Peyton Place


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

Tabs

About

Peyton Place, a prime-time program based on the Grace Metalious novel, was an experiment for American television in both content and scheduling when it appeared on ABC, at that time still the third-ranked U.S. network. Premiering in the fall of 1964, Peyton Place was offered in two serialized installments per week, Tuesday and Thursday nights, a first for American prime-time television. Initially drawing more attention for its moral tone than for its unique scheduling, the new night-time serial was launched amid a sensational atmosphere borrowed from the novel's reputation. ABC president Leonard Goldenson defended the network's programming choice as a bread-and-butter decision for the struggling network, and the moral outcry settled down once the program established itself as implying far more sensation than it would deliver. This prototype of what came to be known in the 1980s as the prime-time soap opera initially met with great success: a month after Peyton Place premiered, ABC rose in the Nielsens to number one for the first time. At one point, the program was so successful that a spin-off serial was considered. Both CBS and NBC announced similar prime-time serials under development.

Executive producer Paul Monash declined the "soap opera" label for Peyton Place, considering it instead a "television novel." (His term is, in fact, the one applied in Latin America, telenovela, and Francophone Canada, teleroman.) Set in a small New England town, Peyton Place dealt with the secrets and scandals of two generations of the town's inhabitants. An unmarried woman, Constance MacKenzie, and her daughter Allison were placed at the dramatic center of the story. Constance (played by 1950s film melodrama star Dorothy Malone) eventually married Allison's father, Elliott Carson, when he was released from prison, though his rival Dr. Michael Rossi was never entirely out of the picture. Meanwhile, Allison (Mia Farrow) was caught up in a romantic triangle with wealthy Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neill) and Betty Anderson (Barbara Parkins), a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Over the course of the series, Betty tricked Rodney, not telling him she had miscarried their child until after they were married; Rodney fled and found love with Allison, but Allison disappeared; Betty was married briefly to lawyer Steven Cord, but finally remarried Rodney. Other soap-operatic plot lines involved Rodney's younger brother Norman Harrington and his marriage to Rita Jacks.

The production schedule was closest to that of daytime soap opera, with no summer hiatus, no repeats, unlike any prime-time American series before or since. Within the first year, the pace was increased to three episodes per week rather than two, going back to two episodes per week in the 1966-67 season as the craze for the show declined. Several of the show's plot twists were necessitated by cast changes. Most notably, Allison MacKenzie's disappearance occurred when Mia Farrow left the series in 1966 for her highly publicized marriage to Frank Sinatra. The program never fully recovered from Farrow's departure, though news of the distant Allison kept the character alive. Some two years later a young woman appeared with a baby she claimed was Allison's--this timed with the release of Mia Farrow's theatrical film, Rosemary's Baby.

In 1968, Peyton Place underwent a transformation. Though some storylines were developed to accommodate more cast changes (Dorothy Malone left the show), many of the changes in the final season seem to have been in response to Goldenson's call for more youthful, "relevant" programming. One of the youthful additions was the leader of a rock group. Most significantly, however, an African-American family--Dr. Harry Miles (Percy Rodriguez), his wife Alma (Ruby Dee), and their teenage son, Lew (Glynn Turman)--assumed a central position in the heretofore all-white Peyton Place. Cut back to one half-hour episode per week, the show also was scheduled a half-hour earlier to appeal further to youthful audiences.

These drastic changes did nothing to revive ratings for the serial, which lasted through the spring of 1969. ABC brought it back for two years in the seventies as a daytime serial, and in 1985, nine of the original cast members appeared in a made-for-TV movie, Peyton Place: The Next Generation.

