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…with an occasionall 80s show 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…
G is for Get Smart:
Get Smart was an American comedy television series that satirized the secret agent genre.
Created by Mel Brooks with Buck Henry, the show starred Don Adams (as Maxwell Smart, Agent 86), Barbara Feldon (as Agent 99), and Edward Platt (as Chief). Henry said they created the show by request of Daniel Melnick, who was a partner, along with Leonard Stern and David Susskind, of the show’s production company, Talent Associates, to capitalize on “the two biggest things in the entertainment world today”—James Bond and Inspector Clouseau. Brooks said: “It’s an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy.”
The success of the show (which ran from September 18, 1965, to September 11, 1970) eventually spawned the follow-up films The Nude Bomb (a theatrical release) and Get Smart, Again! (a made-for-TV sequel to the series), as well as a 1995 revival series, and a 2008 film remake. In 2010, TV Guide ranked Get Smart’s opening title sequence at No. 2 on its list of TV’s Top 10 Credits Sequences as selected by readers.
During the show’s run, it generated a number of popular catchphrases, including “Would you believe…”, “Missed it by that much!”, “Sorry about that, Chief”, “The Old (such-and-such) Trick”, “And … loving it”, and “I asked you not to tell me that”.
On September 16, 2015, the series will be honored for its 50th anniversary.
G is for Gidget:
Gidget is an American sitcom about a surfing, boy-crazy teenager called “Gidget” and her widowed father Russ Lawrence, a UCLA professor. Sally Field stars as Gidget with Don Porter as father Russell Lawrence. The series was first broadcast on ABC from September 15, 1965 to April 21, 1966.
Gidget was among the first regularly scheduled color programs on ABC, but did poorly in the Nielsen ratings and was cancelled at the end of its first season.
The television series was based upon concepts and characters created by Frederick Kohner in his 1957 novel Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas, which Kohner based upon the adventures of his teenage daughter Kathy. The novel was adapted into a 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson. The 1965 weekly, half-hour television series is seen by some as a sequel to the 1959 film, despite numerous discontinuities in plot, time frame and other details. It can also be seen as an independent incarnation, related to but distinct from either the novels or the films. Kohner served as a script consultant on the show.
Gidget is about the father-daughter relationship between Frances “Gidget” Lawrence and her widowed father Russell Lawrence. Episodes follow Gidget’s adventures in school, at home, and at nearby beaches. Russell Lawrence guides his daughter through her fifteenth year, while married sister Anne and husband John offer often unsolicited child-rearing tips. Gidget’s friend Larue sometimes takes part in her escapades. More often than not, Gidget receives moral instruction from her father and gains wisdom from her experiences.
Each episode is narrated by Gidget; on occasion, she breaks the “fourth wall” and directly addresses her audience, usually reflecting on what she has learned from the evening’s story, sometimes ending with “Toodles!” (an expression Field improvised during production).
G is for Gilligan’s Island: I used to watch Gilligan’s Island after school every day.
Gilligan’s Island is an American sitcom created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz via United Artists Television. The show had an ensemble cast that featured Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Russell Johnson, Tina Louise, and Dawn Wells. It aired for three seasons on the CBS network from September 26, 1964, to April 17, 1967. Originally sponsored by Philip Morris & Co and Procter & Gamble, the show followed the comic adventures of seven castaways as they attempted to survive the island on which they had been shipwrecked. Most episodes revolve around the dissimilar castaways’ conflicts and their unsuccessful attempts, for whose failure Gilligan was frequently responsible, to escape their plight.
Gilligan’s Island ran for a total of 98 episodes. The first season, consisting of 36 episodes, was filmed in black and white. These episodes were later colorized for syndication. The show’s second and third seasons (62 episodes) and the three television movie sequels were filmed in color.
The show enjoyed solid ratings during its original run, then grew in popularity during decades of syndication, especially in the 1970s and 1980s when many markets ran the show in the late afternoon after school. Today, the title character of Gilligan is widely recognized as an American cultural icon.
G is for Good Times:
Good Times is an American sitcom that originally aired from February 8, 1974, until August 1, 1979, on CBS. It was created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, and developed by Norman Lear, the series’ primary executive producer. Good Times is a spin-off of Maude, which is itself a spin-off of All in the Family.
Florida and James Evans and their three children live in a rented project apartment, 17C, at 721 N. Gilbert Ave., in a housing project (implicitly the infamous Cabrini–Green projects, shown in the opening and closing credits but never mentioned by name on the show) in a poor, black neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. Florida and James’ children are James Jr., also known as “J.J.”, Thelma, and Michael. When the series begins, J.J. and Thelma are seventeen and sixteen years old, respectively, and Michael, called “the militant midget” by his father due to his passionate activism, is eleven years old. Their exuberant neighbor, and Florida’s best friend, is Willona Woods, a recent divorcée who works at a boutique. Their building superintendent is Nathan Bookman (seasons 2–4), to whom James, Willona and later J.J. refer as “Buffalo Butt”, or, even more derisively, “Booger”.
