STATEMENT THAT APPEARS AT THE BEGINNING OF ALL A-Z 2016 PAGES:
Welcome to the A-Z Classic TV Shows Theme Songs and Intros! Last year I did an A-Z Musical Tour of My Life and featured tons of classic rock music. I had so much fun with it that this year I decided to present classic television shows theme songs and intros. These are shows that I remember from my youth during the 60s and 70s…and there may be a few 80s shows thrown in. Each show is introduced with information (gathered primarily from my favorite go-to for info, Wikipedia) or associated memories, followed by a video of the TV show’s theme song intro. At first glance, the posts may seem long because of the number of videos included but it’s really laid out in a way that will enable you to scroll through and read, watch or hear just what you want and then either move on to the next A-Zer or linger and go back in time with all the fun theme song intros you’ll find here. Please leave a comment and share your favorite classic TV shows. By all means, bookmark my blog so you can come back! I hope you enjoy my collection. Now, let’s get started with…
A is for the Adventures of Superman:
Adventures of Superman is an American television series based on comic book characters and concepts created in 1938 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The show is the first television series to feature Superman and began filming in 1951 in California on RKO-Pathé stages and the RKO Forty Acres back lot. It was sponsored by cereal manufacturer Kellogg’s. The syndicated show’s first and last air dates are disputed but generally accepted as September 19, 1952 and April 28, 1958. The show’s first two seasons (episodes 1–52, 26 titles per season) were filmed in black-and-white; seasons three through six (episodes 53–104, 13 titles per season) were filmed in color but originally telecast monochromatically in first-run syndication. Television viewers did not see Superman in color until the series was syndicated to local stations in 1965.
George Reeves played Clark Kent/Superman, with Jack Larson as Jimmy Olsen, John Hamilton as Perry White, and Robert Shayne as Inspector Henderson. Phyllis Coates played Lois Lane in the first season, with Noel Neill stepping into the role in the second season (1953). Superman battles crooks, gangsters, and other villains in the fictional city of Metropolis while masquerading “off-duty” as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent. Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen, Clark’s colleagues at the office, often find themselves in dangerous situations which can only be resolved with Superman’s timely intervention.
Episodes follow Superman as he battles gangsters, thugs, mad scientists and non-human dangers like asteroids, robots, and malfunctioning radioactive machines. In the first episode (the “origin” episode), Superman’s infant life on the planet Krypton, his arrival on Earth, and his nurturing by a farm couple are dramatized. In succeeding episodes, he conceals his super-identity by posing as mild-mannered Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent who, in times of crisis, dashes into the Daily Planet’s storeroom, or alley, sheds his street clothes, and reappears in superhero tights and trunks (all at super-speed) to rescue hapless folk from the clutches of evildoers.
A is for Adam-12: Adam-12 is a television police drama that followed two police officers of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), Pete Malloy (played by Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (played by Kent McCord), as they rode the streets of Los Angeles in their patrol unit, 1-Adam-12.
Created by R. A. Cinader and Jack Webb, also known for creating Dragnet, the series starred Martin Milner and Kent McCord and captured a typical day in the life of a police officer as realistically as possible. The show originally ran from September 21, 1968, through May 20, 1975, and helped introduce police procedures and jargon to the general public in the United States.
Each episode of the series, like those of Dragnet, was based on actual cases with names changed to protect the innocent, and covered a variety of incidents that the officers encountered during a shift, from the tragic to the trivial.
A is for All in the Family:
All in the Family is an American sitcom that was originally broadcast on the CBS television network from January 12, 1971, to April 8, 1979. In September 1979, a new show, Archie Bunker’s Place, picked up where All in the Family had ended. That sitcom lasted another four years, ending its run in 1983.
Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin and starring Carroll O’Connor, Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers, All in the Family revolves around the life of a working class bigot and his family. The show broke ground in its depiction of issues previously considered unsuitable for U.S. network television comedy, such as racism, homosexuality, women’s liberation, rape, religion, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence. Through depicting these controversial issues, the series became arguably one of television’s most influential comedic programs, as it injected the sitcom format with more realistic and topical conflicts.
The show ranked number-one in the yearly Nielsen ratings from 1971 to 1976. It became the first television series to reach the milestone of having topped the Nielsen ratings for five consecutive years.
A is for the Andy Griffith Show:
The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom first televised on CBS between October 3, 1960 and April 1, 1968. The show, a semi-spin-off from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show, stars Andy Griffith, who portrays the widowed sheriff of the fictional small community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His life is complicated by an inept, but well-meaning deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), a spinster aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), and a precocious young son, Opie (Ron Howard). Local ne’er-do-wells, bumbling pals, and temperamental girlfriends further complicate his life. Regarding the time-period of the show, Griffith said in a Today Show interview: “Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the 1960s, it had a feeling of the 1930s. It was when we were doing it, of a time gone by.”
The series never placed lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings and ended its final season at number one. It has been ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best show in American television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight-season run, series co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards. The series spawned its own spin-off, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964), a sequel series, Mayberry R.F.D. (1968)
A is for Alfred Hitchcock Presents:
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series hosted by Alfred Hitchcock. The series featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. By the time the show premiered on October 2, 1955, Hitchcock had been directing films for over three decades. Time magazine named Alfred Hitchcock Presents one of “The 100 Best TV Shows of all time”.
