TV Telephone History

While watching TV Land, I realized I could learn about the phone-wealth of various TV families.

For example:

Rob & Laura Petrie (The Dick Van Dyke Show, early 1960s) had 5 telephones, very unusual at the time. There were model 500 desk phones in the breakfast room, kitchen, dining room, living room, and master bedroom. There may have been a sixth phone in the garage; I'm still trying to confirm. In one episode, their phone number is given as

636.9970; in another, it's NEw Rochelle 6-9970. This should have been area code 914, and area codes were known back then, but not in widespread use.

TV writers later learned to use the exchange "555" (or KLondike 5) for fictitious numbers, but perhaps weren't doing this back then. The "99" portion of their phone number used to indicate a coin-operated telephone in some exchanges, so perhaps this convention was good enough.

By the way, the number "9970" appears in many dialing examples from "Englewood NJ 1951 Customer Long Distance Dialing", posted to this list by Mark Cuccia in 1996. And in the movie "The Manchurian Candidate", a quoted phone number is "El Dorado 5 - 9970".

Do others have good examples of TV family telephones?


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: As best as I can recall, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez ('I Love Lucy', a 1950's invention mostly, had two phones; one in the front room which was nearly always the one used on the show, but also a phone in the bedroom we only saw when an episode needed a bedroom phone.(In one show, Lucy called Ethel from the bedroom.) Their number was MUrray Hill something, I do not remember what, although a couple shows had them saying the number.

The Cleaver Family (Leave it to Beaver) had a phone in the Den, and a reader here said they had one in the upstairs hallway also, but I do not recall seeing it. Their phone number was always given as 'Klondike 5-' something, with one or two digits generally muffled and unintelligable.

And who can recall Sheriff Andy Taylor's phone number, both at the jail and at his home? Barney Fife's number at the rooming house where he lived was '407' on the one occassion I heard someone on the show ask 'Sarah' the operator to be connected. PAT]

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John L. Shelton
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