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"The Greatest American Hero"
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"The Greatest American Hero" (1981) More at IMDbPro »TV series 1981-1983

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The Greatest American Hero: :  -- Clip: Striking out a major leaguer
The Greatest American Hero: :  -- Clip: Opening sequence
The Greatest American Hero: :  -- A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.
The Greatest American Hero: :  -- A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control.


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7.3/10   2,429 votes »
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Release Date:
18 March 1981 (USA) See more »
A teacher is asked to be a superhero using a special alien suit with powers he can barely understand or control. Full summary »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 4 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 4 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
So much potential wasted…with one of the greatest American theme songs EVER… See more (55 total) »


 (Series Cast Summary - 7 of 72)

William Katt ... Ralph Hinkley / ... (44 episodes, 1981-1986)

Robert Culp ... Bill Maxwell (44 episodes, 1981-1986)

Connie Sellecca ... Pam Davidson / ... (41 episodes, 1981-1986)
Don Cervantes ... Paco Rodriguez (23 episodes, 1981-1983)

Faye Grant ... Rhonda Blake (22 episodes, 1981-1982)

Michael Paré ... Tony Villicana (21 episodes, 1981-1983)

Jesse D. Goins ... Cyler Johnson / ... (19 episodes, 1981-1983)

Series Directed by
Arnold Laven (7 episodes, 1981-1983)
Ivan Dixon (6 episodes, 1981-1983)
Rod Holcomb (6 episodes, 1981-1982)
Bruce Kessler (5 episodes, 1981-1983)
Robert C. Thompson (4 episodes, 1981-1982)
Lawrence Doheny (2 episodes, 1981-1982)
Gabrielle Beaumont (2 episodes, 1981)
Chuck Bowman (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
Robert Culp (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
Sidney Hayers (2 episodes, 1982)
Christian I. Nyby II (2 episodes, 1983)
Series Writing credits
Stephen J. Cannell (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
Frank Lupo (10 episodes, 1981-1983)
Patrick Hasburgh (7 episodes, 1982-1983)
Juanita Bartlett (5 episodes, 1981)
Babs Greyhosky (5 episodes, 1982-1986)
Rudolph Borchert (3 episodes, 1982-1983)
Danny Lee Cole (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
Robert Culp (2 episodes, 1982-1983)
J. Duncan Ray (2 episodes, 1982-1983)

Jeff Ray (unknown episodes)

Series Produced by
Stephen J. Cannell .... executive producer (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
Christopher Nelson .... associate producer / producer / ... (33 episodes, 1981-1986)
Juanita Bartlett .... co-executive producer (30 episodes, 1980-1983)
Frank Lupo .... producer / supervising producer (25 episodes, 1981-1986)
Jo Swerling Jr. .... supervising producer / co-executive producer (19 episodes, 1981-1986)
Gary Winter .... associate producer (11 episodes, 1982-1983)
Alex Beaton .... producer (8 episodes, 1980-1981)
Babs Greyhosky .... producer (7 episodes, 1982-1986)
Series Original Music by
Pete Carpenter (44 episodes, 1981-1986)
Mike Post (44 episodes, 1981-1986)

Garry Schyman (unknown episodes)
Series Cinematography by
Jacques R. Marquette (20 episodes, 1981-1983)
Héctor R. Figueroa (7 episodes, 1981)
Series Film Editing by
Michael T. Elias (7 episodes, 1982-1983)
John Elias (6 episodes, 1981-1983)
Rod Stephens (6 episodes, 1981-1982)
Gloryette Clark (4 episodes, 1981-1982)
Edilberto Cruz (2 episodes, 1981)
Patrick M. Ryan (2 episodes, 1981)

