21 of the weirdest facts from classic TV history
Warp your perspective on classic TV shows.
Get close enough to your favorite classic TV shows, and you'll start picking up a whole bunch of trivia most fans never even realize. From unusual set details to forgotten historical references, there's a lot of weird facts you can find if you know where to look to explore all the finer details of TV history's most iconic shows.
Here, we've combed through fascinating facts on more than 20 classic TV shows and pulled the strangest trivia we could find to present this list of weird facts that are certain to warp your perspective on these cherished shows.
Ready to get weird with MeTV? Tell us your favorite bit of odd TV trivia in the comments!
1. On The Andy Griffith Show, Andy has upside-down maps of Idaho and Nevada behind his desk.
Hey, that's not North Carolina. In fact, the map seen here is an inverted representation of Idaho and western Montana. You can recognize the panhandle shape of the state when we flip it. Similarly, in early episodes there is another map to the right showing an angular border. This is the line between Nevada and California, also turned upside-down.
2. The Brady Bunch's back door doesn't have glass.
In order to keep light from reflecting off the glass, The Brady Bunch producers removed the glass from the door. Every time you see Alice open the door to call the kids in for dinner, she's really doing more work than she has to.
3. The "Angels" name from Charlie's Angels came from an old office painting owned by Frank Sinatra.
Producer Aaron Spelling had his office in a bungalow formerly occupied by Frank Sinatra on the Fox lot. Hanging on the wall behind the desk was a painting of three female angels. Kate Jackson popped into the office before a meeting. She suggested, "Why not call them Angels?" Spelling asked her where she got the idea. She pointed to the painting. At first, they wanted to go with Harry's Angels, but there was another series called Harry O on the air. This is obviously not the actual painting seen here, but we can dream.
4. The flag in the opening credits of Gilligan's Island is at half-mast because of the Kennedy assassination.
The pilot for Gilligan's Island was filmed in November 1963. On the final day of production in Hawaii, the cast and crew learned of John F. Kennedy's assassination. There is a small, subtle reminder of this historical incident seen on the series. In the opening credits of the first season, as the Minnow pulls out of the harbor, the United States flag can be seen flying at half mast.
5. The Robot costume from Lost in Space weighed about 200 pounds and cost $70,000.
That's around half a million in today's cash. The robot for Lost in Space was designed by Robert Kinoshita, who also designed the iconic Robby the Robot and Tobor. In 1965, stuntman Bob May was rehearsing on a studio lot, working as a double for Red Buttons, when Irwin Allen spotted the physically gifted performer. Allen told May that if he could fit into the costume, the role of Robot B-9 was his on Lost in Space. Fortunately, May fit inside the fiberglass suit. In the earlier designs, May would have had to trigger the lights on the Robot's torso by hitting a button inside the suit with his head. The button was eventually moved down by the claw.
6. Passengers paid thousands of dollars to be onboard The Love Boat while filming.
Those were no ordinary extras milling about the deck. Fans could shell out for tickets and sail alongside the cast and crew. For example, when The Love Boat went to Hong Kong in season seven, tourists paid "between $3,370 and $8,550" for the cruise, according to a 1983 article in People.
7. The My Three Sons house was originally a barn in a Gene Autry movie.
The My Three Sons family's home in California was previously featured as the farm in Gene Autry's 1940 musical Melody Ranch. Located on the Republic Pictures backlot, the barn was given a suburban facade in the 1950s. It wasn't that far from Gilligan's lagoon, which was also on the lot.
8. Penny Marshall's family appears together in an episode of The Odd Couple.
Before Laverne, Penny Marshall was secretary Myrna Turner on The Odd Couple. In the episode "The Rain in Spain," Myrna marries Sheldn ("They forgot the 'o' on his birth certificate"), who was played by her real-life husband at the time, Rob Reiner. Additionally, her siblings Garry Marshall and Ronny Marshall pop up as Myrna's brother and sister, Werner and Verna Turner.
9. Perry Mason's William Talman was let go for violating his morals clause.
The actor who played L.A. District Attorney Hamilton Burger, William Talman was actually once suspended from Perry Mason in 1960 for allegedly violating the morals clause in his contract. The actor was at a party that was busted by police, and he was charged with having engaged in indecent activities. Talman claims there was no wrongdoing, and he was eventually acquitted and put back on the show.
