Tuesday, February 1, 2011


The television series I'll Fly Away has remained with me since it aired in 1991. It was set in the late 1950's and early 1960's and aired for two seasons on NBC from 1991 to 1993. Then like many intelligent TV USA shows on the three networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) it was cancelled, short-changing people like me. PBS aired the episodes again, but only once. PBS also apparently sponsored a 2 hour wrap up of the storylines that were left after season 2 had been cancelled by NBC. I am assuming that PBS may still own the rights to this series. If they do, they most definitely should air it again, but maybe forever the series will be kept from us. What a shame that will be. With some of the music used on the series, perhaps that is an issue. I don't know.

It would be so wonderful to have the opportunity to purchase the series on DVDs. There is such junk on TV and it is put on DVDs. How about some quality from past series, such as I'll Fly Away?

I found some old VHS tapes that I have with the show recorded on them. The tape has degraded over time and it has proven difficult to transfer them to DVDS. After searching for the series professionally done on DVD and finding that the series has never been for sale, I have tried to salvage what I have. Some of the recordings unfortunately were mistakenly recorded over.

I believe the clips in the video below are from the very first episode. I am not positive, but it appears to be.

The two main characters are played by Sam Waterston and Regina Taylor. I first had seen Sam Waterston in the 7-part PBS series titled Oppenheimer (which you can buy on dvd at Amazon.com/Oppenheimer-Sam-Waterston). See a clip of Oppenheimer by BBC at imdb.

From the ending monologue at the end of this I'll Fly Away episode:
Lilly ~ "Everybody's got their troubles. That's a fact. Everybody lives in their own world. And everybody lives in the same world. Maybe, if I understood other people better, I'd have a better fix on myself. I feel like I'm trying to be something I'm supposed to be. But, I don't know who that is. Mr. Bedford seems me to be a man who's also trying to be something he thinks he's supposed to be. But there's something inside him that wants to get out."


I'LL FLY AWAY ~ created by Joshua Brand and John Falsey ~ "Everybody's got their own troubles" [HQ] ~12:38

This video is made from a degraded video tape, generated down: dvd, then Quick Time, compressed in software editing program and here at Facebook again. It includes the opening and ending of the two hour Christmas special.

Who owns the TV Series I'll Fly Away today? I just sent this email text to PBS/WGBH (feedback@wgbh.org) regarding I'll Fly Away:

Dear PBS,

If PBS still owns the rights to the TV series I'll Fly Away, I would like to request PBS consider airing it again. It is an extraordianary show, with wonderful writing and excellent presentation. It is not available on DVD and the many people who loved it do not have the opportunity to see it again. With all the racist undertones at the present time in the USA, it would be healthy for the country's people to see it.

Here is their contact information:
WGBH/Channel 2
Boston, MA 02135
Phone: 617-300-5400
Email: feedback@wgbh.org

February 2, 2011
I received a reply from PBS regarding my email above today. Here is the reply pasted here:

Dear Ms. Hammel,

Thank you for your interest in WGBH. We always appreciate hearing from our viewers, listeners, and Web site visitors.

The program you cited, I'll Fly Away, is not currently scheduled to air on any of WGBH's channels. However, we have relayed your request for WGBH to air an encore of this program to our broadcast manager. In the meantime, you can check for an encore performance from time to time at our website, WGBH.org. On the left navigation bar, choose "TV" then "Programs A-Z" (the first letter of your program - or series, if that applies). If your program is scheduled it will appear in the list with air dates included.

We hope you continue to enjoy the programs on WGBH - produced in Boston, shared with the world.

To support the WGBH programs and services you enjoy every day, we urge you to contact us at 617-300-3300 (M-F, 9-5) - or at 800-492-1111 at other times - or pledging online at http://www.wgbh.org/pledge.

WGBH Member Services

WGBH enriches people's lives through programs and services that educate, inspire, and entertain, fostering citizenship and culture, the joy of learning, and the power of diverse perspectives.


