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Texaco Star Theater
This classic NBC variety show ran from 1948 to 1956. It was hosted by Milton Berle—“America’s favorite uncle” and one of the biggest stars of the era—and also starred Sid Stone and Jimmy Nelson. It’s known as one of the most popular television shows in American broadcasting history.
Kukla, Fran and Ollie
With a 10-year run from 1947 to 1957, this is another trend-setting children’s original making ample use of puppets. Except it’s known for having quickly become watched by more adults than kids.
A pioneer in children’s programming, this NBC classic starred Buffalo Bob Smith and his puppet Howdy Doody. Plenty of other puppets appeared on the show, which began its run in 1947, and was also one of the first examples of how television could spawn a merchandise craze among American kids.
Like the previous entry and just squeaking into the decade with its 1949 debut, this show must get a mention because it’s considered the first Western series on TV. The show is based on a character from Clarence E. Mulford short stories and novels, and he was also brought to life in movies.
Captain Video and His Video Rangers
Just making the cut with its first airing in 1949, this is notable as the first ever science fiction television series. It was a hit for the bygone DuMont Television Network, with more than 1,500 half-hour episodes produced during its run into 1955. It was pivotal in bringing the fad of selling novelty toys like secret decoder rings and ray guns to the television format.
From 1948 into the 1970s, this hidden camera concept is often called the first reality show. Secretly capturing people’s reactions to ridiculous situations and practical jokes, this landmark production innovated new possibilities of comedic TV programming.
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