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Early Color TV Series (pre-1966): compiling a list (1 Viewer)

Vic Pardo

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Brian Camp
I’ve been curious lately to find quality releases of early color TV shows on DVD, e.g. Cisco Kid, My Friend Flicka, Sergeant Preston, color eps. of The Lone Ranger, etc. In trying to pursue this, I decided to compile a comprehensive list of every color TV series made before Fall 1966, when the networks went all color for the first time. (I searched on the web for such a list but couldn't find one.) This includes series shot entirely in color and series which began as black-and-white, but switched to color during their run. I started making these lists and it’s quite a chore to check so many series on IMDB and see what they have listed for color and b&w. I’ve decided to hold off on Variety shows for now, although I eventually want to include those in my list, which I’ll probably post on my blog. I’m leaving off the list any series that had only one show that wasn’t in the dominant format (e.g. “Get Smart,” which had a b&w pilot episode). I’ve decided to make Fall 1965 the cut-off point for the lists I’m posting here because of the sudden influx of new color shows that season. I don’t want these lists to get too unwieldy in a single post. I’d appreciate any additions you guys can come up with. I’m sure there are plenty I don’t know about or have forgotten. (I only remembered “Death Valley Days” after getting ready to post this.) I’m including network and syndicated shows. My comprehensive list will indicate when each b&w series shifted to color, but I didn’t do that here. The dates given after each title encompass their entire original run, whether in b&w or color.

First I’ll post the lists, then some of the pressing questions that came up.

1950s shows entirely in color:
The Cisco Kid (1950-56)
The Marriage (1954/comedy-drama, 8 episodes)
My Friend Flicka (1955-56)
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (1955-58)
Judge Roy Bean (1956)
Northwest Passage (1958-59)
Bonanza (1959-73)

1960s shows entirely in color, pre-1965:
The Flintstones (1960-66)
Empire (1962/32 eps.- hour)
The Jetsons (1962-68)
The Virginian (1962-71)
Redigo (spin-off of “Empire”/1963/1 season/15 eps. – half-hour)
Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963-65)
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (1963-67)
Flipper (1964-67)

B&W shows that started production in the 1950s and shifted to color sometime during their run:
The Lone Ranger (1949-57)
The Gene Autry Show (1950-56)
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952-66)
Adventures of Superman (1952-58)
Death Valley Days (1952-70)
The Ford Television Theatre (1952-57)
Lassie (1954-74)
Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (1954-90)
Gunsmoke (1955-75)
Tales of Wells Fargo (1957-62)
Wagon Train (1957-65)
Laramie (1959-63)

1960s b&w shows, produced pre-1965, that shifted to color during their run:
Dr. Kildare (1961-66)
Combat (1962-67)
The Fugitive (1963-67)
Daniel Boone (1964-70)
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68)
Peyton Place (1964-69)
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-68)
The Avengers (1961-69)

1960s b&w sitcoms, produced pre-1965, that shifted to color during their run:
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68)
My Three Sons (1960-72)
Hazel (1961-66) 5 seasons
Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71)
The Lucy Show (1962-68)
The Farmer’s Daughter (1963-66)
My Favorite Martian (1963-66)
Petticoat Junction (1963-70)
Gilligan’s Island (1964-67)
Gomer Pyle (1964-69)
Bewitched (1964-72)

Questions:

Which half-hour westerns were filmed entirely in color before 1965, aside from these five: The Cisco Kid, My Friend Flicka, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Judge Roy Bean, Northwest Passage?

What was the last network series to air in b&w?
I believe it was “Court Martial,” which ran entirely in b&w from April 8, 1966 to Sept. 2, 1966. Was there anything later than that?

When did Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color start filming in color as opposed to when it started broadcasting in color? I believe those were different dates. IMDB says 1961 is when the series started broadcasting in color, but there were numerous segments in the late 1950s that were filmed in color, e.g. “Mars and Beyond” and “Man in Space.”

Was The Roy Rogers Show (1951-57) ever in color? IMDB says it was always in b&w, but I believe I came across a reference to color episodes somewhere.

Wagon Train (1957-65) is listed on IMDB this way:
Black and White (Seasons 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 and 8) | Color (Season 5)
Why was Season 5 the only one in color and why did the series revert back to b&w afterwards?


Longest running show to hold out before shifting to color:
The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952-66) 14 seasons / last one in color (65-66)

Longest running network shows to switch to color:
Lassie (1954-74) 19 seasons / Season 12 (1965-66) was first in color (new cast, too)
Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (1954-90) Black and White (1954-1961) | Color (Technicolor) (1961-1990)
Gunsmoke (1955-75) Black and White (1955-1966) | Color (1966-1975)

Longest running syndicated show to switch to color:
Death Valley Days (1952-70) 18 seasons / Season 13 (1964-65) first in color

Any others?

Plus, eventually, I want to find out the best DVD releases of some of these titles.

Thanks.
 

oldtvshowbuff

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Vic, you got it wrong on Wagon Train, because season 5 was largely in B&W, except for five episodes, which were filmed in color and they are as follows.
The Kitty Albright Story
The Jenna Douglas Story
The Lizabeth Ann Calhoun Story
The Lonnie Fallon Story
The Amos Billings Story
NBC wanted Revue to do that to see how the series looked in color for those with such color TV sets. WT switched networks the next year, moving to ABC, and it was season 7 where it was entirely in color for 32 episodes in the 90-minute format, because the network wanted a "Virginian" type length for WT, but the experiment was not a success and the series reverted back to an hour and in B&W for season 8, when it was finally cancelled.
 

