Your favorite black and white TV shows look far different in bright, beautiful color

Salute the red skies of The Twilight Zone, the blue walls of I Love Lucy.

Read to Me

Do you remember the fiery red sky in the apocalyptic conclusion to the Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last"? They matched the candy red police cruisers on Car 54, Where Are You? How about the bright blue of the Ricardos' kitchen walls on I Love Lucy or Ralph Kramden's uniform on The Honeymooners

You are excused if these colors do not immediately come to mind. Those classic television shows were broadcast in black & white.

Don't get us wrong — black & white is beautiful. Cinema gems like Citizen Kane, Casablanca and Sunset Boulevard just wouldn't be the same in Technicolor. Film noir is film noir for a reason. It's no different for Perry Mason or Peter Gunn on the small screen.

That being said, color images of black & white productions can be revealing. And we're not talking about Ted Turner colorization.

We gathered some vibrant behind-the-scenes images from some favorite black-and-white series. Which one surprises you the most?

The Twilight Zone

The Everett Collection

Burgess Meredith stands among the ruins on the set of "Time Enough at Last."

I Love Lucy

The Everett Collection

Three cheers for the red, white and blue — the red of Lucy, the blue of her kitchen, the white of her appliances.

Perry Mason

The Everett Collection

The legal masterpiece did film one single episode in color (late in the ninth and final season, as a test for a proposed tenth season in color) but this aquatic shot gives you a good idea of how Perry and Paul appeared in real life.

Leave It to Beaver

The Everett Collection

The true All-American boy.

The Rifleman

The Everett Collection

Chuck Connors takes aim with guest star Sammy Davis, Jr.

The Dick Van Dyke Show

The Everett Collection

Mary Tyler Moore cha-cha's around the green rug of the Petrie's apartment.

The Honeymooners

The Everett Collection

The Kramdens and Nortons horse around on the bus.

Father Knows Best

The Everett Collection

The Anderson clan gathers in their living room.

The Addams Family

The Everett Collection

Black-and-white gave an appropriate gothic vibe to this spooky, kooky sitcom. It just would not have been the same with those loud, fuchsia walls.

Have Gun - Will Travel

The Everett Collection

He may have been the man in black, but Paladin wore a red tie.

Dennis the Menace

The Everett Collection

In the comic strip, Dennis sports a black-and-blue striped shirt under red overalls. Jay North wears a brighter costume.

The Donna Reed Show

The Everett Collection

Donna Stone's hair is lighter than you might expect, and where did Dr. Stone get that deep tan?

Car 54, Where Are You?

The Everett Collection

Because this sitcom filmed on the real streets of New York City, the police cars were painted cherry red so bystanders would not confuse them for real cruisers.

Route 66

The Everett Collection

That is one sparkling, beautiful 'Vette.


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JoelFogelsanger 12 months ago
The picture of Beaver was on the cover of TV Guide in June, 1958.
SteveEveritt 27 months ago
And yet again America ignores The Phil Silvers Show 🙁 The Phil Silvers Museum, Coventry, UK.
AndyValenti 27 months ago
Some of these are obviously colorized as the backgrounds are sepia-toned. I wish the article was better researched.
Rickey 27 months ago
Sorry I love Black & White. I Love Luck and The Dick Van Dyke Show photos were done by CBS. Because both of these show have been shown on CBS.
Lucyneenah19701 33 months ago
MeTV, speaking of I Love Lucy, please bring I Love Lucy back to MeTV!
mapman1071 Lucyneenah19701 12 months ago
Me TV has Lucy on at 530am MST
Lucyneenah19701 33 months ago
I also like the red,white and blue in the I Love Lucy picture. But I don't like the khaki cupboards. Khaki is such a dull color. The cupboards should have been red, white, or blue!
The Leave it to Beaver picture is great, too! Beaver definitely was an all-American boy!
TracyMT 33 months ago
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patrix 33 months ago
Many of these ARE "colorized" images; not all-- but really look computer enhanced. Chuck Connors did not have the same complexion as Sammy Davis, Jr.! The Beaver, "Father Knows Best", "Dennis the Menace" "Donna Reed" "Honeymooners", Paladin, & Lucy-- all look to have been colorized! Gale Gordon's moustache has been left B&W & if we look at Jay Noth's hair & face, we can see where it was left untouched. There are color shots of the Honeymooners cast & one can see elements of the bus are not right... Ralph is wearing white slacks & his bus seat wasn't even colorized... Same with the Paladin, Beaver & Donna Reed cast... The "Father Knows Best" image has clearly been enhanced & only lightly. Here is the Norton's Apartment in color..


