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 occasional 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…
L is for Love, American Style:
Love, American Style is a comedic television anthology, which was produced by Paramount Television and originally aired between 1969 and 1974. For the 1971 and 1972 seasons it was a part of an ABC Friday prime-time lineup that also included The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, and The Odd Couple.
The show featured an ensemble cast that changed from week to week. Each week, Love American Style featured unrelated stories of romance, usually with a comedic spin. Episodes featured different characters, stories, and locations. The show often featured the same actors playing different characters in many episodes. In addition, a large, ornate brass bed was a recurring prop in many episodes. Charles Fox’s delicate yet hip music score, featuring flutes, harp, and flugelhorn set to a contemporary pop beat, provided the “love” ambiance which tied the stories together as a multifaceted romantic comedy each week. For its first season, the theme song was performed by The Cowsills. Beginning in the second season, the same theme song was sung by the Ron Hicklin Singers, featuring brothers John and Tom Bahler (billed as The Charles Fox Singers).
Here’s a neat bit of trivia: On February 25, 1972, the show aired an episode with a segment titled “Love and the Television Set”, a story about Richie Cunningham, his family and friends, which later served as the pilot for the popular series Happy Days. For syndication, the segment was retitled “Love and the Happy Days”.
L is for Leave It to Beaver:
Leave It to Beaver is an American television situation comedy about an inquisitive and often naïve boy named Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver (portrayed by Jerry Mathers) and his adventures at home, in school, and around his suburban neighborhood. The show also starred Barbara Billingsley and Hugh Beaumont as Beaver’s parents, June and Ward Cleaver, and Tony Dow as Beaver’s brother Wally. The show has attained an iconic status in the US, with the Cleavers exemplifying the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century.
The show was created by writers Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher. These veterans of radio and early television found inspiration for the show’s characters, plots and dialogue in the lives, experiences and conversations of their own children. Leave It to Beaver is one of the first primetime sitcom series written from a child’s point of view. Like several television dramas and sitcoms of the late 1950s and early 1960s (Lassie and My Three Sons), Leave It to Beaver is a glimpse at middle-class, American boyhood. In a typical episode Beaver got into some sort of trouble, then faced his parents for reprimand and correction. However, neither parent was omniscient; indeed, the series often showed the parents debating their approach to child rearing, and some episodes were built around parental gaffes.
Leave It to Beaver, which would ultimately run for six full 39-week seasons (234 episodes), had its debut on CBS on October 4, 1957. The following season, the show moved to ABC, where it stayed until completing its run on June 20, 1963. During the whole of the show’s run, the series was shot with a single camera on black-and-white 35mm film.
You may remember these characters from the show: Recurring characters included Eddie Haskell (played by Ken Osmond), Larry Mondello (Rusty Stevens), Hubert “Whitey” Whitney (Stanley Fafara), Gilbert Bates (Stephen Talbot), Judy Hensler (Jeri Weil), Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford (Frank Bank), his younger sister Violet (Veronica Cartwright) and Mary Ellen Rogers (Pamela Beaird). Burt Mustin played elderly fireman Gus, Richard Deacon played Ward’s co-worker Fred Rutherford and Sue Randall played schoolteacher Miss Landers.
L is for Laverne & Shirley:
Laverne & Shirley (credited as Laverne De Fazio & Shirley Feeney in the first season) is an American sitcom that ran on ABC from January 27, 1976, to May 10, 1983. It starred Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney, single roommates who worked as bottlecappers in a fictitious Milwaukee brewery called “Shotz Brewery”.
The show was a spin-off from Happy Days, as the two lead characters were originally introduced on that series as acquaintances of Fonzie. Set in roughly the same time period, the timeline started in approximately 1958, when the series began, through 1967, when the series ended. As with Happy Days, it was made by Paramount Television, created by Garry Marshall, and executive produced by Garry Marshall, Edward K. Milkis, and Thomas L. Miller.
L is for Lost in Space: This was probably my favorite show when I was a kid. And my favorite character was definitely the robot (“Danger Will Robinson, Danger!”).
Here are a few videos featuring the robot. The first is a tribute video:
Dick Tufeld was the famous voice of the Robot in the hit 1960s TV series Lost in Space. “Warning .. Warning .. Danger Will Robinson” and “that does not compute” were some of the familiar calls. He was also an announcer for CBS TV for many many years. He passed away aged 85 on the 22nd of January 2012.
