Moments in 1960s television

Updated 11:17 AM ET, Thu May 29, 2014
01 sixties tv moments 01 sixties tv moments
1 of 20
By 1960, television was firmly entrenched as America's new hearth. Close to 90% of households had a TV, making the device almost ubiquitous. The ensuing decade would see the medium grow in both importance and range. MPI/Getty Images
The first televised presidential debate was on September 26, 1960, and it involved U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, left, and Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The debate is largely credited with helping to make a star out of Kennedy, who won the election later that year. HULTON ARCHIVE/Getty Images
First lady Jackie Kennedy is shown in the Red Room of the White House on January 15, 1962, during the CBS News special program "A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy." The program showed off the restoration work that was spearheaded by the first lady. CBS /Landov
Johnny Carson, with sidekick Ed McMahon, took over NBC's "Tonight Show" on October 1, 1962. Carson became a TV titan, hosting the program for 30 years and setting the bar for every late-night host to follow. NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. gives his "I Have a Dream" speech to a crowd in Washington during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, also known as the Freedom March, on August 28, 1963. The speech is considered one of the most important in American history, and it helped rally support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. AFP/Getty Images
President Kennedy was assassinated during a motorcade in Dallas on November 22, 1963. Library of Congress
Two days after Kennedy's assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald -- the man who had been charged with killing the president -- was fatally shot by Jack Ruby as Oswald was being escorted through the Dallas police basement. Oswald's shooting was shown live on national television. Everett Collection/REX USA
In 1963's thrilling Army-Navy game, Navy beat Army 21-15 behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Roger Staubach. Today, the game is best remembered for the introduction of instant replay -- though many TV watchers were unaware of the technology and slammed CBS' switchboard in confusion. Now instant replay is a regular part of sports broadcasts. ap
On February 9, 1964, the Beatles made their U.S. debut on "The Ed Sullivan Show," kicking off the American strain of "Beatlemania" -- a fever that had already infected their native Britain. The show remains one of the highest-rated entertainment programs of all time. Express Newspapers/Getty Image/File
"The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC," the announcer intoned. The 1965 fall season opened with almost all of the "Peacock Network's" prime-time schedule produced on color film. By 1973, more than half of TV homes had a color set. NBC
"A Charlie Brown Christmas" could have been a bland animated special, but thanks to "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz and his collaborators, it was something more. The show, which first aired in 1965, didn't use a laugh track. It included a jazz music score and -- most controversially -- featured Linus reading from the Gospel of Luke. The special was both a critical and commercial hit, and it has become a holiday mainstay. ABC
The two-part finale of "The Fugitive," which aired in August 1967, concluded the four-year run of the series about a doctor (David Janssen) pursuing a mysterious one-armed man (Bill Raisch) he believes killed his wife. The final episode was the most-watched series episode to that time, with more than 45% of the nation tuning in. ABC/GETTY IMAGES
"The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" had a countercultural bent that regularly raised hackles -- and delighted fans. Here, The Who's Pete Townshend, right, helps host Tom Smothers destroy his acoustic guitar as singer Roger Daltrey looks on following The Who's performance of "My Generation." The Smothers' battles with their network, CBS, would eventually lead to the show's cancellation. CBS Photo Archive/Courtesy of Getty Images
CBS anchor Walter Cronkite reports from Vietnam after the Tet Offensive in 1968. Cronkite's special, "Report from Vietnam by Walter Cronkite," concluded with his observation that the war would end in a stalemate. One month later, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson announced he would not seek re-election. CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
The 1968 Democratic Convention, held in Chicago, was a scene of chaos both inside and outside the convention hall. At one point, CBS correspondent Dan Rather, center, was treated roughly by security, prompting anchor Cronkite to comment, "I think we've got a bunch of thugs here, Dan." Outside, protesters chanted, "The whole world is watching." CBS via Getty Images
The 1968 presidential campaign went down to the wire, and little things may have made the difference -- such as Richard Nixon, the Republican candidate, going on the popular "Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In" to say one of the show's catchphrases: "Sock it to me." Here, Nixon is flanked by Dan Rowan, left, and Dick Martin at an event in October 1968. AP
In September 1968, the newsmagazine "60 Minutes" -- created and produced by Don Hewitt, center -- premiered with Harry Reasoner, left, and Mike Wallace, right. The tremendously influential show spawned a host of imitators and is still on the air today. CBS /Landov
Viewers hoping to see the wild conclusion of the AFL game between the New York Jets and Oakland Raiders got a huge shock on November 17, 1968, when the broadcast was cut off so NBC could air a movie version of "Heidi" starring Jennifer Edwards. Angry fans flooded NBC's switchboard with calls. From then on, all networks stayed with their football contests until the end before moving to regularly scheduled programming. (The Raiders scored two touchdowns in the final minute to come back and beat the Jets in what would forever be known as "The Heidi Game.") NBCU Photo Bank/getty images
In the "Plato's Stepchildren" episode of "Star Trek," which aired November 22, 1968, William Shatner (as Capt. Kirk) and Nichelle Nichols (as Lt. Uhura) kissed -- the first interracial kiss in TV history. The medium grappled cautiously with race relations through the decade. CBS via Getty Images
Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. salutes the U.S. flag on the lunar surface on July 20, 1969. Aldrin and mission commander Neil Armstrong became the first humans to walk on the moon. Globally, more than half a billion people watched on television. NASA/AFP/Getty Images