Mr. Novak

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Mr. Novak
James Franciscus Dean Jagger Mr. Novak 1964.JPG
James Franciscus as Mr. Novak and Dean Jagger as Principal Albert Vane.
Genre Drama
Created by E. Jack Neuman
Starring James Franciscus
Dean Jagger
Burgess Meredith
Opening theme Lyn Murray
Composer Leith Stevens
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes60
Executive producerE. Jack Neuman
ProducerJoseph Calvelli
Running time48 mins.
Production company MGM Television
Original network NBC
Picture format Black-and-white
Audio format Monaural
Original releaseSeptember 24, 1963 (1963-09-24) 
April 27, 1965 (1965-04-27)

Mr. Novak is an American television dramatic series starring James Franciscus in the title role as a high school teacher. The series aired on NBC for two seasons, from 1963 to 1965. It won a Peabody Award in 1963. [1]



The series follows John Novak, an idealistic first-year English teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, who often gets involved in the lives of his students and fellow teachers. James Franciscus, who plays Mr. Novak, previously appeared in Naked City (Episode: "Hey Teach") as an undercover homicide detective playing a high school teacher in a bad school. Principal Albert Vane was played by Dean Jagger; he was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1964 and 1965 for his performance. Jagger left the series in 1964 after forty-four episodes, and it was explained that his character was elected California Superintendent of Public Instruction; Burgess Meredith played the new principal, Martin Woodridge, for the remaining seventeen episodes. The series showcased many popular actors of the time, including Martin Landau, Walter Koenig, Beau Bridges, Tony Dow, Ed Asner, June Lockhart, Sherry Jackson, and many others. This trendsetting show was the first to depict both teachers and students in a dramatic and realistic manner and was very influential on the educational community. Many cutting-edge themes were showcased, including racial discrimination, cheating on exams, anti-Semitism, alcoholism, dropouts, drug abuse, and political extremism. In its two-year run, the program won over 47 awards from various educational institutions, including the National Education Association, and was the recipient of a prestigious Peabody Award for excellence. [2]



Season 1: 1963–64

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"First Year, First Day"TBATBASeptember 24, 1963 (1963-09-24)
22"To Lodge and Dislodge"TBATBAOctober 1, 1963 (1963-10-01)
33"I Don't Even Live Here"TBATBAOctober 8, 1963 (1963-10-08)
44"X is the Known Factor"TBATBAOctober 15, 1963 (1963-10-15)
55"A Single, Isolated Incident"Abner BibermanE. Jack NeumanOctober 22, 1963 (1963-10-22)
66"The Risk"TBATBAOctober 29, 1963 (1963-10-29)
77"Hello, Miss Phipps"TBATBANovember 5, 1963 (1963-11-05)
88"To Break a Camel's Back"TBATBANovember 12, 1963 (1963-11-12)
99"A Feeling for Friday"TBATBANovember 19, 1963 (1963-11-19)
1010"Pay the Two Dollars"TBATBANovember 26, 1963 (1963-11-26)
1111"Love in the Wrong Seasons"TBATBADecember 3, 1963 (1963-12-03)
1212"The Boy Without a Country"TBATBADecember 10, 1963 (1963-12-10)
1313"A Thousand Voices"TBATBADecember 17, 1963 (1963-12-17)
1414"My Name is Not Legion"TBATBADecember 24, 1963 (1963-12-24)
1515"He Who Can Does"TBATBADecember 31, 1963 (1963-12-31)
1616"Song of Songs"TBATBAJanuary 7, 1964 (1964-01-07)
1717"The Exile"TBATBAJanuary 14, 1964 (1964-01-14)
1818"Sparrow on the Wire"TBATBAJanuary 21, 1964 (1964-01-21)
1919"The Private Life of Douglas Morgan, Jr."Richard DonnerMargaret and Paul SchneiderJanuary 28, 1964 (1964-01-28)
2020"Death of a Teacher"TBATBAFebruary 4, 1964 (1964-02-04)
2121"I'm on the Outside"TBATBAFebruary 11, 1964 (1964-02-11)
2222"Chin Up, Mr. Novak"TBATBAFebruary 18, 1964 (1964-02-18)
2323"Fear is a Handful of Dust"TBATBAFebruary 25, 1964 (1964-02-25)
2424"How Does Your Garden Grow?"TBATBAMarch 3, 1964 (1964-03-03)
2525"The Tower"TBATBAMarch 10, 1964 (1964-03-10)
2626"One Way to Say Goodbye"TBATBAMarch 17, 1964 (1964-03-17)
2727"Day in the Year"TBATBAMarch 24, 1964 (1964-03-24)
2828"Moment Without Armor"TBATBAMarch 31, 1964 (1964-03-31)
2929"Fare Thee Well"TBATBAApril 7, 1964 (1964-04-07)
3030"The Senior Prom"TBATBAApril 14, 1964 (1964-04-14)

