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Chapter I 

A true rags-to-riches-story about Joseph Armagh who comes to New York with the clothes on his back, and his struggle to achieves riches and a position in society.


Douglas Heyes


Taylor Caldwell (novel), Stephen Karpf (adaptation) | 2 more credits »


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Jordan ... Joseph Armagh
Ray Bolger ... R.J. Squibbs
Neville Brand ... O'Herlihy
John Carradine ... Father Hale
Katherine Crawford ... Moira Armagh
Peter Donat ... Clair Montrose
Charles Durning ... Ed Healey
Celeste Holm ... Sister Angela
Harvey Jason ... Harry Zieff
Joe Kapp ... Strickland
Vic Morrow ... Tom Hennessey
Barbara Parkins ... Martinique
Joanna Pettet ... Katherine Hennessey
Ann Sothern ... Mrs. Finch
Beverly D'Angelo ... Miss Emmy


Joseph Francis Xavier Armagh and his two younger siblings Sean and Mary escape a ship on the harbor of New York. The situation ashore is problematic, jobs are scarce and food equally scarce. Aboard the ship their mother has died from disease, but they have a hope; their father is in Philadelphia awaiting them. The siblings run away, and discovers their father to be dead to, and young teenager Joseph places his siblings in an Orphanage while he himself goes to make money, become rich and get them out of poverty. The first episode follows Joseph for a few years through a series of struggles, and how he starts earning his first dollars and setting off into speculation in oil, together with his new-won friend, the Lebanese Haroun Al-Zieff (later: Harry Seff). The beginnings of a true rags-to-riches-story. Written by Lars-Toralf Storstrand

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Release Date:

30 September 1976 (USA) See more »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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User Reviews

Richard Jordan and John Carradine
18 June 2017 | by kevinolzakSee all my reviews

CAPTAINS AND THE KINGS set the template for future TV miniseries such as ROOTS and THE BASTARD, gathering together a cast of beloved veterans and intriguing newcomers in a historical fiction designed to keep audiences coming back for the next installment. Taylor Caldwell's 1972 best seller gets the sprawling treatment, broadcast over 8 weekly installments, from Sept 30-Nov 25 1976, exactly two months of gripping melodrama. We open with the teenaged Joseph Armagh watching his ailing mother die as their ship sits in New York Harbor in 1857, forced to return to Ireland due to America's intolerance for the Irish. With his younger brother and sister, Joseph secretly departs the vessel by night into the water, only to find their father's home in Philadelphia, he too deceased from pneumonia. Now determined to keep his promise to his mother to always look after his siblings, Joseph leaves them safely in the care of an orphanage run by Sister Angela (Celeste Holm), as the boy mines during the week while building a personal nest egg running liquor on Sundays for R.J. Squibbs (Ray Bolger). Four year later, at the dawn of the Civil War, the now adult Joseph (Richard Jordan) is ready to 'borrow' an investment from Squibbs to form his own company in Titusville with the help of companion Harry Zieff (Harvey Jason) and wealthy entrepreneur (and fellow Irishman) Ed Healey (Charles Durning). Ann Sothern and Neville Brand get little more than cameos, Vic Morrow again in unsympathetic mode, Joanna Pettet, Barbara Parkins, and newcomer Beverly D'Angelo (in a literally smashing debut performance) providing eye candy galore. Veteran scene stealer John Carradine kicks things off as Father Hale, whose attempts to comfort young Joseph in the wake of his mother's death are met with steely determination, a fine though brief character study for an actor so often reduced to low budget roles at this stage of his lengthy career.

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