1960s TV Shows: What Did People Watch?


TV Shows in the early 1960s were mostly in black and white. But color started to catch on in the mid-60s and by 1967 every show was broadcast in color.


Bewitched, Andy Griffith and I Spy all enjoyed great runs. The Dick Van Dyke show won an Emmy just about every year it seems.

There were a number of TV casualties in 1964, including “The Judy Garland Show.” Forty percent of the TV shows in prime time were new.

Bewitched and Peyton Place were two of the most popular shows at that time.

Emmy Award winners included: “The Making of the President 1960”; “The Telephone Hour”; and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

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In 1964 there were about 2.8 million color TV sets in the home vs. 55 million black and white sets.

Color TV was finally here. 96% of NBC, 50% of CBS and 40% of ABC’s shows were in color.

The new offerings in 1965 fared poorly however. Among the quickly axed shows were The Steve Lawrence Show and Convoy. Also dropped were several holdovers from 1964 like The King Family, Shindig, Rawhide, Mr. Novak and The Defenders.

Some of the most successful new shows were Get Smart!, Hogan’s Heroes (one of my dad’s favorites), Green Acres, and I Spy. In 1965, Bill Cosby became the first African-American actor to co-star in a network TV drama.

Frank Sinatra’s 50th birthday special was a big deal. As was the Pope’s visit to NYC.

An Emmy Award was given to 23-year-old rising star Barbra Streisand.

In 1966 there was growing evidence that a vast number of the nation’s living rooms were becoming family motion picture theaters. More networks were devoting prime time to old movies, and the ratings achieved by these films which had sat quietly in Hollywood vaults for years, were indeed startling.

Batman, a campy version of the comic strip, was a surprise late 1965, but its ratings dropped as 1966 progressed and the top rated shows in 1966 were holdovers from 1965. Shows like Lucy, Bonanza, Green Acres, Red Skelton, Gomer Pyle and Andy Griffith. The more successful new shows were A Family Affair and Rat Patrol.

The Dick Van Dyke show won four more Emmys. Emmys were also won by A Charlie Brown Christmas and Bill Cosby in I Spy.

By the fall of 1966, programming on all three major networks was 99% in color. The color TV buying public was buying them so fast manufacturers had difficulty keeping up!

Keep reading below for detail on each year, from 1960-1969, listing the most popular 1960s-era television shows.

Top 10 1960s TV Shows

What were the most popular TV shows in the 1960s?

The most-watched television shows, from 1960 to 1969, were:

  • Gunsmoke (1960)
  • Wagon Train (1961)
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1962)
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (1963)
  • Bonanza (1964)
  • Bonanza (1965)
  • Bonanza (1966)
  • The Andy Griffith Show (1967)
  • Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968)
  • Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1969)

TV Shows in 1960

What were the most popular TV shows in 1960?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1960 were:

  1. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  2. Wagon Train (NBC)
  3. Have Gun Will Travel (CBS)
  4. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  5. The Real McCoys (ABC)
  6. Rawhide (CBS)
  7. Candid Camera (CBS)
  8. The Untouchables (ABC)
  9. The Price is Right (NBC)
  10. The Jack Benny Show (CBS)

TV Shows in 1961

What were the most popular TV shows in 1961?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1961 were:

  1. Wagon Train (NBC)
  2. Bonanza (NBC)
  3. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  4. Hazel (NBC)
  5. Perry Mason (CBS)
  6. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  7. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  8. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)
  9. Dr. Kildare (NBC)
  10. Candid Camera (CBS)

TV Shows in 1962

What were the most popular TV shows in 1962?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1962 were:

  1. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
  2. Candid Camera (CBS)
  3. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  4. Bonanza (NBC)
  5. The Lucy Show (CBS)
  6. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  7. Ben Casey (ABC)
  8. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)
  9. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS)
  10. Gunsmoke (CBS)

TV Shows in 1963

What were the most popular TV shows in 1963?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1963 were:

1. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
2. Bonanza (NBC)
3. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS)
4. Petticoat Junction (CBS)
5. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
6. The Lucy Show (CBS)
7. Candid Camera (CBS)
8. The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS)
9. The Danny Thomas Show (CBS)
10. My Favorite Martian (CBS)

TV Shows in 1964

What were the most popular TV shows in 1964?

The top ten TV Shows in 1964 were:

  1. Bonanza (NBC)
  2. Bewitched (ABC)
  3. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (CBS)
  4. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  5. The Fugitive (ABC)
  6. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  7. The Dick Van Dyke Show (CBS)
  8. The Lucy Show (CBS)
  9. Peyton Place II (ABC)
  10. Combat (ABC)

TV Shows in 1965

What were the most popular TV shows in 1965?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1965 were:

  1. Bonanza (NBC)
  2. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (CBS)
  3. The Lucy Show (CBS)
  4. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  5. Batman (Thursday) (ABC)
  6. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  7. Bewitched (ABC)
  8. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
  9. Hogan’s Heroes (CBS)
  10. Batman (Wednesday) (ABC)

TV Shows in 1966

What were the most popular TV shows in 1966?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1966 were:

