Over the decades, we’ve all watched a lot of memorable television shows. Some of the shows may have been before our time but thanks to reruns, we are able to watch shows that we weren’t around for. Much of my TV viewing as a kid was in the form of reruns. I can remember loving shows like Leave it to Beaver, I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show….the list goes on. I think having such a wide variety of television shows from different years helped give me a love for television.
Back in the early years of television broadcasting, shows were live and not recorded. The time zone difference between the east and the west was one reason for studios deciding to record shows. For example, if a network broadcast a television show in New York at 7pm eastern time, people on the west coast may not get to see it because they’d still be at work at 4:00. They were out of luck.
The other day I thought to myself, I wonder who even invented the concept of reruns? Well, I found the answer. Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball are who we have to thank for reruns. According to Entrepreneur.com, “Arnaz and Ball offered a simple solution: produce the show on film and dispense with kinescopes altogether. CBS wasn’t exactly thrilled with this suggestion. Using film would double production costs. To offset the added cost, Arnaz and Ball agreed to cut their joint weekly salary from $5,000 to $4,000 on the condition that Desilu retained all rights to the show. CBS agreed, and in one fell swoop Arnaz and Ball invented reruns, paved the way for syndication, and pulled off what would become one of the most lucrative deals in television history.”
The article goes on to say “By insisting that “I Love Lucy” be recorded on film, which could be easily stored and broadcast over and over again without any degradation of picture quality, Desi Arnaz initiated the industry practice of airing reruns, which made summer hiatuses possible and opened up a new market for the sale of film rights.” The first television series to be rerun was I Love Lucy. Thanks to Desi and Lucy for paving the way!
Today, thanks to streaming services, we have quite the menu of shows we can watch from every decade of television. Imagine a few decades ago someone telling you that in the future, you could watch TV shows on a telephone that fits in your hand while on the go. We’ve come so far!
In this episode of Trivia Rewind, I have 10 trivia questions for you about television shows that aired between the 1950s and the 1990s. Maybe you watched them in real time. Maybe you watched them as reruns. Whatever the case, these were some great shows. After I ask you the ten questions, I’ll go back and give you the answers plus some fun facts. The fun facts are always my favorite part!
In our fun facts segment, find out which actor recently made the news touting his “stay-awake-spray” and commenting that it may have helped Tiger Woods avoid his recent accident. Find out which TV couple couldn’t stand each other in real life and why that was. I’ll tell you which young actress’ controversial film role and topless photos got her in trouble with her TV dad. Those are just a few of the fun facts I will tell you about in this episode.
And as promised in the episode, here’s the trailer for the new series Bel-Air. I’m looking forward to this new television show where Will Smith is one of the producers.
Below, you will find the transcript for this episode. You can listen to Trivia Rewind on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.
Trivia Rewind – Episode 41 – TV Reruns – Shows from the 50s to the 90s
[00:00:00] Debi Jenkins: [00:00:00] Hey there, I’m Debi Jenkins, the host of Trivia Rewind. Over the decades, we’ve watched a lot of memorable television shows. Some of the shows may have been before our time but thanks to reruns, we are able to watch. In this day and age, the concept of reruns is definitely taken for granted. Back in the early years of television broadcasting, shows were live and not recorded.
[00:00:39] The time zone difference between the East and the West was one reason for studios deciding to record shows. For example, if a network broadcast a television show in New York at 7:00 PM Eastern time, people on the West coast may not get to see it because they’d still be at work at [00:01:00] 4:00 PM and they would be out of luck.
[00:01:04] Well, thanks to Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, they came up with a solution. According to Entrepreneur.com, “Arnaz and Ball offered a simple solution. Produce the show on film and dispense with kinescopes altogether. CBS wasn’t exactly thrilled with this suggestion. Using film would double production costs.
[00:01:29] To offset the added cost, Arnaz and Ball agreed to cut their joint weekly salary from $5,000 to $4,000 on the condition that Desilu retained all rights to the show. CBS agreed and in one fell swoop Arnaz and Ball invented reruns, paved the way for syndication, and pulled off what would become one of the most lucrative deals in television history.”
[00:01:59] The first [00:02:00] television series to be rerun was I love Lucy. The article goes on to say, “By insisting that I love Lucy be recorded on film, which could be easily stored in broadcast over and over again without any degradation of picture quality, Desi Arnaz initiated the industry practice of airing reruns, which made summer hiatuses possible and opened up a new market for the sale of film rights.” So thanks to Desi and Lucy for paving the way.
