1948: The Ed Sullivan Show
> IMDb rating: 7.8/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,346
> Series run: 1948-1971
> Cast: Ed Sullivan, Johnny Wayne, Frank Shuster, Topo Gigio
Ed Sullivan’s epochal variety show ran every Sunday night over the course of 23 years. It remains best known for its live musical performances from artists such as Elvis and The Beatles.
1949: The Lone Ranger
> IMDb rating: 7.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 2,380
> Series run: 1949-1957
> Cast: Jay Silverheels, Clayton Moore, John Hart, Chuck Courtney
The lone survivor of an ambush and his Indian companion traverse the Old West and help those in need in this classic TV series. ABC’s highest-rated show by the early 1950s, it was also the network’s first bona fide hit.
1950: What’s My Line?
> IMDb rating: 8.6/10
> IMDb user votes: 1,525
> Series run: 1950-1967
> Cast: John Daly, Arlene Francis, Bennett Cerf, Dorothy Kilgallen
It’s a guessing game on all sides in this long-running game show, which featured regular contestants, a celebrity panel, and a famous mystery guest. The show aired every Sunday night before switching over to syndication and running five nights a week. Numerous revival attempts have failed to get off the ground.
1951: I Love Lucy
> IMDb rating: 8.4/10
> IMDb user votes: 24,832
> Series run: 1951-1957
> Cast: Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz, Vivian Vance, William Frawley
One of the most influential sitcoms of all time follows Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) and husband Ricky (Desi Arnaz) through countless New York-based misadventures. The most-watched show on American television for four out of six seasons, it’s been a stalwart of syndication ever since.
1952: Adventures of Superman
> IMDb rating: 7.7/10
> IMDb user votes: 3,753
> Series run: 1952-1958
> Cast: George Reeves, Noel Neill, Jack Larson, John Hamilton
An unreleased film called “Superman and the Mole Men” became the pilot for this wildly popular TV series. It expanded upon the superhero’s mythology as introduced in previous radio shows, novels, movies, comic books, and animated shorts.
> IMDb rating: 6.6/10
> IMDb user votes: 3,217
> Series run: 1954-1974
> Cast: Lassie, Jon Provost, June Lockhart, Hugh Reilly
Arguably the most iconic dog in media history, Lassie was played by a Rough Collie named Pal in a string of films throughout the 1940s. It was Pal’s original owner and trainer who went on to co-create this long-running TV series, which ran for 19 seasons.
1955: Alfred Hitchcock Presents
> IMDb rating: 8.5/10
> IMDb user votes: 16,430
> Series run: 1955-1962
> Cast: Alfred Hitchcock, Harry Tyler, John Williams, Patricia Hitchcock
Master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock was world famous by the time he introduced this anthology TV series and its iconic opening sequence. He directed 17 episodes in total, two of which were nominated for Emmy Awards. Some of the best episodes were based on stories by British author Roald Dahl.
1956: As the World Turns
> IMDb rating: 6.1/10
> IMDb user votes: 2,017
> Series run: 1956-2010
> Cast: Elizabeth Hubbard, Don Hastings, Colleen Zenk, Jon Hensley
Soap opera pioneer Irna Phillips created this seemingly endless drama as a companion piece to “Guiding Light.” Its cumulative storyline clocks in at 13,763 hours, which is the longest total running time of any TV show.
1957: Perry Mason
> IMDb rating: 8.3/10
> IMDb user votes: 7,909
> Series run: 1957-1966
> Cast: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins
This gripping legal drama was based on previous detective fiction by creator Erle Stanley Gardner. A cunning criminal defense attorney, Perry Mason takes on innocent clients and then defends them in a court of law. Star Raymond Burr reprised the role for a string of TV movies in the 1980s and early 1990s.
1958: The Rifleman
> IMDb rating: 8.3/10
> IMDb user votes: 3,974
> Series run: 1958-1963
> Cast: Chuck Connors, Johnny Crawford, Paul Fix, Joe Benson
Armed with a customized Winchester rifle, a rancher and his son embark on a series of Wild West adventures. The show takes place in the 1880s and features guest appearances from over 500 actors, including Dennis Hopper and Sammy Davis Jr.
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