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July 28, 2014

Best '50s TV Shows (10-1)

by Kim Potts, posted Oct 27th 2009 6:00AM
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet10. 'The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet' (1952-66)
So true to its stars' lives that it was almost like a reality show, 'Ozzie & Harriet' was mostly about Nelson brothers Ricky and David, whose real-life wives even played their TV wives. The series also mirrored Ricky's real-life career as a rock star, with TV Ricky crooning real Ricky's songs, and real-life Ozzie editing them into early versions of music videos.

The Milton Berle Show9. 'The Milton Berle Show' (1948-56)
The show was originally titled 'Texaco Star Theater,' and Berle was not originally the permanent host; only after a few months of winning over viewers was he given the full-time gig. Uncle Miltie ran with it, making the show the most popular hour on TV, and truly earning his "Mr. Television" title by getting credit for the sales of more than 30 million TV sets.

Father Knows Best8. 'Father Knows Best' (1954-60)
It would go on to become a big hit on CBS and NBC, but the first season of 'Father''s transition from radio to TV earned such low ratings that CBS canceled it. A save-the-show campaign by viewers prompted a pickup by NBC, where the series thrived as a beloved and top-rated family sitcom until star Robert Young wanted to move on and quit the show.

The Steve Allen Show7. 'The Steve Allen Show' (1956-60)
Comedian Allen hosted this live variety show that was most notable for the careers it helped launch, including those of comic stars Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Pat Harrington (and, in a brief 1961 reincarnation of the show, Tim Conway and the Smothers Brothers) and Elvis, who sang 'Hound Dog' to an actual dog on Allen's show before his famous 'Ed Sullivan Show' appearances.

Leave It to Beaver6. 'Leave It to Beaver' (1957-63)
The Cleavers made Americans wish they were part of a family where everything could be made better with a home-cooked meal by pearl-wearing mom June or a pithy bit of advice from papa Ward. Mischievous Beaver and bro Wally were always getting into one scrape or another (thanks, often, to instigating Eddie Haskell), but the Cleavers remained the ideal suburban family.

The Honeymooners5. 'The Honeymooners' (1955-56)
He was a scheming, not-so-bright loudmouth, but Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden set the stage for future blue collar TV heroes because viewers could embrace the efforts of the Bensonhurst bus driver who, despite his frequently loutish ways, just wanted a better life for himself, sewer worker pal Norton and wife Alice, who he really did think was the greatest.

Gunsmoke4. 'Gunsmoke' (1955-75)
The first and most successful of the "adult Westerns," 'Gunsmoke' was a radio hit that was conceived as a TV show CBS hoped would star big-screen legend John Wayne. Wayne nixed the part, but recommended his pal James Arness, who would spend 20 seasons with Chester, Festus, Doc and Miss Kitty, playing Dodge City's pillar of law, order and Old West justice, Marshal Matt Dillon.

The Ed Sullivan Show3. 'The Ed Sullivan Show' (1948-71)
Originally called 'Toast of the Town,' Sullivan's live variety series became known for bringing to viewers the A-list among established performers (the series premiere included Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis) and the best of soon-to-be-stars like, most famously, Elvis Presley in 1956 and '57, and the Beatles' 1964 performances, which drew more than 70 million viewers.

I Love Lucy2. 'I Love Lucy' (1951-57)
One of television's first major hits was also one of the first hit shows with a female star -- comedy legend Lucille Ball, whose interactions with hubby Ricky and the Mertzes led to hilarity and some of the most classic moments in TV history, from the grape-stomping scene and the candy factory episode to Lucy's tango with the egg-filled shirt and her Vitameatavegamin commercial.

Your Show of Shows1. 'Your Show of Shows' (1950-54) The sketch comedy series with Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca was a hit on its own, but it was even more successful for the projects it inspired from its writing staff: Carl Reiner's TV classic 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' Neil Simon's play 'Laughter on the 23rd Floor' and the flick 'My Favorite Year,' produced by 'Your Show of Shows' writer Mel Brooks.

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