Can You Name the Professions of These 1970s TV Characters?

By: Monica Lee

Their unit called Adam-12 was the identity of Pete Malloy and Jim Reed as they policed the streets of Los Angeles in this popular crime drama.

Archie Bunker was a foreman on a loading dock. "All in the Family" was a successful and timely sitcom that aired on CBS from 1971 to 1979.

Darren Stevens was an advertising executive on "Bewitched." This sitcom aired for eight seasons and was about a witch named Samantha, who married a mortal. She tried and failed to lead the life of a typical suburban housewife.

Bob Newhart as Robert Hartley portrayed a psychologist having to deal with his patients and fellow office workers. The show was filmed before a live audience.

Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright was the owner of The Ponderosa ranch. Bonanza was a western TV series that aired on NBC from 1959 to 1973 and continues to air in syndication.

"Charlie's Angels" was a crime-drama series about three women who worked for a private investigation firm. Farrah Fawcett played Jill Munroe, one the "angels," along with Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith.

Erik Estrada played Frank “Ponch” Poncherello on the police drama, "CHiPs." The show followed the lives of Baker and Ponch, two motorcycle cops from the California Highway Patrol.

Larry Hagman starred as greedy, scheming oil baron J. R. Ewing in "Dallas." This drama took place in Texas where the family was in the oil and cattle-ranching industries.

Don Adams starred as Maxwell Smart (Agent 86) in the comedy, "Get Smart." This Mel Brooks comedy series satirized the secret agent genre.

"Green Acres" was a sitcom starring Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor about a couple that moved from New York City to a country farm. Eddie Albert played Oliver Wendell Douglas who simply wanted to get away from it all and farm.

"Gunsmoke" was a western drama series starring James Arness as the marshall in the area around Dodge City, Kansas, during the settlement of the American West. This show was the longest-running prime time action drama.

Set in 1950s and 1960s Milwaukee, this series told the story of the Cunningham family, including its patriarch, Howard Cunningham, who owned a hardware store. "Happy Days" series introduced us to Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), the local bad boy.

"Hawaii Five-O" was a police drama series set in Hawaii. Detective Steve McGarrett, portrayed by Jack Lord, ran a state police unit. The catchphrase, "Book 'em, Dano" came from this show.

"The Honeymooners" was a sitcom that starred Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden. The show focused on Ralph's trials and frustrations while trying to better his life and family.

"I Dream of Jeannie" was a sitcom starring Barbara Eden as a 2,000-year-old genie and Larry Hagman as Astronaut Tony Nelson. Tony became her master, fell in love with her, and eventually married her.

Sherman Hensley portrayed George Jefferson in the longest-running sitcom with a predominantly African-American cast in the history of American television. George owned a chain of dry cleaning stores.

Recovering alcoholic Gary Ewing and his wife, Valene, settled into a Los Angeles cul-de-sac to escape the dirty dealings back home in Texas. Gary worked for car dealer Sid Fairgate.

"Lassie" was a drama series that followed the adventures of a female Rough Collie named Lassie and her companion, Timmy Martin. Timmy was a foster child on the Miller farm which was owned by Paul Martin.

Laverne and Shirley were two friends and roommates who worked as bottle-cappers in the fictitious Shotz Brewery in late 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This sitcom starred Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as Shirley Feeney.

Ted Lange portrayed Issac Washington, a bartender on "The Love Boat." The show also starred Gavin MacLeod as the ship's captain.

"Marcus Welby, M.D." was a medical drama series that starred Robert Young as family practitioner Marcus Welby. He treated his patients with respect and kindness.

Lauren Tewes portrayed Julie McCoy, the Cruise Director of "The Love Boat." Three made-for-TV movies were made before the series premiered in 1977.

Mary Richards, portrayed by Mary Tyler Moore, was the Associate Producer of the WJM-TV television station newsroom. The program was a television breakthrough, with the first never-married, independent career woman as the central character.

Jammie Farr portrayed Maxwell Klinger as a cross-dressing corporal from Toledo, Ohio, bucking for a Section 8 discharge. "M*A*S*H" followed a team of doctors and staff stationed in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu, South Korea, during the Korean War.