This video is just some shots of the robot with Dick Tufeld’s voiceover:
Here’s some background info on the show and the Lost in Space story:
Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series created and produced by Irwin Allen, filmed by 20th Century Fox Television, and broadcast on CBS. The show ran for three seasons, with 83 episodes airing between September 15, 1965, and March 6, 1968. The first television season was filmed in black and white, with the second and third seasons filmed in color.
The Plot: In October 1997, 32 years into the future from the perspective of viewers in 1965, the United States is about to launch one of history’s great adventures: man’s colonization of deep space. The Jupiter 2, called Gemini 12 in the pilot episode, a futuristic saucer-shaped spaceship, stands on its launch pad undergoing final preparations. Its mission is to take a single family on a five-and-a-half-year journey – updated from 98 years in the pilot episode – to a planet orbiting the nearby star Alpha Centauri. The pilot episode had referred to the planet itself as Alpha Centauri, which space probes reveal possesses ideal conditions for human life. The Robinson family, allegedly selected from among two million volunteers for this mission, consisted of Professor John Robinson, played by Guy Williams, his wife, Maureen, played by June Lockhart, their children, Judy (Marta Kristen), Penny (Angela Cartwright), and Will (Billy Mumy). They are accompanied by their pilot, U.S. Space Corps Major Donald West (Mark Goddard), who is trained to fly the ship when the time comes for the eventual landing. Initially the Robinsons and West will be in freezing tubes for the voyage with the tubes set to open when the spacecraft approached its destination. Unless there was a problem with the ship’s navigation or guidance system during the voyage, West was only to take the controls during the final approach to and landing on the destination planet while the Robinsons were to strap themselves into contour couches on the lower deck for the landing.
Other nations are racing to colonize space, and they would stop at nothing, not even sabotage, to thwart the United States effort. It turns out that Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), Alpha Control’s doctor, and later supposedly a psychologist and environmental control expert, is moonlighting as a foreign secret agent for one of those competing nations. After killing a guard who catches him onboard after hours, Smith reprograms the Jupiter 2’s B-9 environmental control robot, voiced by Dick Tufeld, to destroy critical systems on the spaceship eight hours after launch. Smith, however, unintentionally traps himself aboard at launch and his extra weight throws the Jupiter 2 off course, causing it to encounter a meteor storm. This, plus the robot’s Smith-programmed rampage causing the ship to prematurely engage its hyperdrive, causes the expedition to become hopelessly lost in the infinite depths of outer space.
The Robinsons are often placed in danger by Smith, whose self-centered actions and laziness endanger the family on many occasions. After the first half of the first season Smith’s role assumes a less evil overtone although he continues to display many character defects. In “The Time Merchant” Smith shows he actually does care about the Robinsons after he travels back in time to the day of the Jupiter 2 launch with the hope of changing his fate by not boarding the ship and allowing the Robinsons start their mission as originally planned. However, once he learns that without his weight altering the ship’s course the Jupiter 2 would be destroyed by an uncharted asteroid, he sacrifices his chance to stay on his beloved Earth by electing to re-board the ship, thus saving the lives of those he really does care about and continuing his position amongst them as a reluctant stowaway.
The fate of the Robinsons, Don West and Dr Smith is never resolved as the series unexpected cancellation leaves the Jupiter 2 and her crew literally on the junk-pile at the end of season three. (Source: Wikipedia)
A shame. I hate when series end with no wrap up or conclusion. I feel that’s a real rip-off for the loyal viewing audience.
This is the Season 3 intro. I couldn’t find just the original Season 1 black and white intro, which is the one I remember the most.
Not sure if this will post but here is Episode 1 of Season 1, the very first Lost in Space episode. I’m posting this because it has the the intro that I remember; it’s the best one, in my opinion. It can be found at the 7:30 mark on the video:
L is for Love Boat:
The Love Boat was an American television series set on a cruise ship, which aired on the ABC Television Network from September 24, 1977, until February 27, 1987. The show revolves around the ship’s captain (played by Gavin MacLeod) and a handful of its crew, with several passengers – played by different guest actors for each episode – having romantic and humorous adventures. It was part of ABC’s popular Saturday night lineup that included Fantasy Island until that show ended in 1984.
