Help hungry seniors. Deliver help and hope before Thanksgiving. Donate



Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together

2015 LIFE@50+ MIAMI

Miami skyline viewed through palm trees.

Enjoy fun in the sun during Life@50+, May 14-16, 2015

Most Popular


10 Top TV Theme Songs

Remember when series openers had catchy tunes and fun lyrics?

Shot of Gilligan's Island cast

Gilligan's Island cast: (from left) Russell Johnson, Dawn Wells, Bob Denver, Tina louise, Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Alan Hale Jr. — Courtesy Everett Collection

The six opening show themes nominated for Emmy Awards this year are missing something. They may have lush orchestrations like HBO's Mildred Pierce or honky-tonk brass like Episodes on Showtime, but what they don't have is words.

Long before HD and 3D, television relied on theme songs with catchy lyrics and memorable tunes to grab an audience. "Themes were too important in making a show successful to be assigned to the [inexperienced] kids,'" recalled Norman Lear, the creator of All in the Family, The Jeffersons and many other celebrated series, in a recent interview with AARP. "I'd find the best pros available and let them go at it."

With the 2011 Emmy Awards coming Sept. 18, we recall some of the best TV theme songs with music AND words. They speak for themselves.

1. All in the Family

For his American remake of a British series, Lear recruited the seasoned composing team of Charles Strouse and Lee Adams, who had written the musical, Bye, Bye Birdie. Lear told them to "envision Archie and Edith at the piano and what they could do to get a big laugh." The result was "Those Were the Days," a recollection of better times, climaxing with a high-pitched ear-buster from actress Jean Stapleton (Edith).

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Cirque Du Soleil

Members save up to 20% on live Cirque du Soleil shows with their AARP membership card.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

Movies Unlimited

Members save 10% on purchases of DVDs & Blu-ray discs from Movies Unlimited.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.