The characters originated on the sitcom Maude as Florida and Henry Evans, with Florida employed as Maude Findlay’s housekeeper in Tuckahoe, New York and Henry employed as a firefighter. When producers decided to feature the Florida character in her own show, they applied retroactive changes to the characters’ history. Henry’s name became James, there is no mention of Maude, and the couple now live in Chicago. (I had no idea!!!)
Episodes of Good Times deal with the characters’ attempts to survive in a high rise project building in Chicago, despite their poverty. When he is not unemployed, James Evans is a man of pride who often stated he would not accept charity. He usually works at least two jobs simultaneously, from a wide variety such as dishwasher, construction laborer, etc. When he has to, he plays pool in order to hustle money, though Florida disapproves of this.
G is for the Golden Girls:
The Golden Girls is an American sitcom, created by Susan Harris, that originally aired on NBC from September 14, 1985, to May 9, 1992. Starring Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty, the show centers on four older women sharing a home in Miami, Florida. It was produced by Witt/Thomas/Harris Productions, in association with Touchstone Television.
The premise: The series revolves around four older, single women (three widows and one divorcée) sharing a house in Miami, Florida. The owner of the house is a widow named Blanche Devereaux (McClanahan), who was joined by fellow widow Rose Nylund (White) and divorcée Dorothy Zbornak (Arthur) after they both responded to a room-for-rent ad on the bulletin board of a local grocery store a year prior to the start of the series. In the pilot episode, the three were joined by Dorothy’s 80-year-old mother, Sophia Petrillo (Getty), after the retirement home where she lived burned down.
The Golden Girls received critical acclaim throughout most of its run and won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice. It also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Each of the four stars received an Emmy Award (from multiple nominations during the series’ run), making it one of only three sitcoms in the award’s history to achieve this. The series also ranked among the top ten highest-rated programs for six out of its seven seasons. In 2014, the Writers Guild Of America placed the sitcom at No. 69 in their list of the “101 Best Written TV Series Of All Time”.
G is for Green Acres:
Green Acres is an American sitcom starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor as a couple who move from New York City to a rural country farm. Produced by Filmways as a sister show to Petticoat Junction, the series was first broadcast on CBS, from September 15, 1965, to April 27, 1971.
Green Acres is about Oliver Wendell Douglas (Eddie Albert), an erudite New York City attorney, acting on his dream to be a farmer, and Lisa Douglas (Eva Gabor), his glamorous Hungarian wife, dragged unwillingly from an upscale New York condo and the city life she adores to a ramshackle farm. The theme tune, as with those of the show’s rural cousins, explains the basic premise of the show. At the end of the opening sequence, Albert and Gabor strike a pose in parody of Grant Wood’s painting American Gothic. The debut episode was a mockumentary about the decision to move to a rural area, anchored by former ABC newscaster (and then-current host of the CBS game show What’s My Line) John Charles Daly. A few weeks after the show’s debut, Albert and Gabor returned the favor by appearing on What’s My Line as that episode’s Mystery Guests, and publicly thanked Daly for helping to launch their series.
After the first episodes, the series developed an absurdist world. Though many episodes were still standard 1960s sitcom fare, the show became notable for its surrealism and satire. The show appealed to children through its slapstick, silliness, and shtick, but adults were able to appreciate it on a different level.
The “Rural Purge”
During its sixth season in the 1970–71 television season, Green Acres placed 34th out of 96 shows. Despite the respectable ratings and winning its timeslot, the series was cancelled in the spring of 1971 after six seasons and 170 episodes. At the time, CBS was under pressure from sponsors to have more urban-themed shows on their schedule. To make room for the newer shows, nearly all of the rural-themed shows were cancelled. This part of television history has become known as the “rural purge”. Pat Buttram stated of the purge: “CBS cancelled everything with a tree – including Lassie.”
G is for Gunsmoke:
Gunsmoke is an American radio and television Western drama series created by director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston. The stories take place in and around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. The central character is lawman Marshal Matt Dillon, played by William Conrad on radio and James Arness on television. When aired in the UK, the television series was initially titled Gun Law, later reverting to Gunsmoke.
