Reverend Tom Holvak and his family--wife Elizabeth, teenage son Ramey and young daughter Julie Mae--battled to survive the Depression in the Deep South, sometimes with their love for each other as their only defense. Being the religious head of their Tennessee town wasn't enough to keep food on the table, so Tom farmed a small piece of land owned by the church to get by. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
Commemorating "The Family Holvak" television series on its golden 40th anniversary
Two-time Oscar nominated actor Glenn Ford starred in two different television series that were four years apart during the 1970's. First he starred as a Midwest sheriff in the crime drama/detective series "Cade's County" that lasted two seasons. On November 4, 1974, NBC aired the made for television movie titled "The Greatest Gift" that was based on the 1953 novel "Ramey" by Jack Farris and was based in the depression era 1930's of the Deep South about humble preacher(Glenn Ford)along with his wife(Julie Harris)and son(Lance Kerwin)facing the injustices and conflicts while keeping the simple family values. The NBC Movie Special was an immediate hit bringing Emmy nominations for both Glenn Ford and Julie Harris. It was so successful that the network gave the green light for a weekly series titled "The Family Holvak" which was the network's answer to CBS' "The Waltons" and at the time the producers attempt to cash in on a slew of wholesome family dramas that were all over the place during the mid-1970's.
"The Family Holvak" was produced by the team of Richard Collins, Roland Kibbee and Dean Hargrove(most basically responsible for their work on the Universal produced television shows including "Ironside", "The Name of the Game", "Columbo", "It Takes A Thief","McHale's Navy" and "The Six Million Dollar Man" just to name a few). "The Family Holvak" was NBC's attempt to cash in quick on another family drama after the astounding success of "Little House on the Prairie" which premiered in 1974, a year before this show aired. Interesting point here. The short-lived "The Family Holvak" was placed on NBC's Sunday night slot in prime time where it was sandwiched between "The Wonderful World of Disney",and "The NBC Mystery Movies" thinking that it would be a success. The series premiered on September 7, 1975 and lasted only four months on the air producing 10 episodes until December 28,1975. The reason why it didn't last very long? And why did NBC move this drama into a different time slot? First off, NBC put this wholesome family drama opposite on Sunday nights "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour", and "The Six Million Dollar Man" which clobbered it in the ratings.
As a series it had great potential bringing on board big time directors ranging from Alf Kjellin, John Newland, Ralph Senensky, George Sherman, Corey Allen, Vincent Sherman, and Christian Nyby. Great writers ranging from Richard Fielder, to Stanley Roberts and Jerry DeBono contribute to some of the episodes. Only actors Glenn Ford, Julie Harris, Lance Kerwin and Elizabeth Cheshire stayed on throughout the series entire short- lived run. The guest star roster included David Carradine, Michael Conrad, Mary Alice, John Anderson, Dirk Blocker, Julie Sommars, Fran Ryan, Kenneth Tobey, Arlene Golonka, Denver Pyle, Cliff Potts, Charles Lane, and Clint Ritchie just to name a few. Several episodes from this series do stand out even though it was short-lived. "The Long Way Home" was a two-part episode that was basically the pilot from the made from TV-Movie "The Greatest Gift". Other episodes include another two-part episode "First Love",along with "Remembrance of a Guest", the emotional heart-tuggler episode "The Tribute", "The Willing Heart",and the final episode of the series "The Wedding". When "The Family Holvak" television series was canceled on December 28, 1975, the powers that be decided at NBC to replaced the series with the expansion of "The NBC Mystery Movies" that went from two to three hours on that Sunday night time slot. This was a grand series but if Universal can put out the entire five seasons of "The Six Million Dollar Man",and the entire eight seasons of "Columbo" than "The Family Holvak" deserves that status on DVD as well. For die-hard fans of Glenn Ford it should be a tribute.
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