Peter O'Toole made his American TV acting debut as the Roman general leading the epic 1st-century siege of Masada, the mountain fortress where about 900 Jewish Zealots made a heroic stand against 5,000 Roman soldiers. Peter Strauss is the fiery leader of the freedom-fighting Zealots, and their confrontation earned both actors Emmy Award nominations for this eight-hour, four-part miniseries.
David Warner, as O'Toole's devious rival, won an Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor, and Anthony Quayle was nominated in the same category. Jerry Goldsmith also won an Emmy for his score for Part 2, while Morton Stevens got a nomination for scoring Part 4. The show itself was Emmy-nominated as Outstanding Limited Series, and other nominations went to director Boris Sagal, as well as to writer Joel Oliansky, supervising editor John Bloom, and the editors, costume designer, set decorators and makeup artists, all for Part 4.