From Wikipedia ~
I'll Fly Away is a television series set during the late 1950s and early 1960s,[1][2][3] in an unspecified Southern U.S. state. It aired on NBC from 1991 to 1993 and starred Regina Taylor as Lilly Harper, a black housekeeper for district attorney Forrest Bedford (Sam Waterston) and his family. As the show progressed, Lilly became increasingly involved in the Civil Rights Movement, with events eventually drawing in Forrest as well.

I'll Fly Away won two 1992 Emmy Awards (Eric Laneuville for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Drama Series, and series creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special), and 23 nominations in total. It won three Humanitas Prizes, two Golden Globe Awards, two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, and a Peabody Award. However, the series was never a ratings blockbuster, and it was cancelled by NBC in 1993, despite widespread protests by critics and viewer organizations.[4]

After the program's cancellation, a two hour movie, I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, was produced, in order to resolve dangling storylines from Season 2, and provide the series with a true finale. The movie aired on October 11, 1993 on PBS. Its major storyline closely paralleled the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. Thereafter, PBS began airing repeats of the original episodes, ceasing after one complete showing of the entire series.

The series takes its name from a Christian hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley.

Trivia ~

  • Series creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey have stated that the inspiration for the series was the classic 1962 film To Kill a Mockingbird. While the film centers around attorney Atticus Finch and his family, the pair wondered about the life of Calpurnia, the Finches' African-American maid. Her story goes unexplored in the movie. A serious and seemingly well-educated individual who is respected by her employers, Calpurnia is the inspiration for the character Lilly Harper in I'll Fly Away.
  • The role of Nathaniel "Nathan" Bedford originally went to Jason London. When he had to turn it down because of a scheduling conflict, his identical twin brother Jeremy London auditioned and won the role. When a scheduling conflict prevented Jeremy from appearing in the series finale I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, Jason took Jeremy's place.
  • Nathan Bedford Forrest was a Confederate general during the Civil War, and one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. His full name is used to provide the surname for the Bedford family, as well as the first names of the Forrest and Nathan characters.
  • Sam Waterston's most famous role (other than Law & Order's Jack McCoy) has been President Abraham Lincoln, whom he has portrayed more than once on stage and screen.
  • Sam Waterston and Regina Taylor were reunited in 1994 when Taylor guest-starred in the fifth-season Law & Order episode "Virtue".
  • Each episode features an opening and closing narration by Lilly, each one an excerpt from an entry in her diary. In the series finale, it is revealed that the diary forms the basis of a book written by Lilly in the early 1990s entitled I'll Fly Away.

Regular cast

  • Sam Waterston: Forrest Bedford
  • Regina Taylor: Lilly Harper
  • Jeremy London: Nathaniel "Nathan" Bedford (except I'll Fly Away: Then and Now)
  • Ashlee Levitch: Francie Bedford
  • John Aaron Bennett: John Morgan Bedford
  • Kathryn Harrold: Christina LeKatzis (except I'll Fly Away: Then and Now)
  • Peter Simmons: Paul Slocum (recurring in Season 1, principal cast thereafter)
  • Jason London: Nathaniel "Nathan" Bedford (I'll Fly Away: Then and Now only)
Awards ~
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Director, Drama SeriesEric Laneuville
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Writing, Miniseries or Special – John Falsey & Joshua Brand
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Drama Series (nominated)
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Made for Television Movie (nominated)
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Actor, Drama Series – Sam Waterston (nominated)
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Actress, Drama Series – Regina Taylor (nominated)
  • 1992: Emmy Award – Supporting Actress, Drama Series – Mary Alice (nominated)
  • 1993: Emmy Award – Supporting Actress, Drama Series – Mary Alice
  • 1993: Emmy Award – Drama Series (nominated)
  • 1993: Emmy Award – Director, Drama Series – Eric Laneuville (nominated)
  • 1993: Emmy Award – Actor, Drama Series – Sam Waterston (nominated)
  • 1993: Emmy Award – Guest Actress, Drama Series – Rosanna Carter (nominated)
  • 1992: Golden Globe Award – TV Series, Drama (nominated)
  • 1992: Golden Globe Award – Actor, TV Series, Drama – Sam Waterston (nominated)
  • 1993: Golden Globe Award – Actor, TV Series, Drama – Sam Waterston
  • 1993: Golden Globe Award – Actress, TV Series, Drama – Regina Taylor
  • 1993: Golden Globe Award – TV Series, Drama (nominated)
  • 1994: NAACP Image Award – Drama Series, Miniseries or Television Movie
  • 1994: NAACP Image Award – Actor, Drama Series, Miniseries or Television MovieDorian Harewood
  • 1995: NAACP Image Award – Drama Series
  • 1995: NAACP Image Award – Actress, Drama Series – Regina Taylor
References ~

  1. ^ The episode "Some Desperate Glory" (Season 1, Episode 9) depicts the marquee of a local movie theater, listing Auntie Mame as the main feature. This film was first released in the United States in December 1958, implying that the first season of I'll Fly Away takes place in 1958 and 1959. However, in "The Slightest Distance" (Season 1, Episode 22), a U.S. Justice Department official remarks that a "new administration" about to take office. Clearly a reference to President John F. Kennedy, this would place the first season's latter episodes between the November 8, 1960 election and the January 20, 1961 inauguration.
  2. ^ In "Freedom Bus" (Season 2, Episode 6), Robert F. Kennedy is referred to as the United States Attorney General, an office he assumed in 1961. Subsequently, in "State" (Season 2, Episode 16), Joe Clay is seen browsing through a 1962 Chevrolet catalogue.
  3. ^ The bulk of the series finale I'll Fly Away: Then and Now is a flashback to events occurring in the summer of 1962.
  4. ^ John J. O'Connor (October 11, 1993). "Review/Television; PBS Revives a Series On Race and America". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/11/arts/review-television-pbs-revives-a-series-on-race-and-america.html.
  5. ^ The episode "Slow Coming Dark" (Season 1, Episode 17) depicts an automobile with alicense plate registered in "Bryland", as opposed to one of the 50 states. A subsequent episode, "Freedom Bus" (Season 2, Episode 6), depicts a motorcycle with a similar license plate.
  1. ^ The notion that Georgia is the setting for the series finds credence in several episodes. In "The Third Man" (Season 2, Episode 10), Forrest Bedford coerces a Klan infiltrator into maintaining his cover by threatening to have him imprisoned in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. In "State" (Season 2, Episode 16), Lilly Harper – while discussing a freedom school to be opened in Bryland – mentions the possibility of using students from Morehouse College (a historically Black college in Atlanta) as teachers. Moreover, in the final scene of "State", two African-American students (one male, one female) are shown integrating the local state university, with federal troops protecting them from a mob of jeering White students. The scene is reminiscent of the 1961 integration of the University of Georgia by Hamilton E. Holmes and Charlayne Hunter. Finally, in the series finale I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, Lilly reads from a novel she has written, one which is clearly based upon her own life. The protagonist of the novel states that she was born in "a small Southern town located on a parched southwestern plot of Georgian soil."
Source: wikipedia

Same video at Youtube

Several seconds of the song All I Could Do is Cry is sung by Etta James (the song was in the original episode) is included in this clip.

Raw title for Youtube: Lilly ~ I'll Fly Away ~ Everybody's Got Their Troubles ~ 2 hour special 720X480 4,3.mov
Raw title for Facebook: Lilly ~ I'll Fly Away ~ Everybody's Got Their Troubles ~ 2 hour special 720x480 FB Hi Q.mov

Tags: I'll Fly Away, Sandra Hammel, ilovemylife, Joshua Brand, John Falsey, Sam Waterston, Regina Taylor,Jeremy London, Peter Simmons, Jeremy London, Rae'Ven_L_Kelly, Bill Cobbs, Brad Sullivan, Mary Alice, Kathryn Harrold, PBS

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At February 3, 2011 at 5:04:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...


