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Classic Hospital Television Hits: 5 TV Shows That Had Highest Ratings

By    |   Sunday, 15 Nov 2015 10:35 PM

Medical shows have long been a staple of television. Since "Dr. Kildare" in the early 1960s, the level of technology has changed dramatically, but the interest in the lives of doctors, nurses and patients has never waned.

Here is a look at some of the best classic hospital TV shows.

1. "Dr. Kildare"
Running for six seasons on NBC beginning in 1961, "Dr. Kildare" was the story of Dr. James Kildare (Richard Chamberlain), who was an intern and later a resident at Blair General Hospital. He worked for Dr. Leonard Gillespie (Raymond Massey), who served as a mentor and father figure to the younger doctor. "Dr. Kildare" ran in the top 25 ratings from 1961 through 1963, according to Fifties Web.

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2. "Julia"
A groundbreaking show when it debuted on NBC in 1968, "Julia" was the story of nurse Julia Baker (Diahann Carroll), who was widowed and raising a son while working in a hospital. The show was rare in casting an African-American as a leading woman. "Julia" debuted at No. 7 its first year, in 1968-69, according to Classic TV Database. It was in the Top 30 the next year and ran for one more season.

3. "Marcus Welby, M.D."
Debuting on ABC in 1969, "Marcus Welby, M.D.," starred Robert Young as a kindly family practitioner, who was dedicated to his patients and who became very involved in their lives, both medically and beyond. "Marcus Welby, M.D.," opened high in the ratings in its first season, and was the No. 1 show of the 1969-70 season, according to TV-aholic. It remained in the top 20 for two more seasons and lasted a total of seven seasons.

4. "Medical Center"
CBS's "Medical Center" was the story of Dr. Paul Lochner (James Daly) as chief of staff and dashing Dr. Joe Gannon (Chad Everett) as a young surgeon at the generically named Medical Center in Los Angeles. Debuting in 1969, "Medical Center" ranked in the top 20 highest-rated shows for four of its seven seasons, peaking at No. 8 in 1970-71, according to Classic TV Database.

5. "M*A*S*H"
"M*A*S*H" was a medical-military-comedy series on CBS from 1972-1983 that followed the adventures of doctors, nurses, and support staff stationed at the fictional 4077th mobile army surgical hospital in South Korea during the Korean War.

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"M*A*S*H" broke into the Top 10 shows in the ratings in its second season, nudging out "Marcus Welby, M.D." and "Medical Center" as the highest-rated medical show. It stayed in the Top 10 to the end of its 11-season run in 1983, when it was No. 3 in the ratings, according to TV-aholics. The finale was the highest-rated show ever seen at the time it aired in 1983, drawing more than 125 million viewers, according to Mental Floss.

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Medical shows have long been a staple of television. Since Dr. Kildare in the early 1960s, the level of technology has changed dramatically, but the interest in the lives of doctors, nurses and patients has never waned.
Classic, Hospital TV, highest ratings
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2015-35-15
Sunday, 15 Nov 2015 10:35 PM
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