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1961 TV Shows


Top 25
TV Shows:
1961 - 62

1. Wagon Train
2. Bonanza
3. Gunsmoke
4. Hazel
5. Perry Mason
6. Red Skelton Show
7. Andy Griffith
8. Danny Thomas Show
9. Dr. Kildare
10. Candid Camera
11. My Three Sons
12. Garry Moore Show
13. Rawhide
14. Real McCoys
15. Lassie
16. Sing Along with Mitch
17. Dennis the Menace
18. Ben Casey
19. Ed Sullivan
20. Car 54, Where
are You?
21. Flintstones
22. Dobie Gillis
23. Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color
24. Joey Bishop
25. Perry Como Show

To Tell The Truth

Many Loves of Dobie Gillis

Perry Mason


Program Profile
GE Theatre
Sunday nights at 9:00
CBS / 1953-1962

Last season for this anthology program hosted by Ronald Reagan.

General Electric Theater broadcast some of the finest dramas of TV's early days, with big-event performances by film stars who rarely appeared on television, including James Stewart, Bette Davis, Myrna Loy, Joan Crawford and Gene Tierney.


From 1956 - 1961, Virginia Graham hosted a daytime talk show called Food For Thought.

Soap Operas:
CBS led the ratings with their afternoon offerings:

Love of Life: 1961 TV

Aired at noon. The wayward spouses in Rosehill, New York were the original Desperate Housewives. Ran from 1951-1980.

One of two CBS live 15-minute broadcasts that filled the 12:30 - 1:00 slot. Poor Joanne, surrounded by tragedy in 1961. She had survived the death of her first husband, a brush with the mob, the birth and death of her infant son - now her teenage daughter has been paralized. This program aired from 1951-1980.

Guiding Light: 1961 TV

If you liked your 'stories' you probably enjoyed tuning in to the trials and tribs of the citizens of Five Points. Notice I didn't say GOOD citizens! The Guiding Light aried live for fifteen minutes at 12:45 on CBS from 1952-1968 before expanding to a half-hour format. I think this show is STILL on the air!

At 1:30 - As The World Turns entered its fifth year.

From 4:00 until 4:15, the Dennis family was laid bare in The Brighter Day. A cast shakeup in 1961 led to the demise of this show in 1962.

Edge of Night: 1961 TV

Fifth year for the creepy goings-on in Monticello; airing from 4:30 until 5:00, capping off the network's afternoon soaps. Things between Mike and Sara turned sad when Sara was fatally run down by a bus while saving their toddler's life in early 1961. The public was so upset at this turn of events that the actress who played Sara had to come on the following day and assure everyone she was okay. The Edge of Night was broadcast live from New York until 1975 and ran until 1984.

TV in 1961

Procter and Gamble sponsored all of these shows.

Punk Book

Book About Greensboro

Kid's TV Commercials

1950's Saturday Morning Shows


1970's TV shows on DVD
1960's TV Shows on DVD

1961 TV Shows
1961 TV Fall Season

We've been looking back at past fall seasons lately; let's really reach back this time, to 1961. CBS was the leading network and their fall preview special was chock full of classic TV shows. You'll recognize an awful lot of them, this was a year of firsts. Notice who's missing? Lucy!


To Tell the Truth - Game shows were hot in 1961 but the quiz show scandals of the mid-fifties meant only celebrity panel shows with small payouts survived.

Window on Main Street - Robert Young had a long run with Father Knows Best but his follow up was a resounding bomb.

Pete & Gladys - Very funny sitcom starring Harry Morgan (Dragnet, M*A*S*H) and Cara Williams, a spinoff from December Bride. Very much like I Love Lucy, they shared writers and directors. Reruns were seen on CBS mornings for a few years.

The Danny Thomas Show - Ran from 1953-1957 on ABC and from 1957-1964 on CBS. Danny was responsible for TV's first reunion show when the cast regathered in 1965 for The Danny Thomas TV Family Reunion.

The Andy Griffith Show - First year for this spinoff from the show that preceded it. Andy still had the thick Southern twang he started the series with; it was softened after a short time.

Hennesey - Third and last tour of duty for this Naval sitcom. Star Jackie Cooper also produced and co-wrote this show.

I've Got A Secret - Hosted by Garry Moore who had a variety series on CBS at the same time.


Marshall Dillon - A second night for Gunsmoke, this series featured reruns of previous seasons when the production ran a half hour.

The Dick Van Dyke Show - First season for what a lot of critics think was the best sitcom of all time. The show was so poorly rated CBS cancelled it but Carl Reiner appealed to the sponsors and got the program renewed. Top ten ratings and awards followed.

The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis - Tuesday nights were great for comedy on CBS. Dobie and Maynard entered Junior college this term only to find some of the same teachers.

PART TWO - (Tuesday nights)

Red Skelton - Variety hour that ran from 1951-1953 on NBC, 1953-1970 on CBS, followed by another lousy half-hour season on NBC.

Ichabod and Me - One season wonder produced by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher (Amos 'n' Andy, Mayberry RFD).

The Garry Moore Show - Carol Burnett became a star on this musical variety hour. For the previous two seasons Allen Funt's Candid Camera was a regular feature on this show, Candid Camera returned in 1961 as a stand alone series.


The Alvin Show - Inspired animated show starring The Chipmunks with one of the greatest theme songs of all time. The best The Chipmunks ever were or will be.

Father Knows Best - CBS broadcast this show the first year, 1954-55, then hastily let it escape to NBC where the homey sitcom ran for another 3 years. Oops! After that, CBS picked up the reruns for another two terms, this being the last.

Checkmate - Detective drama that aired from 1960-1962. Set in San Francisco, it starred Anthony George, Sebastian Cabot, and Doug McClure.

Mrs. G Goes To College - Gertrude Berg's unsuccessful return to TV after the shabby treatment The Goldbergs had with the medium. An episode appears on the Shout! DVD collection of The Goldbergs.


The Bob Cummings Show - Quirky comedy about This show bounced between NBC and CBS between 1955-1959. This was a single season of reruns.

Frontier Circus - Westerns were the hottest thing on TV in 1961, this one starred Chill Wills but failed to get renewed.

The Investigators - Insurance gumshoes, another stiff for CBS in 1961, the show was yanked mid-season, something that was rarely done back then.

CBS Reports - Hour long CBS News program, the season before they aired the groundbreaking Harvest of Shame hosted by Edward R. Murrow who left TV in early-1961.


Rawhide - Year 2 of 7, starred Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood as Rowdy Yates.

PART THREE (Friday nights)

Route 66 - Still one of my favorite shows, the second of 4 seasons on CBS.

The Twilight Zone - Second season of Rod Serling's TV masterpiece.

Father of the Bride - Sitcom with Leon Ames and Ruth Warrick based on the popular movie from 1950. Lasted only one season.

Eyewitness (to History) - CBS News production hosted by Walter Cronkite.


Perry Mason - TV's most famous barrister returned for a fifth season.

The Defenders - Acclaimed courtroom drama debuted for a 4 season run; starring E. G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-and-son defense attorneys.

Have Gun Will Travel - Palladin worked out of San Francisco, an old west enforcer who solved bitter disputes with his charm, wit and, reluctantly, a six shooter if need be.

Gunsmoke - This year the series expanded to one hour, the most popular show in the nation for the last 4 years.


G.E. College Bowl - Venerable contest between collegiate smart guys.

The 20th Century - Another CBS news show.

Mr. Ed - First year for the talking horse. Who would have guessed this show would have legs? Mr. Ed started in syndication, then moved to CBS this season for a 4 year gallop. Owner Rudd Weatherwax actually lost Lassie briefly in a poker game.

Lassie - Ran for an amazing 19 years on CBS, from 1954-1973.

Dennis the Menace - Aired from 1959 to 1963 on CBS.

Ed Sullivan Show - Massively popular variety show with the wooden host; 14 years on the air by 1961.

G.E. Theater - Anthology hour hosted by Ronald Reagan, the last of 10 seasons.

Jack Benny Program - For my money the funniest show of the year. Another personality that NBC and CBS tossed back and forth. Benny had one of the brightest and most popular radio programs on NBC, he moved to CBS radio in 1949. CBS TV put him on in 1950 where he ran until 1964. The show moved to NBC from 1964-1965.

Candid Camera - One of the longest running shows in TV history with more revivals than I can count. First aired on ABC, then NBC, then CBS, then syndication, then NBC, then CBS...

What's My Line - Another long-running celebrity panel program.

More 1961 Shows:


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