The Best Talk Shows of the 1970s

Over 600 Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Talk Shows of the 1970s
Voting Rules
Vote up the best talk shows that aired in the '70s

Talk shows have been an important part of the television landscape for decades, and these are the best 1970s talk shows, ranked from best to worst. Some of these top 1970s talk shows have become true TV icons that have remained on the air, while others made a big splash in the 70s, but longevity wasn't the cards for them. That doesn't make them any less great. Not every show is meant to be on the air forever. In fact, some of the greatest shows last only a few seasons. So, what is the best 70s talk show?

While casting your votes, what series can you expect to find on this best 1970s talk shows list? Morning television was revolutionized when Good Morning America debuted in 1975. Over the past 40+ years, the show has welcomed such notable guests as Barack Obama, Will Smith, Peyton Manning, and many more. The Dean Martin Show is another good talk show that aired in the '70s.

Throughout the decade, Dick Cavett chatted with many of the top entertainers of the day including Carol Burnett, Marlon Brando, and Katharine Hepburn. And just for posterity, some of the other great series that appear on this list include The Flip Willson Show, 20/20, and SportsCenter.

Which 1970s talk show is the best? Vote up your favorites and see if other TV fans agree with you!
Photo: Tjeerd from Amsterdam, The Netherlands / Via Wikimedia Commons
Ranked by
  • The Merv Griffin Show
    82 votes
    • Premiered: 1962

    Deserving every accolade bestowed upon it, The Merv Griffin Show epitomized distinguished entertainment in the world of talk shows. With the dapper, ever-charming Merv Griffin in command, the guests and audience found themselves enthralled by his magnetic charisma, healthy banter, and a dazzling array of star-studded appearances. Griffin's keen wit and disarming demeanor had him rubbing shoulders with the era's best and brightest, making for unmissable television at the heart of the 1970s.

  • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
    Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, Skitch Henderson
    189 votes
    • Premiered: October 1, 1962

    If you were to cast a glance at the pantheon of legendary talk show hosts, one could not ignore the nimble, quick-witted Johnny Carson, whose talent coursed through every episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His timeless humor and engaging interviews had viewers on the edges of their seats, eagerly anticipating their nightly dose of laughter and lighthearted entertainment. With his finger on the pulse of popular culture, Carson's impact was indelible, molding the very essence of late-night television throughout the 1970s and beyond.

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  • The Dick Cavett Show
    112 votes
    • Premiered: March 4, 1968

    The Dick Cavett Show was a veritable magnet for fascinating personalities - a testament to its creator and host's laudable talent for concocting highly engaging and intellectually stimulating conversations. Dick Cavett, a connoisseur of candor and wit, would weave together stories and discussions that captivated audiences nationwide, his show a canvas for insightful banter and delightfully sharp repartee. Cavett's brilliance managed to stand out among the multitude of talk shows in the 1970s, carving a unique niche for his inimitable blend of entertainment.

  • The Mike Douglas Show

    The Mike Douglas Show

    Shirley Temple, Mike Douglas
    95 votes
    • Premiered: December 11, 1961

    Demonstrating adaptability and versatility in spades, The Mike Douglas Show played host to a kaleidoscope of stars and personalities, buoyed by the effervescent charm of its titular host. Airing throughout much of the 1970s, the show effused a sense of vivacity and uncompromising entertainment, its lively blend of interviews, music performances, and comedy sketches proving irresistible to an adoring public. Mike Douglas, a consummate master of ceremonies, left an indelible mark on the golden era of daytime talk shows.

  • American Bandstand
    73 votes
    • Premiered: October 7, 1952

    What better way to fuel the feverish vigor of America's youth than through soul-stirring tunes and infectious dance moves? American Bandstand fit the bill. With the smooth-talking and ever-youthful Dick Clark at the helm, this iconic television series provided an unparalleled platform for the nation's budding musical talents and pop sensations. During the 1970s, the show was a mecca for chart-topping acts and the latest dance crazes, uniting a generation bound by its lust for rhythm and harmony.

  • The Dean Martin Show
    Ruth Buzzi, Foster Brooks
    76 votes
    • Premiered: September 16, 1965

    Suave, sophisticated, and effortlessly entertaining - The Dean Martin Show embodied the refined art of the television variety hour. Martin, the eponymous crooner and comedian par excellence, took viewers on a rollicking ride filled with laughter, warmth, and dazzling musical numbers. Whether belting out tunes or trading barbs with guests, Martin's charisma was truly captivating, his show an enduring beacon of entertainment during the 1970s.