Mr. Novak

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Mr. Novak
James Franciscus Dean Jagger Mr. Novak 1964.JPG
James Franciscus as Mr. Novak and Dean Jagger as Principal Albert Vane.
Written byJohn D. F. Black
Joseph Calvelli
Richard De Roy
Meyer Dolinsky
Mel Goldberg
Sidney Marshall
James Menzies
E. Jack Neuman
Milt Rosen
Carol Sobieski
Betty Ulius
Roland Wolpert
Preston Wood
Directed byAbner Biberman
Richard Donner
Alvin Ganzer
Ida Lupino
Michael O'Herlihy
Allen Reisner
Boris Sagal
Joseph Sargent
Paul Wendkos
StarringJames Franciscus
Dean Jagger
Burgess Meredith
Opening themeLyn Murray
Composer(s)Leith Stevens
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes60
Executive producer(s)E. Jack Neuman
Producer(s)Joseph Calvelli
Running time48 mins.
Production company(s)MGM Television
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1963 (1963-09-24) –
August 31, 1965 (1965-08-31)

Mr. Novak is an American dramatic series starring James Franciscus in the title role, which aired on NBC for two seasons, from 1963 to 1965. The series won a Peabody Award in 1963.[1]


The series follows John Novak, an idealistic first-year English teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles who often got involved in the lives of his students and fellow teachers. Principal Albert Vane was played by Dean Jagger (he was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1964 and 1965 for his performance). Jagger left the series in 1964 after forty-four episodes, and it was explained that his character was elected California Superintendent of Public Instruction; Burgess Meredith played the new principal, Martin Woodridge, for the remaining seventeen episodes. The series showcased many popular actors of the time including Martin Landau, Walter Koenig, Beau Bridges, Tony Dow, Ed Asner, June Lockhart, Sherry Jackson, and many others. This trendsetting show was the first to depict both teachers and students in a dramatic and realistic manner and was very influential on the Educational Community. Many cutting edge themes were showcased including racial discrimination, cheating on exams, anti-semitism, alcoholism, dropouts, drug abuse and political extremism. In its two year run, the program won over 47 awards from various educational institutions including the National Education Association and was the recipient of a prestigious Peabody Award for excellence.[2]


The school seen in Mr. Novak duplicated Los Angeles' John Marshall High School "complete to walks, shrubs, and parking."[3] After using the school itself for the pilot, the duplicate was built at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, the "largest permanent set to be constructed [there] in a number of years."[3] The complete set filled an acre at the studio. Other construction on the MGM sound stages included duplicates of corridors and classrooms.[3] Exteriors for the fictional Jefferson High School were filmed at both John Marshall High School and Hamilton High School near Culver City.[4]

Guest stars[edit]

