Popular TV Sitcoms From the 60s
The 1960s was a great time for entertainment. This was an era when parents did not have to be concerned with what their kids were watching on TV. Featured here are favorite tv shows from the 60s that many of us still love to watch today.
I remember watching these programs during their initial runs. One of them was The Andy Griffith Show, pictured here. I was a bit younger than Opie, and was raised by two parents rather than a single dad, but for the most part this series was a lot like my own home life. Life seemed a lot simpler at that time.
Some of the shows were clever parodies, and slapstick comedy was popular. There were memorable dramas in the 1960s, although comedies and variety shows seemed to dominate the decade.
I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane, remembering tv programs from the 1960s.
All images are public domain.
Until The Simpsons came along, The Flintstones was the most popular cartoon of all time. It was one of the very few ever shown in prime time. In some ways, this program was targeted more towards adults than children.
The Flintstones was a series that had several different elements. It was a fantasy, as it takes place in the stone age. Some episodes were clever parodies, as they frequently spoofed movies, tv series and culture that were popular at the time. It featured slapstick comedy, with Fred and Barney frequently ending up in absurd situations. Wilma and Betty were mostly level headed, but they also had their share of predicaments too.
One of the clever things about this show was how the characters had the same conveniences that were current in the 60s , even though it was set in prehistoric times. The difference was that they used materials like stone and the skins of animals to make houses, appliances and other things. For the most part, animals and birds made them work. The beak of a woodpecker was used to play records. An elephant was the ‘hose’ to provide water for showers and washing the dishes. They used their feet to get their cars running, and a bird was used for a car horn.
Bedrock had bowling alleys, drive in movies, grocery stores, and other things that would not be associated with the stone age. It is part of what made this show so unique.
The family pet, Dino, was a dinosaur, yet he had all the characteristics of a dog. He even barked and jumped excitedly when Fred came home from work. Dino watched tv and did some things only people normally do.
In the series, Hollywood became Hollyrock. They had frequent encounters with celebrities who were popular at the time. Of course, there usually was a funny twist on their name. Ann Margret became Ann Margrock. This was one of the delightful episodes, as she babysat Pebbles and came to love the little girl. Tony Curtis was Stoney Curtis, and both Betty and Wilma were thrilled to have him in town.
One particularly memorable episode occured when they had Samantha Stevens and Darrin move into the neighborhood. Bewitched was a popular series at the time on the same network, and both Elizabeth Mongtomery and Dick York provided their voices for the show. Once again, Samantha had to hide her magical powers from everyone she met.
Wilma, Fred and Pebbles in Welch Grape Juice Commercial
The Flintstones were featured in commercials for companies that sponsored the program. Here is an oldie promoting Welch’s grape juice that is quite cute.
Bewitched was such a wonderful fantasy show. Who wouldn’t love to be able to twitch their nose and have the house clean, dinner prepared, or anything else they desired in an instant?
Elizabeth Montgomery with her charm made this show work. I also liked Dick York and thought the program was not the same when he left. Apparently he could not continue with the show due to a back injury that left him in terrible pain.
The supporting characters were memorable, particularly Agnes Moorhead as Endora. I loved her eccentric personality, and the clothing she wore. There also was the funny Dr Bombay, who was usually summoned to help Sam or someone else at a very inconvenient time for him. And who didn’t love dear, sweet Aunt Clara? She was the only relative of Sam’s who treated Darrin with kindness.
Although magic always was part of each story’s plot, it wasn’t quite so prominent in the first couple of years. Over time, some of the stories became a bit too outlandish. They also recycled some old stories in the last season, which indicated the writers had run out of ideas.
Bewitched had high ratings until Dick York left and the quality of the scripts declined. It probably lasted a season or two longer than it should have. However, I certainly enjoyed most episodes. After 8 seasons, Bewitched was cancelled, and Elizabeth Montgomery went on to do a lot of dramas, for which she received a lot of well deserved acclaim.
The Andy Griffith Show
The Andy Griffith Show is probably one of the most wholesome and pleasant series of all time. It lasted for eight seasons, and had the distinction of finishing its long run as top rated program for the year. Its enduring popularity is evident, as it has appeared almost continuously in reruns since the series ended. It is certainly one of the best remembered of the 1960s sitcoms.
Andy Griffith’s home town of Mount Airy, NC, holds an annual Mayberry Days festival that draws thousands of people. The town also has a museum dedicated to the actor and the iconic show.
Andy was the sheriff in the fictitious town of Mayberry. He was a widower, and he and his young son Opie lived with their Aunt Bee, who was a single lady. Opie at times needed discipline. Many episodes featured messages about personal responsibility, honesty and so on.