Regulus

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There is an episode of Lassie in the "Timmy" years that was filmed in color. It was The Journey. Richard Keil ("Jaws" in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker makes a cameo appearance in this episode.
 

Cowboy

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Ripcord season 1 is black and white,the second season is in color.
 

Vic Pardo

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oldtvshowbuff said:
Vic, you got it wrong on Wagon Train, because season 5 was largely in B&W, except for five episodes, which were filmed in color and they are as follows.
The Kitty Albright Story
The Jenna Douglas Story
The Lizabeth Ann Calhoun Story
The Lonnie Fallon Story
The Amos Billings Story
NBC wanted Revue to do that to see how the series looked in color for those with such color TV sets. WT switched networks the next year, moving to ABC, and it was season 7 where it was entirely in color for 32 episodes in the 90-minute format, because the network wanted a "Virginian" type length for WT, but the experiment was not a success and the series reverted back to an hour and in B&W for season 8, when it was finally cancelled.
Thanks for the clarification. I just copied what IMDB had. They're not always the best source of such specific info. I'll add this info to my list.

And I'll add "Ripcord" also. There are probably quite a few more like that. Thanks.
 

FanCollector

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How do you mean pre-1965 exactly? Most of the shows listed as having switched pre-1965 actually changed to color in the fall of either 1965 or 1966. How are we counting that category?
 

Jack P

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The Joey Bishop Show which started in B/W in 1961 and then switched to color in 1962 with its revamped format and then when it switched networks to CBS for its final year was back to B/W.

The Bishop Show may be the most forgotten stalled title on DVD of them all given how no one remembers the "Season 2" release (the first color season with the second format) way back around 2004.
 

Regulus

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Gary16 said:
I Led 3 LivesScience Fiction Theater
Science Fiction Theatre was kind of an oddball, as the first season was in color and the second season was in black and white. :3dglasses:
 

Ron1973

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1960s b&w sitcoms that shifted to color/pre -1965:
The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68)
My Three Sons (1960-72)
Hazel (1961-66) 5 seasons
Beverly Hillbillies (1962-71)
The Lucy Show (1962-68)
The Farmer’s Daughter (1963-66)
My Favorite Martian (1963-66)
Petticoat Junction (1963-70)
Gilligan’s Island (1964-67)
Gomer Pyle (1964-69)
Bewitched (1964-72)
The Beverly Hillbillies and The Andy Griffith Show didn't switch pre-1965, and I suspect the same for Gomer Pyle, USMC and Petticoat Junction. Those shows went to color in the fall of 1965, not before.
 

Peter M Fitzgerald

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The Greatest Show on Earth (1963-64) was all in color, as was:

Rocky & His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show (1959-64)
Mister Magoo (1960-61)
The Alvin Show (1961-62, shot in color, though originally aired in b&w until 1965)
Top Cat (1961-62)
(Matty's Funnies with) Beany & Cecil/The Beany & Cecil Show (1961-62)
Hoppity Hooper (1964-65)
The Famous Adventures of Mister Magoo (1964-65)
The Adventures of Jonny Quest (1964-65)
 

Gary16

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The Bugs Bunny Show initially aired in black and white on abc in Primetime but eventually aired in color as part of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup.
 

Vic Pardo

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FanCollector said:
How do you mean pre-1965 exactly? Most of the shows listed as having switched pre-1965 actually changed to color in the fall of either 1965 or 1966. How are we counting that category?
Sorry, what I meant was: shows that were airing before the fall of 1965 that started production in b&w and switched to color any time before the end of their run.

@Gary 16 and Regulus: Science Fiction Theatre is a real unexpected find. I have a vague memory of seeing an episode in b&w decades ago, but I had no idea there were color episodes of a sci-fi show that far back (1955--the year of THIS ISLAND EARTH). I just looked on YouTube and somebody uploaded quite a number of them, including many color episodes:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCY2OWXU6bRRxfJDMMBtE89A/videos
 

John Morgan

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The 1st Season of LASSIE (Jeff's Collie) had two color episodes, but I don't think they ever aried in color.
Episode 1, INHERITANCE (pilot) (Presumed lost)
And also in the first season, THE WELL, which the color negative was found and is on one of the Lassie DVDs.

AND, wasn't there at least one PERRY MASON (last season) that was in color.

And. one or two later SEA HUNT's?
 

Gary16

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The original run of Dragnet had one color episode (the Christmas episode). I've never seen it in color.
 

Bob Gu

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SEA HUNT did film the first two episodes in color, but only the black & white versions of those two episodes were ever broadcast. The color versions are believed lost now.COWBOY G-MEN,(1952),filmed 39 episodes in color. All 39 episodes are around in b&w versions, but only one color version episode is.THE ADVENTURES OF WILD BILL HICKOK,(1951-58), 113 episodes, had 74 B&W episodes in Seasons 1-4,6,and 39 color episodes in Seasons 5,7,and 8.LIFE WITH FATHER, (1953?) broadcast an unknown number of episodes live and in color from Hollywood, possibly as an experiment. Then the show reverted to 26 or so filmed black and white episodes.
 

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