Season 2: 1964–65

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
311"Moonlighting"TBAStory by: John Ryan
Teleplay by: Meyer Dolinsky
September 22, 1964 (1964-09-22)
322"With a Hammer in His Hand, Lord, Lord!"Allen ReisnerJohn D.F. BlackSeptember 29, 1964 (1964-09-29)
333"Visions of Sugar Plums"Paul WendkosJoseph CalvelliOctober 6, 1964 (1964-10-06)
344"Little Girl Lost"Paul WendkosBetty UliusOctober 20, 1964 (1964-10-20)
355"One Monday Afternoon"Paul WendkosMel Goldberg & Herman GrovesOctober 27, 1964 (1964-10-27)
366"Let's Dig a Little Grammar"TBAMel GoldbergNovember 10, 1964 (1964-11-10)
377"The People Doll: You Wind It Up and It Makes Mistakes"TBATBANovember 17, 1964 (1964-11-17)
388"Boy Under Glass"TBATBANovember 24, 1964 (1964-11-24)
399"Born of Kings and Angels"TBATBADecember 1, 1964 (1964-12-01)
4010"A as in Anxiety"TBATBADecember 8, 1964 (1964-12-08)
4111"Johnny Ride the Pony"TBATBADecember 15, 1964 (1964-12-15)
4212"Beyond a Reasonable Doubt"TBATBADecember 22, 1964 (1964-12-22)
4313"Love Among the Grown-Ups"TBATBADecember 29, 1964 (1964-12-29)
4414"From the Brow of Zeus"TBATBAJanuary 5, 1965 (1965-01-05)
4515"An Elephant is Like a Tree"TBATBAJanuary 12, 1965 (1965-01-12)
4616"Enter a Strange Animal"TBATBAJanuary 19, 1965 (1965-01-19)
4717"Beat the Plowshares, Edge the Sword"Alvin GanzerGilbert RalstonJanuary 26, 1965 (1965-01-26)
4818"Faculty Follies: Part 1"TBATBAFebruary 2, 1965 (1965-02-02)
4919"Faculty Follies: Part 2"TBATBAFebruary 9, 1965 (1965-02-09)
5020"The Silent Dissauders"TBABetty UliusFebruary 16, 1965 (1965-02-16)
5121"Mountains to Climb"Paul WendkosStory by: Roland Wolpert
Teleplay by: Roland Wolpert & John D.F. Black
February 23, 1965 (1965-02-23)
5222"May Day, May Day"Ida LupinoStory by: John D.F. Black & Donald Michael Platt
Teleplay by: John D.F. Black
March 2, 1965 (1965-03-02)
5323"Where is There to Go, Billie, But Up?"Abner BibermanStory by: Herman Groves & Mel Goldberg
Teleplay by: Mel Goldberg
March 9, 1965 (1965-03-09)
5424"The Tender Twigs"Joseph SargentStory by: Robert Presnell Jr.
Teleplay by: Robert Presnell Jr. & Mel Goldberg
March 16, 1965 (1965-03-16)
5525"Honor and All That"TBATBAMarch 23, 1965 (1965-03-23)
5626"The Student Who Never Was"TBATBAMarch 30, 1965 (1965-03-30)
5727"There's a Penguin in My Garden"TBATBAApril 6, 1965 (1965-04-06)
5828"The Firebrand"TBATBAApril 13, 1965 (1965-04-13)
5929"And Then I Wrote..."TBATBAApril 20, 1965 (1965-04-20)
6030"Once a Clown"TBATBAApril 27, 1965 (1965-04-27)


The school seen in Mr. Novak duplicated Los Angeles' John Marshall High School "complete to walks, shrubs, and parking." [3] After using the school itself for the pilot, the duplicate was built at the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios, the "largest permanent set to be constructed [there] in a number of years." [3] The complete set filled an acre at the studio. Other construction on the MGM sound stages included duplicates of corridors and classrooms. [3] Exteriors for the fictional Jefferson High School were filmed at both John Marshall High School and Hamilton High School near Culver City. [2]

Guest stars

Production notes

The show, produced by MGM Television, was broadcast on Tuesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. (Eastern time). In its first season, Mr. Novak's principal competition was the ABC series Combat! , and the second half of the hour-long The Red Skelton Show on CBS. In the second season, the competition was still Combat! on ABC, and the documentary series World War One on CBS. Skelton was moved a half-hour later in December 1964.

The series was created by producer/writer E. Jack Neuman and director Boris Sagal and featured top directors such as Richard Donner. [2]

Home media

Warner Archives released Season 1 of the series on DVD on November 6, 2018. Prints were made from the original 35mm camera negatives.

A soundtrack music album was released on MGM Records (E/SE-4222) in 1964, under the direction if Nick Venet.

Book Release

“Mr. Novak An Acclaimed Television Series” by Chuck Harter was published by in October 2017 and is a comprehensive examination of the show.

See also

Room 222

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  1. "The Peabody Awards - Mr. Novak (NBC)". Peabody Awards . Retrieved September 8, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 Harter, Chuck. Mr. Novak an Acclaimed Television Series. Bear Manor Media, 2017.
  3. 1 2 3 "Dillar a dollar, an NBC Scholar" (PDF). Sponsor Magazine. 17 (24): 59. June 17, 1963. Retrieved February 27, 2015.