Flashback: Fall 1960 Primetime

Our look back at the Fall 1960 primetime TV schedule rolls on to Thursday nights.

Although not included in our grids, CBS and NBC aired 15 minute national newscasts Monday-Friday from 715-730PM Eastern.

Fall 1960 Primetime Television: Thursday
All Times Eastern

Net 7:30PM 8PM 8:30PM 9PM 9:30PM 10PM 10:30PM
ABC Guestward Ho! The Donna Reed Show The Real McCoys My Three Sons The Untouchables Take A Good Look
CBS The Witness Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Angel The Ann Sothern Show Person to Person The DuPont Show with June Allyson
NBC Outlaws Bat Masterson Bachelor Father The Ford Show Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford The Groucho Show LOCAL

ABC
All 3 networks led off their Thursday night schedules in 1960 with brand new series. Two of those series were cancelled after a single season.

ABC’s new entry was Guestward, Ho!, part of a 2-hour comedy block. It was from Lucille Ball’s Desilu Productions and the pilot starred former I Love Lucy cast member Vivian Vance. She was replaced in the series by actress Joanne Dru, sister of future Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall. Ironically, William Frawley (the actor who played Vance’s husband on I Love Lucy) would have great success on another new ABC Thursday night sitcom.

The comedy block continued with The Donna Reed Show, followed by the top 10 sitcom The Real McCoys starring Walter Brennan and Richard Crenna. At 9 o’clock Eastern, ABC premiered what would become a long-running classic: My Three Sons.

My Three Sons would air from 1960-65 on ABC with William Frawley as Bub. All the ABC episodes were in black and white. When My Three Sons moved to CBS in 1965, all episodes were produced in color. William Demarest joined the cast as Uncle Charley midway through the 1965-66 season and stayed with the show until it was cancelled in 1972.

ABC followed the comedies with the 2nd season of Robert Stack in The Untouchables, another top 10 series. That was followed by Take A Good Look, a game show parody starring comedy legend Ernie Kovacs.

CBS
Thursday nights on The Eye Network kicked off with The Witness, a legal show based on actual court cases. Telly Savalas played mobster Lucky Luciano in the series opener. Despite the star power, The Witness was recalled after just one season. The 8:30 Eastern time slot offered the 5th and final season of the western anthology series Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater.

Thursdays at 9 were a head-to-head sitcom battle among all 3 networks, with ABC’s My Three Sons winning the war. CBS served up Angel, created by former I Love Lucy head writer Jess Oppenheimer. It was paired with the 3rd and final season of The Ann Sothern Show. Both comedies were dropped after the 1960-61 season.

At 10PM Eastern, CBS programmed the final season of the long-running celebrity interview series Person to Person (CBS revived the series briefly in 2012). The night ended with the anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson. It, too, was cancelled at the end of the season.

NBC
The Peacock Network had the only new show at 7:30 Eastern that survived more than a single season. The Western series Outlaws starred Barton MacLane, best known for his later role as General Peterson on I Dream of Jeannie. Outlaws lasted two seasons before it was locked up for good.

Outlaws was paired up with Bat Masterson to form a 90-minute western block. Gene Barry had the title role as Bat Masterson, which concluded its 3-year run the following June.

NBC’s 9PM sitcom entry was Bachelor Father starring John Forsythe. The show aired for a total of 5 seasons, first on CBS then NBC. It would move on to ABC for its final season (1961-62).

The Ford Show Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford aired next. This was the last season of the show, which was written by future All in the Family creator Norman Lear. NBC Thursdays concluded with the final season of another long-running series, Groucho. It was previously known as You Bet Your Life from 1950-60. NBC affiliates aired local programming from 10:30-11PM Eastern.

Epilogue
In summary, CBS’s entire Thursday lineup would be cancelled after the season. Most of NBC’s shows were gone too, only Outlaws survived with Bachelor Father moving to ABC. ABC was clearly the winner on Thursday nights, with 3 of network TV’s top 15 shows airing Thursday nights on the Alphabet Network.

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