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From Gunsmoke to Laugh-In: The Best of 1960s TV

August 22, 2023 @ 10:00 am


In 1961, Newton Minow, the then Chair of the Federal Communications Commission, famously referred to television as a ‘vast wasteland,’ antagonizing both viewers and tv executives. Writer Sherwood Schwartz was so incensed that he named the ill-fated ship on Gilligan’s Island the S.S. Minnow. The FCC chair advocated for more documentaries rather than cartoons, sitcoms, and westerns which dominated the small screen throughout the 1950s. However, Minow’s words weren’t heeded by programmers catering to public tastes. Join Dr. Margery Marcus for an examination of the Neilson-rated #1 television shows of each year of the decade, from ‘Gunsmoke’ in 1960 to ‘Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in’ in 1969. Dr. Marcus looks at why these shows were so popular and what they reveal about the era’s culture. This lecture includes a colorful PowerPoint with video clips. This event is also available virtually.