Andy Warhol once famously said, “In the future, everyone will be on TV for fifteen minutes.” Nowadays, of course, with the internet, that is finally possible. But back in the Golden Age of Television (1948-1992) we depended on the networks to keep us entertained—whether it was Milton Berle’s bold subversion of traditional sexual roles in society, Fonzie’s bathroom humor, or Bill Cosby’s non-threatening black family. See how many of these Very Little Known Facts about the old Boob Tube you knew!
- Televisions in the United States do not have channel 1. Neither do FM radios.
- JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON: American Bandwagon, which originally featured co-hosts Dick Clark and his wife Pet Clark, is the only television show from the 1950’s that is still being produced today.
- The Anthropology department at Harvard recently released the results of a two-year study that attempted to answer the eponymous question Who’s the Boss? Comparing the relative leadership roles of Tony Micelli, Angela Bower and Mona Robinson with their counterparts in archetypal societies, the study definitively concluded that Mona was the boss due to the fact that she was the elder.
- MASTER OF HIS DOMAIN: Every episode of Seinfeld contains at least one joke about Superman. This is a reference to the real-life Jerry Seinfeld, one of the show’s co-creators.
- The nickname “Idiot Box” was given to TV by none other than President Richard S. Nixon. The idiot in question? Walter Cronkite.
- THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE CATHODE RAY TUBE: Watching an hour of television subjects your eyes to more radiation than sticking your head in a microwave oven for an hour. Of course, this is only true because you can’t close the microwave door with your head in there, and microwaves don’t run when the door is open! But seriously, folks, use safety and common sense when operating any household appliance.
- Smoking used to be common on television. Everybody remembers the episode of Leave It to Beaver where Ward Cleaver catches the Beave sneaking one of June’s Virginia Slims and memorably makes him eat the entire pack. Nowadays smoking is banned on TV except for in documentaries about mental institutions and France.
- LITTLE BUDDY WASN’T SO LITTLE: Bob Denver, the first actor to play Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, was 62 when the last episode was filmed on location in 1970.