From September 26, 1969 to March 8, 1974, at the age when a lot of us were reaching that memory-making point on the timeline of childhood, a new TV show became a regular part of our lives.
It was called The Brady Bunch.
And this year, the story of a man named Brady turns 50 years old.
Beloved TV Shows That Are Turning 50 This Year
Experts say that kids’ memories start to crystallize around the age of 10, making the former things a little harder to remember, and the things from that point forward much easier to retain.
Perhaps that’s why the shows we watch as children really stick with us.
We remember the theme songs well enough to sing them on command at any 70’s party. The personalities on these beloved shows took such an important place in our lives that we felt like they were family.
There are also, quite likely, some of us with really great recall (or too much time watching reruns) who can recite, verbatim, favorite portions of dialog from memorable Friday night episodes.
“Gloooooom, despair and agony on me. Deep dark depression, excessive mis-er-y. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloooooom, despair and agony on me.”
That’s basically all I remember from this show. That and the fact that the reruns were always on TV when dates were coming to pick me up, and my dad was always watching it. In my world, that was embarrassing as all get-out. In his, it was all kinds of fun.
Hee Haw ran on CBS from 1969 to 1971, then lived long after in syndicated episodes from 1971 to 1993, and still airs today on RFD-TV.
There are also plenty of full episodes on YouTube, including the very first.
Happy 50th birthday, Hee Haw!
Love, American Style
We only had THREE TV networks in 1969, and I bet you can remember where they appeared on your dial, can’t you? Ours were 4 (CBS), 7 (ABC) and 10 (NBC).
On Friday nights, whoever was home at our house was glued to the tube (channel 7) watching a lineup of our favorite shows.
However, I only remember getting to see the beginning of every episode of this one. I think my mom might have considered it a little above my maturity level or something.
Every show began with fireworks and hearts drawn around the faces of that episode’s stars, leaving no doubt in the viewers’ minds that love was what it was all about. Love, American Style, that is.
The show kept its spot on the dial at 9:00 Central Time from 1969 to 1974, featured a large cast of regulars and won several Emmy nominations.
I can still remember the theme song. Can you? (*Note: The first season’s theme song was sung by The Cowsills, who were the inspiration for The Partridge Family. Their story is pretty heartbreaking, but part of the band is still singing together today.*)
The first episode of Love, American Style is below. I’ve already watched it on YouTube – but let’s not tell my Mom, okay?
Room 222 (1969 – 1974) started out on ABC Wednesdays, then moved to the 9:00 Friday night slot, between The Partridge Family and The Odd Couple, which is where the show remained for most of its 112 episodes.
Most of the series’ subject matter was centered around Mr. Dixon’s American History class in Room 222 at Walt Whitman High School. The show won several Emmy awards during its time on TV, including one for Karen Valentine as Best Supporting Actress in her role as the peppy student teacher.
Want to watch old episodes of Room 222? Here’s a playlist of first season episodes!
Marcus Welby, M.D.
Marcus Welby, M.D. also turns 50 this year.
Not Marcus himself, of course. In fact, when the show began in 1969, Robert Young (who played Dr. Welby) was in his early 60’s.
Before being cast as a doctor with impeccable bedside manner, Mr. Young had starred in over 100 films, alongside female stars like Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes and Kathryn Hepburn, as well as the beloved TV series Father Knows Best. His acting career became a little more illustrious when he became Dr. Marcus Welby, M.D., garnering him many Emmy nominations and several wins, including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1972).
Dr. Welby and fellow TV doctor, Steven Kiley (James Brolin) addressed many and varied medical complaints throughout the show’s 169 episodes between 1969 and 1976, including breast cancer, depression and more delicate topics like impotence and rape.
Considering the maturity level required, and the fact that the show aired in a later slot on a school night, you (and I) might not have seen all that many episodes of this 50-year old show. But a lot of people were watching, which shoved Marcus Welby, M.D. into the #1 spot of the Nielson rankings during its second season.
