Reminiscing about my favorite TV characters from years past made me nostalgic for the opening theme songs and sequences that characterized popular shows in the 60s and 70s. Producers put considerable thought and effort into producing them. They serve as video tombstones to the characters that starred in them.
Here are the most memorable based on the music and the montages.
Bonanza’s iconic opening was composed before the pilot was even written and sold for $500. The commissioned songwriters were instructed to “make it short, make it cheap, and make it sound like ‘strong men were riding into somewhere with a Western or march flavor.’”
They pulled it off.
The opening sequence to Get Smart, the 60s show parodying the secret agent genre, was filmed 5,000 times until it passed muster with creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry.
Would you believe 1,000 times?
The Odd Couple
Using legalese in the opening narration of a show about divorcees – “On November 13, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence” — was brilliant. And who can forget Neal Hefti’s opening theme and the old lady hitting Felix Unger with her purse?
The Beverly Hillbillies
Oil that is. Black gold. Texas tea.
A test of a true Angeleno: Identify the Beverly Hills location where the Clampetts drove their buggy through in the opening sequence. (I’m asking because I don’t know the answer.)
Come sit right back and you’ll hear a theme, a theme you’ll never forget …
The Brady Bunch
The show’s entire premise sung in one minute and forty-one seconds by its protagonists.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
A statue was deservedly erected in Minneapolis where Mary Tyler Moore tossed her iconic hat. Viewers were cheering for Mary even before they watched the first episode.
An opening as sexy as the series’ two characters.
An opening theme song that boldly went where no show had ever gone before.
A theme song so great they used it for the movie versions decades later. This link, should you decide to click on it, will self-destruct in five seconds.
A theme song sequence that captured the intensity of Jack Lord and the beauty of Hawaii. Unrivaled.
“Book em Dunno.”