1 9 8 1 – 1 9 8 3 (USA)
34 x 50 minute episodes
Father Murphy starred former NFL Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle football player and Little House on the Prairie actor Merlin Olsen as a rugged but warm-hearted frontiersman named John Michael Murphy.
Set in the Dakota Territory town of Jackson during the 1870s, the story began when drifter John Murphy and his dog, Mine, teamed up with prospector Moses Gage (Moses Gunn) to shelter two dozen orphans who were being threatened with the workhouse.
Murphy disguised himself as a priest – “Father Murphy” – and befriended feisty but pretty schoolmarm, Mae Woodward (Katherine Cannon) to help the children find a home and stay one step ahead of the pompous and officious representatives of the Dakota Territory Authority, Mr Rodman (Charles Tyner) and Miss Tuttle (Ivy Bethune), who sought to have the children sent to the territorial workhouse at Claymore.
At the end of the first season, Murphy’s true identity was revealed to the head of the workhouse, and the orphans seemed destined to a life of labour. But Murphy married the schoolmarm and they got custody of the children.
Michael Landon created the series, was the executive producer, and also directed the show in partnership with William F. Claxton, Maury Dexter, Victor French and Leo Penn.
John Michael Murphy