Rich Man, Poor Man (miniseries)

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Rich Man, Poor Man
Written byDean Riesner
Directed byDavid Greene
Boris Sagal
StarringPeter Strauss
Nick Nolte
Susan Blakely
Ed Asner
Dorothy McGuire
Robert Reed
Theme music composerAlex North
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes12
Executive producerHarve Bennett
ProducersJon Epstein
Frank Price
EditorsRichard Bracken
Douglas Stewart
Production companiesHarve Bennett Productions
Universal Television
Original networkABC
Original releaseFebruary 1 (1976-02-01) –
March 15, 1976 (1976-03-15)
Rich Man, Poor Man Book II

Rich Man, Poor Man is a 1976 American television miniseries based on the 1969 novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw that aired on ABC in one or two-hour episodes mostly on Monday nights over seven weeks, beginning February 1. It was produced by Universal Television and was the second time programming of this nature had been attempted. The first TV miniseries, QB VII, had aired — also on ABC — in 1974. These projects proved to be a critical and ratings success and were the forerunner for similar projects based on literary works, such as Roots and Shōgun. The miniseries stars Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte and Susan Blakely.

It spawned the sequel Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, which aired from September 1976 through March 1977. The network repeated the original series Tuesday nights at 9:00pm from May to June 1977.[1]


Based on the best-selling 1969 novel by Irwin Shaw, it spanned the period from 1945 through the late 1960s and followed the divergent career courses of the impoverished German American Jordache brothers. Rudy (Peter Strauss) was the titular rich man, a well-educated and very ambitious entrepreneur who triumphed over his background and constructed a corporate and political empire. Poor man Tom (Nick Nolte) was a rebel who eventually turned to boxing to support himself. Axel and Mary were their parents, and Julie Prescott was Rudy's lifelong sweetheart who eventually married him.

Later, another important character appears, the dangerous and eccentric Falconetti, lifelong nemesis of the Jordache Brothers, who is intent on killing them.

While the first series spans a twenty-year period between 1945 and 1965, the second series begins in 1968. The series became a huge success in the countries that aired it.

Primary cast[edit]

Mary and Axel Jordache
Rudy Jordache and Julie Prescott
Tom Jordache

Episode list[edit]

Title Directed by Teleplay by Runtime Original air date
1"Part I: Chapters 1 and 2"David GreeneDean Riesner2 hFebruary 1, 1976 (1976-02-01)
2"Part II: Chapters 3 and 4"David GreeneDean Riesner2 hFebruary 2, 1976 (1976-02-02)
3"Part III: Chapter 5"Boris SagalDean Riesner1 hFebruary 9, 1976 (1976-02-09)
4"Part IV: Chapter 6"Boris SagalDean Riesner1 hFebruary 16, 1976 (1976-02-16)
5"Part V: Chapter 7"Boris SagalDean Riesner1 hFebruary 23, 1976 (1976-02-23)
6"Part VI: Chapter 8"Boris SagalDean Riesner1 hMarch 1, 1976 (1976-03-01)
7"Part VII: Chapter 9"David GreeneDean Riesner1 hMarch 8, 1976 (1976-03-08)
8"Part VII: Chapter 10"David GreeneDean Riesner1 hMarch 8, 1976 (1976-03-08)
9"Part VIII: Chapters 11 and 12"David GreeneDean Riesner2 hMarch 15, 1976 (1976-03-15)

Production notes[edit]

Dean Riesner wrote all twelve episodes, and direction was shared by David Greene and Boris Sagal. The musical score was composed by Alex North.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama Won [2]
Best Actor in a Television Series – Drama Nick Nolte Nominated
Peter Strauss Nominated
Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama Susan Blakely Won
Best Supporting Actor – Television Ed Asner Won
Best Supporting Actress – Television Josette Banzet Won
Grammy Awards Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special Rich Man, Poor ManAlex North Nominated [3]
Online Film & Television Association Awards Hall of Fame – Television Programs Inducted [4]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Limited Series Harve Bennett and Jon Epstein Nominated [5]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series Nick Nolte Nominated
Peter Strauss Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series Susan Blakely Won
Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Ray Milland Nominated
Robert Reed Nominated
Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Dorothy McGuire Nominated
Outstanding Lead Actor for a Single Appearance in a Drama or Comedy Series Ed Asner (for "Part I: Chapters 1 and 2") Won
Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actor in Comedy or Drama Series Bill Bixby (for "Part VI: Chapter 8") Nominated
Norman Fell (for "Part V: Chapter 7") Nominated
Van Johnson (for "Part VII: Chapter 9") Nominated
Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Comedy or Drama Series Kim Darby (for "Part II: Chapters 3 and 4") Nominated
Fionnula Flanagan (for "Part II: Chapters 3 and 4") Won
Kay Lenz (for "Part VIII: Chapters 11 and 12") Nominated
Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series David Greene (for "Part VII: Chapter 10") Won
Boris Sagal (for "Part V: Chapter 7") Nominated
Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series Dean Riesner Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction or Scenic Design –
Single Episode of a Comedy, Drama or Limited Series
William Hiney and Joseph Stone
(for "Part VII: Chapter 9")
Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for Entertainment Programming for a Series Howard Schwartz (for "Part I: Chapters 1 and 2") Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design for a Drama or Comedy Series Charles Waldo (for "Part I: Chapters 1 and 2") Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing for Entertainment Programming for a Series –
For a Single Episode of a Drama or Limited Series
Richard Bracken (for "Part VII: Chapter 10") Nominated
Douglas Stewart (for "Part II: Chapters 3 and 4") Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series Alex North Won
TP de Oro Best Foreign Series 2nd Place [6]
Best Foreign Actor Peter Strauss Won
Most Popular Personage William Smith 2nd Place
TV Land Awards Miniseries You Didn't Miss a Moment Of Nominated

Home media[edit]

A&E Home Video released an edited version of Rich Man, Poor Man: The Complete Collection on Region 1 DVD in the United States on September 28, 2010.


  1. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2007-10-17). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 1152. ISBN 0-345-49773-2.
  2. ^ "Rich Man, Poor Man – Golden Globes". HFPA. Retrieved July 5, 2021.
  3. ^ "1976 Grammy Award Winners". Retrieved May 1, 2011.
  4. ^ "Television Hall of Fame: Productions". Online Film & Television Association. Retrieved May 15, 2021.
  5. ^ "Rich Man, Poor Man". Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  6. ^ Tim Brooks; Earle Marsh (1988). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. New York City: Ballantine Books. p. 662. ISBN 0-345-35610-1.

External links[edit]