Mr. Novak

In 1963 NBC aired at 7:30 p.m. a TV series called Mr. Novak. Beginning September 24, 1963, Mr. John Novak, a young, tough-minded, idealistic first-year high school English teacher at Jefferson High School in Los Angles (Actually filmed at John Marshall High School in Los Angles), often got involved in the lives of his students and fellow teachers while exploring English literature with young minds.

The day after Labor Day in 1963, a young, very green, 23 year old, John Taylor, began his teaching career at Hall High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. I had no education courses. I was a science nerd with majors in chemistry and math and a minor in physics. I had obtained an emergency teaching license from the state of Arkansas because I had a degree in an area where a shortage of science teachers existed.. During 1963-64 I began going to night school to earn my 18 undergraduate education credits by Fall 1964 so that I could obtain a full teaching certificate. I completed 21 post-undergraduate credits by August 1964. Mr. Novak gave me lessons week by week that was not taught in any education course.

It was a well written show (earning 47 awards in its two years) with stories that centered on the life of Mr Novak, student-teacher relationships, and the struggles of young teachers. James Franciscus, who also held a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University in English, played Mr Novak. James Franciscus was 29 at the time, young, handsome, and always dressed first class. He was the teacher I wanted to be.

Dean Jagger played Principal Albert Vane. He was the principal I wish I had that first year. Mine was a political hack, Terrell Powell, who had been superintendent of Little Rock School, but step down to take the principal's job at the suburban elite high school. I learned more from Principal Vane then Principal Powell could have taught me, as I was too young, too immature, too inexperienced to be teaching the social upper class students of Hall.

Besides, Principal Vane reminded me of my Bolton High School Principal, Mr. Pate, who was tough but fair and respected and well liked by everyone. Likewise for Principal Vane. I did not feel that way about my boss, Principal Powell.

James Franciscus and Dean Jaegar

The extent of my prior teaching was teaching chemistry laboratory and tutoring chemistry at the college level as an undergraduate. I actually loved teaching the labs at Little Rock University, I was a natural, and my major professor, Dr. Wilson Broach, knew it. He called me in at the end of the summer of 1963 to tell me he had recommended me to fill a chemistry slot at Hall as they had no teacher and school was starting in two weeks. I had a job at Dow-Smith Chemicals, who was moving their plastic division to Little Rock in February 1964. I received my draft notice a week before, but could not be deferred until February 1964 to work in a defense industry. So I would give teaching a try for six months as I needed a deferment and I liked teaching. However, I never thought I would teach as the pay was so poor. I had no idea, that teaching high school would be any different than teaching college. Mr. Novak made mistakes, but not like the whoppers I made.

However, the kids liked me, most respected me, but there were about 10% of the students who gave me "hell" and I was just too immature to handle it properly. Mr. Powell had too sets of disciplines. One for the not-so-important where he would be tough, but then the kids who had very influential parents in the community were patted on the back and sent back to my class without the support I needed from a principal. I learned under fire. When Dow-Smith came to Little Rock, I turned down the Dow-Smith job and a person with a minor in chemistry took my place. He went on to become rich in Little Rock as a corporate VP of Dow, but I have the experiences of a teacher's life which I would not trade for any amount of money. I made as much money working several part-time jobs than as a teacher at $3600 per year or $60/week take-home, or $1.50 per hour (minimum Wage was 60 cents per hour. I would be paid three times the salary to be a chemist or $5/hour.

DVD Cover

Mr. Novak last only two years as it was in the same time slot as the ABC war series, "Combat". It only had 60 episodes. Toward the end of the second season, a teacher, Mr. Woodbridge (Burgess Meredith), was promoted to principal replacing Mr Vane who was elevated to California State Superintendent of Schools. Actually Dean Jaegar could not finish the second season due to a serious illness. Collectors on the Internet have recorded the shows from many sources. Some are 16 mm movie film transfers. Others are from cable channels, the latest TNT about 20 years ago (Chopped up for lengthy commercials). I have 53 of the 60 episodes available for trade.

Probably the show will never be released on DVD*** as it is not that popular among classic TV enthusiasts. Most adults do not want to revisit their high school days, but we teachers (over 3 million public school teachers in the United States) enjoy Hollywood and how they portray the classroom.

In the 50's TV had "Our Miss Brooks" (CBS 1952-1956)a situation comedy from the old radio series (CBE 1948-1957), which was nothing like real life teaching. Also another 50s situation comedy was "Mr. Peppers" (NBC 1952-1955) played by comedian Wally Cox. Both these series have limited release on DVD.

In 1957 another very popular comedy of the 50s and 60s "Leave It To Beaver" 1957-1963 (CBS and then ABC) had some classroom episodes in an elementary school and the Miss Landers portrayed the teacher for the first time on television as real life professional caring teacher. (The full six years of Beaver has been released on DVD)

Mr. Novak in 1963 was television's first attempt at portraying teachers and students as a real life drama

During the first season of Mr. Novak, ABC ran a 26-week series about life on a college campus at exactly the same time slot as Mr. Novak. Channing starred Jason Evers as English Professor Joseph Howe and Henry Jones as Fred Baker, the dean of fictitious Channing College. Like Mr Novak, no one on the Internet has a complete set, but one collector is trading me for 16 of the 26 episodes. For me, I watched Mr. Novak, even in reruns in the Summer of 1964 and never saw an episode of Channing.

