The Americans (1961 TV series)

This article is about the 1961 NBC show. For the FX series, see The Americans (2013 TV series). For other uses, see The Americans.
The Americans
Genre Drama
Starring Darryl Hickman
Richard Davalos
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 17
Executive producer(s) Frank Telford
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 44 mins.
Original network NBC
Picture format Black and white
Audio format Monaural
Original release January 23 (1961-01-23) – May 15, 1961 (1961-05-15)

The Americans is a 17-episode American drama television series that aired on NBC from January to May 1961. Set during the American Civil War, the series focuses on two brothers fighting on opposite sides of the conflict. Guest stars included Lee Marvin, Jack Elam, Brian Keith, Kathleen Crowley and Robert Redford, among many others.


The series was inspired by James Warner Bellah's 1953 novel The Valiant Virginians which was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post as Tales of the Valorous Virginians from May 9, 1953 through June 10, 1954.[1] The novel is an arc of separate stories on the impact of the war on the young men fighting it. The series characters are Ben Canfield (United States of America) and Jeff Canfield (Confederate States of America).


The series was part of the United States' commemoration of the centennial of the beginning of the Civil War. It aired as a mid-season replacement[2] for the canceled western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin and Noah Beery, Jr., broadcast in the 7:30–8:30 p.m. timeslot on Monday evenings.

Ben Canfield was played by Darryl Hickman, older brother of actor Dwayne Hickman; Richard Davalos played Jeff Canfield; Davalos had portrayed James Dean's character's brother in East of Eden. Hickman and Davalos were the only actors who appeared in every episode of the series. Most of the supporting cast appear in only a single episode though several actors played the same role in more than one episode:

Among the more well-known actors to appear in this series were the following:

Lee Marvin, Robert Redford, Jack Elam, Brian Keith, Robert Culp, Jack Lord, Michael Rennie, Nina Foch, Dan O'Herlihy, James Franciscus, Susan Oliver, Ray Walston, Lloyd Bochner, Dick York, Jackie Coogan, L.Q. Jones, and Carroll O'Connor.

Seventeen one-hour episodes were broadcast, although either twenty-one or twenty-six episodes were filmed.[2] Episodes were written by, among others, John Gay (screenwriter for the film Run Silent Run Deep and of many television adaptions of literary classics), William D. Gordon (who also acted in at least one episode), Andy Lewis (writer of the movie Klute), Carey Wilber (writer of the Star Trek episode Space Seed), and Pat Falken Smith (head writer in the 1970s and 1980s for the soap operas Days of Our Lives and General Hospital). Music for the series was created by composers Bernard Herrmann and Hugo Friedhofer. Henry Steele Commager was the historical consultant.

A tie-in novel called The Americans, written by Donald Honig, was released in paperback by Popular Library publishers in 1961.[3][4]


First-run episodes of the series aired January 23, 1961 through May 15, 1961; repeats aired from May 22 through September 11, 1961.


  1. York, Neil Longely (2001) "Fiction As Fact: The Horse Soldiers and Popular Memory" Kent State University Press ISBN 0-87338-688-4, page 157 (Footnote 27)
  2. 1 2 The Americans webpage of the Classic Television Archive website
  3. Honig, Donald (1961) "The Americans" Popular Library ASIN B000MH5BVE
  4. The Americans, by Donald Honig webpage in the Amazon book section
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