TV Poll: Which 60s TV Drama Had the Coolest Theme Song?

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  • Jim

    They were all good, but I have to give the nod to “Secret Agent,” because the theme song was sung and played by the GREAT Johnny Rivers.

  • james knox

    I had to pick Hawii 5 0 but you left the greatest one off Route 66 no theme song is greater.

  • Spencer

    This poll was obviously compiled by some “whippersnapper,” who either doesn’t remember or is unaware of themes of shows from the 50s (e.g. M-Squad, Peter Gunn, 77 Sunset Strip, & the aforementioned Route 66.)

  • chris

    I’m with Spencer on this one – Peter Gunn by a nose over Route 66

  • Evie

    Peter Gunn, Route 66 and Secret Agent all the way!

  • R.D.Cochran

    All cool themes but,you left out Mission Impossible.

  • paul


  • Martin Stumacher

    My favorite is Hawaii Five-0. A fantastic show. The cast was excellent. Although you showed Chad Everett of Medical Center fame, the theme song was included in the poll.

  • Nina

    This is a great pole!
    Hawaii Five-O got my vote because of the great brass section work on the music. I agree that the music for Peter Gunn was worth mentioning. It is sad that theme music has been eliminated altogether or pathetically reduced to a single chord of music (think Law and Order).

  • Mike

    What happened to Mission Impossible’s theme song? No poll of theme songs from the 60′s should be without the MI theme.

  • Pat

    You got some nerve asking an ol’ senior like me to remember THEME songs from 60s TV. I’m lucky to remember the series unless they’ve been played back like Andy Griffith, (who’s plesantly simple theme song should have been included in the poll). However reading the list did jog my memory a bit – of all those listed Hawaii 5-0 was the best.

    • Bruce Reber

      Another one who’s missing the point – “The Andy Griffith Show” was a sitcom – this poll is for best DRAMATIC TV theme!

  • Barb

    I agree with R.D….Mission Impossable would have been #1 if on the list! :)

  • zia ria

    The unmentioned are my favorite too…
    Route66, Peter Gunn,77Sunset Strip…what about Perry Mason?

  • Mark Townsend

    Sorry to see Quincy Jones’ theme to IRONSIDE rated so poorly …. he’s a great composer.

  • Angela

    Hard choice between Hawaii 50 and Secret Agent Man, but I give the nod to Hawaii 50. I also love Peter Gunn theme, too. All were great songs.

  • Bill C.

    “Peter Gunn” still the coolest theme of all time. “Perry Mason” a close second.

    Can’t believe “Star Trek” is getting this many votes. Even back in the day, I thought the theme was far too corny and retro for a science-fiction based show.

  • jrd

    IMO, the coolest TV theme of all-time is Peter Gunn. For this poll, I chose The Avengers.

  • danny

    They left off MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE! What were
    they thinking? :)

  • jrd

    To jump on the Mission Impossible bandwagon, my vote would have gone to it had it been one of the choices. For me, it’s the second coolest TV theme of all-time.

  • golden1

    To me, what makes a theme song great is how it matches the mood of the show, whether you instantly remember the show as soon as you hear the first few notes, and does it still sound fresh today? So my top picks are Perry Mason (not even in the poll!), Hawaii 5-0 and Star Trek

  • Andrew

    I have to go with Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” and
    “Mr. Lucky” as well as Nelson Riddle’s “Route 66″.
    Lalo Schifrin’s “Mission Impossible” abd “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” are also winners. Theme from
    “The Avengers” was also cool.

  • version

    Is this poll about a song or just music? No “I dream of Jeannie”, “Bewitched”? I found this tough to pick The Avnegers, Secrect Agent, The Prisoner, Hawaii 5-O, Peter Gunn all great.

    The Addams Family!! – I agree Mission Impossible belongs here, and the list could be twice as long too.

    F-Troop and Wild Wild West – Paladin? Bonanza?
    77 Sunset Strip? Lost in Space, The Jetsons was pretty jazzy

  • Rick

    Not only did most of them have good theme songs, but they were good shows.

  • John George

    Although I voted for “Hawaii Five-O” and always loved “Secret Agent Man”, without a doubt the greatest theme song will always be Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn”!!

  • aldanoli

    As a few others have mentioned, I have to add that the poll was hobbled from the start by including the likes of Ironside and Man from U.N.C.L.E., yet leaving out the greatest theme music of all — Mission:Impossible. It’s “sister show,” Mannix, also had a great jazzy score — both by the incomparable Lalo Schifrin. Hawaii Five-O, though, was a close second to “Mission” . . . though I’m surprised at Star Trek’s high placement. Great show, of course, but definitely not a great theme, except for the first few “questing” notes of Alexander Courage’s music. Still, I appreciated the poll.

  • Gary Vidmar

    Henry Mancini defined sixties cool with PETER GUNN!

  • thom bennett

    I agree with JRD: “The Avengers” for this poll, but “Peter Gunn” was the ultimate theme. Although short lived (only 27 episodes), the theme from John Cassavetes’ “Staccato” series was pretty cool, as well: music was written by Elmer Bernstein.

  • r-gordon-7

    Secret Agent was the coolest (well, maybe other than for 77 Sunset Strip which, though it ran into the 60′s began in the 50′s, which might be why it wasn’t listed…). Not the “coolest”, but probably the “most memorable” was the theme for Perry Mason, though it too began running in the 50′s, which may be why it, too, wasn’t listed, even though it too ran well into the 60′s…

  • doug evans

    yup, Peter Gunn may be the best all time, 77 sunset strip and Route 66 close behind. didn’t vote cause they weren/t included.