  • Claude Akins, as Lou Myerson in "One Monday Afternoon" (1964)
  • Eddie Albert, as Charlie O'Rourke in "Visions of Sugar Plums" (1964)
  • Frank Albertson, as Jim O'Neal in "The Death of a Teacher" (1964)
  • Edward Andrews, in "The Song of Songs" (1964)
  • Tige Andrews, as Lt. Charles Green in "A Single Isolated Incident" (1963)
  • Ed Asner, twice as Harmon Stern and Paul Berg
  • Frankie Avalon, as David Muller in "A Thousand Voices" (1963)
  • Phyllis Avery, three episodes as Mrs. Ruth Wilkinson
  • Diane Baker, as Mrs. Chase in "A Feeling for Friday" (1963)
  • Jeanne Bal, two episodes as assistant vice-principal Jean Pagano
  • Don "Red" Barry, as Anthony Gallo in "First Year, First Day" (series premiere, 1963)
  • Herschel Bernardi, as Mr. Otis in "I Don't Even Live Here" (1963)
  • Tony Bill, as Chris Herrod in "An Elephant Is Like a Tree" (1965)
  • Whit Bissell, as Karl Bellini in "May Day, May Day" (1965)
  • Shirley Bonne, as Susan Hotchkiss in "Sparrow on the Wire" (1964)
  • Peter Breck, as Dr. Ted Dietrich in "A Feeling for Friday" (1963)
  • Beau Bridges, three episodes, 1963-1965
  • Geraldine Brooks, as Claire Andreas in "Love Among the Grown-Ups" (1964)
  • Brooke Bundy, three episodes in different roles, including as Patrice Morgan in "X Is the Unknown Factor" (1963)
  • Macdonald Carey, as Mr. Edwards in "Pay the Two Dollars" (1963)
  • Virginia Christine, as Mrs. Payne in "The Exile" (1964)
  • Jeanne Cooper, as Louise Sargent in "The Boy Without a Country" (1963)
  • Noreen Corcoran, as Cathy Williams in "Fair The Well" (1964)
  • Johnny Crawford, two episodes, as JoJo Rizzo in "Let's Dig a Little Grammar" (1964) and as a delegate from the former Soviet Union in "The Tender Twigs" (1965)
  • Robert L. Crawford, Jr., brother of Johnny Crawford, as a Cuban delegate in "The Tender Twigs" (1965)
  • Pat Crowley, as Ariel Wilder in "Love in the Wrong Decision" (1963)
  • Robert Culp, as Frank Menlo in "The Tender Twigs" (1965)
  • Royal Dano, as Mr. Metcalfe in "To Break a Camel's Back" (1963)
  • Kim Darby, two episodes, one as Judy Wheeler (1965)
  • Bobby Diamond, as Gus in "Visions of Sugar Plums" (1964)
  • Micky Dolenz, as Ed in "Born of Kings and Angels" (1964)
  • Tony Dow was cast five times from 1963 to 1965, three as George.
  • Howard Duff, as Joe Stillman in "Mountains to Climb" (1965)
  • Leo Durocher, as himself in "Boy Under Glass" (1964)
  • Ross Elliott, two episodes (1963-1964)
  • Richard Eyer, as Jeff in "Day in the Year" (1964)
  • Shelly Fabares, two episodes as Dani Cooper (1964-1965)
  • Norman Fell, as Barney Sanders in "And Then I Wrote ..." (1965)
  • Frank Ferguson, as Stanley Novak in "Moonlighting" (1964)
  • James Flavin, as Fire Chief Hawkins in "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" (1964)
  • Steven Franken, twice as Jerry Allen (1963)
  • Bonnie Franklin, as Sally in "How Does Your Garden Grow?" and in "The People Doll: You Wind It Up, and It Makes Mistakes" (both 1964)
  • Arthur Franz, two episodes as Det. Sgt. Sol Moss (1964)
  • Terri Garr, as Lisa in "How Does Your Garden Grow?" (1964)
  • Kathy Garver, in "Sparrow on the Wire" (1964)
  • Lillian Gish, as Maude Phipps in "Hello, Miss Phipps" (1963)
  • Don Grady, as Joey Carter (1964) and as Hank Nelby in "Once a Clown" (1965 series finale)
  • Pat Harrington, Jr., as Thomas Kelly in "There's a Penguin in My Garden" (1965)
  • Joey Heatherton, as Holly Metcalfe in "To Break a Camel's Back" (1963)
  • Peter Helm appeared three times, including the lead guest-star role in "The Private Life of Douglas Morgan, Jr." (1964)
  • Cheryl Holdridge, as Betty in "The Private Life of Douglas Morgan Jr." (1964)
  • Celeste Holm, as Rose Herrod in "An Elephant Is Like a Tree" (1965)
  • Sherry Jackson, as Cathy Ferguson in "The Risk" (1963)
  • Arch Johnson, two episodes, once as Coach Brewer (1964)
  • Tommy Kirk, as Tod Seaton in "Love in the Wrong Season" (1963)
  • Diane Ladd, as Mrs. Otis in "I Don't Really Live Here" (1963)
  • Martin Landau, two episodes as Victor Rand (1963) and as Robert Coolidge in "Enter a Strange Animal" (1965)
  • Cloris Leachman, as Dorothy Hummer in the two-part episode "Faculty Follies" (1965)
  • Harvey Lembeck, as Vic Rizzo in "Let's Dig a Little Grammar" (1964)
  • Peggy Lipton, as Selma in "And Then I Wrote ..." (1965)
  • June Lockhart, as Mrs. Nelby, mother of the Don Grady character, in "Once a Clown" (1965)
  • Robert Logan, as Jerry Hendricks in "Johnny Ride the Pony: One, Two, Three" (1964)
  • Claudine Longet, as Sharhri Javid in "The Silent Dissauders" (1965)
  • Frank Maxwell, two episodes (1964-1965)
  • Kevin McCarthy, as Mr. Williams in "Fair the Well" (1964)
  • Tim McIntire, two episodes (1963-1964)
  • Vera Miles, as Sister Gervaise in "There's a Penguin in My Garden" (1965)
  • Patricia Morrow, four episodes as different characters
  • Edward Mulhare, as Rand Hardy in "He Who Can Does" (1963)
  • Lois Nettleton, as Jean Corcoran in "Where Is There to Go, Billie, But Up?" (1965)
  • Simon Oakland, as Carl Green in "With a Hammer in His Hand, Lord, Lord!" (1964)
  • Nehemiah Persoff, as Henry Selkirk in "Enter a Strange Animal" (1965)
  • Denver Pyle, as Brill in "Johnny Ride the Pony: One, Two, Three" (1964)
  • Robert Random, three episodes (1964-1965)
  • Tommy Rettig, as Frank in "The Firebrand" (1965)
  • Katharine Ross, as Mrs. Bellway in "Faculty Follies, Part II" (1965)
  • Marion Ross, as Nurse Bromfield in "Fair the Well" (1964)
  • Tommy Sands, two episodes (1964-1965)
  • Brenda Scott, as Sue Johnson in "Fear Is a Handful of Dust"(1964)
  • Alexander Scourby, two episodes (1963-1964)
  • Frank Silvera, as Andy Towner in "Boy Under Glass" (1964)
  • Mark Slade, three episodes (1964-1965)
  • Julie Sommars, as Ellen Cable in "The Firebrand" (1965)
  • Tisha Sterling, as Myra in "The Firebrand" (1965)
  • Harold J. Stone as Joe Garvin in "Beat the Plowshares, Edge the Sword" (1965)
  • Maxine Stuart, as Angie (1963) and Miss Gardner (1964)
  • Karl Swenson, as Mr. Haskell in "Love Among the Grown-Ups" (1964)
  • Buck Taylor, three episodes (1964-1965)
  • Malachi Throne, four episodes (1964-1965)
  • Joan Tompkins, as Mrs. Douglas Morgan, Sr., in "The Private Life of Douglas Morgan, Jr." (1964)
  • Harry Townes, two episodes, including the role of Frank Dever in "The Death of a Teacher" (1964)
  • Lurene Tuttle, as Mrs. Grange in "The Risk" (1963)
  • Susan Tyrrell, in her first acting role as Phyllis Freuchen in "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" (1964)
  • Joyce Van Patten, as Avis Brown in "From the Brow of Zeus" (1965)
  • June Vincent, as Mrs. Wilder in "Love in the Wrong Season" (1963)
  • Beverly Washburn, two episodes (1964-1965)
  • Michael Winkelman, three episodes (1963)