[00:02:33] In this episode of Trivia Rewind, I have 10 trivia questions for you about television shows that aired between the 1950s and the 1990s. Maybe you watched them in real time. Maybe you watch them as reruns. Whatever the case, these were some great shows. After I ask you the 10 questions, I’ll go back and give you the answers and some fun facts. In our fun facts segment, find out which [00:03:00] actor recently made the news, touting his stay-awake spray and commenting that it may have helped Tiger Woods avoid his recent accident.
[00:03:09] Find out which TV couple couldn’t stand each other in real life. I’ll tell you which young actress’ controversial film role and topless photos got her in trouble with her TV dad. Those are just a few of the fun facts I’ll tell you about in this episode. Well, if you’re ready, let’s get this started with the first question.
[00:03:33] Question one. On the 1960s sit-com The Andy Griffith Show, what town was Andy Taylor the sheriff of?
[00:03:43] Question two. On the 1970s series Happy Days, what was the name of Richie Cunningham’s best friend?
[00:03:54] Question three. On the 1950s series I love Lucy, [00:04:00] what were the names of Lucy and Ricky’s landlords?
[00:04:04] Question four. On the 1970s series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, what was the name of Mary’s boss at the TV station?
[00:04:16] Question five. On the eighties series, Magnum PI, what kind of car did Thomas Magnum drive?
[00:04:26] Question six. On The Love Boat, a series that started in the 1970s, what was the name of the ship’s bartender?
[00:04:38] Question seven. On the 1970s series, Little House on the Prairie, what was the name of the former professional football player that played the character Jonathan Garvey?
[00:04:52] Question eight. On the nineties sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, from what city did Will [00:05:00] Smith’s character move from in order to live with his aunt and uncle?
[00:05:06] Question nine. On the late sixties, early seventies series, The Brady Bunch, what was the name of Alice’s boyfriend?
[00:05:16] And question 10. On the 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show, what was the name of the college that Denise attended?
[00:05:26] Those were our 10 questions. Let’s go back and review, I’ll give you the answers and the fun facts.
[00:05:34] Question one. On the 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show, what town was Andy Taylor the sheriff of? Well, everybody knows that he was the sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina. Andy Griffith had the role of Andy Taylor and from the looks of it, being a sheriff in Mayberry was about as easy as drinking lemonade on the front porch. [00:06:00] According to Andy Griffith, the show’s creator Sheldon Leonard didn’t want the show to be set in North Carolina. He wanted it in the South, but not there. Griffith didn’t like the town names they were tossing around. One of the ideas was to call the town Mt. Pilot. Many say that Mayberry is meant to be Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Things were quite laid back in Mayberry, well for the men at least. When the show started, none of the female characters wore pants, just dresses or skirts.
[00:06:33] The first character on The Andy Griffith Show to wear pants was Andy’s love interest, nurse, Peggy McMillan. The show ran for eight seasons with a total of 249 episodes. Only seasons six through eight were in color. And the show always ranked very high in the ratings. In 1991, actor Andy Griffith was inducted into The Television [00:07:00] Hall of Fame. In 1997, he won a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album. He even has a highway named after him. In 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The list goes on. Sadly in 2012, Andy Griffith died of a heart attack.
[00:07:24] Question two. On the 1970s series Happy Days, what was the name of Richie Cunningham’s best friend? Well, his best friend was Potsie Weber. On the show, Ron Howard had the role of Richie and Anson Williams had the role of Potsie. We all know that Ron Howard today is an award-winning film director, but what is Anson Williams up to? After he left Happy Days, he started a career in directing television shows. Coincidentally, when I was doing the research for this [00:08:00] episode, I saw that he was just in the news for something totally unrelated to entertainment.
[00:08:05] It turns out he is the second cousin to Dr. Henry Heimlich, the man we credit for what’s known as the Heimlich Maneuver. Heimlich is also Anson’s real last name. Well in a Page Six article, it says “Six years ago, his cousin told him to keep awake during long drives, a squeeze of lemon juice acts as a bolt of instant adrenaline. They quote him as saying, “I called Henry and I said, Why don’t we put citric acid in a spray, and he said that would save more lives than the Heimlich Maneuver. I promised him we’d get it done. He passed away four years ago and he made me promise to get it out.” Then the topic of Tiger Woods’ accident came up and they quote him saying With Tiger Woods, the forensic experts feel that he fell asleep.
