The Thorn Birds
DVD cover
GenreDrama
Romance
Written byCarmen Culver
Lee Stanley
Colleen McCullough (novel)
Directed byDaryl Duke
StarringRichard Chamberlain
Rachel Ward
Barbara Stanwyck
Christopher Plummer
Jean Simmons
Bryan Brown
Philip Anglim
Richard Kiley
Piper Laurie
Theme music composerHenry Mancini
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of episodes4
Production
Executive producersEdward Lewis
David L. Wolper
ProducersStan Margulies
Lee Stanley (co-producer)
Swifty Lazar (associate producer)
Production locationsWilliam Andrews Clark Memorial Library
Big Sky Ranch
Kaua'i
Los Angeles City Hall
Warner Brothers Burbank Studios
CinematographyBill Butler
EditorsRobert F. Shugrue
David Saxon
Carroll Timothy O'Meara
Running time467 minutes
Production companiesDavid Wolper-Stan Margulies Productions
Edward Lewis Productions
Warner Bros. Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseMarch 27-30, 1983
Chronology
Followed byThe Thorn Birds: The Missing Years (1996)

The Thorn Birds is an American television miniseries broadcast on ABC from March 27 to 30, 1983. It starred Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward, Barbara Stanwyck, Christopher Plummer, Piper Laurie, Jean Simmons, Richard Kiley, Bryan Brown, Mare Winningham and Philip Anglim. It was directed by Daryl Duke and based on the 1977 novel of the same name by Colleen McCullough. The series was enormously successful and became the United States' second highest-rated miniseries of all time behind Roots; both series were produced by television veteran David L. Wolper.

Plot

Further information: The Thorn Birds § Plot

Cast

Actor Role
Richard Chamberlain Ralph de Bricassart
Rachel Ward Meggie Cleary (as an adult)
Sydney Penny Meggie Cleary (as a child)
Barbara Stanwyck Mary Carson
Richard Kiley Paddy Cleary
Jean Simmons Fee Cleary
Bryan Brown Luke O'Neill
Mare Winningham Justine O'Neill
Philip Anglim Dane O'Neill
Ken Howard Rainer Hartheim
John Friedrich Frank Cleary
Dwier Brown Stuart Cleary (as an adult)
Vidal Peterson Stuart Cleary (as a child)
Piper Laurie Anne Mueller
Earl Holliman Luddie Mueller
Christopher Plummer Archbishop Vittorio di Contini-Verchese
Brett Cullen Bob Cleary
Stephen W. Burns Jack Cleary
Barry Corbin Pete
Holly Palance Miss Carmichael
John de Lancie Alastair MacQueen
Allyn Ann McLerie Mrs. Smith
Richard Venture Harry Gough
Stephanie Faracy Judy
Antoinette Bower Sarah MacQueen

Development

The novel was originally developed as a feature film with Ed Lewis attached to produce. Ivan Moffat wrote an early draft of the script. Herbert Ross was the first director, and he saw Christopher Reeve about playing the lead. Then Peter Weir became attached to direct; Robert Redford was the favourite to play the lead. Eventually Weir dropped out and Arthur Hiller was going to direct; Ryan O'Neal was mooted as a star. Eventually it was decided to turn it into a mini series.[1][2]

The role of Meggie Cleary became the most sought after role of the production, and was considered the role of a lifetime. Many actresses campaigned and auditioned for the role over a long period of pre-production. British actress, Lynne Frederick, was one of many actresses who heavily campaigned for the role. Frederick even dyed her hair red to showcase herself. Other actresses who auditioned for the part included Michelle Pfeiffer, Jane Seymour, Olivia Newton-John, and Kim Basinger.

Filming

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Achievement in Makeup Del Acevedo Won
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Art Direction for a Miniseries or a Movie Robert MacKichan, Jerry Adams Won
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Film Editing for a Miniseries or a Movie Carroll Timothy O'Meara Won
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Richard Chamberlain Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Barbara Stanwyck Won
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Miniseries or Movie The Thorn Birds Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Bryan Brown Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Richard Kiley Won
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie Christopher Plummer Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Piper Laurie Nominated
1983 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie Jean Simmons Won
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Richard Chamberlain Won
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Rachel Ward Nominated
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film The Thorn Birds Won
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Bryan Brown Nominated
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Richard Kiley Won
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Piper Laurie Nominated
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Jean Simmons Nominated
1984 Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Barbara Stanwyck Won
1984 People's Choice Awards Best TV Miniseries The Thorn Birds Won
1984 Young Artist Awards Best Young Actress in a Miniseries or Television Movie Sydney Penny Won

Home media

The Thorn Birds was released on VHS in 1991 in the US and Canada; it was re-released on DVD in the US and Canada on February 3, 2004. Both editions were given a "Not Rated" certification. It is rated PG in New Zealand for violence, sexual references, coarse language and nudity.

Sequel

A followup titled The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years was broadcast by CBS in 1996. It tells the story of the 19 years unaccounted for in the original miniseries.

References

  1. ^ Mann, Roderick (8 July 1980). "RYAN O'NEAL: HOOKED ON 'THORN BIRDS' AND FARRAH". Los Angeles Times. p. g1.
  2. ^ Mann, Roderick (14 Feb 1980). "REDFORD IS READING 'THORN BIRDS' SCRIPT". Los Angeles Times. p. i1.
  3. ^ Kelly, Peggy (16 May 2012). "Railroad Plaza, Depot gleeful when filled with cast of 'Glee'". Santa Paula Times. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  4. ^ https://articles.latimes.com/1987-11-16/local/me-14246_1_catholic-priests