10. The Rifleman takes place in the 1870s and 1880s, but Lucas McCain has a rifle from 1892.
While The Rifleman had realism, it was not 100% accurate. This was TV after all. One of the major anachronisms was the rifle itself. McCain toted a nifty modified Winchester Model 1892 with a big ring lever, which allowed him to cock the gun by spinning it in his hand. Connors was left-handed, by the way.
11. The network wanted to ditch Spock on Star Trek because he looked Satanic.
Star Trek's Gene Roddenberry stuck to his vision in one key area: He refused to get rid of Spock. The network asked him to get ride of the pointy-eared alien. Why? NBC feared that the Vulcan "looked like the devil and might offend religionists in the audience."
12. Only one actor appeared in all five seasons of The Twilight Zone.
Many actors have appeared multiple times on The Twilight Zone, but only one has the distinction of appearing in all five seasons. In total, Robert McCord appeared in 67 episodes, most of them as an extra.
13. George Wendt's actual wife played Norm's wife on Cheers.
Norm's wife, Vera, is heard, not seen, in a handful of Cheers episodes. Wendt's real-life spouse, Bernadette Birkett, provided the voice of Vera. Birkett did get to show her face on screen in one episode, however — under a mask. She played Tinkerbell in season three's "Fairy Tales Can Come True."
14. Herb Tarlek actually did wear a suit made from Volkswagen seat covers on WKRP in Cincinnati.
here's a famous line from WKRP in Cincinnati in the second season episode "Put Up or Shut Up," where Venus Flytrap tells Herb Tarlek, who dependably wears tacky suit after tacky suit, "Somewhere out there, there's a Volkswagen with no seats." Apparently, Herb really did wear a suit on the show that was made out of Volkswagen seat covers.
15. The Addams Family was the first TV family to have a home computer.
A couple years later, Bruce Wayne would utilize his Batcomputer in the Batcave, but the first family "P.C." seen on TV was the UNIVAC on The Addams Family. As you can see, it was not exactly a laptop.
Image: MGM Television
16. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour's famous profile sketch was originally made for a Christmas card.
Legend has it that the iconic, minimalist sketch of Hitchcock's bust was made by the director for a holiday greeting back when he was in England.
17. Phil Spector recorded and sang the theme song to "Lucy in London."
An episode from the 1966–67 season of The Lucy Show, "Lucy Flies to London," set up the spin-off TV special Lucy in London, which saw her character, Lucy Carmichael, swingin' around mod London. It's certainly a capsule of its era, with Mary Quant mini-skirts, dance routines and the Dave Clark Five. Legendary "Wall of Sound" producer Phil Spector contributed the theme song, providing a rare vocal. It's thick with '60s slang. "With her mini-skirt on / She got in with the Mods / And she really became top gear," he sings.
18. The date of the crash on Land of the Giants is Irwin Allen's birthday.
On Land of the Giants, the Spindrift gets swept up in a space storm and transported to the giant planet on June 12, 1983. June 12 is creator Irwin Allen’s birthday. (The show actually premiered on September 22, 1968.)
19. Mister Ed consumed 20 pounds of hay and a gallon of sweet tea each day.
That's not all he consumed on the set of Mister Ed. Alan Young once explained in an interview that they used peanut butter to get the horse named Bamboo Harvester to move his lips and "talk."
20. A famous board game inventor designed the weaponry for The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Reuben Klamer invented the classic Milton Bradley board game The Game of Life — you know, the one with little pink and blue pegs cruising around in a tiny convertible. He went from designing little wheels of fortune to deadly weaponry on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Klamer designed "The Gun," Solo's nifty semi-automatic piece that could transform from a pistol into a rifle. Naturally, a toy version was sold.
21. From Mork & Mindy, Mork's costume previously appeared on Star Trek.
Mork's red jumpsuit for Mork & Mindy was a recycled costume from Star Trek: The Original Series. The outfit, which clearly featured the distinctive silver ribbing on the collar and sleeves, was worn by Colonel Green in "The Savage Curtain," one of the final episodes in the series.
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