American Playhouse
American Playhouse (1986).jpg
GenreAnthology
Directed byPerry Miller Adato
Robert Allan Ackerman
Paul Bogart
Kirk Browning
Jonathan Demme
Bill Duke
Peter H. Hunt
David Hugh Jones
Barbara Kopple
Jack O'Brien (director)
Philip Leacock
Marshall W. Mason
Vivian Matalon
Sharron Miller
Joanne Woodward
ComposerDavid Amram
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons13
Production
Production companiesKCET, South Carolina Educational Television, WGBH, WNET
Release
Original networkPBS
Original releaseJanuary 12, 1982 (1982-01-12) –
December 22, 1993 (1993-12-22)

American Playhouse is an American anthology television series periodically broadcast by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS).[1][2][3]

Overview

It premiered on January 12, 1982, with The Shady Hill Kidnapping, written and narrated by John Cheever and directed by Paul Bogart. Its final broadcast, In the Wings: Angels in America on Broadway, a rerun of a behind-the-scenes look at Tony Kushner's award-winning play in two parts, aired on January 1, 1994.

The series proved to be the springboard for the careers of numerous performers, including David Marshall Grant, Laura Linney, A Martinez, Conchata Ferrell, Eric Roberts, Lynne Thigpen, John Malkovich, Peter Riegert, Lupe Ontiveros, Ben Stiller, and Megan Mullally.

As part of WGBH's development of the Descriptive Video Service (DVS), American Playhouse was one of the first U.S. television programs to air with audio description for the visually impaired on the Secondary audio program (SAP). After trialing the system during previous seasons, the 1990 season was the first to offer it as part of their wider rollout of DVS, initially through 32 member stations.[4][5][6]

Episodes

Season 1 (1982)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"The Shady Hill Kidnapping"UnknownUnknownJanuary 12, 1982 (1982-01-12)
22"King of America"UnknownUnknownJanuary 19, 1982 (1982-01-19)
33"Seguin"UnknownUnknownJanuary 26, 1982 (1982-01-26)
44"Who Am I This Time?"UnknownUnknownFebruary 2, 1982 (1982-02-02)
55"Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine"UnknownUnknownFebruary 9, 1982 (1982-02-09)
66"Come Along with Me"UnknownUnknownFebruary 16, 1982 (1982-02-16)
77"For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf"UnknownUnknownFebruary 23, 1982 (1982-02-23)
88"Carl Sandburg: Echoes and Silences"UnknownUnknownMarch 2, 1982 (1982-03-02)
99"Fifth of July"UnknownUnknownMarch 9, 1982 (1982-03-09)
1010"The Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters"UnknownUnknownMarch 16, 1982 (1982-03-16)
1111"Pilgrim, Farewell"UnknownUnknownMarch 23, 1982 (1982-03-23)
1212"Northern Lights[7]"UnknownUnknownMarch 30, 1982 (1982-03-30)
1313"Medal of Honor Rag"UnknownUnknownApril 6, 1982 (1982-04-06)
1414"Working"UnknownUnknownApril 13, 1982 (1982-04-13)
1515"Weekend"UnknownUnknownApril 20, 1982 (1982-04-20)
1616"Private Contentment"UnknownUnknownApril 27, 1982 (1982-04-27)
1717"My Palikari"UnknownUnknownMay 4, 1982 (1982-05-04)
1818"Oppenheimer (1)"UnknownUnknownMay 11, 1982 (1982-05-11)
1919"Oppenheimer (2)"UnknownUnknownMay 18, 1982 (1982-05-18)
2020"Oppenheimer (3)"UnknownUnknownMay 25, 1982 (1982-05-25)
2121"Oppenheimer (4)"UnknownUnknownJune 1, 1982 (1982-06-01)
2222"Oppenheimer (5)"UnknownUnknownJune 8, 1982 (1982-06-08)
2323"Oppenheimer (6)"UnknownUnknownJune 15, 1982 (1982-06-15)
2424"Oppenheimer (7)"UnknownUnknownJune 22, 1982 (1982-06-22)
2525"The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez"UnknownUnknownJune 29, 1982 (1982-06-29)

