Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon

PuzzleWatch: Tuning In – The heyday of TV music

From Andy Griffith to Mary Tyler Moore, test your memory of TV's most memorable tunes.


The puzzle’s author in 1961, when photographic pride of place was always granted to the new TV.

By 1960, 90% of American households had a television set, and with this new technology came an outpouring of new content: news, dramatic shows, comedy, educational programming, and more. Of special interest to some budding musicians (like me) were Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s (like me) Concerts, which ran from 1958-1972. These were enriching and unabashedly erudite, with wonderful music and an accessible sophistication. 

This crossword puzzle is not about that television music. It’s about another genre of music that exploded with the widespread broadcast of TV shows in the 1960s. It’s about the brief, corny, sometimes laughable, but easily recognizable “theme songs” that would signal the beginning of a program. Songwriters churned out these little ditties, which not only set the scene – you knew immediately you were in Mayberry, on the Ponderosa or the starship Enterprise – but which could also introduce an entire storyline in less than 50 words: “Come and listen to my story ‘bout a man named Jed; / A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed…” (from The Beverly Hillbillies theme song by Paul Henning).

The names of most of these prolific composers – like Earle Hagen – are mostly unknown. Did you know, for instance, that actor Alan Thicke wrote over 40 themes for games shows and a handful for situation comedies such as Diff’rent Strokes? And many other composers made their mark writing background music that accompanied the onscreen action.

So, just for fun, take on this tickler about television themes. (Beware the earworms.) You can do it! “You’re gonna make it after all” (from the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song by Sonny Curtis).

Tuning In – The heyday of TV music – Click here for an interactive puzzle you can fill out in your web browser

Download the puzzle as a printable PDF

Download the answer key

Be part of our
growing success

Join our Stronger Together Campaign and help ensure a thriving creative community. Your support powers our mission to enhance accessibility, expand content, and unify arts groups across the region.

Together we can make a difference. Give today, knowing a donation that supports our work also benefits countless other organizations. When we are stronger, our entire cultural community is stronger.

Donate Today

Photo Joe Cantrell

Daryl Browne is a music educator, alto, flutist and writer who lives in Beaverton, Oregon.

Tilikum Chamber Orchestra A Musical Gift Exchange Lake Oswego High School Lake Oswego Oregon
CoHo Productions presents Laughing Matters Portland Oregon
Literary Arts The Moth Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall Portland Oregon
Open Space Not-Cracker Newmark Theatre Portland Oregon
Chamber Music Northwest The Old Church Strings Portland Oregon
Portland Playhouse A Christmas Carol Portland Oregon
PassinArt presents Black Nativity Brunish Theatre Portland Oregon
Oregon Repertory Singers Glory of Christmas Concert Portland Oregon
Imago Theatre ZooZoo Portland Oregon
Bridgetown Conservatory Ludlow Ladd The Poor Little Orphan Boy Holiday Operetta Tiffany Center Portland Oregon
Northwest Dance Project Sarah Slipper New Stories Portland Oregon
Portland State University College of the Arts
Oregon Cultural Trust donate
Cultural Hubs series
We do this work for you.

Give to our GROW FUND.