Throwback Thursday: Variety Shows

Throwback Thursday


Friends and family give me a bad time because I don’t keep up with THEIR favorite television shows… or any show for that matter.  My sons rave over the latest Hulu or Netflix series while my daughter tries to convince me of the social significance of YouTube programming.

Blink.

My sisters plead cases for their shows of choice. One watches any show with “judge” in the title. She DVRs them. True Story. She feels the need to call and discuss these shows with me.

Another sister is addicted to all things (and anything) on The History Channel or Discovery. You haven’t lived until you hear her enthusiastically describe the evolution of the silk worm.

Still, another sister is on the Reality TV roll. She likes to call and vent her moral outrage at the asinine things people do. Her calls go straight to voicemail.

Even my sweet, eighty-two-year-old mother checks in to see if I watched Jeopardy. She’s positive I would have answered all the questions correctly. Thanks, mom.

I don’t hate television, it simply doesn’t interest me anymore. The last shows I watched with any regularity were The Closer, The Last Ship, and Falling Skies.

I’m probably one of the last people on the planet who hasn’t seen an episode of Game of Thrones, Outlander, or Orange is the New Black. I just watched 30 Rock for the first time last weekend on Netflix… because one of my sons was visiting and turned it on. It was funny, I guess.

My daughter swears I’m too consumed with writing and reading to watch TV, and I agree I do spend quite a bit of time doing both. But I’d take a break from both in a heartbeat and plant myself in front of the television… for a variety show!

I grew up in another time… and another century, where variety shows were a mainstay of any network’s television line-up. There was at least one variety show on every week from the time I was born through my senior year of high school.

The great thing about variety shows was families watched them together. And we laughed together. Even my stern, no-nonsense father would dissolve into a fit of laughter at the antics of Red Skelton.

Red SkeltonThe Red Skelton Show. It lasted 20 years from 1951-1971. Red was amazing. He had so many characters – each was memorable. Clem Kadiddlehopper was my favorite!

 

 

 

We knew it was Sunday evening when the call went through the house, “Ed Sullivan’s on!”

The Ed Sullivan Show is an American TV variety show that originally ran on CBS from Sunday June Ed Sullivan20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan. In 2002, The Ed Sullivan Show was ranked #15 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.

Everyone would hope Flip Wilson would do a skit as “Geraldine” or one where he’d say, “Here come da’ judge!”

Flip WilsonClerow Wilson, Jr. (December 8, 1933 – November 25, 1998), known professionally as Flip Wilson, was an American comedian and actor. In the early 1970s, Wilson hosted his own weekly variety series, The Flip Wilson Show. The series earned Wilson a Golden Globe and two Emmy Awards.

 

 

 

Yep! I was an Andy Williams fan. His Christmas shows were the best!Andy Williams

Howard Andrew “Andy” Williams was an American singer who recorded eighteen Gold- and three Platinum albums. He hosted The Andy Williams Show, a TV variety show, from 1962 to 1971, as well as numerous television specials, and owned the Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri, named after the song “Moon River”, with which he is closely identified.

 

 

Hew HawDon’t even act like you didn’t watch Hew Haw too!

Hee Haw was an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural “Kornfield Kounty” as a backdrop. It aired on CBS from 1969–1971 followed by a 21-year run in local syndication.

 

With its sock-it-to-me punch lines and bawdy humor, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in was not Laugh Into be missed!

1968 TV Show, Laugh-In changed TV forever.

 

 

 

 

 

Smothers BrothersTom and Dick Smothers were always good for a song or a skit. They did a lot of political humor, but the fun part was… kids could understand it!

The Smothers Brothers Show 1965-66 “Mom always liked you best!” Also the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, an American comedy and variety show hosted by the Smothers Brothers and initially airing on CBS from 1967 to 1969.

 

 

Long before he was JoJo Dancer or teamed up with Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor made Tuesday Richard Pryornights Hilarious! Pryor is named as a major influence of a generation of comedians.

The Richard Pryor Show was an American comedy variety series starring Richard Pryor. It premiered on NBC on Tuesday, September 13, 1977 at 8 p.m.

 

 

 

Sonny and Cher

Sonny & Cher were favorites not only for their humor, if we were lucky… Cher would sing one of her hit songs!

The Sonny & Cher Show ran 1971-1974, couldn’t wait to see her outfits.

 

 

 

While their show was not in prime time or anything close to mainstream, the original Saturday Night SNL 4Live had people staying home on weekends to catch their groundbreaking, cutting-edge show.

The original 1975 cast of SNL, officially known on-air as “The Not Ready For Prime-Time Players”,  included Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris and Chevy Chase. Bill Murray was added soon after the debut.

 

 

Carol BurnettOf course, The family favorite… and just about the favorite of anyone I knew was the one and only Carol Burnett! Carol and her cast of regulars – Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, and the amazing Tim Conway didn’t even have to speak… their facial expressions were enough to leave us in stitches. One of my most beloved gifts is the Carol Burnett Collection on DVD. On the bad Fibromyalgia days when all I want to do is cry, I watch Mrs. Wiggins or Nora Desmond, or Tim Conway as the dentist – and I laugh because laughter truly is the best medicine.

The Carol Burnett Show, 1967-1978

 

Do I miss variety shows because of the great slapstick comedy, pratfalls, gags, and music or do I miss them because of the great times my family shared viewing them together?

I’ll never tell!

If you’re unfamiliar with any of these shows or simply want to remember the good old days of comedy, check them out on YouTube – they’re all there.

 

Images from Pinterest.

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12 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Variety Shows

  1. This is excellent, and brought back memories I’ve long forgotten. Especially the Red Skelton Show. I would have added “I Love Lucy,” and “The Thin Man,” and “Shock Theater,” but there were so many noteworthy shows we watched on our little round tv screens, the list is long. Nicely done!

  2. I loved variety shows! Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, The Smothers Brothers, Laugh-In…they were all so good! My family enjoyed them together ,too. I also remember the Dean Martin Roasts (Don Rickles was my favorite comedian of all time). Oh, for those wonderful old shows.

    Believe it or not, I’ve never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, Outlander or 30 Rock. Like you, I’m too busy reading for much TV (although I confess to loving Once Upon a Time, the only hour of television I make sure I watch).

    This was a great post that brought back many fond memories. I’m smiling! 🙂

    • I did watch the first season of Once Upon a Time, but then we began preparing for the move from Michigan to Arizona and I lost track of the story.

      I miss variety shows but know their time has come and gone. If someone tried to revive them today we end up with something like Dancing with the Stars with a token gay guy, an ethnic guy, an angry feminist, mindless sex jokes and bathroom humor.

      I’m over it! LOL! 😉 😀

      Here’s to the good old days! 😉

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • LOl! I like your take on how variety shows would work today. I’m still grinning. And I lift a cyber glass to the good old days!

  3. You would probably enjoy watching MeTV and Decades as they have a lot of old programs. Heading upstairs now to watch Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone and the Alfred Hitchcock Show.

    • Love MeTV! Our carrier keeps flip-flopping with what they offer and MeTV seems to get caught in the crossfire. (Twice in the last year.) Don’t think I’ve heard of Decades. Will see if it’s in our area. Thanks for the info. LOVE the old shows!

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