The original 1976 made-for-TV movie on which the show was based (also titled The Love Boat) was itself based on the nonfiction book The Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, a real-life cruise director. Two more TV movies (titled The Love Boat II and The New Love Boat) would follow before the series began its run.
The executive producer for the series was Aaron Spelling, who produced several successful series for ABC from the 1960s into the 1980s.
Cast: Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing
Bernie Kopell as Dr. Adam “Doc” Bricker, ship’s doctor
Fred Grandy as Burl “Gopher” Smith, Yeoman Purser
Ted Lange as Isaac Washington, bartender
Lauren Tewes as Julie McCoy, Cruise Director (Seasons 1-7)
Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the captain’s daughter (seasons 3–10)
Ted McGinley as Ashley “Ace” Covington Evans, ship’s photographer (seasons 7–10)
Pat Klous as Judy McCoy, Julie’s sister and successor as cruise director (seasons 8–9)
Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange are the only cast members to appear in every episode of the series, including the last three made-for-TV movies.
L is for Lassie:
Lassie is an American television series that follows the adventures of a female Rough Collie dog named Lassie and her companions, both human and animal. The show was the creation of producer Robert Maxwell and animal trainer Rudd Weatherwax and was televised from September 12, 1954, to March 25, 1973. The fourth longest-running U.S. primetime television series after The Simpsons, Gunsmoke, and Law & Order, the show chalked up 17 seasons on CBS before entering first-run syndication for its final two seasons. Initially filmed in black and white, the show transitioned to color in 1965.
The show’s first 10 seasons follow Lassie’s adventures in a small farming community. Fictional eleven-year-old Jeff Miller, his mother, and his grandfather are Lassie’s first human companions until seven-year-old Timmy Martin and his adoptive parents take over in the fourth season. When Lassie’s exploits on the farm end in the eleventh season, she finds new adventures in the wilderness alongside United States Forest Service Rangers. After traveling on her own for a year, Lassie finally settles at a children’s home for her final two syndicated seasons.
Lassie received critical favor at its debut and won two Emmy Awards in its first years. Stars Jan Clayton and June Lockhart were nominated for Emmys. Merchandise produced during the show’s run included books, a Halloween costume, clothing, toys, and other items. Campbell’s Soup, the show’s lifelong sponsor, offered two premiums (a ring and a wallet), and distributed thousands to fans. A multi-part episode was edited into the feature film Lassie’s Great Adventure and released in August 1963. Selected episodes have been released to DVD.
L is for Laugh In:
Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (often simply referred to as Laugh-In) is an American sketch comedy television program that ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to March 12, 1973, on the NBC television network. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and featured, at various times, Chelsea Brown, Johnny Brown, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Richard Dawson, Moosie Drier, Henry Gibson, Teresa Graves, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Larry Hovis, Sarah Kennedy, Jeremy Lloyd, Dave Madden, Pigmeat Markham, Gary Owens, Pamela Rodgers, Barbara Sharma, Jud Strunk, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin and Jo Anne Worley.
Laugh-In originally aired as a one-time special on September 9, 1967 and was such a success that it was brought back as a series, replacing The Man from U.N.C.L.E. on Mondays at 8 pm (EST). The title of the show was a play on the “love-ins” or “be-ins” of the 1960s hippie culture, terms that were, in turn, derived from “sit-ins”, common in protests associated with civil rights and anti-war demonstrations of the time.
In 2002, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In was ranked #42 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
Each episode followed a somewhat similar format, often including recurring sketches. The show started with a short dialogue between Rowan and Martin. Shortly afterward, Rowan would intone: “C’mon Dick, let’s go to the party”. This live to tape segment comprised all cast members and occasional surprise celebrities dancing before a 1960s “Mod” party backdrop, delivering one- and two-line jokes interspersed with a few bars of dance music (later adopted on The Muppet Show, which had a recurring segment that was similar to “The Cocktail Party” with absurd moments from characters). The show then proceeded through rapid-fire comedy bits, pre-taped segments, and recurring sketches. The Cocktail Party was similar in format to the “Word Dance” segments of A Thurber Carnival.
At the end of every show, Dan Rowan turned to his co-host and said, “Say good night, Dick”, to which Martin replied, “Good night, Dick!”. The show then featured cast members opening panels in a psychedelically-painted “joke wall” and telling jokes. As the show drew to a close and the applause died, executive producer George Schlatter’s solitary clapping continued even as the screen turned blank and the production logo, network chimes, and NBC logo appeared.