  • Zorro710

    How can they leave out “It Takes a Thief”? Hands down the best theme of the ’60s.

  • Tiny Tim

    I agree with the serious omissions, especially Peter Gunn and Mission Impossible. Two other deserving entries I haven’t seen mentioned are The Untouchables and, believe it or not, Have Gun Will Travel.

  • DIRK

    I went with the popular Hawaii Five-0, but have a soft spot for my favorite shows and their Jazz Fusion themes: Johnny Quest & Mod Squad!
    I hope we get other Decades to vote on so I can cast mine for LA LAW and HILL STREET BLUES!

  • jwp22

    WILD, WILD WEST!!!!!!!!!!!

  • mike messum

    Love the Hawaii Five-O theme! But my favourite has to be the cool John Barry theme for The Persuaders, with Tony Curtis and Roger Moore!

  • Al

    The poll said 60s drama not 50s drama people. So I have to say Secret Agent was the coolest followed by Johnny Quest and Iron Sides and Hawaii 5-0 and The green Hornet and It Takes a Thief.

  • Maxwell Starr

    THE GREEN HORNET (featuring the late great Al Hirt) and HAWAII FIVE-O tie for the greatest instrumental theme MUSIC scored for a television series. However, the question asked here is what was the coolest theme SONG for a tv show. The song that comes to mind first is the song from THE LEGEND OF JESSE JAMES followed closely by HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, THE LEGEND OF WYATT EARP, BAT MASTERSON, MAVERICK, LAWMAN, RAWHIDE, YANCY DERRINGER and a host of other tv westerns. FIREBALL XL5 and SUPERCAR were catchy little songs for Saturday morning kid programs. Sitcoms had a fair share of songs – like PETTICOAT JUNCTION, GREEN ACRES and THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. However, it seems most of the cool SONGS were written for westerns. Somewhere in the late seventies it seems to have fallen out of fashion to write and sing theme songs for tv programs. Can anyone think of a current television series, network or cable, that has a theme SONG that is sung over the opening or ending credits? (retreads of rock music do not count – such as the CSI shows)

  • Salty Jack


  • Michael Oldfield

    Even though it started with a volley of gunshots and was very short and sweet, I would have to nominate the theme from “The Rifleman” although that sideways glance from Chuck Connors was always a bit intimidating! The tune had a very heroic theme along the lines of “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”.

  • llsee

    No contest here. That H5-0 theme, with its heavy drum driven beat, and the quick cutting intro set the standard for action TV dramas. Take a look at Jan Hammer’s 80′s theme for Miami Vice, and see if you don’t think he was influenced by H5-0! Some may say he copied it.

    There were a lot of good themes from the 60′s. I liked Quincy Jone’s ‘Ironside’ theme, and Lalo Schifrin’s ‘Mannix’ theme. And you left out another iconic 60′s theme, Nelson Riddle’s theme for ‘Route 66″.

  • kent gravett

    Gotta go with Peter Gun-a landmark of the 50′s and defined cool in those days. I opted for Secret Agent with one of the greatest performers in the lead. Patrick M., who just passed away a few months ago. For nostalgia, why did no one remember “I Spy”? Short theme, to the point, and worked so well with Culp and that sidekick. What was his name? Just kidding. We all know Cosby.

  • dale arnold

    In my opinion,the coolest was Judd for The Defense..Written by the same man who wrote the theme for Star Trek.( which Judd was on opposite by the way)..A great show,starred Carl Betz as Clinton Judd..Why Judd has never been released on DVD i’ll never know..

  • Steve M

    No greater thrill than seeing Johny Quest, Hodji and Race Bannon get geared up in the Johny Quest series.

  • Rita

    I voted for Hawaii Five-O but have to agree Peter Gunn should have been on this list.

  • John Primavera

    Route 66 and Mancini’s Peter Gunn.

  • Magman

    No Question…these are the classics of all time.

  • tim

    5-0 was the best also liked medical center with o.j running the ball down field into goal post not sure if that was the 60′s or early 70′s long before all the juice haters out there, drums in both beat out peter gunn and route 66 any day. rawhide over secret agent man. bananza, branded. johnny quest was cool theme but that’s cartoons. m-squad with count bassie theme i think was 50′s shaft was cool wrong era, perry mason?. alot of show’s left out that could be in their also liked then came bronson but i think was 70′s also who could resist singing along with mr ed but that’s comedy where batman and green hornet should be.

  • Jim

    Secret Agent gets my vote but I would have voted for Route 66 if it had been included.

  • Spencer

    @ Thom Bennett-I thought about “Staccato,” but I didn’t think enough people would know what I was talking about. Nice to know there’s another “geezer” out there. I completely forgot about “Mr. Lucky.” My bad.

  • Chuck G

    I have to agree with many others here, the Theme From Peter Gunn is the best. Besides, who could resist Julie London, who played his girlfriend and warbled the tune more than once in the series. However, of the choices given, Hawaii 5-0 is definitely the best; book “em, Danno.

  • Rebel Ed

    “Hawaii Five-O” and “Mission: Impossible” both have great, mighty theme music, but Al Hirt’s horn on “The Green Hornet” is a masterpiece. Although this is a mostly forgotten series, the dark theme to “The Prisoner” at least deserves a nomination; there can be something beautifully sinister about an orchestra (oh, well; “Six of one, half a dozen of another.”)


  • Denise L.

    I loved Man From U.N.C.L.E., Route 66, Peter Gunn, Mr. Lucky and Mission Impossible for coolness, but I also like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Addams Family for pur fun.

  • Christopher C

    Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Time Tunnel and Lost in Space were the coolest, among many others.

  • Christopher C

    Ahh – I forgot to add: Thunderbirds (!)

  • Patrick

    One of my faves has to be Fred Steiner’s Perry Mason theme; okay, technically a ’50s show but it ran well into the ’60s. Awesome horns and brass! But if I have to stick to the list it would of course be Laurie Johnson’s Avengers theme, the soundtrack of my boyhood (after Jonny Quest).

  • John T

    I agree with Zorro710 about “It Takes a Thief” and the rest of you concerning “Route 66″. “The Rifleman” theme also deserves a nod. About the 1950s and “Peter Gunn”, it is not as great as the theme for “The Thin Man” show that starred Peter Lawford.

  • jpp452


    “Drama” — no cartoons, no sitcoms, no “Mod Squads” that were more comedic than dramatic.

    “’60s” — My interpretation is that the show, and therefore the theme song, originated in the 1960s. To me, that means 1960-1969. (The actual calendar decade runs 1961-1970, but I realize that is not common usage.)

    This eliminates:
    PERRY MASON -1957
    PETER GUNN – 1958
    77 SUNSET STRIP – 1958
    BONANZA – 1959
    MR. LUCKY – 1959
    There are others, but you get the idea.

    ROUTE 66 (1960) qualifies, barely, so your votes count.

    MY vote for unlisted theme, as not only the best dramatic theme but also the most evocative of the actual story, is for I SPY (1965). The opening beating chords beautifully correspond to the opening visuals related to tennis, followed by a brass glissando representing the visual transition to espionage.

    I actually voted for SECRET AGENT, the proper title of which was DANGER MAN.

    Okay folks. Go ahead, fire your broadsides!

  • Omar Soliman

    Mission Impossible and The Persuaders were the coolest!! I can’t believe Hawaii 5-0 beat out Green Hornet. Sure it’s catchy,…but “cool?” Green Hornet should have been top on the list you offered.

  • jpp452

    I’ve had a chance to re-listen to the themes listed as well as most of those commented on. I would still argue the poll choices are faulty by including a cartoon, and comedies like Batman.

    For fans of MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, I say the “theme” is really just a motif, endlessly repeated with variations. There is no real “theme song.” THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. is the same (I prefer the original flute solo version to the later jazzy atrocity).

    Here are three more great themes that, if not exactly “cool”, were great music in their time:

    - The COMBAT March (1962)
    - BRANDED (1965) — “All but one man died at Bitter Creek …”
    - THE F.B.I. Theme (1965) — It became a hit song in its time, a remarkable achievement for an orchestral work.

  • Kerry

    Thank-you very much Christopher C for remembering the great Irwin Allen shows and the exciting themes that went with them. Don’t forget “Land of the Giants”!
    For this poll I chose Jonny Quest which would have been followed by The Avengers and The Mod Squad. Hawaii 5-0 is a great theme but too easy and obvious I thought… there are so many great ones that are every bit as good or better, just not as famous/well-known. How about “The Name of the Game”? I always liked that one too.

  • John Small

    I have to agree with those who say the theme from “Route 66″ should have been included. And since when is the 60s “Batman” series considered a drama? Even back when it first aired it was considered a comedy – or at the very least a spoof.

  • jrd

    This is a GREAT thread.

    I’ll ditto Kent and jjp who brought up I Spy, and I don’t believe that anyone has mentioned The Saint.

  • Roger Phillips

    It had to be Hawaii 0 as the Ventures had a big hit with this on the radio. Also loved Mission Impossible theme.

  • joey zaza

    most of the songs mentioned were great, I also liked the perry mason , dragnet dum de dum dum ,and the honeymooners them, this like saying who the best looking girl in lala land is

  • Lorraine

    Props to dale arnold for his nod to one of my favorite themes, “Judd For the Defense.” I voted for Johnny River’s timeless “Secret Agent Man” (also love the series sprightly instrumental “Live Wire”) though I also have a soft spot for another British spy series, “Man In a Suitcase,” as well as the cool and witty “I Spy” and Lalo Schifrin’s “Mannix” and Nelson Riddle’s iconic “Route 66.” Wow…the sixties really was the Grand Era for tv themes, wasn’t it?

    Oh, and @ Chuck G: I”m pretty sure Peter Gunn’s girlfriend was played by Lola Albright, not Julie London, unless I missed something?

  • jpp452

    Edie Hart was indeed played by Lola Albright for 85 of the 114 episodes. Julie London’s filmography shows no appearances in Peter Gunn. [see]

  • Ingrid Nuernberg

    I’m disappointed that I SPY wasn’t listed. However, if you were to rate the most elegant theme music, not only from the 60′s but ever, it would have to be THE VIRGINIAN. That has an unmatchable style and grace.

  • Fred

    If I, read the poll question correctly (and I, did) it said the Coolest theme songs of the ’60′s and while some of you have a point that “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” should have been included, shows from the ’50′s and ’70′s don’t count. Besides if you really think about it most of the themes listed from whatever decade sound better then most of the “music” that’s played on the radio today!
    If you have a complaint about the music not listed start another poll, that’s fair and then include the shows of the ’50′s ’60′s and 70′s maybe the ’80′s too!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Bruce Reber

      “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family” are sitcoms. The poll is for coolest TV DRAMATIC theme songs of the 60′s. When there’s a poll for coolest TV COMEDY theme songs (and I expect there will be) then you can include TM and TAF.

    • laustcawz

      “The Munsters” & “The Addams Family” certainly are not dramas, but BOTH are, indeed, from the ’60s. Both shows premiered the same week in 1964, ran 2 seasons & then ended.

  • Susan

    Although Dragnet started in the 1950′s, it did have a kind of sequel offered during the late 1960′s to the early 1970′s. So it could be offered an Honorable Mention. But there is an iconic theme that was an incredibly important monument to 1960′s TV, The Twilight Zone.

  • Bonnie

    Absolutely agree about Peter Gunn and Perry Mason. I voted for The Avengers but I wanted to vote for “The Prisoner”. (That was my favorite show of the 60′s.)


  • gburgess

    Medical Center with Chad Everett
    The FBI with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
    The High Chaparral

    Jonny Quest has a snazzy jazz tune!

    • Bruce Reber

      “Medical Center” started its run in the fall of 1969 and ran until 1976, so technically it’s really a 70′s show. “Emergency”, a Jack (Dragnet) Webb production ran from 1972 to 1977 (not 60′s). FYI “Jonny Quest” was a cartoon, not drama.

  • Tito Pannaggi

    LaVerne Baker made a great version the Bat-Man Theme song It’s her version I love!

  • Carolyn

    Batman’s theme is also Nelson Riddle. One great show, too

  • jpp452

    Dear Fred:

    Apparently, you did NOT read the poll question correctly — nor did many other of you. The question asks about “’60s TV Dramas.” Not ’60s Saturday morning cartoons. Not ’60s sitcoms.

    And, as Fred correctly points out, not shows from the ’50s or ’70s. If it were for the ’50s, there would be dozens of other themes just as worthy as the ones already mentioned.

    I like Ingrid’s addition of THE VIRGINIAN to the list. Although did that not come from the film, upon which the show was based? I can’t remember.

    Susan, you are absolutely right that THE TWILIGHT ZONE was unforgettable. But it, too, was a motif, like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, and not a theme song. And the question asks for “Coolest Theme Song.”

    • Lawrence Ressler

      “Jonny Quest” aired in prime-time on ABC in 1964. ABC broadcast a lot of animated TV series in the early-1960s in order to save money, since they were a distant Third Place behind NBC and CBS in the 1950s and 1960s, and were constantly fighting off bankruptcy. Until “Batman” came along, the only hit TV series ABC had were “The Lone Ranger” and “Cheyenne”.

      • laustcawz

        Actually, even before “Batman”, things were starting to look up for ABC, with “Bewitched” & “The Addams Family”, but, of course, these were only warm-ups for the gauntlet of “Batman”.

  • Ron

    Route 66?

  • CCChristie

    All great songs. I voted for Hawaii Five-O, but others were also great. As for today, Mad Men has a great theme song … wish it would play for a little longer, but it’s there and it’s GREAT!

  • Susan

    Dear jpp452, thank you for the opportunity to learn something. I looked up “motif” and I wonder if the Twilight Zone theme was a motif because we heard part of a composition that was longer and heard elsewhere as a more complete work? I understand that this musical piece is quite short, but am intrigued. Are we only hearing part of what might be another theme? This runs throughout the credits that roll through the end of the program so it seems to have a beginning, middle and end. What is the difference between a theme and a motif? I’m not criticizing your response, I really want to know. Thanks for your commentary.

  • lhtk

    Yeah, a huge mistake leaving out MI. And let’s not try to get cute and attempt a nuance between “theme” and “motif.” Someone just blew it.

  • Shawn McGinnis

    @jpp they had Johnny Quest on the ballot, so cartoons count as long as they were dramatic.

    • Lawrence Ressler

      “Jonny Quest” was an animated Action-Adventure cartoon series, that had elements of comedy in it to appeal to children. It was intended to be “groundbreaking television” in the early-1960s, with artwork by DC Comcs’ “Golden Age” artist, Wallace “Wally” Wood. But no one watched the show, and the show was cancelled, and was relegated to Saturday-morning cartoon status in the late-1960s and into the 1970s in repeated airings over many years by NBC and ABC.

  • broadwayfan

    Well, the theme to BONANZA will NEVER be forgotten! Totally iconic.
    But…when it came to cool, and got your heart pumping, nothing beat FIVE-0. And, it’s true today, also! It’s just too short now.
    A full minute like the 60′s show is better.

  • Jeff Brown

    All pretty good choices, and I voted for Five-0. I have a full orchestral version of the theme on my iPod. But I was disappointed not the see the third season theme for “Lost in Space.” It had a bold, adventurous ring to it, which (unfortunately) did not always fit the tempo of many third season episodes. It would have been much better suited to the first season.

  • Bill C.


    “Batman” theme was NOT Nelson Riddle. Composed by Neal Hefti. (I still have the 45 rpm of the title music released at the height of the Batman craze!)

    • laustcawz

      Another theme composed by Neal Hefti–”The Odd Couple” (though this was a ’70s show).

  • jpp452

    Dear Susan:

    I appreciate your comments. I again listened to Marius Constant’s full piece, as available to me. It runs 53 seconds. I am still unable to discern any theme that could be subject to elaboration or variation. Other than the opening “doo-doo-doo-doo doo-doo-doo-doo” it is a series of chords separated by bongo drums.

    Mr. Constant was obviously looking for something other-worldly and that he succeeded is proven by how long his music has been remembered, and how iconic the opening notes are. But in my opinion, which probably was not expressed as humbly as it should, there is no theme. Thinking of it another way, how could he have extended it into a longer piece with the material given?

    If you are aware of a longer version of the music behind the opening and closing credits, then please let me know. As I wrote, I have only 53 seconds which, to my knowledge, is all the music that was used in the credits.

    As for JONNY QUEST, I do not dispute theme had an adventurous sound to it. But cartoons as TV drama? No dice. There are plenty of themes to real dramatic shows that were omitted, as has been commented on at length.

    Not “cool”, perhaps, but here are some more excellent themes for TV dramas: RAT PATROL (1966) and BEN CASEY (1961). For the otherworldly (and lovers of the theremin), there’s DARK SHADOWS (1966). And what about THE OUTER LIMITS (1963), a true theme?

    Kudos to the author of this poll! He must be tenting his hands in delight, a la Montgomery Burns, at all the discussion his survey has generated.

    • laustcawz

      O.K., first, the “Twilight Zone” theme certainly WAS a “theme”, even if it was only :53.
      Second, don’t know if you’re aware of it, but, for the first half-season or so, “…Zone” had an entirely different theme (about the same length, I suppose & consisting of strings, harp, brass & flute) composed by Bernard Hermann (“Psycho”, “Taxi Driver”).

  • Ellen Urie

    I agree that “Hawaii 5-0″ had the best theme song of all those listed. Great show with good stories & lots of action. Great respect for Jack Lord who was a private person & excellent actor. There could be more opinion polls like this one with more shows listed. It’s impossible to put all on at one time. If it had included the 50′s, I would also have picked “Perry Mason.” Never missed an episode!!

  • Jhong Dhu

    jpp452 you are incorrect regarding some people’s responses. Some television shows may have begun in the 1950s but they continued well into the 1960s and beyond (GUNSMOKE for instance). Therefore, they are qualified for this poll. Also, do not berate your fellow contributors just because they haven’t strictly followed the ‘letter of the law’ to this particular query. It’s just an unofficial poll designed for readers to have fun and, oft times, enthusiasm takes over in their responses. There are no ‘correct’ answers to any of these MovieFare exercises.

  • RupturedDuck1

    Great comments, I voted for Secret Agent, but
    wondered why Mission Impossible, Route 66, and
    Peter Gunn were left out of the poll.

  • mike jaral

    if rawhide was in the 60′s, it would be one of the best. but it might be in the 50′s, which still makes it one of the best

    • Bruce Reber

      “Rawhide” ran from 1959-66, so it does qualify. Did you see Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) in their totally hilarious peformance of the “Rawhide” theme at the redneck bar in the movie “The Blues Brothers”? Check it out sometime for a good belly laugh.

  • Edward Peck

    I think Streets of San Francisco was the best 60′s theme.

    • Vrinda

      The Streets of San Francisco was not a ’60s show. It ran from 1972-1977.

  • Dave S

    “Peter Gunn” by Hank Mancini is the best by far.

  • tlynette

    How did Mission: Impossible NOT make this list!?!?!?! The Avengers is so incredibly SMOOOTH. I like Hawaii 5-0 and Secret Agent’s themes, too, and The Green Hornet is in a class by itself. I mean, come on, Rimsky-Korsakov a la Al Hirt? Classic! But for some bonafide COOL, it’s tough to beat Lalo Shifrin’s MI theme.

  • Chester

    Oh boy, a lot of feedback on this one. This is a good llist and hard to choose between the Avengers, 5-O and Secret Agent. As a stand alone piece of music and theme Hawaii 5-O has it, but damn, the credits and theme for the Avengers was real artsy and has held up well over time.

  • Richard

    I remember Peter Gunn and Have Gun Will Travel for two reasons: Peter Gunn had cool jazz for a theme and incidental music. While Have Gun Will Travel had unsyncopated dissonance like Stravinsky’s Rites of Spring. Compare those two with the likes of Green Acres and The Real McCoys. PG and HGWT were unapologetically adult dramas without peers.

    • T L Miller

      I had to OWN the album “Music from Peter Gunn” because it is oooooozing with the coolest music ever! The theme is wicked enough, but the incidental music should have been on Billboard charts: great stuff!

      • Lawrence Ressler

        The “Peter Gunn” Theme was the highest-selling TV theme song, according to “Billboard” magazine, until the “Miami Vice” Theme song took over that honor in the 1980s.

  • Ken

    I didn’t see the theme from “Mr. Lucky” or Zorro !! Both great theme songs.

  • Doug G.

    Without question, as many have already said. I’ll add my 2 cents and say the best without question was the immortal ‘Route 66′ theme. How could you pollsters leave that one off?

    • Lawrence Ressler

      “Route 66″ debuted on ABC in 1958 or 1959, making it a “tweener” series between the 1950s and the 1960s.

  • Mary Anna

    Besides liking the “Mission Impossible” theme,I really like the “Speed Racer” song.Not sure if it came out in the 60′s though.

    • Bruce Reber

      Sorry, Speed Racer was a cartoon and doesn’t qualify as a drama.

      • laustcawz

        Bruce–I can think of live-action shows that were much more “cartoonish” than “Speed Racer” (even some from the ’60s, like “The Munsters” & “The Beverly Hillbillies”).

        • Bruce Reber

          Yes, but they were sitcoms, not dramas, which is the subject of this poll (best dramatic TV theme songs of the 60′s).

    • Lawrence Ressler

      “Speed Racer” debuted on TV in Japan in 1966, It was shown in syndication in the US in the 1970s (I first saw it on WOR Channel 9, New York, New York on cable TV before the Syndex Act kept TV stations from airing outside their local markets on cable in the early-1980s (with WTBS and WGN grandfathered out).


    man from uncle’s theme from the second season but what about mission impossible? that has too be the coolest theme ever pity it’s not on your list

  • Hopediamond

    I don’t know if it would be considered a drama, but I thought the Twilight Zone had the best theme .

    • Bruce Reber

      TZ was a Sci-Fi anthology, but the theme had an eerie-cool quality about it.

      • Lawrence Ressler

        “The Twilight Zone” debuted on CBS in 1959, making it a 1950s “tweener” series between then and the 1960s.

  • Susan

    Any theme by Lalo Schifrin!

  • tr6

    The Rifleman

  • Magman

    If “Route 66″ or “77 Sunset Strip” were on TV in the 60′s, then they were the best.

  • Joseph23006

    chose ‘Secret Agent’ because that is the only I remember the words for!

  • T L Miller

    From this list, it’s between ‘The Avengers’ and ‘Secret Agent’ (my co-worker and I were recently singing “Secret Agent Man! LOL) but, ‘Hawaii 5-0′ is pretty cool. And, really, who can’t like a hopped up version of “Flight of the Bumblebees” by Al Hirt? But, come on: “Mission: Impossible” and “Perry Mason” — where are THEY?!?

    • Lawrence Ressler

      “Perry Mason” debuted on CBS in 1957, making it a 1950s TV series.

      • Bruce Reber

        It ran until 1966, so it was from the 60′s also.

  • roger lynn

    loved Hawaii 5-o the best theme ever in a show,,followed by dallas(70′s),then back to the 60′s IRONSIDE,,HIGH CHAPPERELL,BIG VALLEY THE VIRGINIAN—SECRET AGENT WAS A GREAT SONG

    • Bruce Reber

      I saw that it came in last in the poll, but the “Ironside” theme by Quincy Jones was very cool also.

  • mrmovie

    what no round them up move them out rawhide

  • Kevin

    Hawaii Five-O, hands down. Even on nights I wanted to watch something on a different network, when Five-O was on reruns, I still watched the opening sequence with that theme song. It was just that good and perfect for that show. A lot of the others in the poll had good themes, but why no westerns (or are they considered a different category). Bonanza, High Chaparral, The Big Valley, and The Virginian all had great theme music. And like others, why not Peter Gunn and Route 66? Was Peter Gunn left off because it started in the ’50′s?

  • Chester

    My vote went to The Avengers theme, but in reality it’s got to be a draw between Secret Agent, The Avengers, Five-O and Man From UNCLE. All of these themes were penned by the best, PF SLoan and Steve Barri – Secret Agent (which also happened to be a more exciting score than the orignal theme music for Danger Man, as Secret Agent was known in its’ country of origin.), Laurie Johnson – Avengers ( the Varisse Sariband albumn of Avengers music is amongst my most prized possesions), Morton Stevens – Five-O, who trained under Jerry Goldsmith,(Goldsmithwould also pen the Man From UNCLE theme.) Changed each season, the theme got reworked by Morton Stevens and Lalo Schiffrin among others. This is a constellation of theme music stars whose work was never less than exciting. One other them not mentioned, but shouol have been, was the original Saint written by Edwin Astley. I guess British composers appeal to me, since they make up most of this list. Anyone appreciating a rousing movies theme would do well to look into the English composers of theme music.

    • Bruce Reber

      Laurie Johnson also composed the music for Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1964 Cold War satire “Dr. Strangelove, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb”.

  • classicsforever

    Mission Impossible should have been on the list.

  • Hank Zangara

    BEST composed theme music — musically — THE FUGITIVE. Sadly, not even on your list.

  • Bill

    Sorry. No contest. As much as I like many of the other entries (of which, by the way, only one is actually a theme “song”, i.e. has lyrics – and I don’t count Batman in that category), Hoyt Curtin’s theme for “Jonny Quest” is in a class all its own. Best theme ever. John Williams’ third season theme for Lost in Space deserves accolades, too. And I Spy and Wild Wild West should be on the top list, too.

    • Bruce Reber

      JQ was a cartoon – like I said, too bad I’m not getting paid per correction.

  • David Gish

    My vote went to Hawaii Five-0, but that’s only because you omitted the coolest TV theme ever — Mission: Impossible.

  • Bruce Reber

    I really like all of the themes listed, but I went with “Secret Agent”. The title tune (Secret Agent Man) for this British import starring Patrick McGoohan as secret agent John Drake was a Top Ten (if not no.1) hit for Johnny Rivers in 1966. BTW, SAM was also heard in the 1997 spy spoof “Austin Powers, International Man Of Mystery”. I agree with some of the other posters re: the omission of the themes to “Perry Mason”, “The Fugitive” and “Mission Impossible”. And what about the “Dragnet” theme (Da-Da-Da-Da, Da-Da-Da-Da-Da!) by Walter Schumann, another glaring omission. Although “Dragnet” aired first in the 50′s, it was revived by producer/director/star Jack Webb and ran again from 1967-70. The “Hawaii Five-O” theme runs a close second to SAM, and was a huge hit for The Ventures in 1969. Each time I hear it I wanna take the next flight to Hawaii and catch some waves!

  • Wayne P.

    Peter Gunn, as already noted here below, is a ‘tweener’ series of the 50′s/60′s (1958-1961) but deserves consideration as it has perhaps the finest TV theme song of any genre, period!

