Beacon Hill (TV series)
|Written by||Lionel Chetwynd|
|Directed by||Fielder Cook
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Executive producer(s)||Beryl Vertue|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Robert Stigwood Organization|
|Original release||August 25– November 4, 1975|
Beacon Hill is a prime time drama series shown on CBS in 1975.
Set after World War I in Boston's fashionable Beacon Hill area, the show focused on the wealthy Lassiter family in contrast to their Irish immigrant servants, who reside together on Louisburg Square. It was considered to be an Americanized version of the popular British series Upstairs, Downstairs (1971–75), which shared the same premise.
It was produced by Jacqueline Babbin and Beryl Vertue, the latter of whom was a former literary agent of Jean Marsh who had been instrumental in getting Upstairs, Downstairs on television.
Cast and characters
The show starred Stephen Elliott as patriarch Ben Lassiter, who worked as the "grey eminence" at Boston City Hall, and Nancy Marchand as his wife Mary, who was wealthy in her own right before marrying him. Othe family members included Maeve McGuire as Maude Lassiter Palmer, the oldest daughter; Edward Herrmann as Maude's husband, Richard Palmer, a yachtsman who was pleasant, but very boring company; DeAnn Mears as Emily Lassiter Bullock, the emotionally reserved (and somewhat snobbish) middle daughter; Roy Cooper as Trevor Bullock, Emily's husband who was a stockbroker; Linda Purl as Betsy Bullock, Trevor and Emily's daughter; Kitty Winn as Rosamond Lassiter, the "Plain Jane" daughter who resented being in the shadow of her more beautiful sisters but proved herself to be a whiz at the family businesses; Kathryn Walker as Fawn Lassiter, the maverick, independent, and artistic youngest daughter; Michael Nouri as Giorgio Bellonci, Fawn's music teacher; and David Dukes as the only son, Robert Lassiter, who was wounded (losing an arm) in World War I and was still traumatized by his injuries.
The servants were Beatrice Straight as their head housemaid, Mrs. Emmeline Hacker; George Rose as the Lassiter butler (and Emmeline's husband), Arthur Hacker; Susan Blanchard as Maureen Mahaffey, an under maid, and Emmeline's niece; Paul Ryan Rudd as Brian Mallory, Emmeline's nephew and the Lassiter family's chauffeur; Barry Snider as Harry Emmet, the former chauffeur, who was fired for stealing money from the Lassiter family; David Rounds as Terence O'Hara, Hacker's assistant; Richard Ward as William Piper, the family cook; Don Blakely as Grant Piper (William's son); and Holland Taylor as Marilyn Gardiner, Mrs. Lassiter's personal assistant/secretary.
Production and reception
The first episode cost $900,000 to produce, and the music was composed by Marvin Hamlisch. Christopher Schemering of The Soap Opera Encyclopedia called Beacon Hill "the most touted prime-time soap since the Lana Turner-George Hamilton debacle The Survivors". The series premiered on August 25, 1975 with an "impressive audience" of "43% of people watching TV" that evening, but it could not sustain those ratings. Schemering wrote that the "The overly large cast and fragmented stories did not allow the audience to get its bearings." Beacon Hill was cancelled after 11 episodes had aired (its final airdate was November 4, 1975), with two completed shows never broadcast.
- Schemering, Christopher (September 1985). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (1st ed.). pp. 38–39. ISBN 0-345-32459-5.
- Andrews, Bart; Dunning, Brad (1980). The Worst TV Shows Ever. New York: E. P. Dutton. pp. 7–14. ISBN 0525475923.
- "Beryl Vertue OBE: Producer and Chairman". Hartswood Films. 2012. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
- "Beryl Vertue". BBC. June 16, 2004. Retrieved September 25, 2015.