1 9 7 9 (USA)
11 x 20 minute episodes
Cliffhangers was the umbrella title for three separate NBC serials, which shared the same hour on Tuesday nights. Each week viewers saw the latest 20-minute chapter of Stop Susan Williams, The Secret Empire, and The Curse of Dracula.
Beautiful young newspaper photographer Susan Williams (statuesque Susan Anton) was pursuing the men who killed her brother, Alan – an investigative reporter for the same Washington DC newspaper that Susan worked for – just as he was on the verge of exposing a fiendish international conspiracy to set off a nuclear bomb near Camp David while the world’s leaders were attending a peace conference there.
Masterminding the plot was importer Anthony Korf (Albert Paulsen), whose evil henchman, Gold Tooth (John Hancock) tried to kill Susan in virtually every episode, in the style of The Perils of Pauline.
Episodes were deliberately far-fetched, the cliches hoary and the villains sinister as Susan chased them around the world, from Marrakesh to Nairobi to Switzerland.
She barely escaped death by cobra bite, in a lion pit, going over a cliff in a sidecar, and in the final episode (1 May 1979), she was trapped in the mineshaft where the nuclear bomb was about to explode. The episode was supposed “to be continued,” but it never was.
Although network viewers of the series never found out what happened to Susan Williams, those who saw the re-edited movie version, The Girl Who Saved the World, did as the movie version included footage shot for the series but never aired on NBC.
Bob Richards (Ray Walston) was Susan’s editor who turned out to be in cahoots with the bad guys. Jennifer Selden (Marj Dusay) was the owner of the newspaper. Jack Schoengarth (Michael Swan) was an old friend of her brother who helped Susan with her search.