The experiences of a young, tough-minded, idealistic high school English teacher on his first job provided the stories in this series. John Novak begins at Jefferson High School in Los ... See full summary »




2   1  
1965   1964   1963  
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Series cast summary:
James Franciscus ...  John Novak 60 episodes, 1963-1965
Dean Jagger ...  Principal Albert Vane / ... 46 episodes, 1963-1965
Vince Howard ...  Pete Butler / ... 31 episodes, 1963-1965
Marian Collier ...  Miss Scott / ... 28 episodes, 1963-1965
Jeanne Bal ...  Jean Pagano / ... 28 episodes, 1963-1964


The experiences of a young, tough-minded, idealistic high school English teacher on his first job provided the stories in this series. John Novak begins at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles under Principal Albert Vane, who doesn't always agree with Novak's approach, but admires his dedication to teaching. Eventually, Vane is elected to state superintendent and Martin Woodridge becomes the new principal. Stories centered on the life of Novak, student-teacher relationships, and the struggles of other young teachers. Written by Amy <>

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Did You Know?


Spoofed in Mad Magazine as "Mr. Nudnik". See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Bill Russell/Chicago (1979) See more »

User Reviews

A groundbreaking but short lived teacher show!.
16 August 2020 | by sam-468-676831See all my reviews

In the era of new frontier idealism and Kennedy era optimism in the early 60's , Mr. Novak is a stand out because James Franciscus's character of high school teacher Mr. John Novak represented what every teacher should have been at the time. He was smart, caring and resilient and often times showed no mercy to his students who he caught wrong doing but he also did his best to straighten out any of his students who were troubled and experienced psychological issues that prevented them from doing well and graduating from Jefferson High School.

In Recent years, Warner Archive released the first season of the series back in 2018 and I must say the show is absolutely brilliant! Not only for it's stone cold accuracy with the ginormous set (located originally on the MGM backlot in Culver City.) that was built for Jefferson High being an EXACT Replica of the real John Marshall High School in Los Angeles, but also simply for the fact that the show was forward thinking by having actors and actress of color not ONLY playing students mixed in with the white students but ALSO playing staff and teachers at Jefferson High, at a time that took place just about 9 or so years after the Brown Vs US Board of Education landmark Supreme Court Case ruled that segregation amongst American Educational institutions were deemed illegal and unconstitutional (it's pretty incredible this was done in an early 60's show before I Spy and the advent desegregation of actors and actresses on Network Television as a result of this show, which didn't happen till a few years after this show left the air during the 1965-66 Network TV Season).

But also, Dean Jagger is also fantastic as Principle Albert Vane, his character like Novak, showed lots of TLC with the students at Jefferson High but could also be ruthless to any student who didn't follow the rules and was caught doing horrible things to other students.

But the show is also incredible to watch just to see young actors who were still being cast in Teen roles strutting their dramatic stuff such as Tony Dow and Shelly Fabares, Johnny Crawford and Don Grady. Interestingly enough, Steve Franken who was previously known for playing Chatsworth Osborne Jr on the Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis sitcom is seen here as a semi regular cast member playing one of the teachers at Jefferson High.

And like what has been mentioned before about the series, it won MANY awards during it's initial run (many of them Peabody educational awards), but because the series was scheduled opposite against Combat! (Which was in its sophomore year at the time, about to go into it's third year, at the time it was an EXTREMELY hot show at the peak of it's popularity). It failed to really grab an audience. It did ok/well enough in it's first initial year for it to not become a one season series but the immense popularity of the series it was on up against On the same night/ time slot on NBC's rival network ABC unfortunately killed the show and it was cancelled after it's second year (coupled with the assassination of JFK in the middle of it's first season, that also dramatically changed the overall tone of the series as well, as America was starting to move away from Front Tier Optimism and more towards Cold War threats hence the advent of the Secret Agent series). James Franciscus on the other hand, was a hot young B movie actor who was trying to find his own series really. He was in the first season of Naked City that was initially cancelled but when the show was brought back for a second season he wasn't included in the show's new cast. After that he kicked around doing B movies and TV guest star appearances but whenever he tried to do a series each one he was in didn't do well, and he also was originally offered the role of Dr. James Kildare, but he said no to that because he was contractually involved in the pilot for this series and what do you know, the pilot for this series got picked up by NBC and this show was made.

But anyways, after this series left the air Franciscus continued to kick around doing guest star appearances on TV and more B movies until he landed his landmark role of being casted as Charlton Heston's initial replacement in the Planet Of The Apes movie Franchise. After that he played a memorable role as a blind insurance investigator in Longstreet, but in hindsight, his career never really took off and he didn't have the big name status cats like Redford and Bruce Dern and Clint Eastwood would have

And Mr Novak is also remarkable for the series's casting of adults as teachers such as Martin Landau and Ed Asner and Robert Culp, and for it's tackling of then controversial subject matters such as teen pregnancy and racism and romantic love amongst teachers and students.

And so in hindsight, the series really felt like a pre cursor to Room 222 and it very much was also the teacher version of the other MGM produced series Dr Kildare, so if your a fan of early 60's TV dramas, DEFINITELY pick up the first season of this show on DVD On Amazon! You will NOT be disappointed at all!, trust me :).

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Release Date:

24 September 1963 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Lehtori Novak See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

MGM Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(60 episodes)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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