Having grown up in three of perhaps the most diverse and exciting decades of all time, and being nostalgic to begin with, I thought it appropriate to present a list of fifty of the “essential” subjects of each of those decades … the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. These are the favorite topics of interest, though certainly not necessarily favorite occurrences (Challenger disaster).
The list contains many of the well-known people, places, and events of those decades, bad or good. Of course, with the selection limited to fifty (150 total), there were many subjects that were left off the compilation: for example, the movies Cool Hand Luke, Easy Rider, and Love Story; the toppling of the Berlin Wall; Culture Club and KC and the Sunshine Band; the Pan Am Flight disaster; Johnny Carson; Martin Luther King Jr.; Stevie Wonder; the death of Elvis Presley; and so on. (Although the Vietnam War does not have its own write-up, as such, I refer to it numerous times.) These, and many others, are worthy of inclusion, but they also had a lot of competition.
Most of the book focuses on the entertainment industry, whether it is sports, movies, television, or music. Because I thought it was important to include also some of the not-so-pleasant events of those thirty years, however, I had to decide which of these I would leave off this book. Perhaps, I could assemble them for a second collection of the decades’ popular topics.
For now, I present what I believe to be a fundamental, amusing, and very informative compendium of mostly well-remembered subjects of those decades. Many of these I, admittedly, have a, personal connection with and fondly remember. This collection should kindle other reminiscences while enlightening those not so familiar.
Indeed, a helluva thirty-year period unlike any other!
1960s From Munsters to Mustangs
Although it may seem to many that it has been with us for a hundred years, the age of television did not begin really until the late 1940s. As with other early electronics, the first TV sets were rather crude and bulky (to house the array of wiring, tubes, and other components) and they had very small screens, no more than 16 inches diagonally. It was quite a novelty, nonetheless, and created a sensation for an American public coming off World War II.
At first, most households did not include the rather expensive device, and citizens would flock to the homes of neighbors and family members, or to retail establishments to watch their favourite programs. Each week they looked forward to being entertained by Milton Berle, Arthur Godfrey, Lucille Ball, and William Boyd as “Hopalong Cassidy”. And the fact that the small-scale images shown before them were monochrome, or black and white, seemed to matter little.
As the novelty of television was enamoring the public—while many in Hollywood, perhaps in denial, dismissed it as merely a “fad”—the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), for one, knew television was here to stay. It looked to the future and began to make inroads with the development of color television during the 1950s.
Along with the introduction of color sets (Westinghouse made the first ones available to the public, with a price of about $1,295) in the middle fifties came the first programs transmitted in color; however, while most households had a TV set by then, very few had the more-expensive color sets, which became the new innovation. As more programs were filmed and broadcast chromatically, including NBC’s Bonanza (sponsored by RCA) and Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, so, naturally, was the increase in demand and manufacture of those sets.
The inevitable transition to the life-like hues truly accelerated during the mid-1960s. In the midst of the 1965-1966 television season, NBC became “The Full Color Network”. At the beginning of the 1966-67 season, all the networks’ new shows were now in color and any renewed ones that were in black-and-white the prior season were converted. ABC, CBS, and NBC made sure viewers were well aware that (if they had a color TV) what they were about to watch would be “In Color”, like the advertising of a “new and improved” household product. They figured it was time, and there was no turning back. By then, a large majority of theatrical motion pictures were in Technicolor or Deluxe, anyway, and television wanted to retain its competitiveness, which had been countered also by the advent of the widescreen motion picture presentations since 1953.
American companies RCA, Magnavox, Zenith, Sylvania, and other makes would predominately supply the demand for such sets, whether they were your furniture-style console models or your portable ones.
By the 1970s, color televisions were just about as common in American homes as refrigerators.