Production notes[edit]

The show, produced by MGM Television, was broadcast on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time). In its first season, Mr. Novak's principal competition was the ABC series Combat!, and the second half of the hour-long The Red Skelton Show on CBS. In the second season, the competition was still Combat! on ABC, and the documentary series World War One on CBS. Skelton was moved a half-hour later in December 1964.

The series was created by producer/writer E. Jack Neuman and director Boris Sagal and featured top directors such as Richard Donner.[5]

DVD Release[edit]

George Feltenstein, Senior VP of Classic Catalog Marketing at Warner Brothers Home Entertainment, announced the first season of Mr. Novak will be released in early 2018 in a DVD set by Warner Home Video. Prints will be struck from the original 35mm camera negatives.

Warner Archives released Season 1 of the series on DVD on November 6, 2018.

Book Release[edit]

“Mr. Novak An Acclaimed Television Series” by Chuck Harter was published by in October 2017 and is a comprehensive examination of the show.

See Also[edit]

Room 222


  1. ^ "The Peabody Awards - Mr. Novak (NBC)". Peabody Awards. Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  2. ^ Harter, Chuck. Mr. Novak an Acclaimed Television Series. Bear Manor Media, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c "Dillar a dollar, an NBC Scholar" (PDF). Sponsor Magazine. 17 (24): 59. June 17, 1963. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  4. ^ Harter, Chuck. Mr. Novak an Acclaimed Television Series. Bear Manor Media, 2017.
  5. ^ Harter, Chuck. Mr. Novak an Acclaimed Television Series. Bear Manor Media, 2017.

External links[edit]