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TV The Best TV Shows of the 1940s  

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List Rules TV shows that aired between 1940 and 1949.

List of the best shows from the 1940s, as ranked by television fans. Although television was invented in the 1920s, it wasn’t until the early 40s that the average person began adding a television to their home. In fact, television was so rare that in 1948, only 10% of Americans claimed to have even seen a TV set with their own eyes, let alone own one. Due to World War II, many television programs and stations shut down, leaving options for TV watchers very limited. Since the television medium was only just beginning, there were only 4 networks, NBC, DuMont, ABC, and CBS. DuMont is the only one that no longer exists, although it was better known for manufacturing television sets.

However, there were a few television programs that entertained the small audience of TV watchers. Many of these shows were variety shows, starring the top comedians and personalities of the time, such as Fred Waring, Ted Mack, and Ed Sullivan. Children’s TV shows were among the most popular programs, with Howdy Doody and Captain Video.

Have you seen any of these 1940s TV shows? If so, which is your favorite? This list includes the top programs of the 1940s, when TV was still a baby.

list ordered by

1
216 44
The Lone Ranger is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
The Lone Ranger Jay Silverheels, Clayton Moore, John Hart The Lone Ranger is the central character of an American animated television series that ran 26 episodes on CBS from September 10, 1966, to September 6, 1969. The series was produced by Herb ...more

2
159 26
The Three Stooges is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
slaft added The Three Stooges Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Curly Howard

3
150 32
The Ed Sullivan Show is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
The Ed Sullivan Show Ed Sullivan, Bern Bennett, Ralph Paul The Ed Sullivan Show was 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. It was ...more

4
116 27
Candid Camera is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Candid Camera Suzanne Somers, Dom DeLuise, Arthur Godfrey Candid Camera is an American hidden camera/practical joke reality television series created and produced by Allen Funt, which initially began on radio as The Candid Microphone June 28, 1947. ...more

5
113 26
Hopalong Cassidy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Hopalong Cassidy Edgar Buchanan, William Boyd

6
86 28
Kukla, Fran and Ollie is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Kukla, Fran and Ollie Fran Allison, Burr Tillstrom Kukla, Fran and Ollie is an early American television show using puppets, originally created for children but soon watched by more adults than children. It did not have a script and was entirely ...more

7
86 30
Howdy Doody is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Howdy Doody William Shatner, Bob Keeshan, Bill McCutcheon Howdy Doody is an American children's television program that was created and produced by E. Roger Muir and telecast on the NBC network in the United States from December 27, 1947 until ...more

8
64 23
Texaco Star Theater is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Texaco Star Theater Carol Burnett, Milton Berle, Red Skelton Texaco Star Theatre is an American comedy-variety show, broadcast on radio from 1938 to 1949 and telecast from 1948 to 1956. It was one of the first successful examples of American television ...more

9
58 21
Truth or Consequences is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Truth or Consequences Ralph Edwards, Jack Bailey Truth or Consequences is an American television show originally hosted on NBC radio by Ralph Edwards and later on television by Edwards, Jack Bailey, Bob Barker, Bob Hilton and Larry Anderson. ...more

10
54 21
Kraft Television Theater is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Kraft Television Theater

11
53 26
Ted Mack Amateur Hour is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Ted Mack Amateur Hour

12
47 24
Cavalcade of Stars is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Cavalcade of Stars Jackie Gleason, Peggy Lee, Elaine Stritch

The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

13
40 24
Captain Video and His Video Ra... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Captain Video and His Video Rangers Wright King, Earl Hammond, Al Hodge Captain Video and His Video Rangers is an American science fiction television series, which was aired on the DuMont Television Network, and was the first series of its kind on American ...more

14
32 26
The Morey Amsterdam Show is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
The Morey Amsterdam Show Morey Amsterdam The Morey Amsterdam Show is an American sitcom which ran from 1948-1949 on CBS Television and 1949-1950 on the DuMont Television Network, for a total of 71 episodes.

15
18 26
Man Against Crime is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Man Against Crime Ralph Bellamy, Robert Preston, Frank Lovejoy Man Against Crime starring Ralph Bellamy, one of the first television programs about private eyes, ran on CBS, the DuMont Television Network and NBC from October 7, 1949 to June 27, 1954. The ...more

16
13 21
The Fred Waring Show is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
The Fred Waring Show The Fred Waring Show is an American television musical variety show that ran from April 17, 1949 to May 30, 1954 on CBS. The show was hosted by Fred Waring and featured his choral group ...more

17
11 19
Steven Universe is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
1520890721923 added Steven Universe Zach Callison, Deedee Magno, Estelle

Who cares if this came out a good 70 years later? It's the best show of all time regardless of when it first premiered. Hell, it was still the best in the 40's! Just because no one saw it coming then doesn't make it any less of a masterpiece!

Steven Universe is an American animated television series created by Rebecca Sugar, former storyboard artist, writer, and composer for Adventure Time. It is produced by Cartoon Network Studios, ...more

The Best Animated Films Ever

18
14 24
Uncle Mistletoe is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Uncle Mistletoe

19
11 23
Private Eyes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Private Eyes Alvaro Orlando, Mike Dusi, James Scott

20
11 24
They Stand Accused is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
They Stand Accused They Stand Accused is an American dramatized court show broadcast on the now-defunct DuMont Television Network from September 11, 1949 to October 5, 1952 and again from September 9 to December ...more

21
10 23
A Woman to Remember is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
A Woman to Remember Frankie Thomas, Ruth McDevitt A Woman to Remember is a soap opera which ran on the DuMont Television Network from February 21, 1949 to July 15, 1949. The show began on February 21 as a daytime series at 3pm ET. However, ...more

22
10 23
Mary Kay and Johnny is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Mary Kay and Johnny Nydia Westman Mary Kay and Johnny is an American situation comedy starring real-life married couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns. It was the first sitcom broadcast on a network television in the United States. ...more

23
11 25
Hollywood Screen Test is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Hollywood Screen Test Neil Hamilton, Bert Lytell, Robert Quarry Hollywood Screen Test is an American talent show which aired on ABC from 1948 to 1953.

24
11 26
Faraway Hill is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Faraway Hill Mel Brandt Faraway Hill was the first soap opera broadcast on an American television network, running on the DuMont Television Network.

25
9 24
Last Year's Nest is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Last Year's Nest

26
8 25
Let There Be Stars is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best TV Shows of the 1940s
Let There Be Stars Let There Be Stars was an early television series which aired on the ABC television network in 1949. It was a high-budget show for its time, and used new production techniques such as ...more