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The Greatest Moments In Television & Movie History

By Nostalgic America · May 16, 2024

The movies and TV shows we watched over the years were a reflection of our culture, values, and the times when they were produced.

The 1969 film Easy Rider captured the imagination of the country as it addressed a range of societal issues.

Here are some other great moments in movies and television.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Movie Debut

The then-unknown 22-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger rides through the streets of New York City in 1969, while filming a scene from the Trimark Pictures movie, Hercules In New York. While he looked the part, another actor was used to dub in his dialogue. His name in the credits appeared as Arnold Strong, Mr. Universe.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

On the Waterfront Starring Marlon Brando

Elia Kazan and Marlon Brando are at their very best in On the Waterfront. Kazan led a cast of solid talent in the morality play shot against the backdrop of the Depression-era New York waterfront. Brando, much calmer than in his performance in A Streetcar Named Desire demonstrates the best in Method acting, brilliantly playing the confused anxious, and inarticulate Terry Malloy.

The film was based on the true story of a longshoreman who tried to overthrow a corrupt union. In real life, he failed, but in the film, he succeeds. The film was shot on location in Hoboken, N.J., on and near the docks, with real longshoremen as extras, playing themselves.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Davy Crockett Funded Disneyland!

Davy Crockett was a five-part program that aired on ABC from 1954 – 1955, in one-hour episodes, on the Disneyland television series. The shows starred Fess Parker as real-life frontiersman Davy Crockett, and Buddy Ebsen as his friend. The money earned from the shows and the merchandise that spun off from these shows—including the famous coonskin cap worn by Fess Parker--helped fund the building of Disneyland! The coonskin cap was made of real racoon skin with the face and tail at the back and it became a national obsession among young boys in the mid-1950s.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The Mickey Mouse Club Launched Many Careers

The careers of many well-known performers began on The Mickey Mouse Club TV show, which initially aired from 1955 – 1959 on ABC. The only Mouseketeer to be handpicked by Walt Disney himself, was Annette Funicello, seen here with “Head Mouseketeer” Jimmie Dodd.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon Hanging Out

Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon starred in the campy film Beach Blanket Bingo in 1955, along with Paul Lynde, with an appearance by Buster Keaton. The movie was directed by William Asher.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

The MGM Lion Logo Story

The classic lion trademark was created in 1916 for the Goldwyn Pictures Corporation by ad executive Howard Dietz. He decided to use a lion as the company’s mascot as a tribute to his alma mater, Columbia University, whose athletic team nickname is The Lions. Leo, the seventh lion, is MGM’s longest-lived, having appeared on most MGM films since 1957. He was also the youngest of all the lions at the time MGM filmed his roar.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES TV Show Was Based on an Actual Family

The comedy TV series aired from 1962 – 1971. The premise has the Clampetts moving from the Ozark Mountains to Southern California after striking oil back home. The show starred Buddy Ebsen, Irene Ryan, Donna Douglas and Max Baer, Jr. and was the #1 rated show for two seasons (1962-1964). The theme song, The Ballad of Jed Clampett, was originally performed by bluegrass stars Flatt and Scruggs and was sung by Jerry Scoggins. It was a #1 country hit song.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Love Story Premiers in 1970

The romantic drama Love Story starred Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett IV, a Harvard student and Ali MacGraw as Jennifer Cavelleri, a Radcliffe student. It was one of the highest grossing films of all time, adjusted for inflation. The film immortalized the line uttered by Ali MacGraw, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Spin-Offs from Love, American Style

Love, American Style was an anthology comedy series that aired from 1969 – 1974. It was a hit show that spawned another famous TV series. The episode entitled Love and Happy Days aired on February 25, 1972 and from that episode, the show Happy Days was born. Spinoffs from Happy Days included Laverne and Shirley and Mork & Mindy.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Sid Caesar and Your Show of Shows

Your Show of Shows was a live sketch comedy television series and a Saturday night fixture for four years from 1950-1954. Sid Caesar was supported by his good friends Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. Other show writers were Neil Simon, Larry Gelbart, and Woody Allen.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

On the Road with Charles Kuralt

In 1967, CBS reporter Charles Kuralt took to the road in an RV with a film crew, to explore America. Kuralt took the roads less traveled, to introduce us to “regular” people across the country. Here he’s on location in Bird City, Kansas in 1968.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Easy Rider Changes Hollywood

After debuting at the Cannes Film Festival in 1969, and opening in the summer, Easy Rider changed everything. Old studio executives were out, the counterculture was in and almost any young director with long hair got a shot at making a movie Jack Nicholson, who had been knocking around Hollywood for more than a decade, got his big break, with Dennis Hopper starring and making his directorial debut. The screenplay was written by Hopper, Peter Fonda, and Terry Southern.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Tom Selleck: Everyone Starts Somewhere

Tom Selleck a soap star? Yup! He played the role of Jed Andrews from 1974-1975 in the long-running American TV soap, The Young and the Restless. He went on to win five Emmys for his most famous role as Edward Magnum on Magnum P.I.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Actor Matt Dillon was Discovered While Cutting Class in Junior High

Matt Dillon was tapped for his first audition while cutting class in 1978. He won his first role, and was cast in Over the Edge, directed by Jonathan Kaplan. Dillon went on to become a teen heartthrob, starring in movies including the 1984 Flamingo Kid.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Premiers in 1975

Rather than spend his time in jail, McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson convinces the guards that he's crazy enough to need psychiatric care and is sent to a hospital. His plan backfires when he is sent to a mental asylum. He fits in frighteningly well, and his different point of view actually begins to cause some of the patients to progress. He tries to liven the place up a bit by playing card games and basketball with his fellow inmates, but the head Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, becomes his personal nemesis as his resistance to the hospital routine gets on her nerves.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn Reaches for the Moon

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the 1961 romantic comedy written by Truman Capote and directed by Blake Edwards was a big hit. Contrary to rumor, Audrey Hepburn did actually perform the song Moon River in the film. She also learned to play the appropriate chords on the guitar. The song was written by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer and won the Academy Award that year for Best Original Song, along with two Grammy Awards for Best Record and Best Song of the year.  Nostalgic America / Getty Images

John Wayne Stars in The Big Trail in 1930

Breck, played by a new emerging star named John Wayne, leads a wagon train of pioneers through Indian attack, storms, deserts, swollen rivers, down cliffs to their destiny out West. While looking for the murder of a trapper, Wayne’s character falls in love with Ruth (played by Marguerite Churchill). The plot is not much, but the cinema photography and direction make it an exciting movie. Raoul Walsh, the director said about his new star, John Wayne:
"He stepped down off his horse and gave me that lopsided grin which was to become one of his trademarks. How did I do, Mr. Walsh? He was confident in himself by this time and looked as if he knew the answer... My leading man had made a fine frontiersman. His acting was instinctive, so that he became whatever or whoever he was playing. There is a lot of pride in the knowledge that I discovered a winner.”  Nostalgic America / Getty Images