If you asked Gen X kids of the seventies and eighties to name their top five TV programs from the sixties that they grew up watching, it’s a good bet that Bewitched would be one of the top picks. The show debuted on ABC in 1964 and stayed on prime time until 1972. After the show left the network, it became a staple of afternoon syndicated TV on stations all across the country. It continues to live on cable and nostalgia channels to this day.
Bewitched featured a suburban couple comprised of a modern-day Witch and her mortal husband who worked in advertising. In the third season in 1966, a daughter Tabitha came along and was followed in 1969 by her brother Adam. Both kids had the same powers as their mom.
The show’s success in syndication was probably the reason why ABC aired a spinoff show, Tabitha, in 1977. A pilot was produced in 1976 but was not picked up by the network. Another pilot was produced the following year, this time with a new Tabitha and this version was picked up for the 1977-1978 season.
Tabitha from Bewitched would have been eleven in 1977, however, in the new show, she was a twenty-something production assistant at a TV station in Los Angeles. Another way the show strayed from the original was that Adam was older than his sister and he was a mortal. Tabitha also featured a character named Aunt Minerva, who was not a part of the original show.
Tabitha was portrayed by Erin Murphy on the originals show and by Lisa Hartman on the spinoff. Hartman went on to greater fame as a cast member of Knotts Landing in the eighties. She also had a #1 song on the Country chart in 1999 with When I Said I Do, a duet with her husband, Clint Black. The show also featured Robert Urich as Tabitha’s love interest. A year later he would have the leading role on Vega$, which was also on ABC.
The pilot aired in May of 1977. The series made it debut on Sept 10 but the second episode did not air until November. It was then regularly airing on Saturday nights and getting good ratings at first, but then started to go down and got even worse by the time the show moved to Friday nights. The show was canceled and reruns aired up until August of 78.
MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is Love Stinks by The The J. Geils Band
Love Stinks hit #38 on the American singles charts and went up to #15 on the Canadian charts in 1980. The song was written by the band’s lead singer Peter Wolf and keyboardist Seth Justman. The lyrics have been rumored to be inspired by Wolf’s marriage to film star Faye Dunaway which ended in divorce in 1979.
To stream or purchase Best Of The J. Geils Band via Amazon, click on the image below.
MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is Thank You For Being A Friend by Andrew Gold.
Thank You For Being A Friend was the first of four music videos from Andrew Gold that aired on that first day on MTV. The other three videos were Go Back Home Again, Never Let Her Slip Away, and his biggest American chart hit, Lonely Boy, which hit the top 10 in 1977.
In 1978 Thank You For Being A Friend hit #25 on the Billboard singles chart and #11 on Cash Box. Seven years later in 1985, the tune was used as the theme song for The Golden Girls. It was re-recorded for the show and featured vocals by Cynthia Fee. That version has become one of the best-known TV theme songs of all time.
Stream or purchase Thank You for Being a Friend: The Best of Andrew Gold via Amazon by clicking on the image below.
MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is I’m Gonna Follow You by Pat Benatar.
The second video ever played on MTV was You Better Run, which was the lead single off of Benatar’s 4 x platinum album, Crimes of Passion. Later in the day, I’m Gonna Follow You, another song from the same album made it’s MTV debut. What’s interesting is that the album’s highest-charting song, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, never had a music video released for it, but one was made for I’m Gonna Follow You, which was not a single.
Click on the image below to stream or buy Crimes of Passion by Pat Benatar via Amazon.
MTV debuted at 12:01 am on Aug 1, 1981. To celebrate the channel’s 38th birthday, every Flashback Friday music video in August will be a song that appeared on the first day of MTV. Today’s video is More Than I Can Say by Leo Sayer.
The song spent five weeks at #2 on the singles chart in December of 1980 and January of 1981. It also went to #2 on the British singles charts. The song hit #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart.
The song was written by Sonny Curtis and Jerry Allison. Both were members of The Crickets. Allison played drums in the band before and after Buddy Holly’s death. Curtis performed with Holly before the Crickets formed and then joined the band as lead singer after Holly died in 1959.
Stream or purchase The Very Best of Leo Sayer via Amazon by clicking on the link below.
