Random Posts

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Television in the 1950s

    We got our first television in 1953 probably at a cost of about $279; that equals about $2,600 today.  On Sunday evenings the people across the street (the guy was a plumber) got one of the first television sets in the neighborhood and would invite my parents over to watch Ed Sullivan's Toast of the Town.  The people behind us (the guy was a house painter) also got one and on Saturday mornings his wife invited the neighborhood kids over.  We'd all sit on the floor and eat snacks and watch kids' shows.  I remember the old man being a die-hard baseball fan who one day got so made at his favorite team he jumped up red-faced and cussing, had a heart attack and died.  It was thanks to Ed Sullivan that my dad finally broke down and bought a television set. 
     In the 1940s, the three networks (NBC, CBS and ABC) were networks in name only. All of the programming originated, live, in New York and the only way they had to distribute the shows to the rest of the nation was to point a film camera at a television screen and convert video to film. These 16mm films, known as kinescopes, were then duplicated and shipped to the few affiliated stations for broadcast later. By necessity, most programming was local.
     In 1952 for the first time, television news was able to broadcast the Republican and Democratic conventions live from Philadelphia to the rest of the nation. Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson were running for President against each other.
     During the 1950s, quiz shows became popular until a scandal erupted. For three years, producers of The $64,000 Question supplied contestants with the answers to tough trivia questions to heighten the drama. During this time, many of the genres were developed: westerns, kids' shows, situation comedies, game shows, dramas, news and sports programming.

The top shows in 1953:
1) I Love Lucy
2) Dragnet 
3) Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts 
4) You Bet Your Life 
5) The Milton Berle Show 
6) Arthur Godfrey and His Friends
7) Ford Theatre
8) The Jackie Gleason Show
9) Fireside Theatre 
10) The Colgate Comedy Hour 
11) This Is Your Life
12) The Red Buttons Show 
13) The Life of Riley NBC 
14) Our Miss Brooks CBS 
15) Treasury Men in Action 
16) The Jack Benny Show 
17) The Toast of the Town 
18) Gillette Cavalcade of Sports 
19) Philco TV Playhouse 
20) The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
21) Kraft Television Theatre 
22) Goodyear TV Playhouse
23) Pabst Blue Ribbon Bouts 
24) Private Secretary 
25) I Married Joan 
26) Mama 
27) General Electric Theater 
28) What's My Line? 
29) The Big Story 
30) Martin Kane, Private Eye

Not me...just some kid on the internet
     For the kids it was: Kukla, Fran and Ollie, The Cisco Kid, Howdy Doody, The Adventures of Superman, Captain Video and His Video Rangers, Roy Roger, Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and Rootie Kazootie.

1953–54 United States network television schedule can be seen HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment