Baby Boomers Grew Up On These Iconic Television Shows

Although television had been around for some time, the Baby Boomers were the first generation to grow up with a TV set in their homes. For many, television became a staple of their childhood, as a means of entertainment with little effort on the parents’ part. During this time, numerous shows became hugely popular among the young Baby Boomers and evolved as the children grew up. Take a look back at some of the most popular shows of the era and how many of them withstood the test of time.

Bewitched Had An Interesting Take On Marriage

Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York
ABC
ABC

Broadcast for eight seasons from September 17, 1964, to March 25, 1972, Bewitched is a fantasy sitcom series that aired on ABC. It follows a witch named Samantha who marries a mortal man named Darrin Stephens, and the dynamic of their relationship, with Samantha’s magical abilities driving the plot of most of the episodes.

The show had a crossover with The Flintstones, as well as spin-offs including the cartoon Tabitha and Adam and the Family Clown, and Tabitha. In 2005, the show inspired a film of the same name starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell.

Lost In Space Was A Twist On The Swiss Family Robinson

Robinson family
CBS
CBS

Lost in Space is a scientific television series created and produced by Irwin Allen. The series was inspired by the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson and the comic Space Family Robinson.

Running between 1965 and 1968, the show follows a pioneer family known as the Robinsons as they try and survive in space. In total the show had a total of 83 episodes over three seasons, with the first season being shown in black and white.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Helped Popularize Spy Shows

Robert Vaughn and David McCallum
NBC
NBC

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a spy-fiction television series that first premiered on NBC on September 22, 1964, and ended on January 15, 1968. The show focuses on two secret agents played by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum who work for an international anti-spy agency called U.N.C.L.E, or the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

The series helped to launch the spy craze on television. In 1966, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. won the Golden Globe Award for Best TV Show.

Gilligan’s Island Is A Classic

Cast of Gilligan's Island
CBS
CBS

An American sitcom, Gilligan’s Island featured an ensemble cast including Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Russell Johnson, Tina Louise, and Dawn Wells. The series tells the story of a group of seven castaways that are stranded on an island and the comical situations that they get themselves into.

Between 1964 and 1967, the show ran for three seasons on CBS with a total of 98 episodes. The show was consistent throughout its run and was still popular during syndication with the character of Gilligan becoming a cultural icon.

The Addams Family Is Still Popular Today

Cast of the Addams Family
ABC
ABC

Originally a cartoon series by Charles Addams in 1938 for The New Yorker, The Addams Family was made into a 30-minute television sitcom series created by David Levy and Donald Saltzman. The show was aired for two seasons from 1964 to 1966, following an extended family with supernatural abilities and a taste for the macabre.

Its iconic opening theme was written by Hollywood composing legend Vic Mizzy and has withstood the test of time. Over the years, there have been many reunion programs, remakes, and feature films, proving its impact on popular culture.

The Ed Sullivan Show Set The Bar For Variety Shows

Picture of Ed Sullivan
CBS
CBS

The Ed Sullivan Show was a primetime variety show that ran on CBS from June 20, 1948 to June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York columnist Ed Sullivan. The show ran every Sunday on CBS 8-9 eastern time and became one of the few shows to hold the same slot on the same network for more than two decades.

The show featured a range of entertainment acts including rock and roll stars, opera singers, comedians, and actors until it was replaced by CBS Sunday Night Movie in 1971.

I Love Lucy Is Considered One Of The Best Shows Of All Time

Lucy and Ricky
CBS
CBS

Running from October 15, 1951, to May 6, 1957, I Love Lucy is a sitcom starring Lucille Ball and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz. The show follows a middle-class housewife, Lucille Ricardo, who lives in New York City with her husband Ricky. The show ran for six seasons with a total of 180 half-hour episodes, including the “lost” Christmas pilot.

I Love Lucy was the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was only matched by the Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld. Regarded as one of the most influential sitcoms in history, it was named the Best TV Show of All Time by CBS and People.

Captain Kangaroo Was Perfect For Children

Bob Keeshan and Hugh Brannum
CBS
CBS

Captain Kangaroo was a children’s television series that aired on weekday mornings from October 1955 to December 1984. At the time, it was the longest-running children’s program on television, with some extra segments being added to re-run episodes that aired until 1993.

The show was created by Bob Keeshan, who played Captain Kangaroo over 9,000 times for the show’s 30-year run. The show featured Captain Kangaroo as he told stories, met with guests, and interacted with regular characters in the “Treasure House” where he lived.

Bonanza Was Popular For Decades

Cast of Bonanza
NBC
NBC

Bonanza is a Western television series that ran for 14 seasons with 431 episodes, running from 1959 to 1973. The show is the second-longest Western series in the United States behind Gunsmoke and is in the top-ten longest-running live-action series.

The show is set in the 1860s and follows the affluent Cartwright family who lives in Virginia City, Nevada, near Lake Tahoe. The show was ranked No.43 on TV Guide 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time and is included in their list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show Was Revolutionary At The Time

Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards
CBS
CBS

The Mary Tyler Moore Show is a sitcom starring Mary Tyler Moore, created by James L. Brooks and Allan Burns. On the show, Moore plays Mary Richard, a single woman who works as a producer at the WJM news show in Minneapolis. The show is regarded as incredibly progressive by focusing on a single, independent woman, something that was uncommon at the time.

Running from 1970 to 1977, the show was praised by audiences and critics for its complex plot and characters, receiving 29 Primetime Emmy Awards. It was also ranked No. 6 by the Writers Guild of America on their list of the 101 Best Written TV Series of All Time.