The Western had been a major genre for film and television from the earliest days of both their industries up until the first half of the seventies. In fact, by that time, there had already been over one hundred Western TV shows on the airwaves. In 1959 alone, there were 30 Westerns that you could watch during the week. By the late seventies, successful Westerns were few and far between. Hollywood had worn out the genre.
Older Gen Xers might remember when Gunsmoke was still on the air. That classic show ran on CBS from 1955 to 1975. Another show that might have caught the eye of eary Xers was Kung Fu, the legendary Western with a martial arts twist that aired on ABC from 1972 to 1975. While there were still some big Western films made in the first half of the seventies, it could be argued that only The Outlaw Josey Wales and The Shootist, which was John Wayne’s final film, were the only significant classic westerns released in the second half of the seventies.
The eighties kicked off the genre with some major box office bombs such as Heaven’s Gate and The Legend of the Lone Ranger. There were some hits scattered across the decade such as Silverado, Young Guns, The Man from Snowy River and of course the biggest Western of the decade, Pale Rider. The genre really shined on the small screen during the decade in the form of Made for Television Movies and Mini-Series. Some of note are the Kenny Rogers Gambler films on CBS, The five Desperado films on NBC and several CBS films featuring Country music legends such as Wilie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. The biggest hit on TV was the massively successful Mini-Series, Lonesome Dove in 1989.
The success of Lonesome Dove kicked off a bit of a Western resurgence in the first half of the nineties. The decade started off in 1990 with a huge hit in Dances with Wolves. The film earned Kevin Costner an Oscar for best director and it also won the award for best picture. Young Guns 2 was also big at the box office that year. Unforgiven starring Clint Eastwood was a huge hit in 1992 and won the Oscar for best picture. Tombstone became a classic in 1993 and possibly only second to My Darling Clementine from 1946 as the definitive film version of the famous gun battle at the O.K. Corral. Kevin Costner returned to the genre in 1994 with Wyatt Earp, but this version of the O.K. Corral story was not as successful as Tombstone.
TV Westerns continued with a series of Gunsmoke movies and Kenny Rogers returned to play the Gambler two more times. Lonesome Dove had a sequel called Return to Lonesome Dove air in 1993 and that was followed by two syndicated series: Lonesome Dove: The Series and Lonesome Dove: The Outlaw Years.
One of the most popular game shows in TV history debuted on this day 43 years ago. Family Feud premiered on ABC on July 12, 1976. The show was hosted by Richard Dawson and created by Mark Goodson.
Dawson was best known for his role on the World War 2 POW sitcom, Hogan’s Heroes. He was also a popular panelist on Match Game, which was another very successful game show of the seventies. Goodson, along with his partner Bill Todman, produced some of the biggest game shows on TV. Besides Family Feud and Match Game, they also produced Password, ThePrice is Right, Card Sharks, and Tattletales.
Although it got off to a slow climb as far as ratings go, it eventually became so popular that the following year saw a syndicated nighttime version premier on stations all across the country. The show surpassed MatchGame as the most viewed game show on TV and kept that title until Wheel of Fortune took the crown in 1984. The daytime and nighttime shows were canceled in 1985.
CBS revived the show in 1988 and another syndicated version premiered that year as well. Both shows were hosted by Ray Combs. The CBS show stayed on the air until 1993. By this time, Goodson and Todman had passed away and Mark’s son, Johnathan was running the company that owned the show. Ratings were down on the syndicated show and Richard Dawson was hired to once again host the show. His return briefly brought the ratings back up, but that didn’t last long and the show was canceled in 1995.
In 1999 a new syndicated version hit the airwaves and was hosted by comedian Louie Anderson. After Anderson left the show, Richard Karn of Home Improvement fame took over for four years. John O’Hurley who played Peterman on Seinfeld also did a four-year stint as host. In 2010, Steve Harvey took over as host and the ratings shot up, In 2015, the show leaped ahead of Wheel of Fortune as the most watched syndicated game show on TV. Family Feud celebrates it’s 43rd anniversary this week as the #1 syndicated show in America.
Here’s the first Family Feud show from July 12, 1976.
