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30 Most Memorable TV Shows of the 1970s

All in the Family

Television covered unchartered territory in 1971 with the sitcom All in the Family. The show featured blue-collar Archie Bunker, a bigot who has trouble dealing with the changing world. It was one of the first shows to deal with controversial topics and hot button issues of the 1970s.

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The Jeffersons

In 1975, All in the Family produced a spin-off--The Jeffersons. George Jefferson, his wife Louise, and their son Lionel were the next door neighbors of the Bunkers. After George's dry-cleaning business takes off, the African-American family "moves on up" to a luxury apartment in Manhattan.

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Charlie's Angels

Gorgeous actresses Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson starred as private detectives working for their never-seen boss, Charlie, who gave them instructions through a speaker. Different actresses came and went from 1976 to 1981, but their good looks were always the highlight of the show.

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Good Times

Comedian and actor Jimmie Walker, who starred as J.J., had everyone in 1974 saying "Dy-no-mite!" African-American couple Florida and James Evans struggled to raise J.J. and the rest of the their family in a Chicago housing project in this hit TV show. 

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The Mary Tyler Moore Show

From 1970 to 1977 actress Mary Tyler Moore portrayed Mary Richards, a TV news producer in Minneapolis. The sitcom was TV's first representation of a single woman who lived alone and supported herself.

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The Love Boat

The Love Boat, set on a cruise ship, ruled ABC's Saturday night line up. It featured a recurring crew that interacted with various celebrity guest stars each week. Beginning in 1977 celebrities included Gene Kelly, Joan Rivers, Tom Hanks, Andy Warhol and Janet Jackson. 

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Saturday Night Live

One of the greatest contributions to television from the 1970s was the introduction of Saturday Night Live, originally called NBC's Saturday Night. In 1975 the edgy, irreverent comedy sketches of Bill Murray, Dan Akroyd, Gilda Radner, Chevy Chase and John Belushi brought both viewers and complaints to NBC.

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The Muppet Show

Puppeteer extraordinaire Jim Henson's goal of making a show that both children and adults would enjoy came to fruition in 1976. Each week on The Muppet Show Kermit, Miss Piggy and the rest of the muppets would put on a variety show with help from a celebrity guest. 

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Welcome Back, Kotter

Comedian and actor Gabe Kaplan starred as Gabe Kotter, a high school teacher who returns to the high school he attended in Brooklyn to teach. His remedial history class is made up of a diverse and hilarious group of students called "Sweathogs." John Travolta became a star after his role as Vinnie Barbarino, thanks to the catch phrase, "Up your nose with a rubber hose!"

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Sanford and Son

Fred Sanford was the African-American Archie Bunker, complete with bigotry and racial humor. Portrayed by comedian Redd Foxx, Fred and his son Lamont ran a junkyard in the South Central area of Los Angeles and got into trouble with get-rich-quick schemes. 

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Little House on the Prairie

Kids and adults loved the Ingalls family, the sweet frontier family who tried to always do the right thing. Daughter Laura stole the show as she continually dealt with her nemesis, spoiled rich girl, Nellie Oleson.

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The Bob Newhart Show

Comedian Bob Newhart had a TV show in the 60s, the 70s and the 80s! The Bob Newhart Show ran from 1972 to 1978 ,with the comedian portraying Bob Hartley, a Chicago psychologist. He started many of the early episodes by answering his phone. 

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The Brady Bunch

When a widower with three sons marries a widow with three daughters you get The Brady Bunch. A live-in maid named Alice and a dog named Tiger rounded out the blended family who fought over the bathroom and even attempted pop stardom. Though The Brady Bunch ended its run in 1974, it was immediately aired in syndication and was seen by audiences for decades.

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The Six Million Dollar Man

This enormously popular science fiction drama aired from 1974 to 1978. Astronaut Colonel Steve Austin was injured in a crash and rebuilt with "bionic" parts which gave him super speed, magnified sight, and super strength. Six Million Dollar Man action figures and lunchboxes were hot items in the 70s. 

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Barney Miller

Unlike most police shows, Barney Miller was a situational comedy. Police Captain Barney Miller tried desperately to control the goings-on in a Greenwich Village police station. The show took place almost entirely in the squad room and Miller's office. Each episode revolved around his officers interacting with the suspects they brought in.