[00:08:58] I’m so glad he is going to be [00:09:00] okay, but he’s bringing attention to this major problem. He continued. If you take this little spray (Alertdrops), you’re up, you’re alert, it’s safe. It’s natural. It’s really Dr. Heimlich’s legacy. He was a beautiful human being.” The article said that Anson Williams is still close with his Happy Days friends and even recently dined with 92 year old Marion Ross, the actress that played Mrs. Cunningham.
[00:09:30] Question three. On the 1950s series I love Lucy, what were the names of Lucy and Ricky’s landlords? Their landlords were Fred and Ethel Mertz. William Frawley had the role of Fred and Vivian Vance had the role of Ethel. While the two meshed together well on the show, in real life, not so much. Supposedly they hated each other.
[00:09:58] Why? [00:10:00] Well, a MeTV article says “It all started on the first day of rehearsals when Vance found that Frawley, 22 years her senior had been cast as her husband. He’s old enough to be my father, she complained. Unfortunately, Frawley had been within earshot when she made the remark and the battle lines were drawn.”
[00:10:21] Both William Frawley and Vivian Vance were nominated for multiple Primetime Emmy Awards for their roles on the show. Frawley was nominated five times for the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy and Vivian Vance was nominated four times and won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
[00:10:43] Question four. On the seventies series The Mary Tyler Moore Show, what was the name of Mary’s boss at the TV station? Her boss was Lou Grant. Actor Ed Asner played Lou Grant on the show. [00:11:00] After The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Ed Asner went on to star in a spin-off of the series called Lou Grant. In 1996 he was inducted into The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.
[00:11:13] From 1981 to 1985, he was the president of the Screen Actors Guild. Ed Asner holds the record for being the male performer with the most Emmy Award wins. He has a total of seven Emmys. Ed Asner is still going strong. In 2020 he had several roles in television and film. This year Asner will be 92 years old.
[00:11:40] Someone else that auditioned for the role of Lou Grant was Gavin McLeod. It ended up that he was better suited for a different role on the show. He played Murray Slaughter, the head writer of the news.
[00:11:53] Question five. On the eighties series Magnum PI, what kind of car did [00:12:00] Thomas Magnum drive? I’m sure we can all picture it in our minds, but it was a Ferrari 308.
[00:12:08] Actor Tom Selleck starred as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator. According to ScreenRant.com, Tom Selleck was too big for the sports car and some modifications had to be made. They said that the car “had to have padding removed, tops cut into, and seats permanently removed so that he could fit in comfortably.” Ferrari experienced a big boost in sales after the series began gaining popularity. The show was set in Hawaii, but that wasn’t always the plan. In 1980, CBS ended production of their show Hawaii Five-O. They had a great production facility created for the show and didn’t want to shut it down. I’m thinking maybe some executives wanted an excuse to be in Hawaii.
[00:12:54] So it was decided that Magnum PI would be shot in Hawaii and utilize the production [00:13:00] facilities that CBS had there. The series went on for seven seasons and had a series finale where everyone assumed Magnum died. Supposedly fans were so upset, that Tom Selleck agreed to come back for a short eighth season where we find out he really didn’t die. In 2017, Insider did a piece about The 20 Most Watched TV Show Finales of all Time and Magnum PI ranked fifth.
[00:13:29] Tom Selleck was nominated for multiple awards for his role and he took home one Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. And here’s an interesting fact. Tom Selleck could have been Indiana Jones, but he was already contractually committed to the Magnum PI series.
[00:13:51] Question six. On The Love Boat, a series that started in the 1970s, what was the name of the ship’s [00:14:00] bartender? That popular bartender was Isaac Washington. Actor Ted Lange had the role of Isaac. In addition to acting, Ted is also a director and screenwriter. He even directed some of The Love Boat episodes and was a screenwriter for some as well.
[00:14:17] According to Mashable.com, “When Ted Lang’s agent told him he should play the part of a bartender on a new television series set on a cruise ship, he thought it sounded boring. And that part, which was minimal in the beginning, wasn’t worth it. My agent says, have you ever been on a cruise? Well think of it as a vacation, you’ll get a chance to see Mexico, Lang told Mashable. And it was fantastic.”