Season 2 (1983)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"The Skin of Our Teeth"UnknownUnknownJanuary 18, 1983 (1983-01-18)
TBA2"Miss Lonelyhearts"UnknownUnknownJanuary 25, 1983 (1983-01-25)
TBA3"Family Business"UnknownUnknownFebruary 1, 1983 (1983-02-01)
TBA4"Keeping On"UnknownUnknownFebruary 8, 1983 (1983-02-08)
TBA5"The File on Jill Hatch (1)"UnknownUnknownFebruary 15, 1983 (1983-02-15)
TBA6"The File on Jill Hatch (2)"UnknownUnknownFebruary 22, 1983 (1983-02-22)
TBA7"The File on Jill Hatch (3)"UnknownUnknownMarch 1, 1983 (1983-03-01)
TBA8"For Us the Living: The Medgar Evers Story"UnknownUnknownMarch 22, 1983 (1983-03-22)
TBA9"Verse Person Singular"UnknownUnknownMarch 29, 1983 (1983-03-29)
TBA10"Until She Talks"UnknownUnknownApril 5, 1983 (1983-04-05)
TBA11"Wings"UnknownUnknownApril 26, 1983 (1983-04-26)
TBA12"The Rothko Conspiracy"UnknownUnknownMay 3, 1983 (1983-05-03)

Season 3 (1984)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"The Ghost Writer"UnknownUnknownJanuary 17, 1984 (1984-01-17)
TBA2"Pudd'nhead Wilson"UnknownUnknownJanuary 24, 1984 (1984-01-24)
TBA3"True West"UnknownUnknownJanuary 31, 1984 (1984-01-31)
TBA4"Nothing But a Man"UnknownUnknownFebruary 7, 1984 (1984-02-07)
TBA5"Popular Neurotics"UnknownUnknownFebruary 14, 1984 (1984-02-14)
TBA6"The Cafeteria"UnknownUnknownFebruary 21, 1984 (1984-02-21)
TBA7"Refuge"UnknownUnknownFebruary 28, 1984 (1984-02-28)
TBA8"The Gin Game"UnknownUnknownMarch 6, 1984 (1984-03-06)
TBA9"Haunted"UnknownUnknownMarch 20, 1984 (1984-03-20)
TBA10"The Killing Floor"UnknownUnknownApril 10, 1984 (1984-04-10)
TBA11"Heartland[8]"UnknownUnknownApril 17, 1984 (1984-04-17)
TBA12"City News"UnknownUnknownApril 24, 1984 (1984-04-24)
TBA13"Hughie"UnknownUnknownMay 1, 1984 (1984-05-01)
TBA14"Concealed Enemies (1)"UnknownUnknownMay 7, 1984 (1984-05-07)
TBA15"Concealed Enemies (2)"UnknownUnknownMay 7, 1984 (1984-05-07)
TBA16"Concealed Enemies (3)"UnknownUnknownMay 8, 1984 (1984-05-08)
TBA17"Concealed Enemies (4)"UnknownUnknownMay 9, 1984 (1984-05-09)

Season 4 (1984–1985)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"Testament"UnknownUnknownNovember 26, 1984 (1984-11-26)
TBA2"A Matter of Principle"UnknownUnknownDecember 3, 1984 (1984-12-03)
TBA3"Solomon Northup's Odyssey"UnknownUnknownDecember 10, 1984 (1984-12-10)
TBA4"Tomorrow"UnknownUnknownDecember 17, 1984 (1984-12-17)
TBA5"Go Tell It on the Mountain"UnknownUnknownJanuary 14, 1985 (1985-01-14)
TBA6"Noon Wine"UnknownUnknownJanuary 21, 1985 (1985-01-21)
TBA7"The Joy That Kills"UnknownUnknownJanuary 28, 1985 (1985-01-28)
TBA8"Overdrawn at the Memory Bank"UnknownUnknownFebruary 4, 1985 (1985-02-04)
TBA9"The Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski"UnknownUnknownFebruary 11, 1985 (1985-02-11)
TBA10"Some Men Need Help"UnknownUnknownFebruary 18, 1985 (1985-02-18)
TBA11"Charlotte Forten's Mission: Experiment in Freedom"UnknownUnknownFebruary 25, 1985 (1985-02-25)
TBA12"Breakfast with Les and Bess"UnknownUnknownMarch 11, 1985 (1985-03-11)
TBA13"Nightsongs"UnknownUnknownApril 15, 1985 (1985-04-15)
TBA14"Under the Biltmore Clock"UnknownUnknownApril 22, 1985 (1985-04-22)
TBA15"Displaced Person"UnknownUnknownMay 6, 1985 (1985-05-06)
TBA16"The Europeans"UnknownUnknownMay 13, 1985 (1985-05-13)
TBA17"El Norte"UnknownUnknownMay 20, 1985 (1985-05-20)
TBA18"Three Sovereigns for Sarah (1)"UnknownUnknownMay 27, 1985 (1985-05-27)
TBA19"Three Sovereigns for Sarah (2)"UnknownUnknownJune 3, 1985 (1985-06-03)
TBA20"Three Sovereigns for Sarah (3)"UnknownUnknownJune 10, 1985 (1985-06-10)
TBA21"Paper Angels"UnknownUnknownJune 17, 1985 (1985-06-17)
TBA22"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"UnknownUnknownJune 24, 1985 (1985-06-24)

