The 1950s: Your Guide to 101 Classic (and Not-So-Classic) TV Shows From Yesteryear

Before the Golden Age of Television hit in the 1950s, the medium had already given the growing viewing audience some hints of what it could achieve. The 1940s saw the arrival of Milton Berle on Texaco Star Theatre, The Ed Sullivan Show (a variety showcase that would run from 1948 to 1971); kids fare like Howdy Doody, Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Captain Video and His Video Rangers; early sitcoms in the form of The Morey Amsterdam Show (before he became a part of The Dick Van Dyke Show in the ’60s); and The Lone Ranger, which recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. But the true arrival of Classic TV would come in the 1950s.

When we think of that term — Classic TV — frequently what comes to mind are shows from the ’60s, like The Brady Bunch (which, 50 years later, has continued on, most recently in the form of HGTV’s A Very Brady Renovation), the supernatural sitcoms I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched, Bill Bixby in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, the original Star Trek and so many others. But, as noted above, we need to dial things back a bit to the decade that preceded it.

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Kobal/Shutterstock

How can you consider the idea of television classics without thinking of I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, The Jack Benny Program, Lassie or Adventures of Superman? And what’s even more amazing is that while some of those may be the cream of the crop, there are so many more that need to be remembered (and some, admittedly, which don’t, but we nonetheless felt compelled to include them).

For that reason, we’ve compiled this little trip back through time to present to you our guide to 101 TV shows of the 1950s. Considering that television was still in its infancy, and there were only three networks (plus syndication to independent stations), it’s impressive to see how much material — and how much of it was of genuine quality — was produced. But, hey, don’t take our word for it.

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