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I'll Fly Away (TV series)

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Narrated by
Regina Taylor

Country of origin
United States

Theme music composer
W.G. Snuffy Walden

Original language(s)

Created by
Joshua Brand John Falsey

Sam Waterston Regina Taylor Jeremy London Jason London Ashlee Levitch John Aaron Bennett Kathryn Harrold Peter Simmons Bill Cobbs Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly

I'll Fly Away is an American drama television series set during the late 1950s and early 1960s, in an unspecified Southern U.S. state. It aired on NBC from 1991 to 1993 and starred Regina Taylor as Lilly Harper, a black housekeeper for the family of district attorney Forrest Bedford (Sam Waterston), who was named after the controversial Confederate Army leader Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877). As the show progressed, Lilly became increasingly involved in the Civil Rights Movement, which eventually drew in Forrest, as well.



I'll Fly Away won two 1992 Emmy Awards (Eric Laneuville for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing in a Drama Series for the episode "All God's Children", and for series creators Joshua Brand and John Falsey for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Writing in a Miniseries or a Special), and 23 nominations in total. It won three Humanitas Prizes, two Golden Globe Awards, two NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Drama Series, and a Peabody Award. However, the series was never a ratings blockbuster, and it was cancelled by NBC in 1993, despite widespread protests by critics and viewer organizations.

After the program's cancellation, a two-hour movie, I'll Fly Away: Then and Now, was produced, to resolve dangling storylines from season two, and provide the series with a true finale. The movie aired on October 11, 1993, on PBS. Its major storyline closely paralleled the true story of the 1955 murder of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. Thereafter, PBS began airing repeats of the original episodes, ceasing after one complete showing of the entire series. The series also aired on PAX. [1]

The series takes its name from a Christian hymn written in 1929 by Albert E. Brumley.

In 1999, TV Guide ranked Lilly Harper number 15 on its list of 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time. In 2013 it ranked the series #9 on their list of 60 shows that were "Cancelled Too Soon".

Recurring cast

  • Mary Alice: Marguerite Peck
  • Wayne Brady: Damon Rollins
  • Roger Aaron Brown: Reverend Henry
  • Cara Buono: Diane Lowe
  • Vondie Curtis-Hall: Joe Clay and Howard Yearwood
  • Michael Dolan: Francis Vawter
  • Ed Grady: Judge Lake Stevens
  • Dorian Harewood: Clarence "Cool Papa" Charleston
  • Deborah Hedwall: Gwen Bedford
  • Tommy Hollis: Oscar Wilson
  • Rebecca Koon: Eileen Slocum
  • Elizabeth Omilami: Joelyn
  • Scott Paulin: Tucker Anderson
  • Harold Perrineau, Jr.: Robert Evans
  • Amy Ryan: Parky Sasser
  • Sonny Shroyer: Bobby Slocum
  • N'Bushe Wright: Claudia Bishop
  • Setting

    The events of the series take place in the fictional town of Bryland, located in Bryland County.

    The exact state in which Bryland is located remains unspecified throughout the series. However, at various points, these Southern states were referred to in such a manner as to eliminate them from possibly being the setting: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Additionally, references to "counties" within the state eliminate Louisiana, where counties are called "parishes".

    In "Freedom Bus", Forrest Bedford is referred to as a new U.S. Attorney "in the Fifth District", presumably a reference to the Fifth Judicial Circuit of the federal court system. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Fifth Circuit included Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Georgia (along with the Panama Canal Zone). Since the first five states can each be eliminated based upon statements made by characters throughout the series, the most likely setting for the series is Georgia.


    I'll Fly Away (TV series) Wikipedia

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