-Sue Brower

CAST

Constance Mackenzie/Carson (1964-1968) ....................Dorothy Malone  

Allison Mackenzie (1964-1966) ......................Mia Farrow  

Dr. Michael Rossi.......................................... Ed Nelson  

Matthew Swain (1964-1966).................. Warner Anderson

Leslie Harrington (1964-1968) ......................Paul Langton  

Rodney Harrington ...................................... Ryan O'Neal  

Norman Harrington ......................... Christopher Connelly  

Betty Anderson/Harrington/Cord/Harrington ....................................Barbara Parkins

Julie Anderson........................................Kasey Rogers

George Anderson (1964-1965) ................Henry Beckman

Dr. Robert Morton (1964-1965)...................... Kent Smith

Steven Cord.......................................... James Douglas

Hannah Cord (1965-1967)............................ Ruth Warrick

Paul Hanley (1965).................................. Richard Evans

Elliott Carson (1965-1968) .........................Tim O'Connor

Eli Carson .............................................Frank Ferguson

Nurse Choate (1965-1968)................. Erin O'Brien-Moore

Dr. Claire Morton (1965)......................... Mariette Hartley

Dr. Vincent Markham (1965)..................... Leslie Nielsen

Rita Jacks/Harrington (1965-1969).......... Patricia Morrow

Ada Jacks (1965-1969).............................. Evelyn Scott

David Schuster (1965-1966).................. William Smithers

Doris Schuster (1965)..................................... Gail Kobe

Kim Schuster (1965) ...............................Kimberly Beck

Theodore Dowell (1965) ............................Patrick Whyte

Stella Chernak (1965-l968) ..............................Lee Grant

Joe Chernak (1965) .......................................Dan Quine

Gus Chernak (1965-1966) .........................Bruce Gordon

Dr. Russ Gehring (1965-1966) .................... David Canary

John Fowler (1965-1966) ................................. John Kerr

Marian Fowler (1965-1966) ......................Joan Blackman

Martin Peyton (1965-1968) ................... George Macready

Martin Peyton (temporary replacement, 1967) ...................Wilfred Hyde-White

Sandy Webber (1966-1967) ...........................Lana Wood

Chris Webber (1966-1967) .........................Gary Haynes

Lee Webber (1966-1968)......................... Stephen Oliver

Ann Howard (1966) .....................................Susan Oliver

Rachael Welles (1966-1967) .............. Leigh Taylor-Young

Jack Chandler (1966-1967) ......................... John Kellogg

Adrienne Van Leyden (1967) ................... Gena Rowlands

Eddie Jacks (1967-1968) ............................. Dan Duryea

Carolyn Russell (1968-1969) ......Elizabeth "Tippy" Walker

Fred Russell (1968-1969) .............................Joe Maross

Marsha Russell (1968-1969) ......................Barbara Rush

Rev. Tom Winter (1968-1969) ........................ Bob Hogan

Susan Winter (1968-1969) .........................Diana Hyland

Dr. Harry Miles (1968-1969 )....................Percy Rodriguez

Alma Miles (1968-1969) ................................... Ruby Dee

Lew Miles (1968-1969 ).............................. Glynn Turman

Jill Smith/Rossi (1968) .............................. Joyce Jillison

Joe Rossi (1968) ................................ Michael Christian

PRODUCERS

Paul Monash, Everett Chambers, Richard Goldstone, Felix Feist, Richard DeRoy

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

514 Episodes

ABC

September 1964-June 1965   Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:00

June 1965-October 1965   Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 9:30-10:00

November 1965-August 1966   Monday/Tuesday/Thursday 9:30-10:00

September 1966-January 1967   Monday/Wednesday 9:30-10:00

January 1967-August 1967   Monday/Tuesday 9:30-10:00

September 1967-September 1968   Monday/Thursday 9:30-10:00

September 1968-January 1969   Monday 9:00-9:30/Wednesday 8:30-9:00

February 1969-June 1969   Monday 9:00-9:30

FURTHER READING

Litwak, Leo E. "Visit to a Town of the Mind," New York Times Magazine (New York), 4 April 1965.

