Sunday, July 20, 2014

Forgotten Television Shows of the 1950s & 1960s

Ever see the television schedule for the week and wonder if those 25-some series that you are watching were all that were released in the 1950s and 1960s? We never wondered that, but just in case you did, here is a list of some forgotten television series of the era. There's no particular order to this list, it's just a mulligan stew of shows - some good, some bad - that aired between television's infant days and the invasion of the Beatles in '65. 

Let us know which of these series you heard of, which ones you've seen, and which ones you enjoyed because quite frankly we never saw any of them! 



The Four Just Men 

The Four Just Men galloped about the globe righting wrongs, each in his own manner. These men were portrayed by Jack Hawkins, Vittorio de Sica, Richard Conte, and Dan Dailey. In spite of its great premise the show didn't last long and petered out the same year it was released- 1959. 

Pride of the Family

The pride of the family the title was referring to was the lovable but bumbling papa, Albie Morrison, played by Paul Hartman. Fay Wray was Momma and the children were Bobby Hyatt and - you guessed it - Natalie Wood. The show debuted in 1953 but was cancelled after one season as well. 


Paris Precinct

Americans like variety...and not just the plate-spinning acrobatic kind to be seen on Sullivan. This show, premiering in 1955, delivered international crime stories for those who were tired of the usual Chicago and New York kind. Criminals of the Paris precinct were brought to swift justice by the head honcho of the police department, the handsome Louis Jourdan. Ooo la la! 


Wonderful John Acton

Did you know that there were period sitcoms made in the early 1950s? Yep, there were. This show, which came out in 1953, was about an Irish-American family living in the Ohio River Valley in the years after WWI. Harry Holcombe, Virginia Duyer, Ronnie Walken and Ian Martin starred.


Jamie

Brandon De Wilde ( Shane ) was such a popular child actor that he was thrust into a television series of his own. Jamie premiered in 1954 and featured Kathy Nolan ( The Real McCoys ) as his big sis and Polly Rowles and Ernest Truex as his parents.


Our Man Higgins

If stage actress Shirley Booth could make a success playing a maid called Hazel, than surely
Stanley Holloway could find equal fans as a butler. Not quite, but it was worth a try. This
amusing series launched in '61 and was canned that same year. The sets were dismantled so fast that they didn't have enough time to collect dust for Higgins to sweep.



Bourbon Street Beat 

Before Richard Long got his masters degree and became Professor Everett and raised three kiddies with the aid of a nanny, he worked in an office in New Orleans, along with Andrew Duggan and Arlene Howell, solving mysteries and getting into sundry scraps in this 1959 series. 


The Halls of Ivy

The great English actor, Ronald Colman, gave the new tiny-tube medium a try in 1954 as well. In The Halls of Ivy, he portrayed Dr. William Todd Hunter Hall, President of Ivy College and got to see his wife, Benita Hume, co-star as Mrs. Hall. Producers gave it a grade "F" and it was pulled from the network after only one season.


It's a Man's World

This imaginative comedy took on a houseboat -- much like Dear Brigitte -- and starred Glenn
Corbett, Jan Norris, and Randy Boone. The houseboat-owning audience must not have been avid TV watchers in 1963, when this series debuted.


Broadside

Anchors aweigh! Hollywood's busty cast-offs literally cast off in this naval comedy series,which debuted in 1964. Kathy Nolan, Joan Staley, Lois Roberts, and Sheila James portrayed WAVE mechanics assigned to a Pacific island during World War II. Flotation devices not necessary.


Mona McClosky

Clint Eastwood look-a-like Denny Miller played an Air Force sergeant struggling to support his wife -- the glamorous Hollywood star Mona McClosky ( Juliet Prowse ) -- on his service salary. The show struggled as well and Mona was a Bona-fide flop in 1965.


Tales of Tomorrow

If audiences were tired with tales of today being reenacted on shows such as The U.S.Steel Hour and Playhouse 90, they could watch Tales of Tomorrow specializing in science fiction melodramas, one of the first of its kind.



Heaven for Betsy

Jack Lemmon wasn't the big name actor in the early 1950's, but he was a happily married man and a star on the rise so, of course, that winning combination of good fortune earned him his own series too. Lemmon and Cynthia Stone ( Mrs. Lemmon ) starred in this domestic comedy which played twice a week beginning in 1952.


The Hathaways 

Before Lancelot Link ... and The Monkey's Uncle ... there were The Hathaways, Peggy Cass starred as the foster mother to a gang of hooligan monkeys living in her suburban home. When the series debuted in 1961, it skyrocketed the Marquis Chimps to stardom ... well, not really. But they did get to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show - what more could a monkey want in show business?


Convoy 

There was Combat, and then there was Convoy. John Gavin, Linden Chiles and John Larch starred in this brief series, debuting in 1965, about the merchant ships and destroyer escorts out on the great Atlantic ocean. 

They Stand Accused

Why watch Perry Mason solve fictional cases when you can watch real ones reenacted on this DuMont-network series?....