The show often featured guest stars. Sometimes the guest had a prominent spot in the program, at other times the guest would pop up in short “quickies” (one- or two-liner jokes) interspersed throughout the show. While the guest was available, other bits were recorded, and would be added to other episodes of the series.
L is for Little House on the Prairie:
Little House on the Prairie is an American western drama television series, starring Michael Landon, Melissa Gilbert, and Karen Grassle, about a family living on a farm in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, in the 1870s and 1880s. The show is an adaptation of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s best-selling series of Little House books. Television producer and NBC executive Ed Friendly became aware of the story in the early 1970s. He asked Michael Landon to direct the pilot movie, who agreed on the condition that he could also play Charles Ingalls.
The regular series was preceded by the two-hour pilot movie, which first aired on March 30, 1974. The series premiered on the NBC network on September 11, 1974, and last aired on May 10, 1982. During the 1982–83 television season, with the departure of Landon and Grassle, the series was broadcast with the new title Little House: A New Beginning.
Although based on the biographical “Little House” stories, many of the characters and situations differ from the original books. The central characters are Charles Ingalls (farmer and mill worker), his wife Caroline, and their four daughters, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and Grace; in later seasons, they adopt three children, Albert, Cassandra, and James.
Other essential characters include the Oleson family: Nels, proprietor of the town’s general store, Oleson’s Mercantile; his malicious, gossiping wife, Harriet; and their two spoiled children, Nellie and Willie, and later, their adopted daughter, Nancy; Isaiah Edwards, Grace Snider Edwards and their three adopted children; the Garvey family, Jonathan, Alice, and Andy; Rev. Robert Alden; Lars Hanson, the town’s founder and proprietor of the town’s mill; and Dr. Hiram Baker, the town’s physician. In season five, Mary Ingalls meets teacher-turned-husband, Adam Kendall. In the season seven premiere, Laura marries Almanzo Wilder.
Little House explored many themes. Adoption, alcoholism, racism and blindness are portrayed. Some plots also include subjects such as drug addiction (i.e. morphine), leukemia, prejudice, and even rape. Although predominantly a drama, the program has some comedic moments as well.
Several of the episodes written by Michael Landon were recycled storylines from ones that he had written for Bonanza. Season two’s “A Matter of Faith” was based on the Bonanza episode “A Matter of Circumstance”; season five’s “Someone Please Love Me” was based on the Bonanza episode “A Dream To Dream”; season seven’s “The Silent Cry” was based on the Bonanza episode “The Sound of Sadness”; season eight’s “He Was Only Twelve” was based on the Bonanza episode “He Was Only Seven”; and season nine’s “Little Lou” was based on the Bonanza episode “It’s A Small World”.
L is for L.A. Law:
Another 80s show, L.A. Law is an American television legal drama series that ran for eight seasons on NBC from September 15, 1986 to May 19, 1994.
Created by Steven Bochco and Terry Louise Fisher, it contained many of Bochco’s trademark features including an ensemble cast, large number of parallel storylines, social drama, and off-the-wall humor. It reflected the social and cultural ideologies of the 1980s and early 1990s, and many of the cases featured on the show dealt with hot-topic issues such as capital punishment, abortion, racism, gay rights, homophobia, sexual harassment, AIDS, and domestic violence. The series often also reflected social tensions between the wealthy senior lawyer protagonists and their less well-paid junior staff.
In addition to its main cast, L.A. Law was also well-known for featuring then relatively unknown actors and actresses in guest starring roles, who later went on to greater success in film and television including: Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Tambor, David Schwimmer, James Avery, Gates McFadden, Bryan Cranston, C.C.H. Pounder, Kevin Spacey, Richard Schiff, Carrie-Anne Moss, William H. Macy, Stephen Root, Christian Slater, and Lucy Liu. Several episodes of the show also included celebrities such as Vanna White, Buddy Hackett and Mamie Van Doren appearing as themselves in cameo roles.
The show was popular with audiences and critics, and won 15 Emmy Awards throughout its run, four of which were for Outstanding Drama Series.
Have you ever watched any of these shows? What are your favorite TV shows, past and present?