As The 1950's began more &
more Americans were buuying a Television. A new black &
white TV cost anywhere from $150 to about $600 depending on
whether you wanted a tabletop model or a full console TV. Most
stores allowed you to pay just a few dollars a week and the
store would deliver it and set it up for you at no additional
This was a ton of money to pay for a TV that might pick up
2 or 3 stations that only broadcast part of the day and the
reception wasn't the best. In the 1950's there was no cable
TV, no remote controles and most TV sets came with an indoor
antenna that most people called rabbit ears. Most of the time
you had to have someone take the rabbit ears and walk around
the room and hold the antenna until you could get a decent
In 1950 about 1 million homes had a TV, in just a couple of
years that number would increase by 10 times.
There were a number of popular shows that debuted in the
1950 including What's My Line, Your Hit Parade, Jack Benny
Show, Burns & Allen and The Cisco Kid.
When the 1950's started there were 4 TV networks including
CBS, NBC, ABC & DuMont.
The top shows for Nbc included Colgate Comedy Hour,
Hopalong Cassidy, Your Show Of Shows, Philco Television
Playhouse & Texaco Star Theater featuring Milton Berle.
Cbs had popular shows including Toast Of The Town which
became the Ed Sullivan Show, Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts,
Mama and Man Against Crime.
The only show on ABC to get high ratings in 1950 was the
The Dumont Network did not have any top rated shows but
they did air Captain Video, The Arthur Murray Party, &
Wrestling Form Chicago.
In 1951 Red Skelton & I Love Lucy debuted and were in
the top 10 before you knew it.
NBC had a big hit with Groucho Marx in You bet Your Life
and CBS did well with Amos & Andy.
In 1952 a number of filmed sitcoms debuted including Ozzie
& Harriet, I Married Joan, Our Miss Brooks and an updated
Life Of Riley with William Bendix.
Jackie Gleason moved from DuMont to CBS and this was a
major blow for the DuMont Network.
One of the big surprises of 1952 was Bishop Fulton J
Sheen's program Life Is Worth Living gave Texaco Star Theater
some serious competition.
In 1953 things started to look bleak for ABC but a merger
with Paramont Pictures helped they came on strong with shows
such as Make Room For Daddy, Sky King and many sports events.
DuMont also got into broadcasting NFL Football and NBA
Top shows of 1953 included I Love Lucy, You Bet Your life,
Dragnet, Jackie Gleason ShowBuick Berle Show and Arthur
Godfrey & His Friends.
In 1954 things were looking up for ABC as they worked out
a delay with Walt Disney and the series Disneyland debuted.
DuMont was in trouble and didn't even bother to schedule a
network show against top rated shows on other networks.
New shows to hit the top ten included the Jack Benny
Program, December Bride, Disneyland, Ford Theater and the
George Gobel Show.
The big hit of 1955 was a game show that aired on CBS
called The $64,000 Question.
On CBS Toast Of The Town becomes the Ed Sullivan Show,
Private Secretary, General Electric Theater Adventures Of
Robin Hood, Sgt. Bilko, The Millionaire, I've Got A Secret,
The Honeymooners were all ratings winners. Gunsmoke debuted in
1955 on CBS but was not an instant hit.
The Dumont network cancelled almost all of its Primetime
Programing in 1955.
Life Is Worth Living found its way on the ABC schedule
along with a few other former DuMont Shows.
In 1956 the Dumont Network goes out of business. Since
DuMont was carrying NFL Football both CBS & NBC decided to
start broadcasting some of the games on Sundays.
Westerns were big in 1956 as Cheyenne, Lone Ranger, Wyatt
Earp, Gunsmoke & Jim Bowie were all airing.
NBC tried to compete with the Ed Sullivan Show by
scheduling the Steve Allen Show, this was a good show but did
not make the top 30.
New shows making the top 30 included Lassie, Name That
Tune, The Ford Show, People Are Funny, Perry Como Show and
In 1957 TV Westerns were the most popular shows on TV.
Gunsmoke was the #1 show and Have Gun Will Travel, Wyatt Earp,
Restless Gun, Tales Of Wells Fargo were all in the top 10.
Other shows doing well in the ratings included Alfred
Hitchcock presents, Loretta Young Show, Twenty One, Wagon
Train, Father Knows Best, Zorro, Real McCoys all made the top
Classic sitcoms Bachelor Father & Leave It To Beaver
debut along with law drama Perry Mason.
The big news of 1958 was the Quiz Show Scandal. Dotto was
the first quiz show cancelled because of the scandal. Other
Quiz Shows including The $64,000 Challenge, Twenty One &
The $64,000 Question also were in trouble with rigging the
outcomes of the shows.
New shows making the top 30 in 1958 included Maverick, Ann
Sothern Show, Peter Gunn, Sugarfoot, The Rifleman, Price Is
Right, This Is Your Life, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater,
Rawhide, Perry Mason and Wanted Dead or Alive
The Donna Reed Show, Dick Clarks Saturday Day Night
Beechnut Show and 77 Sunset Strip were all on the ABC
By 1959 there were 28 different Western Series on Network
TV. Because of this drama and anthology series were no longer
being offered. Hollywood studios were now in con trol of all
of the networks.
New series for 1959 included Dennis The Menace, One step
beyond, Dobie Gillis, The Untouchables, Twilight Zone, &
Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Have Gun Will Travel were the top
3 shows in 1959.