6 superior TV shows celebrating a 60th anniversary in 2020
Milestones… meet the milestones.
A fleet of fresh shows flooded the network television schedule in the fall of 1960. Harry Morgan continued to show off his comedy chops in the spin-off sitcom Pete and Gladys. Vivian Vance finally got her own spotlight in Guestward, Ho! A talented puppeteer brought Lamb Chop, Hush Puppie and Charlie Horse to life on The Shari Lewis Show. There was an adorable dachshund in the detective thriller Checkmate.
Those were all interesting series, for certain. Here, we are going to dig into the biggest, hippest hits from primetime television.
Some of the greatest shows in TV history kicked off in 1960. Let's take a look — and wish them a Happy Anniversary in 2020!
1. The Andy Griffith Show
What makes Mayberry so timeless? Andy Griffith and series creator Sheldon Leonard knew the magic formula. It was the same difference between handmade furniture and IKEA shelving. While most sitcoms of the era were churned out on a stage with multiple cameras, the makers of The Andy Griffith Show crafted each tale like a film, using a single camera. It took far more set-ups, far for time, but if Mayberry taught us anything, it's that taking things slow isn't always so bad. The fascinating, multitalented actors filled the cast down to the tiniest roles — from man-of-a-thousand-voices Howard Morris to oil baron Denver Pyle. We continue to discover things about this rich piece of Americana decades later.
2. The Flintstones
When The Flintstones premiered in the fall of 1960, it shook up television like a slab of dinosaur ribs slapped on the side of a car. Never before had there been a primetime cartoon sitcom. After six seasons, the show spawned spin-offs, movies, toys, comic books, merchandise and more. Dig into 15 yabba-dabba-true facts about The Flintstones.
3. My Three Sons
In 1943, Fred MacMurray was the highest-paid actor in Hollywood — and the fourth-highest-paid American. He could play the nice guy or brilliantly explore his dark side in classic film noir like Double Indemnity. By 1959, however, thanks to Disney's The Shaggy Dog, he had become the ultimate screen dad. No wonder that he was cast to lead the Douglas clan on My Three Sons — which also featured a shaggy dog. The sitcom became one of the biggest success stories in television history. Yet it remains somewhat underrated today. Chew on 13 fascinating facts about My Three Sons.
4. Route 66
Route 66 was a misleading name. Sure, there was a cool car — a Corvette — and the open American road, but main characters Tod and Buz traveled all of the United States, from Maine to Louisiana to Oregon. The TV show's original title, The Searchers, would have been more apt, if it wasn't confused with the John Wayne film. But just as the driving duo were not on Route 66, they were not searching for anything in particular. The series, which premiered on October 7, 1960, was about something bigger. Check out six episodes that showcase the hip, beatnik brilliance of Route 66.
5. Surfside 6
Well, you certainly weren't going to forget where this show was set. Not with its cheeky boy-girl intro. "Surfside 6… What's that?… Surfside 6… An address?…" That's "in Miami Beach!" The address was real, too, across from the Fontainebleau Hotel, which you might remember from the opening of Goldfinger. The song gave the detective show a lighter, sexier tone. This was Miami Vice for the tiki-bar era.
Image: The Everett Collection
When it comes to horror, you can trust the opinion of Stephen King. In his non-fiction book Danse Macabre, the prolific author looked back at the classic anthology shows of the late 1950s and early 1960s. King singled "Pigeons from Hell" as "one of the finest horror stories of our century." No, that tale was not an episode of The Twilight Zone nor The Outer Limits. It was a 1961 episode of Thriller, the eerie and underrated anthology series hosted by Boris Karloff. Who better to host a spooky show? The Universal monster-movies legend had played both Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein and Imhotep in The Mummy — both of which can be seen on our own Svengoolie.
Image: The Everett Collection