Watch American Masters

American Masters is a series of television programs devoted to the biographies on American actors, artists and writers. They have influenced the pop culture of the country in a way that has withstood the test of time. The producer selected each subject based on the wide ranging impact they had on American cultural history.

The life and times of each individual is studied starting from their youth. Their backgrounds are as diverse as the cultural inheritance that America prides itself on. By watching this mini- series the viewer has an opportunity to learn more about the cultural diversity that this country represents.

Learning about history can be dry and flat but when it is presented in the media like television then the viewer will often find it much more interesting. Our society is very rushed today and many feel as if they do not have the time to sit down and read about the important individuals who contributed to the pop culture of America. A mini-series provides the viewer the opportunity to give themselves permission to view a relatively short film and to walk away from it feeling as if their time was well spent.

Many of us lose touch with the importance of these contributions from the past and do not realize how much they have influenced the current culture as we know it today. So much of what is experienced is simply accepted without giving thought to its provenance. Many values were brought over from other countries and were planted in the American collective subconscious. It is interesting to be able to trace these values back to their origins and to determine if they are still relevant today.

These high quality biographies have won awards for the great impressions they have made for the viewers. Great numbers of viewers look forward to viewing the upcoming programs and still return to the archive of films to revisit the stories time and again.

Wednesday 9:00 PM et/pt on PBS on PBS
29 Seasons, 232 Episodes
June 23, 1986
Documentary & Biography, News
Cast: Martin Scorsese, Tony Bennett, Peter Bogdanovich, Lee Grant
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Clips & Extras

American Masters Full Episode Guide

  • Explore the entertainer's life with unprecedented access to his personal archives. Director's cut.

  • Six innovators tell their own stories and explain how they’re changing their respective industries: podcast host Tracy Clayton, Chef Angie Mar, JavaScript developer Sara Chipps, web-cam performance artist Molly Soda, entrepreneur Rakia Reynolds, and visual artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh.

  • The misrepresentations of writer Edgar Allen Poe, how he invented the modern detective story and refined the science fiction genre.

  • Tyrus Wong's pioneering artwork led to iconic works like Bambi and Rebel Without a Cause.

  • An unconventional look at the fiercely independent filmmaking style that emerged in the late 1980s and 1990s sparked by filmmaker Richard Linklater ("Boyhood"). The documentary features excerpts from Linklater's journals; cinéma vérité footage from the set of "Everybody Wants Some!!"; and remarks from such actors and collaborators as Matthew McConaughey, Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Jack Black, Julie Delpy and Kevin Smith.

  • Discover the story of Chef Jacques Pépin (b. December 18, 1935), a young immigrant with movie-star looks, a charming Gallic accent, and a mastery of cooking and teaching so breathtaking he became an early food icon—joining James Beard and Julia Child among the handful of Americans who transformed the way the country views the food world

  • Experience a century of food through the life of iconic chef James Beard, America's first foodie.

  • A profile of influential country singer Patsy Cline (1932-63), featuring archival performances of such songs as "Walkin' After Midnight," "I Fall to Pieces" and "Crazy"; and remarks from artists who knew her and others influenced by her.

  • The life of author and activist Maya Angelou, with comments from Oprah Winfrey, Common, Bill and Hillary Clinton and others.

  • In a 2008 interview, director Sidney Lumet talks about his life and career, which included 44 films in 50 years.

  • The film explores the life and visionary work of Finnish-American modernist architectural giant Eero Saarinen (1910-1961). Best known for designing National Historic Landmarks such as St. Louis' iconic Gateway Arch and the General Motors Technical Center (Warren, Mich.), Saarinen also designed New York's TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Yale University's Ingalls Rink and Morse and Ezra Stiles Colleges, Virginia's Dulles Airport, and modernist pedestal furniture like the Tulip chair.

  • Writer/producer Norman Lear's turbulent childhood, early success with sitcoms "All in the Family," "The Jeffersons,'' "Good Times'' and "Maude,'' and social activism.

  • Discover the story behind the country music supergroup via new interviews and vintage performances.

  • Observe Janis Joplin's life through intimate letters and rare footage. Chan Marshall narrates.

  • Singer-songwriter Loretta Lynn balances family and a music career that has spanned 50 years.

  • The New Orleans rhythm and blues of Fats Domino helped aid integration in the South.

  • Rare home movies, performances and photos help illustrate the life and career of singer-songwriter Carole King, from 1960s New York to Los Angeles in the 1970s to the present.

  • The challenging life and career of blues guitarist B.B. King; candid interviews feature Bono, