Golden 1950s TV Returns, Commemorative Stamp

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LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. Postal Service is going into show biz.

Sales began Tuesday of "Early TV Memories" commemorative stamps featuring classic characters from the golden 1950s.

The campaign was launched at a crowded auditorium at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in North Hollywood. Funny man Carl Reiner kept the program running with his comments.

A TV performer since 1948, he doesn't have his own stamp. The reason: He is 87 and still alive. You have to be dead to appear on the stamps.

Reiner introduced dozens of survivors of stars with stamps. Among them: Jayne Meadows, widow of Steve Allen; Grace Bradley Boyd, widow of William Boyd (Hopalong Cassidy); Sam and Tracy Nelson, third generation of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson; Barbara Hale, aka Della Street, secretary to Perry Mason (Raymond Burr).

The star of the show may well have been Lassie, who barked and posed on orders from his trainer.

"He's in the 10th generation of Collies," said June Lockhart, who starred in "Lassie" from 1956 to 1964. "In all my years of working with them, not one has bitten me."

The early television shows that appear on the stamps include "I Love Lucy," with a picture of Lucy and her friend Ethel struggling to cope with candy rolling past on a conveyor belt.

Uncle Milty makes an appearance, commemorating Milton Berle's funny moments on "Texaco Star Theater."

George Burns and Gracie Allen share a comedic stamp moment, as do Jackie Gleason and Art Carney in "The Honeymooners."

Who could forget the conniving Sgt. Ernest T. Bilko played by the over-the-top Phil Silvers. There's also the original combination comedy-game show hosted by Groucho Marx and his duck puppet from "You Bet Your Life."

On the mysterious side are stamps honoring Alfred Hitchcock, who presented tales of suspense, and Jack Webb, who unraveled mysteries as the LAPD's Sgt. Joe Friday on "Dragnet."

Perry Mason makes an appearance on a stamp featuring Raymond Burr, who played the star defense lawyer, and William Talman, who specialized in losing cases to Mason when playing prosecutor Hamilton Burger.

Associated Press Writer Randolph E. Schmid in Washington contributed to this story.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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