Gunsmoke Still Holds Records

Cast of Gunsmoke
CBS
CBS

Created by Norman Macdonnell and John Meston, Gunsmoke is a Western radio show turned television drama series. On television, the series follows James Arness and the action that takes place around Dodge City, Kansas during the United States’ Western expansion. The television series ran from 1955 to 1975 with a total of 20 seasons.

By the end of its run, The Los Angeles Times noted that “Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey […] It was the stuff of legends.” To this day, the show remains the longest-running, primetime, live-action series of the 20th century.

Peyton Place Aired Twice A Week

Lana Turner and Lee Philips
ABC
ABC

Based on the 1956 novel of the same name, Peyton Place is a prime-time soap opera that aired from September 15, 1964, to June 2, 1969. The show ran in black and white from 1964 to 1966 and then in color from 1966 to 1969.

Upon its debut, the show became an instant hit and ended up being aired two times a week due to its popularity. However, the show was met with some backlash for some of its racy themes such as intimacy between its characters.

Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Did Surprisingly Well For A Spin-Off

Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle
CBS
CBS

Airing on CBS from September 25, 1964, to May 2, 1969, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was a spin-off of The Andy Griffith Show with the pilot episode being aired as the season finale of the Andy Griffith Show’s fourth season in 1964. The show follows Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, a comedic gas station employee who joins the Marine Corps.

The series was in black and white for its first season before transitioning to color for its remaining four seasons. It was also a smashing success, never falling less than tenth in the Nielsen ratings, and finished as the second-highest-rated series in the United States.

Batman Had A Different Tone Back Then

Batman and Robin
ABC
ABC

Airing in the 1960s, Batman was a live-action series based on the DC comic book hero of Batman and his sidekick Robin, who defend Gotham City against a variety of villains. The show is known for its comedic approach upbeat music, and hinting that children should eat more healthy, listen to their parents, do their homework, and more.

The series had 120 episodes and ran for three seasons between 1966 and 1968, airing twice a week for the first two seasons and once a week during its last.

Get Smart Showed How Far Comedy Could Go On Television

Don Adams As Maxwell Smart
NBC/CBS
NBC/CBS

Get Smart is a comedy television series that was a parody on the popular spy shows of the 1960s. The show was the brainchild of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry, premiering on NBC on September 18, 1965. It stars Don Adams as Maxwell Smart, Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, and Edward Platt as Thaddeus the Chief.

Get Smart is best remembered for the numerous catchphrases it popularized during its run such as “missed it by that much,” “sorry about that, chief,” and more. Ending in 1970, it’s notable for showing what was possible for comedy in television.

The Mod Squad Was One Of The “Hippest” Shows On TV

 Peggy Lipton, Clarence Williams III and Michael Cole
ABC
ABC

Running from 1968 to 1973, The Mod Squad is a crime drama series starring Michael Cole as Peter “Pete” Cochran, Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes, Clarence Williams III as Lincoln “Linc” Hayes and Tige Andrews as Captain Adam Greer.

With “One black, one white, and one blonde,” The Mod Squad has been described as “the hippest and first young undercover cops on TV”. The show went on to be nominated for six Emmy Awards and four Golden Globe nominations, with Peggy Lipton winning a Directors Guild of America Award.

The Beverly Hillbillies Was The First Of Many Similar Shows

Cast of the show riding in a car
CBS
CBS

Broadcast on CBS from 1962 to 1971, The Beverly Hillbillies was a situation comedy series with an ensemble cast including Irene Ryan, Buddy Ebsen, Max Baer Jr., and Donna Douglas. The show follows the poor Clampett family from the Ozarks region who move to Beverly Hills after finding oil on their land.

During eight of its nine seasons, the show was ranked in the top most-watched programs on television, landing the No.1 series of the year on two occasions. Today, the series remains in syndication with a film remake in 1993.

Star Trek Wasn’t An Instant Hit

Spock in Star Trek
Paramount Television
Paramount Television

Star Trek is a science-fiction television show-turned-franchise that follows the USS Enterprise spacecraft and its crew. What is now regarded as Star Trek: The Original Series ran from 1966 to 1969, yet had less-than-impressive Nielsen ratings while on NBC and was eventually canceled.

Years later, the show became a major hit in broadcast syndication and remained so well into the ’70s. The show went on to have six television series, 13 feature films, and numerous books and is now considered to be one of the greatest popular culture phenomenons.

All In The Family Was Groundbreaking

Cast of All in the Family
CBS
CBS

Broadcast on CBS for nine seasons from January 12, 1971, April 8, 1979, All in the Family starred Rob Reiner, Jean Stapleton, Carroll O’ Connor, and Sally Struthers. The show tells the story of a working-class father and his family, with the series being notable for its commentary on touchy subjects including racism, religion, infidelity, and more.

However, these themes were touched upon through the use of comedy, making it one of the most popular shows of its time. It is often considered to be once of the United States’ most celebrated series of all time and was the first series to top the Nielsen ratings for five straight years.

Seinfeld Reflected The Adult Lives Of Baby Boomers

Jerry Seinfeld playing himself
NBC
NBC

Although the show remains popular among a variety of demographics, Seinfeld was particularly impactful on Baby Boomers as it was relatable to them in the adult stage of their lives. Running from 1990 to 1996, the show follows a fictional version of Jerry Seinfeld as he navigates through life with a handful of friends.

Although the series has been described as “a show about nothing,” it is a favorite among audiences and critics, remaining at the top of the Nielsen ratings for many years. To this day, it is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms of all time.