By the 3rd and 4th seasons, audiences were moving on from medical dramas like this one and daytime TV’s General Hospital. Interestingly, Robert Young experienced some medical drama of his own. He was married for 61 years, but suffered part of that time with depression and alcoholism, even attempting suicide at age 88. The Robert Young Community Mental Health Center is named after Young in honor of his work toward helping those with mental illness.
Rent episodes to watch for $1.99 or purchase Season 1 of Marcus Welby, M.D. here. There’s not much on YouTube, but this video of the show’s theme music might bring back a few memories.
The Glen Campbell Good Time Hour
Glen Campbell fans would have been so happy had his Good Time Hour lasted longer than it did. From January 1969 until June 1972, however, was all they got.
It was a great show, though. Many outstanding entertainers of the day appeared on stage with Glen Campbell in skits and musical numbers that delighted the large live audience and those watching at home.
Watch a full episode of Glen Campbell’s Good Time Hour at the link below, enjoy a montage of show highlights, and purchase a CD of Glen’s greatest hits here.
With over 3 million views of this YouTube video, it’s clear that I’m not the only who still can’t get enough of Glen’s forever hit, Wichita Lineman.
Begun in 1969 as a preschool educational TV program, Sesame Street’s 50th Season occurs this year on PBS.
From the get-go, Jim Henson’s Muppets were the pillars of the show’s success. They were cute, friendly, talented and used for all manner of teaching preschoolers.
And a lot of preschoolers were watching. By the late 1960’s when Sesame Street was just getting started, TV in America was really on the boom with over 97% of households owning a set of their own.
There just wasn’t much in the way of educational programming for children. In fact, one of Sesame Street’s producers Joan Ganz Cooney observed this serious lack as a “wasteland.”
By the time Sesame Street hit its 40th year, the show was considered an American institution, broadcast in 120 countries, had won 11 Grammys, 150 Emmys and produced a Top-40 Billboard hit song.
Do you know what it was? Rubber Duckie!
To binge watch all 4500 episodes of Sesame Street that have been made over the last 50 years, it would require over 12 full years of watching!!!
And to think – Sesame Street is still going strong.
Happy 50th birthday, Sesame Street gang!
Watch the Pilot Episode for Season 1 at the link below.
The Brady Bunch
At the time The Brady Bunch was created for TV by Sherwood Schwartz, 30% of American families were blended.
From 1969 to 1974, a widower named Mike Brady and his new bride, Carol, became the ideal, not just for those families who were putting two and two together, but for all the “regular” families who were watching as well.
Having been part of a blended bunch myself, I can attest to the fact that it was never as easy as Marcia and Greg made it appear to be. Of course, we never had an “Alice” at our house, either. My step-dad was the bomb.dot.com, though, and while we didn’t ever take our music to the stage, we did sing along together in our big brown station wagon on road trips.
Most families were probably a lot like mine, but The Brady Bunch gave American kids and parents something to shoot for, blended or not.
Just in case you’ve forgotten a few of the words, here are the lyrics from The Brady’s theme song:
Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls
All of them had hair of gold, like their mother
The youngest one in curls
It’s the story of a man named Brady
Who was busy with three boys of his own
They were four men living all together
Yet they were all alone
Till the one day when the lady met this fellow
And they knew that it was much more than a hunch
That’s this group must somehow form a family
That’s the way we all became the Brady Bunch
The Brady Bunch, the Brady Bunch
That’s the way we became the Brady Bunch
And the Brady house? Well, it’s been purchased by HGTV and remodeled to look just exactly like we remember.
Click here to get the details on how you can win a 6-night stay at the Very Brady Renovation!
Life Over Fifty isn’t so bad after all, especially since we get to do it all over again with our beloved TV shows turning 50 years old, too, right?
Encouraging a life filled with everyday intentional adventure, and a revisit to some of the most beloved parts of our past,