Alfred Hitchcock Presents is well known for its title sequence. The camera fades in on a simple line-drawing caricature of Hitchcock’s rotund profile. As the program’s theme music, Charles Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette, plays, Hitchcock appears in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walks to center screen to eclipse the caricature. He then almost always says “Good evening.”
The caricature drawing, which Hitchcock created himself, and the use of Gounod’s Funeral March of a Marionette as theme music have become indelibly associated with Hitchcock in popular culture.
Hitchcock appears again after the title sequence, and drolly introduces the story from a mostly empty studio or from the set of the current episode; his monologues were written especially for him by James B. Allardice. At least two versions of the opening were shot for every episode. A version intended for the American audience would often spoof a recent popular commercial or poke fun at the sponsor, leading into the commercial. An alternative version for European audiences would instead include jokes at the expense of Americans in general.
A is for The Archie Show:
The Archie Show is a Saturday morning cartoon animated series produced by Filmation. Based on the Archie comic books, created by Bob Montana in 1941, The Archie Show debuted on CBS in September 1968 and lasted for one season. A total of 17 half-hour shows, each containing two 11 minute segments, were aired. Archie cartoons continued to be aired in various forms until 1978.
The show revolves around 17-year-old Archie Andrews and his teen-age pals from Riverdale High School including: his best friend and food fiend Jughead Jones, wise-cracking Reggie Mantle, beautiful, spoiled-rich brunette Veronica Lodge, and attractive, blonde, girl-next-door tomboy Betty Cooper. On the show, the friends appeared as a pop rock band featuring Archie on lead guitar. The Archies had a real-life #1 hit single in 1969 with their song, “Sugar, Sugar”, written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. Their songs have been covered by other artists. For instance Sugar, Sugar by Bob Marley (and many others); Get on the Line by The Sweet.
Here is the original 1969 music video of Sugar Sugar:
The Archie Show contained a laugh track, the first Saturday morning cartoon to do so (using the success of The Archie Show as a template, nearly all cartoon series would utilize laugh tracks until the early 1980s). Previous cartoon series, such as Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Flintstones and The Jetsons, had utilized laugh tracks. However, these shows were broadcast during prime time with the target audience being adults.
A typical episode started with the first Archie story, introduced by Archie and occasionally a different character. Next was a “dance of the week” segment starting with a teaser, then after the commercial break Archie introduced the dance, followed by the song of the week performed by The Archies. After that was a short joke followed by the 2nd Archie story. All 17 half hours were presented in this format.
A is for the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet:
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet is an American sitcom, airing on ABC from October 3, 1952, through March 26, 1966, starring the real-life Nelson family. After a long run on radio, the show was brought to television, where it continued its success, initially running simultaneously on radio and television. The series stars Ozzie Nelson and his wife, singer Harriet Nelson (née Snyder, professionally Hilliard), and their young sons, David and Eric “Ricky” Nelson. Don DeFore had a recurring role as the Nelsons’ friendly neighbor “Thorny”.
Before the show aired, Ozzie Nelson persuaded ABC to agree to a 10-year contract that paid the Nelsons whether the series was canceled or not. The unprecedented contract and Ozzie’s insistence on perfection in the show’s production paid off in the show’s remarkable longevity.
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet premiered on ABC on October 10, 1952, staying until September 3, 1966; in 1962, it became the first prime-time scripted series on American television to reach the 10-year milestone. The show strove for realism and featured exterior shots of the Nelsons’ actual southern California home at 1822 Camino Palmero Street in Los Angeles as the fictional Nelsons’ home. Interior shots were filmed on a sound stage recreated to look like the real interior of the Nelsons’ home. Like its radio predecessor (which finally ended in 1954), the series focused mainly on the Nelson family at home, dealing with everyday problems. As the series progressed and the boys grew up, storylines involving various characters were introduced. Many of the series story lines were taken from the Nelsons’ real life. When the real David and Rick got married, to June Blair and Kristin Harmon respectively, their wives joined the cast of Ozzie and Harriet and the marriages were written into the series. What was seldom written into the series was Ozzie’s profession or mention of his lengthy and successful band-leading career. The popular joke about his career was that the only time he left the house was to go buy ice cream. According to his granddaughter, actress Tracy Nelson, Ozzie went to Rutgers to study law and when pressed would tell interviewers that the TV Ozzie was a lawyer.
Supporting cast members (some appearing in more than fifty episodes over ten years) included Don DeFore, Parley Baer, Lyle Talbot, Mary Jane Croft, Skip Young, Gordon Jones,Jimmy Hawkins, James Stacy, Joe Flynn and Jack Wagner.