In the 70s TV tried "Room 222" (ABC 1969-1974) which lasted longer, which was about a high school history teacher and the behind the scenes look at teaching. However, it too was also a situation comedy which was very popular. I also enjoyed this program and have acquired a partial set of its episodes (Only the first two seasons have been officially released on DVD, but the last three can be obtained from bootleggers).

Over 30 years went by before TV tried Boston Public (FOX 2000-2004) created by David E. Kelley (after The Practice and Boston Legal), another really first class TV show about kids in schools and the trauma teachers (and administrators) face everyday on the job. Its slogan was "Every day is a fight. For respect. For dignity. For sanity." Of course, I also have that entire series on DVD from a bootlegger as the show has never been released on DVD by FOX. None of the real teacher TV series have ever been released on DVD. I do expect someday, that Boston Public will be released and I will be the first to by the set(s).

Just after Boston public, Richard Dreyfuss played Professor Max Bickford, a college history professor, in a TV series: "The Education of Max Bickford" (CBS 2001-2002).

Boston Public TV Series

Stop The Presses! 1st Season Coming in 2018 on DVD

Thanks to Chuck Harter's "Mr. Novak - An Acclaimed Television Series" book published October 15, 2017, finally the first season of Mr Novak on DVD is coming in 2018.

Mr Novak book (Front and back cover)
               Front and Back Cover to: Mr. Novak: An Acclaimed Television Series book

Four years ago I received a "cold" call from Chuck Harter, Hollywood author and classic TV enthusiast. He came across my web site when he was searching the web for the Mr. Novak classic TV series and wanted to obtain more copies to watch. From above you can see I am a collector who trades (not sells) all the copies he has been able to obtain over the last 15 years. From several 'bootleggers' and some private individuals I have assembled 54 of the 60 episodes, many very bad copies and many chopped up VHS transfers from TNT television in the 1980s, the last time the series was aired on Cable TV.

He suggested I write a book about Mr. Novak and how it affected my life as a teacher. Great idea but I am not an author, just a chemistry teacher. As I helped him to collect and assemble artefact, pictures. and articles about the series he became very-very excited and the rest is now history. For three years he has been producing a real gem. Being in Los Angles he was able to track down many stars, writers, directors, and even student 'extra' cast. Most are in their 80s, and the 'kids' in their 60s. Every week or two he would call and tell me his latest discovery or contact from the show.

There are so many stories he told me over the last three years, I wish I had kept a diary.

Chuck Harter Photo
Chuck Harter at John Marshal H.S. in L.A.
John taylor with Mr. Noak Book

    It is a must to read the book. I have ordered many copies for my Mr. Novak friends and my family members

    The official web site with excellent articles
and videos is at:

    Best Web Site Reviewing book:
Martin Grams: Mr. Novak: The Television Series

Links From the Book's Official Web Site:
Mr. Novak: An Acclaimed Television Series

Video Clip of Show Opening:

Introduction By Richard Donner:

Forward By Martin Landau:

Afterward By Walter Koenig:

Photo Section:
List of Actors/Crew Interviewed For Book:
See several of the web sites below for guest Actors
Guest Stars Appearing on Mr. Novak (John Taylor's Site)
Wikipedia Web Site:
Mr. Novak IMDP Web site:
CTVA Mr Novak Web Site:
Sample Chapter Pages:

Also Go to to read additional sample pages:

List of Awards Won by Series:

Photos of Awards
Including: National Education Association, 'for distinguished dramatic interpretation of education during the year ended 4-1-64 through a series aired over a national television network.'(National School Bell Award)

Progressive Themes of Mr. Novak Television Series:

Author Photo & Biography:

How to Get Your Mr. Novak Book Autographed

Excellent Reviews:

     John Marshal H.S.Annual shows
    James Franciscus between takes!
Abstract: Volume 10: Mr Novak
at 27th International Conference 0n Teaching and Learning

Mr. Novak Friends

Become a Mr. Novak buddy! Fill out the request form and send to John Taylor so that you can have a set of his collection and he can publish on his web site your essays of your favorite episode or episodes that remind you of one time in your life as a teacher or a teacher made a difference in your life when you were a student:
Collaborator Request Form Download WORD File .docx

NEA School Bell Award-1964

Below is a copy of a letter sent to the NEA requesting their help in obtaining the 1964 National Conference Video where Mr. Novak earned the NEA School Bell Award:

Letter To Lily Garcia, NEA President

Links to the other collectors:

Many Classic TV Deals may be made at: (Today Mr Novak is no longer available)
Old Sachmo has the best set you can trade: email him
I purchased my first set on EBay, but no one is selling today.

Here is a complete List of Episodes: (Missing/lost Episodes highlighted in Red)

If you are interested in a collection of any of these programs, email me at: If you are a teacher, I may provide you with the opportunity to watch a couple of these programs.