Sheriff Andy was calm and level headed, in contrast to his deputy, Barney, who was prone to overreacting and missteps. Don Knotts played the beloved Barney, and the show was not the same when he left.
Of course, Mayberry never had any serious crime. For the most part, Andy spent time counselling and acting as a mediator when there were disputes in the town. The people of Mayberry would gladly seek his counsel and advice, since he was so well liked by everyone.
I love these shows because they bring back fond memories of a happy childhood. They also offer fun and wholesome entertainment, something that is really lacking today.
This program was a typical slapstick comedy that was hugely popular in the 60s. It was one of a few rural themed shows, which also included Petticoat Junction, Beverly Hillbillies and Lassie.
The story centered around Oliver and Lisa Douglas, an affluent couple from New York City. Oliver buys a farm in Hooterville, sight unseen. He had always dreamed of living on a farm, much to Lisa’s chagrin.
Lisa loves the glamorous life of New York, and doesn’t want to move. Like a good sport though, she reluctantly agrees to give it a chance. The farm is completely run down, and the house is a shack. Nevertheless, Oliver is thrilled to be there, and promises his wife things will get better.
They don’t even have a phone in the house, and Oliver has to climb a telephone poll to make or receive calls. They hire inept workers to fix the house, but all through the series run things don’t improve much.
Green Acres was quite silly, but hilarious. It was good, fun humor, with lots of satire. One of the ironies of the show was that Lisa, got along so well with the strange people of Hooterville, despite having nothing in common with anyone. Oliver was put off by the strangeness of the people there. However, he had some oddities himself, such as working on the farm dressed in suit and tie.
One of the ‘stars’ of the show was Arnold the pig. He was the adopted ‘son’ of a couple who could not have children. No one seemed to know Arnold was just a pig, except for Oliver. Arnold watched tv and had his favorite programs.
Green Acres was a great escape, and pure fun and entertainment.
It is hard to believe such an ironic series that has had such a lasting impact on our culture, only lasted for two seasons. Even today, people like to dress up as Herman, Lily, or Grandpa at Halloween.
This was a well written satire, and very funny. Grandpa was constantly coming up with get rich quick ideas, with Herman as his accomplice. Of course, their plans never worked out, and the consequences were often hilarious.
One of the running jokes on the show was their treatment of Marilyn. She was an attractive young woman, but the Munsters felt sorry for her, believing she was very homely looking and a bit strange. Marilyn would bring boyfriends home who would flee from the house in horror when they met the family.
The Munsters thought everyone else was strange, and that they were perfectly normal. They were outcasts, but never felt that way. They drove around in a car that looked like a hearse.
In addition to the series, the cast also made two movies. They were filmed in color, whereas the series was in black and white. I thought it had a better effect without the color.
The Addams Family followed a similar premise, but in my opinion The Munsters was a superior show.
My Three Sons
This long lasting series began on ABC in 1960, and moved over to CBS five years later and switched to color. All programs were being filmed in color by this time, but ABC did not want to commit to the cost. It remained a solid ratings hit for twelve seasons.
There were many changes over the years. The grandfather, Bub, left the program due to the illness of William Frawley. He was replaced by Uncle Charlie. One of the sons, Mike, left the series and never made another appearance. Steve, the widower and father in the series, adopted Ernie after Mike moved out.
Perhaps the biggest changes occurred in the last few seasons, when Steven remarried. His wife was Barbara, and she had a daughter named Dodie. Finally there was a girl on the series. Robbie, and later Chip, both got married. Robbie and his wife Katie had triplet boys.
My Three Sons was part comedy and part drama. I liked this show as I was not much younger than Ernie, and Steve Douglas reminded me of my Dad. As with other sitcoms from the 60s, it was nice, family friendly programming.
Here is some interesting trivia. Fred MacMurray was a major Hollywood star during the series run. He apparently had a contract that he only had to work 65 days filming My Three Sons. He did 35 days of shooting, followed by a break, then back later to do another 30. The other regulars on the program then continued their filming. This allowed MacMurray to accept other projects.
It also meant there was no continuity for the actors, as many scenes were filmed out of sequence. In those days, a season consisted of at least 30 episodes. MacMurray did love being on the program and was disappointed when it was finally cancelled, but it had run its course.
Unfortunately, only the first two seasons have been released on DVD. According to comments on Amazon, many customers have said the quality is quite poor. My Three Sons is on the ME TV network weekday mornings, but due to contracts they are only able to air a few seasons. Hopefully one day the entire series will be available for purchase, or to see on one of the classic tv networks.