Farrah Fawcett passed away on this day 10 years ago at the age of 62. She was the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era.
As we have stated before, we consider the Gen X era to be from the mid-seventies to the mid-nineties. For first wave Gen Xers, this covers middle childhood in the mid and late seventies, late childhood and teen years/ college in the eighties and college and young adult life in the early and mid-nineties.
So with that being said, it really is the mid-seventies when older Gen X kids are starting to be aware of the culture around them. Charlie’s Angels debuted on ABC in the fall of 1976. The show was an instant hit and the most talked about new show of the year. Besides Fawcett, the show also starred Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith as a trio of beautiful private eyes who work for a mysterious boss named Charlie whose face you never see on screen. All three actresses become household names, but with the success of the show and an iconic poster in millions of young men’s bedrooms, Fawcett is the standout star of the show. It also doesn’t hurt that she is married to Lee Majors who stars as The Six Million Dollar Man, also on ABC.
Many folks would think that Star Wars would be the first pop culture phenomenon of the Gen X era, but that movie did not come out until May of 1977. That is the reason why we consider Farrah as our generation’s first pop culture phenomenon.
The #1 show on TV this week ( June 12-18, 1978 ) in 1978 was One Day at a Time. The show was one of the many programs that were produced by Norman Lear in the seventies. Like most of the others, One Day at a Time aired on CBS.
The show was about a recently divorced mom who moved with her two daughters from Logansport, Indiana to an apartment in Indianapolis. The series was created by Whitney Blake and Allan Mannings, a married writing team. The show was based on Blake’s life as a divorced mom with kids. Blake was also an actress who played the mom on the sixties sitcom, Hazel. One Day at a Time was different from most other sitcoms focused on a family in that the single parent was not widowed but divorced.
The show starred Bonnie Franklin as the mom, Ann Romano with Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli as her two teenage daughters. The show also starred Pat Harrington Jr. as Schneider, the apartment building’s superintendent. Various other characters came and went throughout the show’s nine-year run. Phillips was fired in 1980 due to drug issues and was rehired a few years later. She collapsed on the set in 1983 and afterward refused to take a drug test and was fired.
First wave Gen Xers might have been a bit young to watch the show when it premiered in 1975, but the show stayed on the air until they were in high school or just starting college in 1984. Many Gen X members did grow up with the show via the reruns that CBS aired on weekday afternoons from 1979-1982. The show is remembered for being one of the first to feature a divorced parent as the main character, for launching the stardom of Phillips and Bertinelli and for the various hot button social issues of the time that were discussed on the show.
Two years ago today, Adam West passed away at the age of 88. For Gen X, we are too young to remember or were not even born yet when the BATMAN series starring West aired on ABC from 1966 to 1968.
Our generation grew up watching Batman reruns after school on one of our local channels. For many of us, Adam West was our first TV hero. We also watched The New Adventures of Batman on Saturday mornings on CBS in the mid-seventies. This short-lived cartoon featured the voices of West and Burt Ward. They also teamed up for two live-action specials on NBC called Legends of the Superheroes in 1979.
When the feature film Batman came out in 1989, we may have liked Michael Keaton’s performance of the Caped Crusader, but West was still our Batman. Some of us met him and got an autograph at some car show, or Sci-Fi convention in the seventies and eighties.
When the Batman show aired in the nineties on FX and The Family Channel, young Gen X parents introduced the show to their kids. In this current decade, some of us who had kids later in life, and or who have grandchildren introduced the show to our little ones via ME-TV and the IFC Channel or on DVD.
He became a true Pop Culture Icon as we became adults in the nineties. He worked steadily in the last three decades in films and TV, frequently doing voice-overs, most notably as the Mayor on Family Guy.
Since that 1989 film came out there have been four other actors besides Keaton who have put the cowl and cape on. There were also two other actors who played Batman in serials back in the forties. The West version of Batman, the way he looked, his mannerisms, his voice, is still the Iconic image of the Caped Crusader.
William West Anderson (September 19, 1928 – June 9, 2017), known to the world as Adam West left this world two years ago today. He is stilled missed and will never be forgotten.
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