Season 5 (1986)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"The Rise and Rise of Daniel Rocket"UnknownUnknownJanuary 20, 1986 (1986-01-20)
TBA2"The Roommate"UnknownUnknownJanuary 27, 1986 (1986-01-27)
TBA3"Valentine's Revenge"UnknownUnknownFebruary 3, 1986 (1986-02-03)
TBA4"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1)"UnknownUnknownFebruary 10, 1986 (1986-02-10)
TBA5"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (2)"UnknownUnknownFebruary 17, 1986 (1986-02-17)
TBA6"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (3)"UnknownUnknownFebruary 24, 1986 (1986-02-24)
TBA7"Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (4)"UnknownUnknownMarch 3, 1986 (1986-03-03)
TBA8"Tell Me a Riddle"UnknownUnknownMarch 17, 1986 (1986-03-17)
TBA9"The Little Sister"UnknownUnknownApril 7, 1986 (1986-04-07)
TBA10"The House of Ramon Iglesia"UnknownUnknownApril 14, 1986 (1986-04-14)
TBA11"A Flash of Green"UnknownUnknownApril 21, 1986 (1986-04-21)
TBA12"Damien"UnknownUnknownApril 28, 1986 (1986-04-28)
TBA13"Rocket to the Moon"UnknownUnknownMay 5, 1986 (1986-05-05)
TBA14"A Case of Libel"UnknownUnknownMay 12, 1986 (1986-05-12)
TBA15"Painting Churches"UnknownUnknownMay 19, 1986 (1986-05-19)
TBA16"Roanoak (1)"UnknownUnknownMay 26, 1986 (1986-05-26)
TBA17"Roanoak (2)"UnknownUnknownJune 2, 1986 (1986-06-02)
TBA18"Roanoak (3)"UnknownUnknownJune 9, 1986 (1986-06-09)
TBA19"Sunday in the Park with George"UnknownUnknownJune 16, 1986 (1986-06-16)

Season 6 (1987)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"All My Sons"UnknownUnknownJanuary 19, 1987 (1987-01-19)
TBA2"The Prodigious Hickey"UnknownUnknownJanuary 26, 1987 (1987-01-26)
TBA3"The Wide Net"UnknownUnknownFebruary 2, 1987 (1987-02-02)
TBA4"Smooth Talk"UnknownUnknownFebruary 9, 1987 (1987-02-09)
TBA5"A Mistaken Charity"UnknownUnknownFebruary 16, 1987 (1987-02-16)
TBA6"Eleanor: In Her Own Words"UnknownUnknownMarch 9, 1987 (1987-03-09)
TBA7"The Innocents Abroad"UnknownUnknownMarch 23, 1987 (1987-03-23)
TBA8"Story of a Marriage (1)"UnknownUnknownApril 6, 1987 (1987-04-06)
TBA9"Story of a Marriage (2)"UnknownUnknownApril 13, 1987 (1987-04-13)
TBA10"Story of a Marriage (3)"UnknownUnknownApril 13, 1987 (1987-04-13)
TBA11"A Case of Libel"UnknownUnknownMay 4, 1987 (1987-05-04)
TBA12"Charley's Aunt"UnknownUnknownMay 11, 1987 (1987-05-11)
TBA13"Gal Young 'Un"UnknownUnknownMay 18, 1987 (1987-05-18)
TBA14"The House of Blue Leaves"UnknownUnknownMay 25, 1987 (1987-05-25)
TBA15"Blue Window"UnknownUnknownJune 1, 1987 (1987-06-01)
TBA16"Dottie"UnknownUnknownJune 8, 1987 (1987-06-08)
TBA17"Waiting for the Moon"UnknownUnknownJune 15, 1987 (1987-06-15)

