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Our Television
Although television became more familiar in the United States with the general public at the 1939 World's Fair, the outbreak of World War II prevented it from being manufactured on a large scale until after the end of the war. True regular commercial television network programming did not begin in the U.S. until 1948. During that year, legendary conductor Arturo Toscanini made his first of ten TV appearances conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra and Texaco Star Theater, starring comedian Milton Berle, became television's first gigantic hit show. Since the 1950s, television has been the main medium for molding public opinion.
   
   
   
   
   
 

The sketch comedy series with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca was a hit on its own, but it was even more successful for the projects it inspired from its writing staff: Carl Reiner's TV classic 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' Neil Simon's play 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor' and the flick 'My Favorite Year,'
1. 'Your Show of Shows' {1950-54)
One of television's first major hits was also one of the first hit shows with a female star -- comedy legend Lucille Ball, whose interactions with hubby Ricky and the Mertzes led to hilarity and some of the most classic moments in TV history, from the grape-stomping scene and the candy factory episode
2. 'I Love Lucy' (1951-57)
3. 'The Ed Sullivan Show' (1948-71)
Originally called 'Toast of the Town,' Sullivan's live variety series became known for bringing to viewers the A-list among established performers (the series premiere included Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) and the best of soon-to-be-stars like, most famously, Elvis
4. 'Gunsmoke' (1955-75)
The first and most successful of the "adult Westerns," 'Gunsmoke' was a radio hit that was conceived as a TV show CBS hoped would star big-screen legend John Wayne. Wayne nixed the part, but recommended his pal James Arness, who would spend 20 seasons with Chester, Festus, Doc and Miss
to Lucy's tango with the egg-filled shirt and her Vitameatavegamin commercial.
produced by 'Your Show of Shows' writer Mel Brooks.
Presley in 1956 and '57, and the Beatles' 1964 performances, which drew more than 70 million viewers.
Kitty, playing Dodge City's pillar of law, order and Old West justice, Marshal Matt Dillon.
5. 'The Honeymooners' (1955-56)
He was a scheming, not-so-bright loudmouth, but Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden set the stage for future blue collar TV heroes because viewers could embrace the efforts of the Bensonhurst bus driver who, despite his frequently loutish ways, just wanted a better life for himself, sewer
worker pal Norton and wife Alice, who he really did think was the greatest.
6. 'Leave It to Beaver' (1957-63)
The Cleavers made Americans wish they were part of a family where everything could be made better with a home-cooked meal by pearl-wearing mom June or a pithy bit of advice from papa Ward. Mischievous Beaver and bro Wally were always getting into one scrape or another (thanks, often, to instigating Eddie
Haskell), but the Cleavers remained the ideal suburban family.
7. 'The Steve Allen Show' (1956-60)
Comedian Allen hosted this live variety show that was most notable for the careers it helped launch, including those of comic stars Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington (and, in a brief 1961 reincarnation of the show, Tim Conway and the Smothers Brothers) and Elvis, who sang 'Hound Dog' to an actual dog
on Allen's show before his famous 'Ed Sullivan Show' appearances.
8. 'Father Knows Best' (1954-60)
It would go on to become a big hit on CBS and NBC, but the first season of 'Father''s transition from radio to TV earned such low ratings that CBS canceled it. A save-the-show campaign by viewers prompted a pickup by NBC, where the series thrived as a beloved and top-rated family sitcom until star Robert
Young wanted to move on and quit the show.
9. 'The Milton Berle Show' (1948-56)
The show was originally titled 'Texaco Star Theater,' and Berle was not originally the permanent host; only after a few months of winning over viewers was he given the full-time gig. Uncle Miltie ran with it, making the show the most popular hour on TV, and truly earning his "Mr. Television" title by getting credit for the
sales of more than 30 million TV sets.
10. 'The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet' (1952-66)
So true to its stars' lives that it was almost like a reality show, 'Ozzie & Harriet' was mostly about Nelson brothers Ricky and David, whose real-life wives even played their TV wives. The series also mirrored Ricky's real-life career as a rock star, with TV Ricky crooning real Ricky's songs,
and real-life Ozzie editing them into early versions of music videos.
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TOP 10 ALL TIME FAVORITE TV SHOWS OF THE 1950'S
Special Mention
December 27, 1947 until September 24, 1960. It was a pioneer in children's television programming and set the pattern for many similar shows.
Howdy Doody
Created by Walt Disney and produced by Walt Disney Productions, the program was first televised from 1955 to 1960 by ABC, featuring a regular but ever-changing cast of child performers.
Mickey Mouse Club