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1950's TV Shows

The Best 1950's Classic TV Shows


The fabulous 1950's are considered to be the golden age of television as "watching TV" became a new form of entertainment. As news and other broadcasts transitioned from radio to this new medium during the '50s, many were watching TV for the very first time. However, as TV programming expanded, by the end of the decade most American families had their very own television set in their living room. Sitcoms and comedies were among the best with shows like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and I Married Joan earning high ratings. Later in the decade, Westerns became the most popular shows as folks were watching series like Rawhide, Bonanza and The Lone Ranger. This exciting decade certainly paved the way for the future of network television.
Browse our classic TV vault for some of the best 1950s TV shows that aired during primetime television from 1950 to 1959.

1952-1966 | ABC
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is a sitcom that aired on ABC from 1952 until 1966 starring the real life Nelson family. After a long run on radio, the show was brought to television where it continued its success, running on both radio and TV for a couple of years. The series attracted large audiences, and although it was never a top-ten hit, it became synonymous with the 1950s ideal American family life. It is the longest-running live-action sitcom in US TV history.
1959-1973 | NBC
Bonanza is a western TV series that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1973. Lasting 14 seasons and 430 episodes, it ranks as the second longest running western series (behind Gunsmoke) and still continues to air in syndication.
1952-1970 | NBC
Dragnet is a radio and television crime drama about the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners. The show takes its name from an actual police term, a "dragnet", meaning a system of coordinated measures for apprehending criminals or suspects.
1965-1960 | CBS
Father Knows Best is a radio and television comedy series which portrayed a middle class family life in the Midwest. It was created by writer Ed James in the 1940s, and ran on radio from 1949 to 1954 and on television from 1954 to 1960.
1955-1975 | CBS
Gunsmoke is a western drama series starring James Arness that took take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The show ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975 on CBS, and stands as the longest-running prime time, live-action drama with 635 episodes.
1957-1963 | CBS
Have Gun — Will Travel is an western drama series that aired on CBS from 1957 through 1963. It was rated either number three or number four in the Nielsen ratings during each year of its first four seasons. It was one of the few television shows to spawn a successful radio version.
1955-1971 | CBS
The Honeymooners is a sitcom that starred Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden and centered Ralph's trials and tribulations of trying to better his life and family.
1951-1957 | CBS
One of the most successful television series ever, I Love Lucy is a sitcom starring Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, and William Frawley that ran from 1951 to 1957 on CBS.
1952-1955 | NBC
I Married Joan is a sitcom that aired on NBC from 1952 to 1955 that starred veteran vaudeville, film, and radio comedienne Joan Davis as the manic wife of a mild-mannered community judge, Bradley Stevens.
1954-1973 | CBS
Lassie is a drama series that follows the adventures of a female Rough Collie named Lassie and her companions, human and animal. The show was the creation of producer Robert Maxwell and animal trainer Rudd Weatherwax and aired from 1954 to 1973. One of the longest running dramatic series on television, the show chalked up seventeen seasons on CBS before entering first-run syndication for its final two seasons. Initially filmed in black and white, the show transitioned to color during 1965.
1957-1963 | CBS, ABC
Leave It to Beaver is a sitcom about an inquisitive but often naïve boy named Theodore "The Beaver" Cleaver and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver's parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver's brother Wally. The show has attained an iconic status in the United States, with the Cleavers exemplifying the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.
1949-1957 | ABC
The Lone Ranger is a western TV series that aired on ABC from 1949 until 1957 about the adventures about a cowboy and his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order in the early West. This was by far the highest-rated television program on ABC in the early 1950s and its first true "hit".
1953-1964 | ABC, CBS
The Danny Thomas Show (known as Make Room for Daddy during the first three seasons) is a sitcom which ran from 1953 to 1957 on ABC and from 1957 to 1964 on CBS th followed the misadventures in the lives of the Williams family.
1959-1963 | CBS
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis is a sitcom that aired on CBS from 1959 to 1963 about a teenage boy named Dobie Gillis who cared about the only thing any teenage boy cares about ... teenage girls!
1959-1965 | CBS
Rawhide is a TV western that aired for eight seasons on CBS network from 1959 to 1965 that starred Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood about adventures of cattle herders in the American West.
1959-1964 | CBS
The Twilight Zone is sci-fi anthology series created by Rod Serling that aired on CBS from 1959 until 1964. Each episode is a mixture of self-contained drama, psychological thriller, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, or horror, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist. A popular and critical success, it introduced many Americans to serious science fiction and abstract ideas through television and also through a wide variety of Twilight Zone literature.

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