Question: Can you tell me when the original miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man aired on TV? Was it in 1976 and on consecutive nights? If so, what were the dates the episodes were on? Thank you.
Televisionary: ABC's 12-hour landmark miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, based on the 1970 epic Irwin Shaw tome of the same title, ran Mondays from Feb. 1 to March 15, 1976. And looking back, it's rather strange that it's not widely remembered as the milestone that it was.
The production, which told the tale of brothers Rudy and Tom Jordache (Peter Strauss and a much less craggy Nick Nolte) was one of the first miniseries to hit U.S. airwaves. With its blockbuster ratings (second-highest of the season), its critical raves and 20 Emmy nominations, it pretty much established the form ? then lost its place in the cultural memory as Roots came along and usurped it in most American minds as the first miniseries.
That's a shame, really, since Rich Man, Poor Man was in its own right an impressive and nicely executed undertaking that placed its burden on the shoulders of three unknown leads ? Susan Blakely completed the trio as Rudy's love interest. (Personally, I'm grateful it launched Nolte into a career that includes North Dallas Forty, to my mind one of the best and most underrated sports movies ever.)
I'm tempted to hazard a blanket statement about how the success of a literary property on TV proved how the audience at large hungered for the deeply textured storytelling only the printed page could spawn; but it's more likely they were drawn to the soap opera elements of love, lust, betrayal, alcoholism and good old-fashioned violence. And sitting back to watch it unfold on the tube was probably much less intimidating to the masses than actually turning all 720 pages of Allen's book.
But I don't want to read too much into it.