[00:14:44] The Love Boat had 250 episodes and Ted Lange was only one of three actors to appear in every single episode. Ted Lang’s Isaac Washington character went well beyond the series. His character [00:15:00] appeared in Charlie’s Angels, Martin, Weird Science and Love Boat the Next Wave. I imagine this show did a lot for the cruise industry. I can remember watching the show as a kid and dreaming about what it must be like to go on a cruise.
[00:15:15] Question seven. On the 1970s series, Little House on the Prairie, what was the name of the former professional football player that played the character Jonathan Garvey? That person was Merlin Olsen. Merlin Olsen played in the NFL for 15 seasons. He was a defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams. He even played in the Pro Bowl for 14 of those years. He’s a member of The Pro Football Hall of Fame. After his football career, he appeared in a few films and TV series when Michael Landon approached him to be on Little House on the Prairie. Olsen had the role of Jonathan Garvey, the father of one of Laura’s friends. Olsen [00:16:00] appeared in over 50 episodes.
[00:16:02] A close friend of Michael Landon, Merlin Olsen gave the eulogy at Landon’s funeral. In 2010, cancer took the life of Merlin Olsen.
[00:16:13] Question eight. On the nineties sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from what city did Will Smith’s character move from an order to live with his aunt and uncle? He moved from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
[00:16:29] Actor Will Smith had the role of the character named Will Smith on the show. On the show, he played a fictionalized version of himself. The show ran for six seasons and had 148 episodes. In real life, Will Smith was part of a hip hop duo called DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. They too hailed from Philadelphia.
[00:16:53] When Will Smith started his role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he was way over his head in [00:17:00] debt and owed the IRS $2.8 million in back taxes. According to the book Will Smith: A Biography, for the first three years he was on the show, the IRS took 70% of his paychecks. The book quotes Will Smith saying, “There’s nothing more sobering than having six cars and a mansion one day and you can’t even buy gas for the cars the next.”
[00:17:27] Things have definitely improved for Smith. According to WealthyGorilla.com, in 2021 his net worth is $350 million. I have a feeling he is much better at budgeting money now. And did you hear that a new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is on the way? The new series is called Bel-Air and one of the executive producers is will Smith. This version leaves the comedy behind and it will fall into the drama category. I’ll post a [00:18:00] trailer for it on triviarewind.com.
[00:18:03] Question nine. On the late sixties, early seventies series The Brady Bunch, what was the name of Alice’s boyfriend? Well, his name was Sam Franklin. Actor Allan Melvin had the role of Sam the butcher on the show. While it feels like we all know Sam so well, did you know that he actually only appeared in eight episodes? While appearing in hundreds of various television episodes over the years, many remember him for his role as Sam. That innocent butcher even made his way into the lyrics of a Beastie Boys song. You’ll hear him mentioned in the lyrics to their 1989 song Shake your Rump. Allan Melvin also had several roles doing voice work. One of those roles was the voice of Magilla Gorilla on the sixties animated television series, The Magilla Gorilla Show.
[00:19:00] [00:19:00] And question 10. On the 1980s sitcom The Cosby Show, what was the name of the college that Denise attended? Well, she went to Hillman. On the Cosby show, actress Lisa Bonet had the role of Denise Huxtable. When the storyline of the show sends Denise off to Hillman, supposedly there was a reason for sending her off. There came a point when Lisa Bonet got on the bad side of Bill Cosby. She co-starred in the movie Angel Heart, a horror film that almost had an X rating.
[00:19:36] Then Bonet appeared in topless photos, leaked to the media. According to MentalFloss.com, “Cosby had her much younger TV siblings to consider. Denise was the most popular Huxtable according to the fan mail so Cosby solved the problem by spinning her off into A Different World, a series set at Hillman College. Bonet [00:20:00] only appeared for the first season of A Different World.
[00:20:03] In 1987, the year A Different World started, Lisa Bonet married musician Lenny Kravitz and in 1988 announced she was pregnant. The producers of A Different World didn’t want a pregnant college freshmen so she was let go. She later appeared back on The Cosby Show during season five, where her character left the country to go on a photography assignment. In 1993, Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz divorced. In 2017, she married Aqua Man star Jason Mamoa.
[00:20:41] That’s it for this week’s episode. The next time you watch a rerun, think of Lucy and Desi. We owe it all to them. For more visit Triviarewind.com on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and at triviarewind.com. Thank you [00:21:00] for listening and be back next week for another episode.