1950s Television Characters I Wanted to Be

Did you ever watch a program on TV and imagine how amazing it would be if you had the heroes superpowers or physique or lifestyle?

In the 1950s, we had a limited selection of television programs to watch, but they all seemed to be wonderful. That opinion could have come from the fact that television was new, so all the shows were bright and shiny bits of excitement we’d never before experienced.

I loved everything I saw and almost every show was suitable for all ages. I watched Gunsmoke, The Bob Cummings Show, Dragnet, Father Knows Best, Ozzie and Harriet, Have Gun-Will Travel, The Honeymooners, Lassie and dozens more. (My husband can actually tell you what night and at what time they all aired…I think he sat in front of that box day and night.)

There were a few female characters that stood out above the rest. The roles they played were 3-dimensional and kept you coming back for more every week. Those were the women I adored, laughed and cried with and wanted to emulate.

Between the ages of 5 and 7, I watched The Mickey Mouse Club, which was replete with wholesome kids and stories that were relevant to most ages. At 7 years old, I discovered Annette Funicello on that show. She was the perfect young girl – sweet, smart and self-deprecating. She was a giver and a good friend. She had values and ambitions. Annette was an excellent role model and I wanted to be her!  Here’s a clip  of one of the shows I loved:

Annette Funicello-Mickey Mouse Club-The Committee

[Around the same time, my parents watched The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. It was mostly G-rated, so we kids were allowed to watch, too. Gracie Allen never failed to put me into hysterics. Even at 7 years old, I could recognize that she was smarter than she pretended to be, but the ‘clueless wife’ routine earned her all the laughs. I wanted her sense of humor. I though making others laugh was the greatest gift a person could have. Take a look:

Gracie Allen – The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show


During that same decade of 1950-1960, Lucille Ball was hugely popular for her ‘I Love Lucy‘ show. For me, she was a cross between Annette and Gracie. She was funny, and sweet and always a loyal friend. But, the big lesson I learned from watching her is that no one is perfect and sometimes, no matter how hard you try to do things well, you can still flub it up. It’s best to laugh at yourself and try again, rather than cry or give up. Please enjoy this clip:

Lucille Ball-I Love Lucy-Superman

Watching these old TV shows brings back happy memories. I don’t look at them in the same way, however. I look at them as a writer now. I recognize the ‘hook’, the ‘inciting incident’, the ‘climax’ and the ‘resolution’. I tear them apart to see what worked and what didn’t.

The lessons remain in tact, though. Humor gets you through the tough days and softens the impact of mistakes made. Kindness, consideration and believing in yourself are values more important than popularity or winning.

What television shows  from your childhood do you remember fondly? Did the lessons in them stand the test of time?

You know I love hearing from you! I look forward to your opinion!

This Friday I’ll be talking to Donna, who won my prize giveaway at The Life List Club Milestone Party back on September 23rd. Part of the post will be a book giveaway to one of my commenters! Stop in and meet Donna and chat with us. Maybe YOU will be the lucky one who wins a very special book!

Please note: This post was inspired by one written by Clay Morgan on October 19th. Click his name and check out his original post.

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18 thoughts on “1950s Television Characters I Wanted to Be

  1. Yes, yes, yes! You’ve got so many of the great shows here. TV seemed to be so much funnier then … or was it just that we weren’t jaded? Thanks for all of these great reminders. I watched them all too and of course, right after school, American Bandstand with Dick Clark!

    • I’ve wondered the same thing…I still find some of it funnier when I watch the old stuff, some is just lame (read-I’m jaded). Loved American Bandstand! I was a faithful viewer too and always dreamed of being on there. My older sis never watched it and wondered why i danced better than her. πŸ™‚

  2. Thanks for the clips! I’d never seen the show, but that train scene was hysterical. It’s also neat to see some of the social conventions going on at the time. Wish we could bring some of them back. I loved Perry Mason, too! And Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Star Trek, and The Brady Bunch (I know, that last one’s weird, but I liked it as a kid – I was an only child, so the idea of a big family seemed really cool).

    • Glad you enjoyed it. Brady Bunch was one of my faves too! You know, the ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia’ sing-song thing…people still, to this day, say that to me and folow it up with “you probably haven’t heard that before, right?” LOL

      Gracie Allen was an amazing comedian…glad you liked her.

  3. I used to watch I love Lucy and Beverly Hillbillies reruns over lunch time. Then I loved the Carol Burnett Show and Mama’s Family. Such classic comedic women. But I must say, after watching that Mickey Mouse clip, that first kid is so awkward and stiff in his movements. OMG, I just laughed with his pleated pants and sweater vest looking so pompous. He loosened up a bit when he was dancing, but my god! LOL

  4. I have to confess that the shows I remember the most are Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock–maybe because I was one of the few in my class allowed to watch them. I did like Bonanza and Perry Mason, too, so my 8 year old mind wasn’t completely warped.

    • Well, Diana, if your mind is warped, mine is too. I watched everything there was to watch on TV, incuding Twilight Zone, Hitchcock and Saturday monster movies! I think you were just very mature-not warped. πŸ™‚

  5. I always loved the ABC Afterschool specials. They always seemed to be filmed in New England and being a Southern California girl, I wanted so desperately to live on the east coast.

    As for who I wanted to be, well, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl always had a good time, as did Laverne & Shirley. I envied their easygoing single girl life. Isn’t that a hoot? If you watch the shows, it’s all about them not being single or broke, but to me they were happy.

    • The east coast is an awesome place to live because of all its history.
      Laverne and Shirley was one of my favorite hsows at that time. The writing for the show was amazing. I can see why you were taken by their single life…it was carefree and they made mistakes but Dad was always there to bail them out if necessary. They had friends and jobs and lots of laughs…who wouldn’t want that?
      So do you still want to live on the east coast? I’ll trade with you for awhile. πŸ™‚

    • You’re very welcome, David. I watched Howdy Doody, probably the final season and I loved Roy Rogers and Dale Evans! I don’t remember the episodes but I do remember their singing voices. Ohh, Bob Hope…I loved him, too! His comedy movies were so much fun.

  6. Thanks for the memories, Marcia! I grew up in the Canadian Rocky Mountains before cable TV so we didn’t have TV until I was in high school, but in addition to the shows you mentioned, another favorite was the Andy Williams Christmas specials.

  7. Being born in 1957 I missed some of these but watched the reruns…for me Beaver and Andy Griffith were some of my favs along with yours…Lassie, Father Knows Best, Lucy. I also loved Perry Mason…I always love a mystery…

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