John Carrol (unknown episodes)
Mario Di Mambro (unknown episodes)
Dave Goldson (unknown episodes)
Series Casting by
Reuben Cannon (26 episodes, 1981-1983)
Series Art Direction by
John D. Jefferies Sr. (26 episodes, 1981-1983)
Series Set Decoration by
Lowell Chambers (14 episodes, 1981-1982)
Sam Gross (7 episodes, 1981)
Robert L. Zilliox (3 episodes, 1983)
Richard J. DeCinces (2 episodes, 1982)
Series Costume Design by
Jean-Pierre Dorléac (26 episodes, 1981-1983)
Kent Warner (20 episodes, 1981-1983)
Series Makeup Department
John Inzerella .... makeup artist (27 episodes, 1981-1986)
Suzan Bagdadi .... hair stylist (26 episodes, 1981-1983)
Series Production Management
Ronald R. Grow .... unit production manager / production manager (20 episodes, 1981-1982)
Michael J. Maschio .... executive production manager / production manager / ... (7 episodes, 1982-1983)
Larry Powell .... unit production manager (5 episodes, 1982-1983)
Gary Winter .... post-production supervisor (2 episodes, 1982)
Series Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Stephen Sassen .... second assistant director / first assistant director (23 episodes, 1981-1983)
Beau Marks .... first assistant director (9 episodes, 1981-1982)
Bob Bender .... first assistant director (5 episodes, 1981-1982)
Chip Chalmers .... second assistant director (5 episodes, 1982-1983)
Lindsley Parsons III .... first assistant director (2 episodes, 1981)
Richard W. Abramitis .... second assistant director (2 episodes, 1982)
Christopher Hibler .... first assistant director (2 episodes, 1982)
Series Art Department
George Tuers .... property master (20 episodes, 1981-1982)
Bob Skemp .... greensman (15 episodes, 1981)
Pat Moudakis .... property master (7 episodes, 1982-1983)

Kenneth Milfred .... set dresser (unknown episodes)
Series Sound Department
'Fast' Eddie Mahler .... sound mixer (19 episodes, 1981-1983)
Jack C. May .... director of post production sound / director of sound post-production / ... (18 episodes, 1981-1982)
Louis C. Williman .... sound mixer (7 episodes, 1981)
Series Special Effects by
John Coles .... special effects (20 episodes, 1981-1982)
Al Di Sarro .... special effects (7 episodes, 1982-1983)

Frank Ceglia .... special effects technician (unknown episodes)
Ken Speed .... special effects assistant (unknown episodes)
Series Visual Effects by
Alex Funke .... visual effects director of photography (8 episodes, 1981)
Series Stunts
Dennis Madalone .... stunt coordinator (27 episodes, 1981-1983)

Kenny Bates .... stunts (unknown episodes)
Tony Brubaker .... stunts (unknown episodes)
Gene LeBell .... stunts (unknown episodes)
Tony Snegoff .... stunt rigger (unknown episodes)
Series Camera and Electrical Department
Robert Blair .... key grip (19 episodes, 1981-1983)
Michael Schuyler .... gaffer (19 episodes, 1981-1983)
Steve Stafford .... camera operator (16 episodes, 1982-1983)
John Kiser .... camera operator (12 episodes, 1981-1982)
Jack N. Green .... camera operator (7 episodes, 1981)
Sal Orefice .... gaffer (7 episodes, 1981)
Bob Rust .... key grip (7 episodes, 1981)

John Earl Burnett .... second assistant camera: second unit (unknown episodes)
Jim Marquette .... assistant camera (unknown episodes)
Michael R. Marquette .... assistant camera (unknown episodes)
Stan McClain .... assistant camera: aerial unit (unknown episodes)
David Morton .... electrician (unknown episodes)
Series Casting Department
Victoria Tarazi .... casting assistant (15 episodes, 1981)
Series Costume and Wardrobe Department
David Rawley .... costume supervisor / wardrobe: men (21 episodes, 1981-1982)
Gregory B. Peña .... daily set costumer (8 episodes, 1981)
Marie Brown .... wardrobe: women (6 episodes, 1981)
Lorry Richter .... costume supervisor (4 episodes, 1982-1983)
Series Editorial Department
Jimmy Giritlian .... assistant editor (1 episode, 1981)
Dave Goldson .... assistant editor (1 episode, 1981)
Rod Stephens .... additional editor (1 episode, 1981)
Gary Winter .... post production supervisor (1 episode, 1982)
Series Music Department
Stephen Geyer .... lyricist: theme music / composer: theme music / ... (43 episodes, 1981-1983)
Mike Post .... composer: theme music (43 episodes, 1981-1983)
Joey Scarbury .... singer: theme music / singer: main title theme (43 episodes, 1981-1983)
John Caper Jr. .... music editor / music coordinator / ... (29 episodes, 1981-1986)