I am French I live in Rodez (France). I liked your videos. I like very much the actor Sam Waterston especially in the movie "The Matthew Shepard Story"
That think you of the ONG " REFUGEES INTERNATIONAL ". This ONG also helps the refugees of the Darfur.

At February 3, 2011 at 10:04:00 PM EST , Blogger ilovemylife said...

Merci beaucoup pour votre mots. Je sais un peu Francais. Mais je suis pas bon avec ma Francais.

Are you asking me what I think of Refugees International? I just googled it. It looks like a wonderful organization. I am very concerned about the Darfuri people.

Please come back and visit my blog again. S'il vous plaît revenir et visiter mon blog à nouveau.


At June 22, 2011 at 7:59:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Matt said...

Hey, I thought i'd let you know that some very nice person is uploading the episodes of I'll Fly Away on Youtube. Here is the link :


At February 29, 2012 at 11:29:00 AM EST , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of I'll Fly Away - I am going to write today to my local affiliate, WNET in NY/NJ.

Our country does noeed this!


At March 10, 2013 at 11:11:00 AM EDT , Blogger Bailey Martin said...

Thanks so much for posting this--I used to watch I'll Fly Away as a child with my father and I loved the show. I have tried over the years to find it. I agree not only should PBS re-air the show it would be so nice to be able to purchase the series! I will be contacting PBS as well!

At March 10, 2013 at 11:13:00 AM EDT , Blogger Bailey Martin said...

Thanks so much for this post--I watched I'll Fly Away as a child with my father and always loved it. I have tried over the years to find it again. I agree that PBS should re-air the show and it would be even better to be able to purchase the series! I will be contacting them as well.

At October 5, 2013 at 3:16:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Brice Bennett said...

I love looking at stuff like this, I'm Aaron Bennett's little brother, also known as John Morgan. I love looking back and seeing my older brother's past!

At March 19, 2014 at 6:12:00 AM EDT , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog after trying to recall the fragment from the episode in which the (I believe) Governor of the state asked Forrest (in the garden of his Colonial Home) to run for political office on the concept that those with intelligent thoughts should feel a public duty toward society.
The series had many beautiful lessons in it, that appearently did not impress the crowds.
I am thankful that thousands of miles from my dutch home WGBH(Rebecca Eaton)has co-produced so much that I love to play on my TV-set: Our Mutual Friend (substitutes the Bible for me as a non-religous person), Hornblower (intelligent bare knuckle: You had better chosen a lord for a father ..), Parade's End are easily available on DVD. French quality Period Drama(I love Jean-Daniel Verhaeghe work, especially: Les Maitres de l' Orge) is hard or even impossible to get on DVD, and in German it is also hard (Dresden, Unsere Mütter unsere Vater, Schiller). It is as bad as it gets in my own language (In Flanders Fields).
I believe most tears are selectively shed worldwide on youtube over the absurd absence on DVD of Piers Haggard's tear-jerker "A Summers Story" starring Imogen Stubbs and James Wilby.

Jan, Delft, The Netherlands.

At June 7, 2015 at 7:01:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Lianne said...

I really enjoyed your post! I'm from Brazil and I was looking for information about this TV show when I found your blog. I'm looking for that TV show to watch and I can't find anywhere. Can you direct me to a site where I can see this episodes? Thanks!!!

At June 7, 2015 at 10:59:00 PM EDT , Blogger ilovemylife said...

I am sorry to say I do not know of any air dates. The series has never been for sale as far as I have known. Sandra

At July 21, 2017 at 11:07:00 PM EDT , Anonymous Angelo said...

Great post n regards to a beautiful series shown back when I was young. Am still trying desperately to find if this is going to be sold as a DVD or if we can somehow download this form somewhere.
If anyone does know, or has a copy of this wonderful series, could you please let me know as well? I would be forever in your debt.
Thanks so much...


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