TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: TV Telephone History

TV Telephone History

John L. Shelton (
Sun, 24 Jul 2005 11:30:18 -0700

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

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

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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