 

Highlights
Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Peyton Place
Douglas S. Cramer on developing Peyton Place
Jeffrey Hayden on the good-natured relationship he had with star Ryan O'Neal
Ruth Warrick on playing "Hannah Cord" on Peyton Place
Stanford Tischler on the use of long takes on Peyton Place  
Ann Marcus on writing for Peyton Place
Who talked about this show

David Canary

View Interview
David Canary on his first big TV role on Peyton Place, playing Mia Farrow's doctor
David Canary on the format of and what he learned from his time on Peyton Place

Henry Colman

View Interview
Henry Colman on working as an associate producer on Peyton Place

Alexander Courage

View Interview
Alexander Courage on scoring episodes of Peyton Place

Douglas S. Cramer

View Interview
Douglas S. Cramer on developing Peyton Place
Douglas S. Cramer on developing Peyton Place

Ruby Dee

View Interview
Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Peyton Place
Ruby Dee on appearing as a regular on Peyton Place

Lee Grant

View Interview
Lee Grant on being cast on Peyton Place, and on her character, "Stella Chernak"
Lee Grant on her work on Peyton Place, and on working with producer Paul Monash
Lee Grant on working with Ryan O'Neal, who played "Rodney Harrington" on Peyton Place
Lee Grant on the cast of Peyton Place
Lee Grant on winning an Emmy for her performance on Peyton Place
Lee Grant on the popularity of and audience reaction to Peyton Place

Jeffrey Hayden

View Interview
Jeffrey Hayden on the good-natured relationship he had with star Ryan O'Neal
Jeffrey Hayden on his year as one of the rotating directors on Peyton Place
Jeffrey Hayden on how Mia Farrow came to impulsively cut her hair short following an altercation that happened on Peyton Place
Jeffrey Hayden on the ease of shooting Peyton Place for Hayden due to the closeness of the studio and its vast resources
Jeffrey Hayden on the ease of shooting Peyton Place for him due to the closeness of the studio and its vast resources

Rita Lakin

View Interview
Rita Lakin on becoming a staff writer for Peyton Place, and on producer Paul Monash
Rita Lakin on Mia Farrow cutting her hair during the run of Peyton Place, and on networks notes and leaving the show
Rita Lakin on writing Peyton Place: The Next Generation, and on the legacy of Peyton Place

Ann Marcus

View Interview
Ann Marcus on writing for Peyton Place
Ann Marcus on how she came to write for Peyton Place

Paul Monash

View Interview
Paul Monash on dealing with Standards & Practices on Peyton Place, and on planning the stories of the show
Paul Monash on creating Peyton Place for television
Paul Monash on juggling several characters on Peyton Place, and on later additions to the cast
Paul Monash on casting Mia Farrow as "Alison MacKenzie" on Peyton Place, and on the concept of the show
Paul Monash on declining to bring Irna Phillips on to Peyton Place
Paul Monash on Peyton Place being groundbreaking in terms of being the first nighttime serial
Paul Monash on the subject matter of Peyton Place
Paul Monash on the casting of Peyton Place, and on losing Mia Farrow
Paul Monash on initial reaction to Peyton Place, and on the budget of the show
Paul Monash on trying new things later in the run of Peyton Place, and on the production process of the show
Paul Monash on the cast of Peyton Place
Paul Monash on the end of Peyton Place, and on the legacy of the show

Thomas W. Moore

View Interview
Thomas W. Moore on programming and developing Peyton Place, and on ABC dealing with the advent of color

Del Reisman

View Interview
Del Reisman on being associate producer on Peyton Place for executive producer Paul Monash
Del Reisman on the storylines and cast of Peyton Place, including Mia Farrow
Del Reisman on writing the final episode of Peyton Place
Del Reisman on working on the presentation for the daytime version of Peyton Place
Del Reisman on writing the network presentation for the daytime version of Peyton Place, and on the show bible

William Self

View Interview
William Self on developing Peyton Place

Dick Stiles

View Interview
Dick Stiles on acting as assistant art director for Peyton Place

Stanford Tischler

View Interview
Stanford Tischler on the use of long takes on Peyton Place  
Stanford Tischler on being hired on Peyton Place after turning to real estate when he was out of work
Stanford Tischler on editing Peyton Place and working with writer/producer Paul Monash
Stanford Tischler on how the racy reputation of Peyton Place lost his daughter one of her friends
Stanford Tischler on the failure of the TV movie Peyton Place: The Next Generation

Ruth Warrick

View Interview
Ruth Warrick on playing "Hannah Cord" on Peyton Place
Ruth Warrick on playing "Hannah Cord" on Peyton Place
Ruth Warrick on being nominated for an Emmy for Peyton Place

All Shows

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
J
L
M
P
R
S
T
W