By the mid-1960s, America’s social climate was changing, and the Nelsons, symbolizing the 1950s values and ideals, were beginning to seem dated. Ozzie, who wrote and directed all of the series’s episodes, attempted to alter the show to fit the times, but most viewers associated the show with a bygone era. The series cracked the top thirty programs in the Nielsen ratings for the first and only time in its eleventh season (1963–1964), when it ranked in 29th place. It made the transition from black-and-white to color in the 1965–66 season. That year, Ozzie tried to recapture the series’s early success by introducing 9-year-old Joel Davison and other young children to relate to younger families. Although Davison appeared in three episodes, the show’s Nielsen ratings continued to decline and ABC cancelled The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1966.
Having run for a total of fourteen seasons, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet remains the longest-running live-action American television sitcom.
Here’s a classic commercially sponsored (Kodak) intro:
Here’s the color version intro of the final season of Ozzie & Harriet:
Springboard for Ricky Nelson’s music career
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet made the Nelsons’ younger son, Rick, into a music teen idol. Ozzie realized the impact his musically gifted son could bring to the series, and went on to write storylines featuring Rick singing. Rick first sang in the April 10, 1957, episode, “Ricky the Drummer,” performing a version of Fats Domino’s hit, “I’m Walkin”, and later signed a recording contract with Domino’s label, Imperial Records. Subsequent episodes that aired after Rick became one of the nation’s most successful musicians were some of the show’s highest-rated episodes.
Here are my favorite Ricky Nelson songs:
The Nelsons’ post-TV lives:
Ozzie – Ozzie Nelson continued to work in show business after the failure of the short lived sitcom Ozzie’s Girls. He took on the role of producer and director for some of TV’s popular shows, most notably: Adam-12, The D.A., and Bridget Loves Bernie. In 1975, Ozzie Nelson died of liver cancer at the age of 69.
Rick – In the years after Ozzie and Harriet was cancelled, Rick Nelson’s career and personal life changed drastically. Rick never regained the momentum of his early career, though he continued to record and perform music. He shied away from his teen idol image and sound, forming the rock and roll/country-fused Stone Canyon Band. Rick and the Stone Canyon Band had success with the 1972 single, “Garden Party”. Ironically, Rick and the Band wrote the song in response to having been booed off the stage at a rock and roll revival concert at Madison Square Garden after having refused to play his old hits. Throughout the 1970s, Rick was riddled with debt. In 1981, he and wife Kristin Harmon divorced. While touring the United States, Rick Nelson was killed in a plane accident on December 31, 1985, in DeKalb in Bowie County near Texarkana, Texas in northeast Texas. He was en route to a New Year’s Eve concert in Dallas. In 1987, Rick was inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Harriet – Following Ozzie’s death in 1975, Harriet grew reclusive. In 1989, she made her last onscreen appearance in her granddaughter Tracy Nelson’s TV series, Father Dowling Mysteries. Harriet never fully recovered from Rick’s death and died of congestive heart failure and emphysema in 1994.
Ozzie, Harriet, and Rick are interred together at Forest Lawn, Hollywood Hills Cemetery, in Los Angeles, California.
David – David Nelson continued to produce feature films and television commercials and owned his commercial production company until his death from colorectal cancer in January 2011.
A is for The Addams Family:
The Addams Family is a group of fictional characters created by American cartoonist Charles Addams. The Addams Family characters have traditionally included Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, Cousin Itt, and Thing.
The Addamses are a satirical inversion of the ideal American family; an eccentric, wealthy clan who delight in the macabre and are unaware, or do not care, that other people find them bizarre or frightening. They originally appeared as an unrelated group of 150 single-panel cartoons, about half of which were originally published in The New Yorker between their debut in 1938 and Addams’s death in 1988. They have since been adapted to other media, including television series (both live and animated), films, video games and a musical.
In 1964, the ABC-TV network created The Addams Family television series based on Addams’s cartoon characters. The series was shot in black-and-white and aired for two seasons in 64 half-hour episodes (September 18, 1964 – September 2, 1966). During the original television run of The Addams Family television series, The New Yorker editor William Shawn refused to publish any Addams Family cartoons, though he continued to publish other Charles Addams cartoons. Shawn regarded his magazine as targeting a more refined readership and did not want it associated with characters who could be seen on television by just anybody. After Shawn’s 1987 retirement, the characters were welcomed back to The New Yorker.
A is for American Bandstand: I used to love this show!
American Bandstand is an American music-performance show that aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989 and was hosted from 1956 until its final season by Dick Clark, who also served as producer. The show featured teenagers dancing to Top 40 music introduced by Clark.
Clark would often interview the teenagers about their opinions of the songs being played, most memorably through the “Rate-a-Record” segment. During the segment, two audience members each ranked two records on a scale of 35 to 98, after which the two opinions were averaged by Clark, who then asked the audience members to justify their scores. The segment gave rise, perhaps apocryphally, to the phrase “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”
Featured artists typically performed their current hits by lip-synching to the released version of the song.
The show’s popularity helped Dick Clark become an American media mogul and inspired similar long-running music programs, such as Soul Train and Top of the Pops. Clark eventually assumed ownership of the program through his Dick Clark Productions company.
Here is an American Bandstand introduction, featuring the classic Bandstand Boogie (by Barry Manilow); this intro is from February 10th, 1979, with Dick Clark introducing the Jacksons:
Did you watch any of these shows? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present? What other TV shows could go here with the letter A?