  • Nils Goering

    THE GREEN HORNET is hands down THE BEST 60s tv series theme music! Al Hirt’s trumpeting, alone, is award worthy. It’s dynamic, exciting and very fitting for an iconic hero like GH. It’s a shame Seth Rogan didn’t utilize it more in his miserable feature film. Though it’s doubtful, even this marvelous music could have saved Rogan’s flippant, dull and wretched approach to this savvy crimefighter.
    HAWAII FIVE-O is a close second in great 60s tv music. Not mentioned in the poll is the theme music to a short lived western series called THE LEGEND OF JESSE JAMES (starring Christopher Jones as Jesse James). It was one of the better theme songs for a western series.

  • Bop K

    I voted for the Avengers (not sure which theme but they were all great). Mannix had a great theme also.

  • Lawrence Ressler

    I chose “Ironside” because its arrangement was progressive for the time period. “The Green Hornet” would be a good second choice, also because of its progressive arrangement, which appeared to be the inspiration for a lot of 1970s TV crime drama theme songs. I could understand why “Hawaii Five-O” and “Secret Agent” were chosen, because they were based upon popular Rock songs of the decade. And of course, the “Trekkers” will always support their favorite TV series. “Jonny Quest” had a great Jazz instrumental arrangement, but Jazz was well on the way out of the American music scene by the time the animated cartoon action-adventure series debuted in 1964. “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “The Avengers” were only “average” as I heard them. “Batman” was too simplistic for me, and “The Mod Squad” didn’t hit its stride as a TV series until the 1970s, and is viewed as a 1970s TV series, even though it debuted in 1968.

    • Bruce Reber

      The “Ironside” theme (by the great Quincy Jones) is very cool. Re: the themes for “Hawaii Five-O” and “Secret Agent” – you said that they were based on Rock songs. It’s the opposite – they were based on the TV themes. The H50 theme performed by the Ventures and the SA theme “Secret Agent Man” performed by Johnny Rivers both made the top 10 in 1969 and 1966 respectively. Both feature awesome guitar work.

  • Stevepyong

    Left off mission Impossible, and Have Gun Will Travel (which ran into the 60′s)

    • 1ofHis2

      If you’re including the Westerns (Have Gun Will Travel), how about ” Rawhide” – not sure but wasn’t that Frankie Lane singing?

      • Bruce Reber

        Yes it was. He also sang the themes to two great Western movies – “Gunfight At The OK Corral” and the original “3:10 To Yuma” (both from 1957), and Mel Brooks’ classic 1974 Western spoof “Blazing Saddles”.

  • dadoctah

    Agree with many of the comments already posted that “Mission: Impossible” should have been offered as an option. That would have given “Hawaii Five-O” a run for its money. (And also agree with the poster who mentioned the third season “Lost In Space” theme.) If you decide to do this again for ’70s themes, you have to include “UFO” among the choices.

  • Mario Brescio

    The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-1972) Theme “Best Friend” by Harry Nilsson

    Lost in Space

    Peter Gunn

    Mission Impossible

    Hawaii Five-O

    • Bruce Reber

      TCOEF was a sitcom – see my other similar replies/corrections on this poll.

      • Mario Brescio

        It must be such a burden having to correct all of us doltish and unknowing TV viewers and I’m sorry this herculean task has been assigned to you.

        The Free Dictionary lists the following: ·
        Noun 1. sitcom – a humorous DRAMA based on situations that might arise in day-to-day life.
        Situation comedy – light and humorous DRAMA with a happy ending.

        Internet Movie Data Base lists Batman as an Action/Adventure/Comedy, nowhere does it list it as a Drama, but it’s on the list, and Johnny Quest was a cartoon and is listed as an Animation/Action/Adventure not a Drama, but it’s on the list; so I’m going to stick with TCOEF. I thought these discussions were supposed to be fun personal opinions not a competition or test as to who knows more trivial information?

  • Phil

    I went for Hawaii 5-0 ….because “Mission Impossible” WAS NOT listed! Another cool Theme song IMO was the song from the TV show “DALLAS”

    • Bruce Reber

      “Dallas” debuted in 1978 and ran into the 80′s – again not a 60′s TV DRAMATIC theme song.

  • Rick

    I have to agree – how could Mission Impossible not even be a choice?? It’s iconic…

  • Mike in Oz (down under)

    Where is the 3rd season title theme by John Williams from LOST IN SPACE? Where is the theme from THE PATTY DUKE SHOW? They would get my top vote(s)!

    • Bruce Reber

      “The Patty Duke Show” was a sitcom, not a drama. The subject of this poll is best TV dramatic theme song of the 60′s. I wish I got paid for every time I’ve had to correct someone as to sitcom or drama – I’d be making some good money!

      • Mike in Oz (down under)

        Correction taken. Hope you get paid one day too! ( Mind you, THE PATTY DUKE SHOW had its sentimental/dramatic moments at times…)

  • John Mehl

    ROUTE 66

  • diacad

    Without any hesitation, I would select the introduction to Tezuka’s “Astroboy” anime! The first b/w Japanese TV series came out in the 1960s and quickly found fans in the US – and not only among kids. Its opening theme can be found on youtube. There were several versions up until the 2009 movie, but probably the best remake was the 1980s color series, which has English subtitles (unfortunately, the original 1950s series seems to be only available here in a largely dubbed version). The catchy theme tune can be heard in all of them, however.

  • Jean-Pierre

    THE CHAMPIONS had rather good theme music; also VAN DER VALK, although I suppose this latter one doesn’t qualify, being made in 1972.

  • Bill

    The Munsters Theme also the Theme from Peter Gun.

  • Sal

    The Perry Mason Theme

  • Bill K

    I went with Secret Agent but the first thing that popped into my mind was the Beretta theme!