Andy D'Addario .... music scoring mixer (unknown episodes)
Series Transportation Department
Ronald Stinton .... transportation coordinator (22 episodes, 1981-1982)
Marlo Hellerstein .... transportation coordinator (5 episodes, 1982-1983)
Series Other crew
Rosemarie Abelson .... production coordinator / staff coordinator (27 episodes, 1981-1983)
Joan Etchells .... production accountant (27 episodes, 1981-1983)
Patrick Hasburgh .... staff consultant / creative consultant / ... (23 episodes, 1981-1983)
Grace Curcio .... assistant to producers / assistant to producer / ... (21 episodes, 1981-1986)
Suzi Alter .... script supervisor (14 episodes, 1981-1982)
Ralph Alderman .... location manager (12 episodes, 1981-1986)
Jimmy Giritlian .... coordinator of composite flying (11 episodes, 1981-1982)
Rosemarie Clemente-Johnstone .... script supervisor (7 episodes, 1981)
W. Paul Henley .... location manager (4 episodes, 1981-1982)
Joanna Guzzetta .... location manager (4 episodes, 1981)
Stephen Dorsch .... script supervisor (3 episodes, 1983)
Jane Wilson .... production coordinator (3 episodes, 1983)
Pamela Alch .... script supervisor (2 episodes, 1982)

Daniel Cameron .... security officer (unknown episodes)

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
60 min | USA:30 min (43 episodes)
Aspect Ratio:
1.33 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Although DC Comics tried to sue the producers for copying Superman, the show's premise is closer to that of another DC Comics character, Green Lantern, who was given a power ring by an alien to become a superhero.See more »
Ralph Hinkley:It's a bird. It's a plane. It's...
Ralph Hinkley:Ralph Hinkley.
See more »
Believe It or NotSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
36 out of 40 people found the following review useful.
So much potential wasted…with one of the greatest American theme songs EVER…, 7 February 2002
Author: 14jade

`The Greatest American Hero' is a textbook case of a television show being a victim of `the powers that be.' I was in grade school during the time of its run, but I remember most of the behind the scenes drama. Though its initial debut was well received, it wasn't long before the show met an ill-fated course. First, it was an unfortunate victim of the 1981 Reagan assassination attempt, resulting in the horrific `Hinkley/Hanley' overdub. This event, followed by constant time changes, late season debuts, pre-empts, and the never-ending lawsuit with Warner Brothers and DC comics over its supposed `Superman-like' premise, kept it from reaching its full potential with viewers. Then, like those aliens in the desert, the show disappeared without a trace.

There are several theories as to why this show never reached its full potential. I personally think Warner Brothers and DC Comics made ABC executives nervous, hence the delays and time changes. While I can certainly understand their motives (the Superman movies were popular at the time) I considered each character to be a separate entity. I never thought William Katt was an exact clone of Christopher (or George, for that matter) Reeve's famous role. Superman (I thought) was a strong, supernatural hero from another planet who masqueraded as a human being. The Greatest American Hero was just an ordinary guy who stumbled upon good fortune and tried to utilize it in the best way he could to help mankind. It could have been anyone that night instead of Ralph Hinkley, for all we know (the lyrics of the theme song attempted to explain this). Katt simply provided a handsome, lovable example of the `imperfect hero.'

My mother and sister absolutely loved this show. I was the youngest, so I watched it mostly because they did! `The Greatest American Hero' did grow on me, though…so I, too, have fond memories. I was in love with the theme song, however, from the debut! Even if you didn't like the show, you have to admit that the theme song, `Believe It Or Not,' sung by Joey Scarbury, is one of the greatest of all time. The earlier comments were correct. `Believe It Or Not' is awesome.

Absolutely awesome!

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