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November 1, 2014

Saturday Morning: 1960 to 1964 - VIDEOS

by Richard Keller, posted Mar 22nd 2008 10:30AM

The Bugs Bunny Show -- one of the Saturday morning staples Saturday mornings. For nearly thirty years this small window of time was considered paradise for millions of children across America. With the parents snug in their beds, and a big bowl of sugary cereal precariously placed on the carpet, it was the only time -- long before the invent of 24-hour cable networks -- that children's shows ruled the airwaves. No karate/ballet/piano/soccer lessons back then; parents were lucky to get their kids to go for bathroom breaks during that period of time.

For many it's a time of very fond memories. Some recall radio favorites like Sky King and The Lone Ranger going from their imagination to the small screen. Others remember their first introduction to Space Ghost or Scooby-Doo. Still others, like myself, recall the latter days of Saturday morning programming with shows like The Smurfs, Dungeons & Dragons and Saved by the Bell.

It was a time of decoder rings, breakfast cereals, and 30-minute long animated commercials for a company's toy of the moment. A time we look back at and smile, yet realize that some of the product produced during that time was plain dreck. A time when a number of fledgling animation companies became household names to us in a few weeks.

Sadly, as the cable networks grew in popularity and the networks needed to trim costs, much of the Saturday morning programming we remember was replaced by morning news programs and syndicated fare that catered to a very select group of viewers. However, that doesn't mean that we can't remember many of the good times. Thanks to the giant attic that is the internet, and sites like our very own TV Squad, we can bring back some of those lost childhood memories. And, that's what I'm going to do right now.

I'm going to begin in the period between 1960-61 and 1964-65 seasons. You're probably asking why I'm starting with this time frame. Well, like anything in television, there's a period of trial and error, of growth, when trying something new. This five-year span was that time.

For the most part, the Saturday morning schedules of 1960 and 1961 were heavy on live-action programming and light on the animation. In fact, most of the morning schedule was filled with repeats of series that had aired previously in primetime. Some examples were the Western series Fury, the Danny Thomas sitcom Make Room for Daddy, and The Lone Ranger. The only animated shows on the schedule at that time were the Mighty Mouse Playhouse on CBS and King Leonardo and his Short Subjects on NBC.

It wasn't until the 1962-63 Saturday morning schedule that the networks began to get serious about their programming. While there was still a good amount of live action shows, more animated fare began to pop up -- most of them series that aired previously in primetime or in syndication. For example, Hanna-Barbera's Top Cat, which aired on ABC's 1961-62 primetime schedule, moved to the late Saturday mornings along with former weeknight partner The Bugs Bunny Show. Over on CBS The Alvin Show, which aired for one year in primetime, moved over to Saturday morning as well.

By the fall of 1963 more original animated series were added to the Saturday morning schedules along with primetime "rejects" like Hanna-Barbera's The Jetsons. Over at ABC The New Casper Cartoon Show began a seven year run with new Casper The Friendly Ghost episodes. Over on CBS Tennessee Tuxedo (voiced by Get Smart's Don Adams) and his best friend Chumley joined Mighty Mouse, Alvin and the return of Quick Draw McGraw. Meanwhile, over at NBC, which was a bit slow to catch up to Saturday morning programming, the first Supermarionation program appeared on American television in the form of Fireball XL5.

As the 1964-65 season rolled around the networks were finally coming to the realization that Saturday mornings could be programmed fairly inexpensively with a mix of new and reconstituted animated programs. They also devised a schedule of airing most of their animated programs in the morning hours, while they aired their older-kid, live-action programs in the early afternoon. For instance. The CBS Saturday morning schedule featured animated programs, including the new Linus the Lionhearted, while the first 90-minutes of the afternoon featured repeats of shows like Sky King and My Friend Flicka.

In addition to Linus, two additional cartoons premiered on the Saturday morning schedule in 1964. One was Hoppity Hooper, a Jay Ward production featuring the adventures of a talking frog, and the other everyone's favorite super dog -- Underdog. Voiced by actor Wally Cox, this shoeshine-boy-turned-superhero would be a staple of the Saturday morning schedule during the mid-60's.

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Karen

Oh MAN. As soon as I saw that image of "The Bugs Bunny Show" I was hit with a wave of nostalgia so strong it almost knocked me down! I was born in '58, so all those shows were my morning milk. We were very big on Tennessee Tuxedo, Bugs Bunny, Top Cat and Mighty Mouse. Later, Bullwinkle, George of the Jungle, and--of course--the Beatles cartoon show (I only recently learned they didn't do their own voices; news I may never recover from...).

Good times, my friends; good times.

March 24 2008 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Joe Bagori

If you like this take a look at

www.boomercapsule.com

March 23 2008 at 9:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

What Years were Ruff N Ready repeated on Saturday mornings?

March 23 2008 at 12:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JONATHAN

What has happened to those good old days? God I miss those cartoons or even the old serials. Most cartoons today really, truely suck and don't get me started on power rangers or any of that other stupied mess that parents pile on their kids today. Thank God for dvds and some cable channels.

March 22 2008 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Michael

What a terrific stroll down memory lane. I remember watching nearly all of these shows, usually in my PJs with plenty of sugar coated cereal to "keep up my strength" from getting up so early. The early '60s were certainly the glory years for Saturday morning cartoons. Hard to imagine that so many great cartoons started out as prime time shows. I've spent so much money already on all the Hanna/Barbera box sets from that era now that they are out on DVD.

How do we explain the magic of Yogi, Fred Flintstone, Space Ghost, Popeye, Bugs, Bullwinkle and countless others to kids raised on 24 hours nonstop fluff like the Powerpuff Girls???

Inconceivable!

March 22 2008 at 7:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michael's comment
nickmagoo

don't be knocking the powerpuff girls! i grew up with and love the old cartoons and i think the PPG rank up with some of the best of them - who can deny the awesome evilness of mojo jojo?! and the theme thoroughly rocks. there are some excellent kids cartoons nowadays (PPG and foster's home for imaginary friends, to name 2) along with loads of drek - just like the old days. at least there's no captain planet or he-man anymore!

March 22 2008 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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