    • laustcawz

      “Baretta” wasn’t in the ’60s. That was a ’70s show.

  • movie buff

    lot of great themes in the sixties unlike today when music is awful. the name of the game was clearly the best. it takes a thief was also quite good as was mannix. mission impossible should also be mentioned.

    • rmwayne

      You’re certainly right about that. So many shows back in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s and even into the ’80s had terrific theme songs, but nowadays all they’re interested in is more time for stupid commercials.

      • Lorraine M.

        So sadly true.

  • golden1

    Perry Mason was greatest theme ever.

  • Oswego Gopher

    Peter Gunn, without a doubt.

    • pammypies

      This was my thinking! How could they have missed this one?

    • Debbie Coley

      Henry Mancini is my favorite composer!

  • laustcawz

    O.K., first, why are we limiting this to dramas (notwithstanding “Batman”, which wasn’t exactly a “drama”)? What about “The Addams Family”, “Get Smart”, “My Favorite Martian” & other gems? Second, how the hell are “Mission: Impossible”, “Twilight Zone” & “Lost In Space” not among the choices??? For me, even with this being the golden age of TV themes, it’s really no contest–the original theme to “Lost In Space” (not to be confused with the catchier but inferior one used only in the final season) is the ultimate. Both themes, btw, were composed by the man who, at the time, went by the name “Johnny Williams”, but, of course, we’ve come to know him by the more formal John Williams, composer of the themes to such familiar movies as “Jaws”, “Star Wars” & “Jurassic Park” (to name just a handful). “Lost In Space”, of course, started out as a serious drama, but, due to direct competition with “Batman”, for better or worse, it morphed into a camp comedy.

  • Bryan E Bustard

    Tough one… I also love the Green Hornet theme and Jonny Quest, but chose the most popular. Got to wonder how the votes would come out had “Peter Gunn” also been included.

  • Araponga

    Peter Gunn, by far. Did you omit it because it debuted in 1958?

    • joaco

      I agree completely. The best ever!

  • Phil

    I liked the Rockford Files!

  • Whisperkey

    Mission Impossible, absolutey.

  • billyboy53

    –and how about ADVENTURES IN PARADISE with Gardner McKay? Fabulous theme song.

  • Camilla

    My favorite show was “Hogan’s Heroes”, and I hope they have a voting for comedies so I can vote for it. I voted for Hawaii Five-O today, but I now get to watch reruns of the show (“Hogan’s Heroes”) on MeTV so now I’m a happy camper. Camilla

    • rmwayne

      Hogan’s Heroes was one of my favorites too. In fact I was lucky enough to write to and receive autographed pictures from Larry Hovis “Carter” and Leon Askin “Gen. Burkhalter” before both of them passed away.

  • rmwayne

    I voted for Hawaii Five-O but there were a couple of westerns that I really liked when I was a kid back in the ’60s that had terrific theme songs too. Laredo and Lancer and oh yeah, I almost forgot Wild Wild West….the TV version, not that Will Smith garbage movie that came out a few years ago.

  • John Firestone

    I’m disappointed in the poor showing for “Mod Squad”. Are we swayed by the popularity of the show? I am reminded of the great baritone sax rhythm line of Perry Mason. Not surprised by the showing of Five-O, apparently considered the National Anthem of USA in Australia.

  • Pamela

    The Virginian and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea had such amazing theme songs…they fit the shows so perfectly. My faves!

  • Tim Passinault

    You left out too many great ones…..sitcoms had wonderful theme songs also…Bewitched…Petticoat Junction….Green Acres….etc..

  • Nicolas

    Of what I was given, I voter for Secret Agent, However, however, for me, the two greatest theme music is from ‘Route 66′ by Nelson Riddle, and because at least it was heard in 1960, though this show started in 59, and I don’t think lasted long, ‘Mr Lucky’ by Henry Mancini. I think those two music themes far beat out the list here. No I am not that old, and I did not watch these shows when they first came out.

  • buzz daly

    rockford files was the best

    • Bruce Reber

      That was a 70′s show.

  • Lorraine M.

    Since when was “Jonny Quest” a drama??? Wasn’t that a cartoon?

  • Lorraine M.

    Naked CIty? Maybe it’s not on the list because the series actually debuted in 1958, though I think of it as a sixties drama. Always loved the Billy May theme “Somewhere in the Night.”

  • dirkwrestler

    Yeah, Sitcoms always had good title themes (usually explaining the premise, Gilligan’s Island and Flinstones and Brady Bunch — Think Partridge Family was the 70s); I always enjoyed THE MONKEES!!

  • Jackie

    I voted for Hawaii 5-0,too..but I really liked Route 66( Nelson Riddle was AWESOME! ) and of course 77 Sunset Strip!

  • Mark W. Johnson

    Hands Down – The Man From U.N.C.L.E. ; It was such an impressive and bold and brassy theme song that it made the show; in 1964 it was all over the place. Unfortunately, after the first season , the producers had to mess with it, trying to jazz it up, and ruined it. They messed with the show’s format also, and ruined it too. That’s why i only own the first season. It’s dated, of course, but for the time, it’s exceptional.

  • Shaft

    Wait, was Peter Gunn a 50′s show?

  • dirkwrestler

    Johnny Quest and The Mod Squad had great scores, but voted for the popular Hawaii 5-0 — glad for the reprise on the New CBS ReBoot !

  • Vann Morrison

    One that comes to mind is “Run for you Life” with Ben Gazarra. Then there’s COMBAT!, Gunsmoke and Bonanza. Don’t forget “The Invaders”