According to Wikipedia, by 1960 almost 90 percent of homes had a television in it. That seems like a lot, but the ‘60s is also the decade when television became a part of the cultural landscape for all intents as purposes. Yes, there were TV shows in the ‘50s. Hell, there were TV shows in the ‘40s. However, TV as an indelible part of life really started to grab hold in this decade. It was still a fairly new world for TV in 1960. Not quite the Wild West it was in the ‘50s, but it was still a medium figuring itself out. Here’s some of the noteworthy television occurrences of 1960.
I’m starting with something that happened off of television, as in 1960 Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz divorced. This brought an end to the I Love Lucy universe. The show itself had ended in 1957, but they had then started to do a show called The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour after that, which ended with their 1960 divorce. Those two were absolutely vital to establishing television and they genuinely changed the medium. By 1960, that run was over. Of course, Ball remained on our television plenty in the ensuing years.
A couple of notable cartoons sprung to life in 1960. One was The Bugs Bunny Show. While Looney Tunes had existed previously, this was the first Looney Tunes TV show. Meanwhile, this was also the year that The Flintstones debuted. It was notable not just because of its success, but because it was a primetime cartoon not explicitly targeted toward children. It was basically animated The Honeymooners. By that I mean it’s basically a Honeymooners ripoff, only with dinosaurs and what have you.
Two notable sitcoms first hit the airwaves in 1960. One is My Three Sons. I’ve never really watched it and it hasn’t really stood the test of time, but it was a massive hit and it ran until 1972. More notable, though, is The Andy Griffith Show. That’s a true iconic sitcom. Griffith is a TV legend. So is Don Knotts, who got more laughs than Griffith ever did. A young Ron Howard played Griffith’s son, which is certainly noteworthy given the life he has spent in showbiz. Personally, I don’t think it’s a very good show. It’s corny and a little slow, but it was also 1960. I can cut them some slack.
Man, to think that something like The Flintstones has been around for 60 years now. How long have we been seeing Ron Howard on screen? That’s 1960 in television. Next week I will be doing more of an overview of 1950s television instead of focusing on a single year. It’s almost anthropological by that point in history.