The Verdict is Yours

....and even better than watching real court cases was the opportunity to match your verdict against that of a real jury. The Verdict is Yours gave you this thrill but played at an odd daytime slot. Jim McKay was the host.


George Sanders Mystery Theater

George Sanders, the actor who often portrayed archetypal debonair villains oozed suave introductions to the forthcoming half-hour mysteries which aired on this program in 1957. 


Follow the Sun 

Hunky heartthrobs Gary Lockwood and Barry Coe were suntanned freelance magazine writers who struggled to find material - and often found trouble - in exotic locales. The series debuted in 1961. 


Janet Dean, Registered Nurse

Doctor series were a dime a dozen in the 1950's. Lovely Ella Raines, the former Universal star, was the lucky gal to star in the first series about a woman in white.


Peck's Bad Girl 

We all love watching the antics of Beaver and Dennis and the Menace, but what show featured a mischievous girl menace? It was Pecks' Bad Girl, debuting on May 5, 1959, and lasting for one whole half season before being shelved. Patty McCormack was such a hit as the beastly Bad Seed gal that she was put in this series also starred Marsha Hunt and Wendell Corey. 



Mystery Theater

Tom Conway spent most of his film career playing crime fighters of one sort or another. On
television, he played them, too. Mystery Theater featured Conway as Detective Mark Saber
working for the homicide squad. James Burke, as Sergeant Maloney, aided Saber.


The Man Behind the Badge

If Charles Bickford looked like one tough man to cross than just imagine how criminals quivered when Bickford pinned on a badge and became a crime fighter. You'll have to keep that thought in your imagination now because that series never happened. On The Man Behind the Badge, Bickford only acted as a narrator for tales of police derring-dos. 


Captain David Grief

Good grief! Why audiences failed to grasp at the adventure to be had in this series we fail to fathom. Jack London's stories of shipwrecks and doomed passengers were brought to life in this short lived series starring Maxwell Reed as the captain. 



The Eleventh Hour

Not only did this show feature lovely theme music ( by C. King Palmer ), but it also starred sour faced star Wendell Corey. He played a sympathetic psychiatrist much in the vein of Dr. Kildare. The show boasted great guest stars and lasted for an astounding two seasons. 

If any of these titles sound interesting, than good luck trying to find them on Youtube or DVD. Many of these titles are available but only in part. Nevertheless, its a swell way to spend a rainy afternoon ( exactly what we did ). 

28 comments:

  1. Wow! The only one I've heard of is Convoy, though I've never been able to see an ep. I'd really like to see Tales of Tomorrow and the George Sanders Mystery Theater.

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    1. They are obscure titles, aren't they? The only one I was familiar with was Broadside, and only then because Joan Staley was in it.

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    2. I remember Broadside (though I forgot the title), Mona McCloskey, and The Eleventh Hour--though I was too young at the time to stay up and watch it. I wish I could see it now, as I'm fascinated by psychology and psychiatry and would really like to see another show about psychiatrists. Wasn't there another one around that time called something like "The Breaking Point"?

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  2. Reruns of FOLLOW THE SUN played on Saturday afternoons for awhile when I was a wee lad in North Carolina. Wasn't BOURBON STREET a spinoff of one of the WB private eye shows?

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    1. Rick, actually Bourbon Street Beat was the original show. Surfside 6 was a spin-off from this series, and one of the other characters went on to 77 Sunset Strip. When are these shows going to come out on DVD I wonder. I'm still waiting for Nanny and the Professor to be released.

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    2. yup basically Sunset Strip in New Orleans...lol

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    3. I remember this show mainly for the great jazzy theme song.

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  3. Of the ones I'd never heard of, Convoy sounds really good. Alas, not a trace of it on YouTube.

    I love the concept of Our Man Higgins. The pilot's on YouTube, but no more. And I'd love to see some of It's a Man's World just because Randy Boone is in it (particularly the episode written by Earl Hamner).

    A couple not listed here that also look interesting are Checkmate and The Wide Country. I think those ones have had DVD releases recently, so perhaps they don't qualify as quite so forgotten!

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  4. I actually remember watching Bourbon Street Beat and Convoy; and I just recently became aware of Halls of Ivy from listening to an old time radio episode of the Jack Benny program.

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  5. Bourbon Street Beat, 77 Sunset Strip, Hawaiian Eye and Surfside Six were shown on alternate weeks. 77 Sunset Strip was probably the most popular because of the popularity of Edd "Kookie" Burns and Connie Stevens' hit song, "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb."

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  6. Does anyone remember at short-run show - early to mid 1950's- a man dressed in leotards (I think-and I think a beanie type hat with points around it) climbs up on a pile of over-sized books, opens a big book, and reads to us kids for maybe I think 15 minutes? I want to say title was "the Story-teller"? If it is any help I grew up in Chicago. HELP if you can.

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  9. I can help you with "Tales of Tomorrow". I do remember "The Eleventh Hour" and also felt it was a gem! Tales was popular in the 70's in reruns. The first series of its kind and one of the first TV shows moving to "film on stage ".An important show as Rod Serling proudly said it was the inspiration for his" Twilight Zone " series !

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