE USMC
Vanishing Characters
Corporal Boyle :Roy Stuart

Corporal Nick Cuccinelli :
Tommy Leonetti
Cpl. Johnson:Jerry Dexter
Sgt. Whipple :Buck Young
Frankie Lombardi :Ted Bessell
Pct.Eddie Peters:Mark Slade
Larry :Larry Hovis
Also Spike (Danny Butch) vanished from Happy Days
With no explanation.
richardhoover7 17 days ago
most of these old shows i remember and saw all of them and i am 60 years old.
Toonhead richardhoover7 15 days ago
Me as well, except for Biff Baker and I’m 70. Thanks MeTV for keeping Highway Patrol and Peter Gunn (I really dig the theme and incidental music by Henry Mancini, cool baby) on the air. I get up early to start my day with these two classics. 👍😎
bagandwallyfan52 17 days ago
METV VIEWERS -What are the
TOP Ten TV Shows That you
Would like to watch on Metv
That areNOTYET on METVs
Schedule?
My List:
1 The Adventures of Ozzie and Harrie
2 Alice
3 Lone Ranger
4 Get Smart
5:The Avengers
6 I Dream of Jeannie
7 Bewitched
8 The Dukes of Hazard
9 The Smothers Brothers Show
10 Love American Style
METV Viewers- What is your
Top 10 TV Shows tat you would
Luke for Metv to ADD to their
Line Up?
1. Get Smart
2. Hazel
3. The Monkees
4. Laugh-in
5. The Jeffersons
6. I Love Lucy
7. Laverne And Shirley
8. Bewitched
9. Donna Reed Show
10. Mr. Ed

P.S. anybody remember the show, “The Nanny and the Professor”? I vaguely remember watching it but I haven’t really seen it on anything lately. 🙂
I would like to see The
Smothers Brothers Show
On METV.The Smothers Brothers Show was the
SITCOM where Tom Smothers was an angel and
Ralph was Tom's boss and
Dick Smothers helped Tom
With his angel assignments.
I wold like to see the following movie series on
METV:
1 EDDIE CANTOR Movies
2 PEE WEE HERMAN Movies
3 Joe Penner Comedy movies
4 Marx Brothers Movies
5 Shirley Temple Movies
6 Elvis Presley Movies
7All Ernest P. Worrell Movies (Ernest Goes To
Camp ETC
8 Bowery Boys Movies
9 Don Knotts Movies
10 Laurel and Hardy Shorts and Movies.
I would.like to see Reruns of the following TV Shows
On METV:
ALICE
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The Adventures of Robin
Hood
Lone Ranger
Roy Rogers Show
Gene Autry Show
Get Smart
Love American Style
GIDGET
Bewitched
I Dream of Jeannie
Duked of Hazard
Ellery Queen Mysteries
Sugarfoot
Annie Oakley
Eddie Capra Mysteries
The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
Red Skelton Show
Black Saddle
Movies have a relatively limited presence on MeTV's weekly schedule. The network airs the Rich Koz-hosted horror and science fiction film showcase Svengoolie on Saturday evenings.
Svengoolie appears to meet their current program strategy, historically they had shown movies when the network was young but they most likely will not go back to that format.
LoveMETV22 lynngdance 11 days ago
Loved Nanny and the Professor: Season 1 Episode 1 "Nanny Will Do"
https://youtu.be/r07wQjt4_TU
bagandwallyfan52 17 days ago
METV:Are you ever go to put
Some DIFFERENT OLD TV
SHOWS to The METV Schedule?
I agree!! Dragnet in the morning is just a drag. Here’s my list:
Smothers Brothers
The Avengers
The Detectives (Robt. Taylor)
Felony Squad
The Texan
Banacek ( please hold your letters if I spelled it wrong)
It Takes A Thief (Robt. Wagner)
bagandwallyfan52 is right, the schedule needs some new faces. Please! Thanks!👍😎
You are also right.
METVs Schedule Needs Some
New Faces on the METV schedule (Alice Lone Ranger
The Adventures of Superman
The Adventures of Robin Hood
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet Smothers Brothers
Don Adams and Family Affair.
The granddaddy of gritty police dramas. N.Y.P.D. (1967-69) starring Jack Warden, Frank Converse, etal.
Check youtube to remind yourself of the opening.
DeborahRoberts 17 days ago
You managed to find a show that I've not only never seen, but never heard of! Biff Baker? Interesting. Though all these premiered long before I was born, I've enjoyed getting to see episodes of all but Biff through the years. I wish Me-TV would run more programs from television's early days, even if they air in the wee hours. I can DVR.
Toonhead DeborahRoberts 15 days ago
A big comment for the little lady that I am in total agreement with! Thanks Deborah! 👏👍😎
Dorisfnt 17 days ago
I would like to see I Love Lucy, The Lucy & Desi Comedy Hour, The Lucy Show, The Patty Duke Show, The Dukes of Hazard, Mayberry RFD, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie come to MEtv!!
I would like to see Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie and all of the other TV shows you listed
to be added to the METV
Schedule plus In would like
to see ALICE and THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE and HARRIET added to the
METV Schedule.
