The Mini-Series That Began All Mini-Series, Rich Man, Poor Man

The Mini-Series That Began All Mini-Series, Rich Man, Poor Man

Guest post from: Jerald Hammond

Rich Man, Poor Man was the mini-series that provided the “bar” all other mini-series attempted to reach. Based on the 1970 Irwin Shaw novel of the same name, it was television’s first attempt to serialize acclaimed literary works. Rich Man, Poor Man however, was the first, and in my opinion, still the best. I was thrilled recently when, flipping through channels, I found the series on my tv from I enjoyed it nearly as much as when the original aired.

Utilizing an excellent cast with an interesting mix of veterans (Edward Asner, Dorothy McGuire, Ray Milland, Robert Reed, Bill Bixby (who also directed), Norman Fell, Van Johnson and Murray Hamilton), along with young up-and-coming performers such as Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, Susan Blakely and Talia Shire, the series followed the Jordache family from the end of World War II through the late 1960’s.

Peter Strauss provided just the right combination of naivete and ambition in his portrayal of the eager, hard-working Rudy Jordache, the “Rich Man” of the Jordache brothers. His ascendancy through college, young adulthood, the business world and eventually politics entertwined with romance and dealing with the societal changes of the era is never less than engrossing. Nick Nolte as Tom, the “Poor Man,” literally crackles on screen as the mercurial, rebellious black sheep son. Edward Asner as the hard-working, stoic patriarch, Axel Jordache, won an Emmy Award for his performance, one of 23 nominations the series received.

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