Title card from Episode 1 of the regular-season series. Each episode's title card had a unique background and included the episode's title.
Created byDavid Karp
StarringJames Stewart
Strother Martin
Theme music composerJerry Goldsmith
ComposersJerry Goldsmith
George Romanis
Jerry Fielding
Jeff Alexander
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8
Executive producerNorman Felton
Running time74 minutes[1]
Production companiesArena-Leda Productions
MGM Television
Original release
ReleaseMarch 13, 1973 (1973-03-13) (pilot)
October 2, 1973 (1973-10-02) –
March 5, 1974 (1974-03-05)

Hawkins is an American legal drama and murder mystery television series which aired for one season on CBS from 1973 and 1974. The series starred James Stewart as rural-bred lawyer Billy Jim Hawkins, who investigated the cases in which he was involved.


James Stewart as Billy Jim Hawkins.

Billy Jim Hawkins had given up his position as a deputy district attorney and opened a small-town private law practice in the fictional town of Beauville, West Virginia.[2][3] Despite the rural, small-town location of his law office, fancy clients from all over the United States come to him for a legal defense in murder cases.[3] Hawkins has a pleasant, homespun manner and speaks slowly, but underneath this unassuming demeanor he is a shrewd and determined defense lawyer.[3] He travels widely to investigate the cases he takes on, seeking evidence that will clear his clients and identify the real murderers.[3] His cousin R. J. Hawkins travels with him and assists him in his investigations.[2][3]



David Karp created Hawkins, and Arena Productions produced the series in association with MGM Television.[2] The show bore similarities to James Stewart′s 1959 hit movie Anatomy of a Murder, in which he also played a small-town lawyer who investigated the cases in which he was involved.

Hawkins was Stewart′s second attempt at starring in a television series; he had made his debut in series television in the unsuccessful situation comedy The Jimmy Stewart Show, which aired on NBC for a single season from 1971 to 1972. Hawkins was a far better fit for Stewart′s acting talents;[2] it received good critical reviews and Stewart won a 1973 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in Television Drama Series for his portrayal of Billy Jim Hawkins. However, the series was cancelled after the production of only eight episodes (its pilot episode and one season of seven episodes). Stewart requested the cancellation because he believed that the quality of scripts and directors in television could not continuously measure up to the level to which he was accustomed with theatrical films. He did not return to series television.

Norman Felton was the show's executive producer[1] and Karp wrote or co-wrote the pilot and the regular-season episodes.[1] Jud Taylor directed the pilot and some of the regular-season episodes,[1] and Paul Wendkos or Robert Scheerer directed the rest.[1] Jerry Goldsmith wrote the theme music.[1]

Broadcast history

The pilot episode of Hawkins aired as a 90-minute television movie on March 13, 1973.[1] As a regular series, it premiered on October 2, 1973,[1][2][3] airing on CBS on Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. throughout its run.[3] Like the series pilot, each regular-season episode was 90 minutes long.[3] It was broadcast every third week as part of the "wheel series" The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies, alternating in its time slot with Shaft and a made-for-television movie. The "wheel series" was a popular programming strategy in television entertainment programming during the late 1960s and the 1970s in which two or more regular programs were rotated in the same time slot. However, Hawkins attracted a starkly different viewer demographic from Shaft, which probably worked against it finding an audience as part of The New CBS Tuesday Night Movies.[4] With Hawkins suffering from low ratings and Stewart expressing his desire to bring the show to an end, its last new episode aired on March 5, 1974.[1] Reruns of Hawkins ran in prime time during its regular time slot until September 3, 1974.[2][3]


No.Title [1][5][6][7][8]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date
Pilot"Death and the Maiden"Jud TaylorDavid KarpMarch 13, 1973 (1973-03-13)
Hawkins defends an heiress accused of a triple murder. Guest stars: Bonnie Bedelia, Robert Webber, Antoinette Bower, Dana Elcar, Kate Reid, David Huddleston, Margaret Markov, Ivan Bonar, Tom Hallick, Virginia Hawkins, and Charles McGraw. Also known as "Hawkins on Murder," this was the pilot for the series, broadcast as a 90-minute television movie.
1"Murder in Movieland"Jud TaylorDavid KarpOctober 2, 1973 (1973-10-02)
Hawkins deals with phonies when he comes to Hollywood to defend a movie star's husband who admits clubbing someone to death. Guest stars: Sheree North, Cameron Mitchell, William Smithers, Kenneth Mars, Maggie Wellman, Thaao Penghlis, Ben Hammer, Deborah Newman, and Michael Stearns.
2"Die, Darling, Die"Paul WendkosDavid Karp, Gene L. CoonOctober 23, 1973 (1973-10-23)
Hawkins defends a widow accused of murdering her dying husband by throwing away his lifesaving medicine. She stands to inherit $2,000,000 from her late husband, but claims she discarded his medicine as an act of mercy. Guest stars: Julie Harris, Mayf Nutter, Murray Hamilton, Diana Douglas, Sam Elliott, Henry Jones, Judson Morgan, Melissa Newman, Noble Willingham, and Iggie Wolfington.
3"A Life for a Life"Jud TaylorDavid KarpNovember 13, 1973 (1973-11-13)
Hawkins defends a neurotic man accused of murder who believed that the victim murdered his son — and had openly vowed to take "a life for a life." Guest stars: William Windom, John Ventantonio, James Hampton, Noam Pitlik, Tyne Daly, Diana Douglas, Jeanne Cooper, Joe Maross, Curt Conway, Gene Tyburn, Larry Delaney, Britt Leach, and Nelson D. Cuevas.
4"Blood Feud"Paul WendkosDavid KarpDecember 4, 1973 (1973-12-04)
Hawkins becomes involved in a dispute between warring family factions in his home town when he defends a man accused of killing another man during a reenactment of an American Civil War battle. Guest stars: Richard Kelton, Diana Ewing, James Best, Lew Ayres, and Mayf Nutter.
5"Murder in the Slave Trade"Paul WendkosDavid Karp, Robert HamnerJanuary 22, 1974 (1974-01-22)
After a fading football star is accused of murdering his team's hated owner, the victim's widow hires Hawkins to handle the defense. Guest stars: Robert Sampson, John Milford, Peter Mark Richman, Ellen Weston, Stacy Keach Sr., Dick Gautier, James Luisi, Carol Vogel, Joseph Hindy, and Warren Kemmerling.
6"Murder on the 13th Floor"Jud TaylorDavid KarpFebruary 5, 1974 (1974-02-05)
Hawkins becomes emotionally involved in a murder case when his long-ago girlfriend begs him to defend her son, who is accused of stabbing a pretty dancer to death. Guest stars: Kurt Kasznar, Teresa Wright, Albert Paulsen, Andy Parks, Jeff Corey, Signe Hasso, and Harvey Lembeck.
7"Candidate for Murder"Robert ScheererDavid Karp, Robert HamnerMarch 5, 1974 (1974-03-05)
Hawkins plunges into a world of rumors, scandal, and plots for revenge when he travels to Washington, D.C., to defend a United States Senator′s son who has been accused of murdering a muckraking reporter. Guest stars: Diana Hyland, Paul Burke, Andrew Prine, John Larch, Sandy Ward, Pernell Roberts, John Ericson, and Mark Gordon.