Father Murphy

Father Murphy

About Father Murphy

 (1981-1983, NBC) 

Television icon Michael Landon created this family Western drama set in the Dakota Territory in the 1870s. 


When a greedy businessman (Burr DeBenning) dynamites a prospecting camp, he leaves two dozen children parentless. Before they can can be shipped off to the territorial workhouse by heartless officials, survivors John Michael Murphy (Merlin Olsen) and Moses Gage (Moses Gunn) and schoolmarm Mae Woodward (Katherine Cannon) concoct a plan: they’ll educate and house the kids in the saloon of the abandoned Gold Hill mining camp — with Murphy posing as a priest to keep it all legit.  


Retired NFL superstar Olsen is perfectly cast as gentle giant Murphy, himself orphaned as a young boy. Tony-nominated stage actor Gunn is excellent as Moses, a former slave tentatively navigating a changing landscape in the aftermath of the Civil War. Timothy Gibbs is a standout as the reformed street hustler Will and the supporting cast is filled with future child stars (like Shannen Doherty) in early roles.  


Creator and executive producer Landon played a hands-on role in the series, writing and directing many episodes (though he does not appear). The premise shifts in season two, when Murphy and Mae marry after his identity is revealed, but the stories are still just as heartwarming.  


Notable guest stars: Jack Elam, Dub Taylor, Pat Buttram, Douglas Fowley, Wilfred Hyde-White, John Fiedler, James Cromwell, Robert Cornthwaite, Parley Baer, Mykelti Williamson, Kellie Martin, Tina Yothers, Christina Applegate, Tracey Gold, Jenny Beck, Donna Wilkes, Michael Pataki, Fran Ryan, Corey Feldman, Mitzi Hoag, Christopher Stone, Peter Haskell, Ralph Taeger


Created by Michael Landon. Music by David Rose (Emmy nominee). 



Merlin Olsen, Moses Gunn, Katherine Cannon, Timothy Gibbs, Lisa Trusel, Scott Mellini, Charles Tyner, Ivy Bethune, Burr DeBenning, Warren Munson, Kirk Brennan, Byron Thames, Chez Lister


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