Walter, married to Maude, was the owner of Findlay's Friendly Appliances. He was played by Bill Macy. Bea Arthur went on to star in "Golden Girls."

Greg Morris was best known for portraying electronics expert Barney Collier on "Mission: Impossible." The show chronicled the adventures of the Impossible Missions Force (IMF).

"Mork & Mindy" was a science fiction sitcom that starred Robin Williams as an alien who came to Earth from the planet Ork, and Pam Dawber as Mindy McConnell. Mindy worked at her father's music store.

"My Three Sons" starred Fred MacMurray as Steven Douglas who worked as an aeronautical engineer. He was a widower who was raising his three sons.

Tony Randall portrayed Felix Unger, a fastidious photographer, who shared a Manhattan apartment with Oscar Madison, a sloppy, lazy sports reporter. Their different lifestyles led to conflicts and laughs.

"Petticoat Junction" was a sitcom about a widow, Kate Bradley, and her three daughters - Bobbie Jo, Billie Jo, and Bettie Jo - who run the Shady Rest Hotel on the outskirts of a small rural town. Bea Benaderet portrayed Kate Bradley.

"Sanford and Son" was a sitcom that starred Redd Foxx as Fred Sanford, a 65-year-old widower and junk dealer living in the Watts neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles.

"Taxi" was a sitcom that chronicled the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher, Louie De Palma, played by Danny DeVito. "Taxi" won ​18 Emmy Awards, including three for "Outstanding Comedy Series."

After completion of his schooling, Jack Tripper, played by John Ritter, found full-time work as a chef working for a popular restaurateur named Frank Angelino.

Family patriarch John Walton, portrayed by Ralph Waite, was a hard-working family man who ran a small sawmill on Walton's Mountain. The show centered on his family during the Great Depression and World War II.

"Welcome Back, Kotter" starred Gabe Kaplan as Mr. Kotter, who returned to his Alma Mater to teach a group of remedial students. A young John Travolta was the head of Kotter's high school misfits, the Sweathogs.

"WKRP in Cincinnati" starred Howard Hesseman as Doctor Johnny Fever, a DJ on the radio station. The ensemble cast included Gary Sandy, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Richard Sanders, and Frank Bonner.

Betty White played Sue Ann Nivens, who had a segment on the news program called "The Happy Homemaker." She was "very close" to WJM's children's television show host Chuckles the Clown, having baked the first custard pie in which he ever sat.

"Hogan's Heroes" was a sitcom set at a German prisoner-of-war camp during the World War II. The program featured John Banner as the inept sergeant-of-the-guard, Schultz.

James Gordon MacArthur portrayed Detective Danny "Dano" Williams, the second-in-command of the fictional Hawaiian State Police squad in the TV show, "Hawaii Five-O." The theme music, composed by Morton Stevens, became especially popular.

Frank Sutton portrayed the role of Gunnery Sergeant Vince Carter on the TV series, "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." The series featured Gomer Pyle's (Jim Nabors) trials and tribulations in the military.

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About This Quiz

What occupations make for great comedy? What professions make for heartfelt dramas? Some livelihoods are inherently exciting, like surgeons, wardens, firemen, detectives, and police officers. And the stories around those characters are equally adrenaline pumping.  Fish-out-of-water comedies, like "Mork & Mindy," or putting together complete opposites like "The Odd Couple," got their laughs from how aggravating the characters were, as well as how they shared some of the same personality traits.

The occupations of TV characters of the 1970s also reflected the reality of the times when gender roles were being redefined for future generations. The Mary Tyler Moore Show was the first prime time TV show whose central character was an unmarried, independent woman without children, "making it on her own." In the 1970s, women filled over a quarter of the workforce and were generally employed at new, lower- paying jobs in offices and the service industry. 

You may see patterns to the jobs your favorite characters held among the different TV shows, or you may just recall how funny or emotionally moving the jobs were that made these shows your favorites. Take a walk down memory lane and see if you recall the professions of these 1970s TV characters. Challenge yourself now!


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