The Thorn Birds | 1982
This ten-hour dramatization of Colleen McCullough's romantic novel, following the fortunes of one Australian family over a 42-year period beginning in 1920 and of a charismatic priest and the women in his life, became a popular television event. Richard Chamberlain, already being dubbed the king of the miniseries, heads a stellar cast including Barbara Stanwyck, in a rare latter-day acting role, Australian star Bryan Brown and British actress Rachel Ward in her American TV debut (Brown and Ward subsequently married), Richard Chamberlain and Barbara Stanwyck won Golden Globe Awards as Best Actor and Actress. Stanwyck also won an Emmy Award as Outstanding Actress (she appeared only in the first of four segments), and both Richard Kiley and Jean Simmons won in the supporting category.
Other Emmy nominations went to Chamberlain as Outstanding Actor, Brown and Christopher Plummer as Supporting Actor, Piper Laurie as Supporting Actress, plus for direction, photography, music, costume design, editing (part 1) and editing (part 3).
Judy Davis and Ed Asner had been scheduled to play the Rachel Ward-Richard Kiley roles.