Rich Man, Poor Man is a 1976 American television miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Irwin Shaw that aired on ABC in one or two hour episodes mostly on Monday nights over seven weeks, beginning February 1. It was produced by Universal Television and was the second time programming of this nature had been attempted. The first TV miniseries, QB VII, had aired — also on ABC — in 1974. These projects proved to be a critical and ratings success and were the forerunner for similar projects based on literary works, such as Roots. The film stars Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte and Susan Blakely.
It spawned the sequel Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, which aired from September 1976 through March 1977. The network repeated the original series Tuesday nights at 9:00pm from May to June 1977.
Based on the best-selling 1970 novel by Irwin Shaw, it spanned the period from 1945 through the late 1960s and followed the divergent career courses of the impoverished German American Jordache brothers. Rudy (Peter Strauss) was the rich man of the title, a well-educated and very ambitious entrepreneur who triumphed over his background and constructed a corporate and political empire. Poor man Tom (Nick Nolte) was a rebel who eventually turned to boxing to support himself. Axel and Mary were their parents, and Julie Prescott was Rudy's lifelong sweetheart who eventually married him.
Dean Riesner wrote all twelve episodes, and direction was shared by Bill Bixby, David Greene, and Boris Sagal. The musical score was composed by Alex North, who was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special.