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Young Pioneers (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Young Pioneers (TV Movie)
Written byBlanche Hanalis (screenplay)
Rose Wilder Lane (novels)
Directed byMichael O'Herlihy
StarringLinda Purl
Roger Kern
Music byLaurence Rosenthal
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Ed Friendly
Producer(s)Ed Friendly
Production location(s)Twentieth Century-Fox Studios, Los Angeles, California
Southern Arizona, Arizona
CinematographyRobert L. Morrison
Editor(s)Allan LaMastra
Running time97 min.
Production company(s)ABC Circle Films
Original networkABC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseMarch 1, 1976

Young Pioneers is a 1976 American made-for-television Western film movie which aired in March 1976 on ABC.[1] Elements of novels Let the Hurricane Roar and Free Land by Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder) were used as the basis for the movie, [2] with Roger Kern and Linda Purl starring as the focal characters David and Molly Beaton. [3] Although produced as a TV series pilot by ABC Circle Films [4] and ranked #7 in the Nielsen ratings for the week it aired[5], the movie was not picked up by ABC as a series. [6] A second pilot attempt was made in December 1976 with Young Pioneers' Christmas[7], but ranked lower at #37 in the Nielsen ratings and was not picked up by the studio for a series. [8]


David and Molly Beaton, 18-years-old and 16-years-old respectively, marry and leave their native Iowa to make a life for themselves as homesteaders in the Dakota Territory of the early 1870s. [9] The U.S. Government Homestead Act offers applicants 160 acres of land in undeveloped areas. Those who stay on the land for five years become the official owners.[10] The young couple manages to survive government and railroad corruption, [11] and perseveres through blizzards, grasshopper invasions, crop destruction, and giving birth in a sod house among other challenges. [12]


The project was developed and produced by Ed Friendly for ABC Circle Films with the script written by Blanche Hanalis and directed by Michael O'Herlihy. [13] Ed Friendly and Blanche Hanalis had previously produced and scripted the television series pilot for Little House on the Prairie based on the novels by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the mother Rose Wilder Lane. [14]

400 actors and actresses were interviewed before Linda Purl and Roger Kern were offered the lead roles of Molly and David Beaton. [15]

Principal photography began November 28, 1975, in Southern Arizona with additional filming at the Old Tucson Studios in Tucson, Arizona. [16] A scene with 180,000 grasshoppers was done on location in Nogales, Mexico. Sound stages at 20th-Century Fox in Los Angeles, California were used for the blizzard scenes. [17]


  • Roger Kern as David Beaton
  • Linda Purl as Molly Beaton
  • Robert Hays as Dan Grey
  • Shelly Juttner as Nettie Peters
  • Robert Donner as Mr. Peters
  • Frank Marth as Mr. Svenson
  • Brendan Dillon as Doyle
  • Charles Tyner as Mr. Beaton
  • Jonathan Kidd as Dr. Thorne
  • Arnold Soboloff as Clerk in Land Office
  • Britt Leach as Mr. Loftus
  • Dennis Fimple as Man in Land Office
  • Bernice Smith as Mrs. Svenson
  • Janis Jamison as Eliza
  • Jeff Cotler as Charlie Peters
  • Lucky Hayes as Second Woman
  • Earl W. Smith as Man in Boxcar
  • Michelle Stacy as Flora Peters
  • Mare Winningham as Nettie Peters


  1. ^ “‘Young Pioneers’ brave raw Dakota wilderness.” Austin Daily Herald, 17 February 1976.
  2. ^ “TV Scout Reports.” The Times and Democrat, 1 March 1976.
  3. ^ O’Connor, John J. “”Young Pioneers’ Offers Good Family Entertainment.” The Missoulian, 6 March 1976.
  4. ^ “Inside TV: ‘Angels’ to Star Wayne Rogers.” Los Angeles Times, 4 December 1975.
  5. ^ Deeb, Gary. “Happy Days for ABC.” Chicago Tribune, 13 March 1978.
  6. ^ Hanauer, Joan. “ABC, its power growing, list fall schedule.” The Times-Standard, 2 April 1976.
  7. ^ Hanauer, Joan. “Old Pilots Don’t Die.” The Daily Register, 1 June 1976.
  8. ^ “Christmas Specials Top Week’s Nielsen Ranking.” Los Angeles Times, 22 December 1976.
  9. ^ Gardella, Kay. “’Young Pioneers’ Producer Looks to Libraries for Ideas.” Daily News, 23 February 1976.
  10. ^ O’Connor, John J. ""TV: 'Young Pioneers.'"". New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  11. ^ Henniger, Paul. “Competition for The Waltons?” Capital Journal, 1 March 1976.
  12. ^ “Video Networks Take Youth Route.” The Daily News, 26 February 1976.
  13. ^ “Series Pilot Work Starts.” The Evening Sun, 5 December 1975.
  14. ^ Lochte, Dick. “Book Notes: If Winter Could Kill.” Los Angeles Times, 22 February 1976.
  15. ^ Scott, Vernon. “’Young Pioneers’ Producer hopes to attract teen Viewers.” The Daily Herald, 28 February 1976.
  16. ^ Shelton, Robert. “Out Takes From Old Tucson.” Tucson Daily Citizen, 29 November 1975.
  17. ^ Hoffman, Steve. “’Young Pioneers’ Looks Like Best Of New Westerns.” The Cincinnati Enquirer, 1 March 1976.

External links

This page was last edited on 4 October 2019, at 10:46
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