101 Classic (and Not-So-Classic) Kids Shows and Saturday Morning Cartoons from the ’50s to the ‘70s

Kids today couldn’t possibly remember what this was like, but can you recall the days each Fall when the three networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — would premiere their new Saturday morning schedules? Usually it would be preceded the night before by TV specials previewing what we could expect, making the journey from Friday night to Saturday morning seem like it took forever. But then, finally, we would be in front of the TV, probably still in PJs, armed with breakfast cereal and ready to watch.

Programming geared towards kids was there from pretty much the beginning of television history, with live-action shows like Howdy Doody and early animated efforts such as Crusader Rabbit and The Ruff and Ready Show (never heard of ’em? Keep reading; you will). There were also series consisting entirely of animated theatrical shorts that would be compiled together for characters such as Popeye. But things would change.

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It’s interesting to watch the evolution of Saturday morning programs. Once original shows started being produced, we were given a number of talking animal shows featuring singing dogs (Huckleberry Hound), gun-slinging horses (Quick Draw McGraw), a picnic-stealing bear (Yogi Bear) and a conniving cat (Top Cat). There were the genuinely funny sitcom-like shows (The Flintstones, The Jetsons) and the subversive work of Jay Ward that usually went right over the kids’ heads (Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Bullwinkle; Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle).

Popular singers found themselves adapted to animated series, featuring their music and their cartoon selves being pursued by masses of fans, among them The Beatles, Jackson Five and The Osmonds. There was also the rise of the superhero with adventures of not only the likes of Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, The Lone Ranger and Tarzan, but a whole wave of original creations (mostly from Hanna-Barbera), notably Frankenstein, Jr. and the Impossibles, Space Ghost and The Herculoids.

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We were introduced to Scooby-Doo and the gang, who have never really gone away ever since; live action shows made into cartoons, i.e. The Brady BunchStar TrekGilligan’s Island, The Odd Couple and The Partridge Family. There were live chimpanzees playing spies (Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp) and a family trying to survive among dinosaurs (Land of the Lost).

In other words, kids’ programming, from the 1950s through the 1970s, presented a tremendous range of shows that continue to live on in our hearts and memories.

For a refresher course on many of those shows, please scroll down.