  1. Bonanza (NBC)
  2. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  3. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  4. The Lucy Show (CBS)
  5. The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS)
  6. Green Acres (CBS)
  7. Daktari (CBS)
  8. Bewitched (ABC)
  9. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)
  10. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (CBS)

TV Shows in 1967

What were the most popular TV shows in 1967?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1967 were:

  1. The Andy Griffith Show (CBS)
  2. The Lucy Show (CBS)
  3. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (CBS)
  4. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  5. Family Affair (CBS)
  6. Bonanza (NBC)
  7. The Red Skelton Show (CBS)
  8. The Dean Martin Show (NBC)
  9. The Jackie Gleason Show (CBS)
  10. NBC Saturday Night Movie (NBC)

TV Shows in 1968

What were the most popular TV shows in 1968?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1968 were:

  1. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (NBC)
  2. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (CBS)
  3. Bonanza (NBC)
  4. Mayberry R.F.D (CBS)
  5. Family Affair (CBS)
  6. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  7. Julia (NBC)
  8. The Dean Martin Show (NBC)
  9. Here’s Lucy (CBS)
  10. The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS)

TV Shows in 1969

What were the most popular TV shows in 1969?

The Top Ten TV Shows in 1969 were:

  1. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (NBC)
  2. Gunsmoke (CBS)
  3. Bonanza (NBC)
  4. Mayberry R.F.D. (CBS)
  5. Family Affair (CBS)
  6. Here’s Lucy (CBS)
  7. The Red Skelton Hour (CBS)
  8. Marcus Welby, M.D. (ABC)
  9. Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (NBC)
  10. The Doris Day Show (CBS)

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38 thoughts on “1960s TV Shows: What Did People Watch?

  1. Terri

    There was a tv show, I believe in the 1960’s, that I have a vague recollection of. I would have been very young, so my memory is not clear. But I think I recall an opening introduction where a woman opens the front door and looks around to assess the weather. She may have been the housekeeper? The weather is sunny, so the man of the house heads out to work and the sky instantly turns dark and the rain begins to pour. I believe the housekeeper hands him an umbrella. Do you recall something like this? It bugs me every once in a while.

    1. Earline

      You are definitely thinking of the show “HAZEL”. Though you must have been thinking about the last season. In the introduction “HAZEL” played by “Shirley Booth” is standing outside at the Front Door, offering each of The Baxter’s an umbrella, as they are leaving the house. Each one of them look up at the sky and rejects the umbrella. In the next scene we see “Hazel” running down the walkway with an armful of rain gear. No doubt she was trying to keep a few people from getting wet. I don’t think “HAZEL” will ever hit any of “THE BEST OF THE 1960’S TELEVISION SHOWS” LIST. Eventhough “SHIRLEY BOOTH” WON TWO EMMYS FOR HER ROLE AS “HAZEL”, it just doesn’t seem to have stuck well on anybody’s well received shows list. It even did very well in the ratings. Well, at least it is available on DVD, on “AMAZON”, but if you’re interested in getting Season One, count on either paying well over $100.00 or keep checking for inexpensive Good Used Copies. I believe it is out of print, which probably contributes to the high cost. I understand too, that you may be able to find an inexpensive copy of “SEASON ONE” from one of those “GAME STORES”. The rest of the Seasons, 2-5, are available now on “AMAZON”. WELL, ENJOY!

  2. Matt Pellegrini

    This one is driving all of us at work crazy. Doews anyone have title to this Made for tv movie, set in the 1950’s, about about a town rebel falling in love with a pretty blond teenager.
    They both want to get married but he finds out that a girl he had sex with is now pregnant with his child.
    At the end of the movie, he decides to marry his pregnant friend and become a bean farmer

    1. Sue Upchurch

      Did you ever find out what you were looking for with the town rebel and the pretty blonde teenager? I remember one very close to that called BLUE DENIM. It was a very good movie with a lot of emotion. Hope that was it. If so, it starred a very young Brandon DeWilde and Carol Lynley.

    2. Bob Stutts

      I do seem to recall this – however I believe it was Michael Parks and I believe it might have been in the series “Channing”.

    3. TG

      Could you be thinking of the movie “Splendor in the Grass” with Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood? It was released in 1961, tho Natalie Wood wasn’t blonde. Warren Beatty wasn’t so much a rebel but a college-bound rich kid and Natalie Wood was living with her very prudish mother who was worried she would get pregnant and ruin her life. They part ways and both go off in different directions, but Wood comes back to visit and finds Beatty, a farmer, living in a shack with his pregnant wife and a bunch of kids. Wood has became lovely and refined while Beatty turned into a trashy slob.

  3. Anne Heafield

    I am looking for a 60’s TV show that featured and adult scout. I cannot for the life of me remember the name. Any help appreciated, thanks

  4. Shay

    I’m trying to remember an old show black and white it started off with a guy telling about mysteries or something to that effect and in the beginning it had circles flipping across the screen he had came on every time a skit was over and talked and introduced the next one.?