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The Carol Burnett Show

The Carol Burnett Show was the pinnacle of sketch comedy in the 70s. Carol and her castmates Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, and Tim Conway kept viewers laughing with characters like Mama, Eunice, Mrs. Wiggins and Mr. Tudball.

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Grungy, undercover cop Baretta's theme was "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time," which are lyrics from the song that started each episode. The most memorable thing for viewers is Fred, Baretta's pet cockatoo.

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Laverne and Shirley

Single girls Laverne and Shirley were friends of Fonzie who ended up with their own Happy Days spin-off. The sitcom revolved around hijinks with Lenny and Squiggy, who lived in the apartment above theirs, and their work as bottlecappers at the Shotz brewery.

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Marcus Welby, M.D.

From 1969 to 1976, classic TV star Robert Young starred as Marcus Welby, a kind and respected doctor. The series broke ground by addressing issues like sexually transmitted diseases, depression, and impotence.

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Hawaii Five-0

"Book 'em, Danno!" was the catch phrase of Detective Captain Steve McGarrett in this 70s hit series. He led a special police task force which fought spies and underworld bad guys in exotic Hawaii.

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The Waltons

Journalist John Walton Jr., known as John-Boy by his family, narrated the beginning and end of each episode of The Waltons. He told of his parents, grandparents, and siblings during the depression era and World War II on Walton Mountain, a fictional place in rural Virginia. The show is beloved by audiences for portraying a loyal loving family.

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The Partridge Family

Widowed Shirley Partridge joins her children's band and they tour on a colorful converted school bus. David Cassidy, who portrayed eldest son Keith Partridge, became a huge teen idol because of this series. 

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Three's Company

1970s audiences can't forget roommates Jack, Janet, and Chrissy. They convince their landlord, Mr. Roper that Jack is gay so he will be allowed to live with the girls. All sorts of hijinks ensue with the hilarious physical humor of star John Ritter stealing scenes.

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The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

Variety shows were big in the 1970s. Cher and her husband, Sonny Bono, were a perfect fit for the genre because they performed songs and told jokes. Audiences enjoyed their banter and seeing them bring their daughter on stage at the end of the show. The show ran from 1971 until their marriage ended in 1974. They reunited (professionally) to star in The Sonny & Cher Show from 1976 to 1977.

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Known for being bald and for sucking on a lollipop, Greek-American actor Telly Savalas portrayed Greek-American New York City Police detective Kojak. He was a likeable character, but his bending of the rules and roughing up of the criminals might not be appreciated today. 

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The Rockford Files

TV producers in 1974 found a hit with The Rockford Files. Private eye Jim Rockford spent time in San Quentin on a wrongful conviction. Now, he works cold cases to make money and avoid the police. Viewers remember his run-down mobile home, which also served as his office, on the California beach--as well as his Pontiac Firebird. 

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Sesame Street

All 1970s preschoolers watched Sesame Street--it was the first show for children to be created using research about child development. And kids to this day still love Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, and the whole gang!

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Happy Days

Set in the 1950s and later the 1960s, Happy Days embodied the fun spirit of rock and roll, dating, and having a soda or malt at the local hangout. Teenager Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard, and his friends Potsie and Ralph Malph wished they could be as cool as leather jacket wearing Fonzie. "The Fonz" had several catch phrases including "Sit On It!"

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The Odd Couple

Based on a Neil Simon play of the same name, The Odd Couple starred Jack Klugman and Tony Randall as two divorced men sharing an apartment in Manhattan. Being radically different people, the entertainment is in their struggle to adjust to one another.

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From 1972 until 1983, TV viewers couldn't get enough of Hawkeye, Hot Lips and Klinger. M*A*S*H, a comedy with dramatic undertones about a military medical unit in Korea during the Korean War, had a record-breaking 125 million viewers for its final episode.

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Mork and Mindy

Mork & Mindy came out in the late ‘70s, but it’s not one to forget. The TV show launched Robin Williams to help him become one of the most iconic actors and comedians of all time. It was huge when it came out, and Robin Williams was even part of the reason the show lasted as long as it did. The chemistry between the two characters was great, and we were lucky to have this show. Nanu nanu, Robin!

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