Season 7 (1988)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"Strange Interlude (1)"UnknownUnknownJanuary 18, 1988 (1988-01-18)
TBA2"Strange Interlude (2)"UnknownUnknownJanuary 19, 1988 (1988-01-19)
TBA3"Strange Interlude (3)"UnknownUnknownJanuary 20, 1988 (1988-01-20)
TBA4"The Return of Hickey"UnknownUnknownFebruary 3, 1988 (1988-02-03)
TBA5"Lemon Sky"UnknownUnknownFebruary 10, 1988 (1988-02-10)
TBA6"The Revolt of Mother"UnknownUnknownFebruary 17, 1988 (1988-02-17)
TBA7"Pigeon Feathers"UnknownUnknownFebruary 17, 1988 (1988-02-17)
TBA8"Billy Galvin"UnknownUnknownFebruary 24, 1988 (1988-02-24)
TBA9"A Flash of Green"UnknownUnknownMarch 23, 1988 (1988-03-23)
TBA10"Journey Into Genius"UnknownUnknownApril 6, 1988 (1988-04-06)
TBA11"Suspicion"UnknownUnknownApril 20, 1988 (1988-04-20)
TBA12"The Trial of Bernard Goetz"UnknownUnknownMay 11, 1988 (1988-05-11)
TBA13"The Land of Little Rain"UnknownUnknownJune 1, 1988 (1988-06-01)
TBA14"I Never Sang for My Father"UnknownUnknownJune 15, 1988 (1988-06-15)
TBA15"Native Son"UnknownUnknownJune 29, 1988 (1988-06-29)
TBA16"The Big Knife"UnknownUnknownJuly 27, 1988 (1988-07-27)

Season 8 (1989)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"A Raisin in the Sun"UnknownUnknownFebruary 1, 1989 (1989-02-01)
TBA2"Ask Me Again"UnknownUnknownFebruary 8, 1989 (1989-02-08)
TBA3"Stacking"UnknownUnknownFebruary 15, 1989 (1989-02-15)
TBA4"My American Cousin"UnknownUnknownFebruary 22, 1989 (1989-02-22)
TBA5"Love and Other Sorrows"UnknownUnknownMarch 1, 1989 (1989-03-01)
TBA6"Stand and Deliver"UnknownUnknownMarch 15, 1989 (1989-03-15)
TBA7"The Silence at Bethany"UnknownUnknownMarch 22, 1989 (1989-03-22)
TBA8"Life Under Water"UnknownUnknownApril 12, 1989 (1989-04-12)
TBA9"The Diaries of Adam and Eve"UnknownUnknownApril 26, 1989 (1989-04-26)
TBA10"The Meeting"UnknownUnknownMay 3, 1989 (1989-05-03)
TBA11"A Walk in the Woods"UnknownUnknownMay 10, 1989 (1989-05-10)
TBA12"Big Time"UnknownUnknownMay 17, 1989 (1989-05-17)
TBA13"The Thin Blue Line"UnknownUnknownMay 24, 1989 (1989-05-24)
TBA14"Ollie Hopnoodle's Haven of Bliss"UnknownUnknownMay 31, 1989 (1989-05-31)
TBA15"Imagining America"UnknownUnknownJune 7, 1989 (1989-06-07)

Season 9 (1990)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"Sensibility and Sense"UnknownUnknownJanuary 24, 1990 (1990-01-24)
TBA2"Women & Wallace"UnknownUnknownJanuary 31, 1990 (1990-01-31)
TBA3"Zora Is My Name!"UnknownUnknownFebruary 14, 1990 (1990-02-14)
TBA4"Andre's Mother"UnknownUnknownMarch 7, 1990 (1990-03-07)
TBA5"Bloodhounds of Broadway"UnknownUnknownMay 23, 1990 (1990-05-23)
TBA6"Hyde in Hollywood"UnknownUnknownJuly 6, 1990 (1990-07-06)

Season 10 (1991)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"Into the Woods"UnknownUnknownMarch 15, 1991 (1991-03-15)
TBA2"The Grapes of Wrath"UnknownUnknownMarch 22, 1991 (1991-03-22)
TBA3"Three Hotels"UnknownUnknownMarch 29, 1991 (1991-03-29)
TBA4"The Sunset Gang"UnknownUnknownApril 5, 1991 (1991-04-05)
TBA5"Hot Summer Winds"UnknownUnknownMay 22, 1991 (1991-05-22)
TBA6"The Hollow Boy"UnknownUnknownJune 12, 1991 (1991-06-12)