    1. Julie

      The show was “One Step Beyond”. All the episodes had a slant toward the supernatural. (ie: deaf man rescues a crippled woman during a tsunami in Hawaii. He hears her calls for help: strange knocking on as ship at see goes on for years, when ship is scraped a skeleton with a wrench in its hand is found in the hull). Lots of fun. Creepy but not horror shows.

  5. mieke

    Does anyone remember a Christmas movie about a boy who rides on a train with his old teddy bear to the North Pole so that he can ask Santa Claus for a new teddy bear?
    As he gets his wish with a new white teddy bear, there is a haunting moment when Santa tells the boy “Look at your old teddy bear–he still loves you”.

  6. Mike

    Can anybody help with the title of a half-hour U.S. comedy which featured briefly on Granada TV (North West England) that started at around 18:30 or 19:00 in mid-to-late 1960s? The opening credits feature a woman crossing the street and almost getting run over by a car. She then clouts the hood/bonnet of the car with her umbrella. I think the title of the show was a female Christian name.


  7. gail

    I am trying to remember the name of TV show starting with a man moving across a giant chess board with chess pieces?

  8. Florrie Williams

    two shows I can not remember the name of; One opened with music from a Lutheran hymn. The main character was a little boy named Davie and each day he would learn a lesson on kindness, giving sharing etc.
    The other show had characters that were puppets. possibly security agents that were sent to stop any sabotage in what was a futuristic city.
    Not sure how long they aired. The one with Davie may have only been a fifteen minutes long.
    Now this will test your memory.

  9. Nancy

    I recall a 30 minute children’s program. It featured a friendly older woman who fed fish and read children’s stories. Story time lady? It would have been 1969ish. It aired in the mornings in my home town in West Michigan. Unlike Romper Room, or Bozo there were no kids. Mr. Rogers “borrowed” some of the basics.

  10. Trish

    I remember a show that had a little white figure made of egg shells that would introduce cartoons (Loony Toons) and he had a creepy voice. He was called Mr. EggHead. At the end of each show a hand would smash him in some bizzare way. I remember a toy tank running him over. Does ANYONE else remember this show?

  11. Carla Michels

    I think it was a talk show that had 2 women hosts and a male host I also remember that one or both of the women would sing the song I don’t like spiders and snakes and I think it was either in the late year of 73 0r early 1974 the show was canceled because the male host had a fatal heat attack it was a very sad day does anyone remember the name of the show and the names of the hosts I think it was on the NBC network but could be wrong.

    1. TG

      The Jim Stafford show was a limited (6 week) Summer variety show…skits, singers, dancers…. that aired in July-September 1975. Jim Stafford was well known for the song he sang (I dont’t like spiders and snakes…).
      However, Jim.Stafford did not die. Perhaps this is the show you were thinking about?

  12. Ria

    As a little girl, around 3 or 4 p.m. a show that always showed at the commercial break a little boy skipping/running fast barefoot outside with a fishing pole. It’s was around the time Ma and Pa Kettle came on.

  13. grace hayes

    There was a show in the 60’s based on historical events and had a rather dramatic theme song sort of in the nature of a John Williams theme. Does anyone remember it?

  14. Elaine

    I kinda remember a circus tv weekly show ack in the 60’s or 70’s . Am I loosing it or does someone else remember it. I wanna say it was on Friday night for an hour. Help please,,,,,

    1. Gisele

      I remember a circus-themed show hosted by Don Ameche in the early sixties. I believe it was International Showtime.

  15. Richard

    There was a kind of current events show around the 1960’s that I vaguely remember. What caught my attention was the fellow on a raft playing a saxophone at the beginning of the show. At the time, I really liked what he was playing. Does anyone recall the name of this show?

  16. Elaine Miller

    Does anyone remember the name of the Perry Mason episode where Perry interrogated a child on the witness stand and was able to get him or her to admit they were not telling the truth by saying something to the effect “your story is very consistent. Who helped you make up your story” to which the child finally replies “nobody helped me – i made it up all by myself”. Would love to see that episode again but still havem’t foulnd it after countless reruns on METV. Probably was one of the earlier episodes, possibly made in the 1950s.


    I am trying to remember the name of a TV show that aired in NYC in the early 1960s. It was a show that, like the Million Dollar Movie and The Late Show, featured full-length theatrically released films. It had a peppy musical theme that I think featured pizzicato (plucked) violins. Can anyone help think of what it might be?

  18. Ricardo Blanco

    When I was about 6yrs. old in Queens, N.Y., I recall what I believe was a weekend children’s show, either Saturday or Sunday were they had the usual fanfare of those kids shows from that mid-60’s era. Then at about before the show’s ending, the host would sit at a desk not unlike the desk of “The Johnny Carson Show”, where he would show slides of and discuss very real looking and to me at that time very unsettling pictures of UFO’s.
    It isn’t Wonderama or the Soupey Sales Show. That I’m sure of.

  19. Kelsey Rotten

    There was a final episode of Star Trek that possibly only aired in Canada. It so bad it never made it to syndicated reruns. A transporter accident causes crew members to switch bodies, and Spock has to adjust to walking like a woman.

  20. Deborah J Elzey

    My Three Sons I loved that show, of course also Hazel and Mr. Ed the talking horse. Surprised Gillians Island was not mentioned.


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