The radio series ran from 1952 to 1961. John Dunning wrote that among radio drama enthusiasts, “Gunsmoke is routinely placed among the best shows of any kind and any time.” The television series ran for 20 seasons from 1955 to 1975, and stands as the United States’ longest-running prime time, live-action drama with 635 episodes. In 2010, Law & Order tied Gunsmoke for most seasons for a live action drama series when it finished its twentieth and final season, but the show finished 179 episodes short of Gunsmoke’s final total; in terms of prime-time scripted series with continuing characters, The Simpsons is the only program to exceed 20 seasons. At the end of its run in 1975, Los Angeles Times columnist Cecil Smith wrote: “Gunsmoke was the dramatization of the American epic legend of the west. Our own Iliad and Odyssey, created from standard elements of the dime novel and the pulp western as romanticized by [Ned] Buntline, [Bret] Harte, and [Mark] Twain. It was ever the stuff of legend.”
Gunsmoke followed the life and adventures of Marshal Matt Dillion (James Arness) and his deputy Chester Goode (Dennis Weaver) in Dodge City during the 1870s, as they strived for justice, truth, and sincerity in their small town.
Here is the Gunsmoke intro in color:
G is for Gentle Ben:
The CBS television series Gentle Ben premiered September 10, 1967 and ran until August 31, 1969, airing a total of 58 episodes in two seasons. The series chronicled the adventures of young Mark Wedloe (played by Clint Howard, Ron Howard’s brother) and his lovable 650-to-750-pound black bear named Ben.
Gentle Ben was produced by Ivan Tors, who also produced the Gentle Giant pilot film. Tors was an established producer of successful TV series, including Lloyd Bridges’ Sea Hunt, Flipper and Daktari. Like the Gentle Giant film, the TV series Gentle Ben was set in Florida (allowing Tors to use his own studio facilities there) rather than Alaska, and Ben was a large black bear instead of the brown bear of the original novel. The TV series picked up the story where Gentle Giant left off, with Mark’s father Tom Wedloe already a wildlife officer in the Everglades, and Ben an adult bear and established family pet living outside (or sometimes inside) the Wedloes’ house.
The TV series had few regular characters, consisting of the Wedloe family and their friend and neighbor Henry Boomhauer. Clint Howard and Dennis Weaver continued their roles from the Gentle Giant film. The role of Ellen Wedloe, played in Gentle Giant by Vera Miles, was recast for the TV series with Beth Brickell, after Diana Muldaur turned down the part. The Boomhauer character appeared in nearly half the episodes and was played by Clint’s real-life father Rance Howard (who also wrote episodes for the show).
Although several black bears were used to play Ben, depending on what behavior was required for a particular scene, the role was played primarily by Bruno the Bear (who also played adult Ben in the Gentle Giant film).
Musician and voice actor Candy Candido provided the voice of Ben. Although the network wanted to have Ben speak like a human on the show, Tors disliked the idea, so Ben only made animal noises.
Gentle Ben was a moderate hit, reaching a position of #19 in the Nielsen ratings during its first season. A number of TV tie-in products were marketed, including children’s books (by authors other than Walt Morey), a board game and a pull-string talking “Gentle Ben” plush bear by Mattel, a lunchbox, and an album of songs sung by the cast members entitled The Stars of “Gentle Ben”: The Bear Facts. Dell Comics produced a Gentle Ben comic book, featuring photo covers of the TV show actors, that ran for five issues in 1968.
However, in its second season, Gentle Ben failed to make the top 30 and was cancelled. Its decline in popularity has been attributed to its young target audience growing older and losing interest in animal shows, and also to its timeslot forcing it to compete with Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color for its target audience. A letter-writing campaign to save the show (even read into the Congressional Record) resulted in 2600 letters being sent to the network, but was not successful.
In spite of its short lifespan and cancellation, the show continued to run regularly in syndication, including outside the United States. Personal appearances by “Gentle Ben” at circuses and events continued to be popular into the 1970s. In October 1969, after the cancellation of the show, “Gentle Ben” the bear even received a personalized invitation from Florida Governor Claude R. Kirk, Jr. to a celebrity party in Fort Lauderdale.
Controversy over portrayal of bears
Although the show was praised for promoting respect for nature and family values, it also drew criticism for its unrealistic portrayal of a wild bear’s interaction with humans. Some critics noted that the show premiered only a few weeks after the well-publicized Glacier National Park, Montana fatal grizzly bear attacks of August 13, 1967, when two female campers were killed by grizzly bears, in separate incidents and locations, on the same night. When the show debuted, PTA Magazine complained that “[f]or years, there have been warnings to children and adults against feeding and playing with bears…How CBS could permit a program with a black bear for a pet—not a cub either—but a gigantic adult bear—is beyond our comprehension.”
In 1971, John Hast, the chief National Park Service officer, stated that “[t]he television series ‘Gentle Ben’ was the worst thing that ever happened to us. People saw this big lovable bear on television and when they see a bear in the park I guess they think it’s the same one. They don’t realize how wrong they are until they’re bleeding.”
Sweden also cancelled the show due to concerns that children would be influenced to play and interact with the wild bears indigenous to that country.
Do you remember these shows? What G shows from the 60s and 70s did I forget? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present?