A 1970’s Time Capsule



The variety television show was not invented in the 1970s; however in the 1970s, the genre was very popular but almost non existent in the decades that followed.  For me, the 1970s was a decade of some really great variety shows so in my opinion the genre went out with a blast.  Here are a few.  Some of these premiered before the 1970s but if they had any time in the 1970s, I included them.

The Ed Sullivan Show (1948 – 1971)

The Ed Sullivan Show (Toast of the Town) is an American TV variety show that ran on CBS from Sunday June 20, 1948 to Sunday June 6, 1971, and was hosted by New York entertainment columnist Ed Sullivan.  Some of the greatest acts were presented to American on this show.  I think one of the most well known performances on the show was the Beatles when they first came to the United States.  It is not the 1970s but I’m showing it anyway.

The Carol Burnett Show (1967 – 1978)

If I was to list my top female comedians of all time, Carol Burnett would only come second to Lucille Ball.  The Carol Burnett Show was an American variety/sketch comedy television show starring Carol Burnett, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence and Lyle Waggoner. In 1975, frequent guest star Tim Conway became a regular when Waggoner left this show due to a mutual agreement with the producer about the series not having reruns. In 1977, Dick Van Dyke replaced Korman for much of its final season. The show originally ran on CBS from September 11, 1967, to March 29, 1978, for 279 episodes, and again with nine episodes in the fall of 1991. The series won 25 prime-time Emmy Awards.

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (1968 – 1973)

Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (often simply referred to as Laugh-In) is an American sketch comedy television program that ran for 140 episodes from January 22, 1968, to March 12, 1973, on the NBC television network. It was hosted by comedians Dan Rowan and Dick Martin and featured, at various times, Chelsea Brown, Johnny Brown, Ruth Buzzi, Judy Carne, Richard Dawson, Moosie Drier, Henry Gibson, Teresa Graves, Goldie Hawn, Arte Johnson, Larry Hovis, Sarah Kennedy, Jeremy Lloyd, Dave Madden, Pigmeat Markham, Gary Owens, Pamela Rodgers, Barbara Sharma, Jud Strunk, Alan Sues, Lily Tomlin and Jo Anne Worley.

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour/ The Sonny & Cher Show (1971 – 1977)

Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour 1976

Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour 1976

The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour is an American variety show starring American pop-singer Cher and her husband Sonny Bono. The show ran on CBS in the United States, when it premiered in August 1971. The show was canceled May 1974, due to the couple’s divorce, though the duo would reunite in 1976 for the identically-formatted The Sonny & Cher Show (a title sporadically used during the run of the Comedy Hour), which ran until 1977.

Donny & Marie (1976 – 1979)

season 2

Donny & Marie was an American variety show which aired on ABC from January 1976 to January 1979. The show starred brother and sister pop duo Donny and Marie Osmond. Donny had first become popular singing in a music group with his brothers, The Osmonds, and Marie was one of the youngest singers to reach #1 on the Billboard Country Music charts (with “Paper Roses”, in 1973).   Donny and Marie (18 and 16 years old, respectively, when the program premiered) were the youngest entertainers in TV history to host their own variety show.

Hee Haw (1969 – 1992 really?)

Hee Haw is an American television variety show featuring country music and humor with fictional rural Kornfield Kounty as a backdrop. It aired on CBS-TV from 1969–1971 before a 21-year run in local syndication. The show was inspired by Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, the major difference being that Hee Haw was far less topical, and was centered on country music and rural culture. Hosted by country artists Buck Owens and Roy Clark for most of the series’ run, the show was equally well known for its voluptuous, scantily clad women in stereotypical farmer’s daughter outfits and country-style minidresses (a group that came to be known as the “Hee Haw Honeys”), and its corn pone humor.

Saturday Night Live (1975 – Present)

Original 1975 SNL Cast

Original 1975 SNL Cast

Saturday Night Live (abbreviated as SNL) is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show created by Lorne Michaels and developed by Dick Ebersol. The show premiered on NBC on October 11, 1975, under the original title NBC’s Saturday Night. The show’s comedy sketches, which parody contemporary culture and politics, are performed by a large and varying cast of repertory and newer cast members. Each episode is hosted by a celebrity guest (who usually delivers an opening monologue and performs in sketches with the cast) and features performances by a musical guest. An episode normally begins with a cold open sketch that ends with someone breaking character and proclaiming, “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”, properly beginning the show.
More recently, do you think “The Fey Effect”  helped keep McCain out of the White House?
There were other variety shows that aired in the 1970s.  Did I miss your favorite?

A to Z on the Music Charts

Record and released in 1971, Don McLean’s Vincent became a number one hit on the UK charts.  Although it only reached number 12 on the US Charts it stayed in Billboard Hot 100 for 12 weeks.


The A to Z Challenge has dueling decades going on.  Check out the 1980s theme from a fellow blogger HERE

 All images in this article are in the public domain. For any YouTube clips embedded in my posts, I am not the uploader.

14 responses

  1. Natalia says:

    It’s so interesting to see old shows! Great list xo


  2. Great post! I loved Donnie and Marie when I was little – had the lunch box. HUGE fan of the Carol Burnett show – have it on DVD now and watch it on me Tv. Loved Saturday night live


  3. Liam says:

    Went With the Wind is one of the funniest things ever on television. Even the cast couldn’t help laughing.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can’t think of any other show that made me laugh as much as the Carol Burnett show. I still watch clips on occasion. My parents watched Hee Haw, but I couldn’t stand too much of it. I hadn’t thought of it in years until “Family Guy” randomly inserted a clip of Conway Twitty in one of their episodes. I’d love to see a modern-day variety show, but I suspect that nowadays it would cost far too much to get any decent guest stars or musical guests on a regular basis.


  5. I was just thinking about how I watched certain shows on certain nights when I was a kid. And Sunday night was always Ed Sullivan. I loved laugh-in and one Halloween I dressed up like Goldie Hawn.


  6. Birgit says:

    I love variety shows and watched all of these but I didn’t like Hee Haw at all. I wish they would work today but it can’t be forced. Love the Went With The Wind and that scene is priceless.


  7. greyzoned/angelsbark says:

    Those were some great variety shows! I remember all of them fondly…

    Michele at Angels Bark