Season 11 (1992–1993)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"Fool's Fire"UnknownUnknownMarch 25, 1992 (1992-03-25)
TBA2"Tales from Hollywood"UnknownUnknownOctober 19, 1992 (1992-10-19)
TBA3"Tru"UnknownUnknownNovember 23, 1992 (1992-11-23)
TBA4"Andre's Mother"UnknownUnknownJanuary 17, 1993 (1993-01-17)
TBA5"Fires in the Mirror"UnknownUnknownApril 28, 1993 (1993-04-28)
TBA6"In the Wings: Angels in America on Broadway"UnknownUnknownJune 11, 1993 (1993-06-11)
TBA7"La Carpa"UnknownUnknownJune 16, 1993 (1993-06-16)
TBA8"Porgy and Bess"UnknownUnknownOctober 6, 1993 (1993-10-06)
TBA9"Tales of the City"UnknownUnknownNovember 15, 1993 (1993-11-15)
TBA10"Hallelujah"UnknownUnknownDecember 22, 1993 (1993-12-22)

Season 12 (1994)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City"UnknownUnknownJanuary 10, 1994 (1994-01-10)
TBA2"The Sunset Gang"UnknownUnknownMarch 21, 1994 (1994-03-21)
TBA3"Long Shadow"UnknownUnknownAugust 26, 1994 (1994-08-26)
TBA4"Break of Dawn"UnknownUnknownSeptember 9, 1994 (1994-09-09)
TBA5"La Carpa"UnknownUnknownSeptember 23, 1994 (1994-09-23)

Season 13 (1995–1996)

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
TBA1"The Making of Angels and Insects"UnknownUnknownJanuary 2, 1995 (1995-01-02)
TBA2"Fires in the Mirror"UnknownUnknownFebruary 3, 1995 (1995-02-03)
TBA3"Blown Sideways Through Life"UnknownUnknownJuly 19, 1995 (1995-07-19)
TBA4"Drawn from the Memory"UnknownUnknownOctober 30, 1995 (1995-10-30)
TBA5"The Beans of Egypt, Maine"UnknownUnknownAugust 11, 1996 (1996-08-11)
TBA6"Passion"UnknownUnknownSeptember 29, 1996 (1996-09-29)

Notable cast

Accolades

Some of the productions won multiple Emmys: one from Robert Morse in Tru,[9] Outstanding Children's Program for Displaced Person[10] and technical achievements for The Meeting alongside many nominations.[11]

Academy Award recognitions included El Norte's nomination for Best Original Screenplay,[12][13] a Best Actress nod for Jane Alexander in Testament[14][15] and a Best Actor nod for Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver.[16][17]

Golden Globe recognitions included 3 for Stand and Deliver (two for Olmos ( Leading Actor) and Diamond Phillips (Supporting Actor) and one for Best Motion Picture - Drama).[18]

American Playhouse also won a Peabody Award in 1990.[19]

Legacy

Episodes like Nothing But a Man, The Thin Blue Line, El Norte and Stand and Deliver were each inducted into the National Film Registry.[20]

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank was featured as an episode of the cult science fiction series Mystery Science Theater 3000.[21][22]

References

  1. ^ The New York Times
  2. ^ The New York Times
  3. ^ The New York Times
  4. ^ Gibson, Gwen. "Words worth 1,000 pictures". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  5. ^ Molotsky, Irvin (1988-01-13). "New TV System Offers Descriptions for Blind". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-04-22.
  6. ^ Ellis, Katie (2019-02-01). Disability and Digital Television Cultures: Representation, Access, and Reception. Routledge. ISBN 9781317627845.
  7. ^ american playhouse: northern lights (tv) - The Paley Center for Media
  8. ^ american playhouse: heartland (tv) - The Paley Center for Media
  9. ^ Tru (American Playhouse)|Television Academy
  10. ^ Displaced Person American Playhouse|Television Academy
  11. ^ The Meeting American Playhouse|Television Academy
  12. ^ 1985|Oscars.org
  13. ^ Robert Benton and Peter Shaffer winning Writing Oscars®-Oscars on YouTube
  14. ^ 1984|Oscars.org
  15. ^ Shirley MacLaine Wins Best Actress: 1984 Oscars
  16. ^ 1989|Oscars.org
  17. ^ Dustin Hoffman Wins Best Actor: 1989 Oscars
  18. ^ Stand and Deliver|Golden Globes
  19. ^ "American Playhouse". Retrieved 2019-03-02.
  20. ^ Brief Descriptions and Expanded Essays of National Film Registry Titles | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board
  21. ^ Vorel, Jim (April 13, 2017). "Ranking Every MST3K Episode, From Worst to Best". Paste. p. 6. Archived from the original on June 19, 2018. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  22. ^ Cecchini, Mike (April 15, 2017). "The Top 100 Best MST3K Episodes". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved April 29, 2019.