RichLorn 17 days ago
Mike Stokey's Stump the Stars aka Pantomime Quiz. The mailed-in stumpers from the viewers were always amusing sometimes hilarious, but always challenging. They had to be if the viewer wanted to stump the stars and win a TV.
METV Viewers:
How many METV Viewers would like to see the following old TV Shows
On METV:
1 ALICE
2 Lone Ranger
3 The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
4 Nancy Drew(Pamela Sue Martin )
5 Mighty Mouse And Heckel and Heckel
6 The Dukes Of Hazzard
7 Ellery Queen
8 My Favorite Martian
9 Mayberry RFD
10 F Troop
11 Mr.Ed
12 Knight Rider
13 My Mother The Car
14 Xena Warrior Princess
15 That Girl
16 Love American Style
17 The Lucy Show
18 The Smothers Brothers Show
19 Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour
20 Little Rascals
21 Laurel and Hardy Shorts
22 Pee Wees Playhouse
23 Pee Wee Herman Movies
24 Eddie Cantor Movies
25 Joe Penner Movies
26 Dagwood and Blondie(TV show)
27 Dagwood and Blondie Movies
28 Rockford Files
29 Early Edition
30 Annie Oakley
31 Roy Rogers Show
32 Freakazoid Cartoons
33 Love American Style
34 Patty Duke Show
35 Fractured Flickers(Hans Conreid)
36 Funny Manns Shorts(Cliff Norton)
37 I Dream of Jeanne
38 Bewitched
39 Judd For The Defence
40 Owen Marshall
41 The FBI
42 Room 222
43 Make Room For Daddy
44 Father Knows Best
45 The Real McCoys
46 Night Gallery
47 The Partridge Family
48 Steambath
49 Black Saddle
50 Death Valley Days
51 Our Miss Brooks.
52 December Bride
53 Pete and Gladys
54 Joanie Loves Chachi
55 Red Skelton Show
56 Tony Orlando and Dawn
57 Don Knotts Movies
58 Ernest P Worrell Movies
59 Bowery Boys Movies
60 Sugar foot
61 Maverick
62 Sky King
63 Batman
64 The Adventures of Superman
65 Cheyenne
66 3 Stooges Theatrical Movies
67 60 Minutes of Carol Burnett Show
68 The Monkees
69 Marx Brothers Movies
70 Win Ben Steins Money
71 Scooby Doo
72 Rocky and Bullwinkle
73 Sanford And Son
74 The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin
75 Fantasy Island
76 Get Smart
77 Rowan and Martin's Laugh In
78 Andy Griffith Movies
79 Elvis Presley Movies
80 Shirley Temple Movies
81 Bronko
82 Ed Sullivan Show
83 I Love Lucy
84 The Life of Riley
85 Comedy Movies
86 Underdog
89 Tennessee Tuxedo
90 Captain Kangaroo
91 Howdy Doody Show
92 Sonny and Cher Hour
93 Enos
94 Bay Masterson
95 The Avengers
96 The Wild Wild West
97 Johnny Quest
98 James Bond Movies
99 Shock Theater
100 Johnny Bravo Cartoons
Any More Suggestions For TV Shows
For METV To Carry?
CORRECTION:
I would like to see Mighty Mouse
And Heckel And JECKEL cartoons on METV.
Me too! Thanks!👏👍😎
HOw about “Major Dad” starring Gerald McRanny & “The 2nd Hundred Years” was about a young man whose great-grandfather was “rescued” from a glacier when he was in Alaska for the gold rush. What a hoot? Ever try to explain 20th century “gadgets & inventions” to someone who only remembers life 100 years ago!? Every episode was a riot. Would be great additions to theMETV schedule!
( mid 60’s shows.) so
Does Anyone know if Character
Actor Will Wright who played
Ben Weaver on The Andy Griffith Show was in the movie The Blue
Gardenia?
eddiec 19 days ago
Wally Cox was also the voice of Underdog.
Toonhead eddiec 15 days ago
Not bird nor plane nor even frog; just little Wally Cox as Underdog ! Bravo! Rocky & Bullwinkle and their gang as well please. ❣️😎
FrankCollins 19 days ago
I guess you were writing about shows that started in 1952. I have to mention that in 1950, the "Cadillac" of game shows started, "What's My Line?" The moderator was John Daly, who did the evening news on one of the few TV networks of the time. The guests were some of the absolutely biggest names in entertainment, including actors/actresses of film and TV and radio, comedians, athletes, politicians, musicians and singers, etc. The show ran until 1975. It was a regular Sunday night TV habit for millions of viewer for a long time.
Toonhead FrankCollins 15 days ago
Weren’t Bennett Cerf and Kitty Killgallen also on the panel? I remember the show fondly. 😎
Keith 19 days ago
Is that Randy Stuart with Alan Hale Jr.? I always found her to be an attractive actress. Her good looks were underrated.
JoeGuenther 19 days ago
I knew Betty White would die before her hundredth birthday.
Catman JoeGuenther 17 days ago
You should have warned her.
Toonhead Catman 15 days ago
Lol! But sadly.😢🧑🏻‍🎄😎
Bill 19 days ago
Superman, aka George Reeves, was in Gone With the Wind (1939), right in the beginning, sitting on the mansion’s front porch.
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