yeffers 33 months ago
The Petrie's had a house, not an apartment, but I digress.
CynthiaBlair 33 months ago
the corvette in Route 66 never seen one that color

thedude1500 33 months ago
Lucille Ball fought tooth and nail to have I Love Lucy shot on color film to add value to the reruns, but CBS fought her all the way and won (they were the last network to broadcast in color). NBC paid the extra money to have Bonanza filmed in color before color broadcasting was widely available.
The reason CBS held out was because the FCC chose the NTSC 525 line system over CBS' proposed 405 mechanical system and later PAL 625 line system (similar to what was used in Britain and Germany at the time). Neither CBS system was compatible with the 525 black and white system (which would have required two frequencies and transmitters for each station much like Britain did). But what really irked CBS was all the patents for the NTSC system were owned by RCA, which owned NBC at the time and CBS didn't want to pay money to NBC to broadcast in color. CBS was the no. 1 network at the time by a wide margin and could afford to fight it. ABC was deep in third place and still didn't have as many full-time affiliates as the other two and had no choice but to switch at the same time NBC did (the reason Batman was so colorful, including purple hues for Batman's cape, was it was ABC's top show at the time and they wanted to really make a splash with it).
MrsPhilHarris 33 months ago
I was surprised by the red car in Car 54.
Pacificsun 33 months ago
The reason the colors look wrong (see ILL for ex.) is for the purpose of creating maximum contrast when shooting black & white (which is actually an entire grey scale). Nothing new in that reveal! But lighting is the second factor, when shooting on film. The color being used is intense because the lighting is intense, which washes out color. You'll notice also the definite patterns used (in clothing, and the trim in rooms for ex.). Meaning there's a need to establish perspective and delineation. Something that color automatically accomplishes. You can usually tell intentionally colorized blk & wht prints because a limited color palette is chosen. Ex. all red hair is the same color "red", meaning minus a lot of variations we see in natural color.

It is surprising to see that lavender Corvette however! Or was it really light blue??
Shadowdancer Pacificsun 33 months ago
Another reason is the studio backdrops for outside scenes ( forgive me forgetting the actual term) it work better in black and white because the depth perception isn't as sensitive than it is in color. When color became normal, the cameras that were normally used had to be updated to make this look more realistic. And your right, the lighting played a crucial role in b&w films.
JulieNielsen Pacificsun 33 months ago
The sky is purple in that one too. So, the car is probably blue. Or maybe silver.
pony 33 months ago
Yikes. And the sizes/proportions of Sammy Davis Jr. & Chuck Connors ("The Rifleman") look WAY off ... in the creepiest way.
rycki1138 pony 33 months ago
Sammy Davis, Jr. wasn't a tall man. He was 5' 5". Chuck Connors was a former NBA star and was a little over 6' 5". Connors also played in the MLB and was very muscular.
jholton30062 33 months ago
The only one that looks real is the one from the "Dick Van Dyke" show, and maybe the one from "Perry Mason." The rest look like they were colored later.
teire 33 months ago
Even in color, some of these feel like they are in black and white.
daDoctah teire 33 months ago
You got that right. I can't even imagine the Honeymooners in color. Or Peter Gunn.

I've seen the colorized version of Disney's Davy Crockett and Zorro series from the fifties, and there's something just a little "wrong" about them.
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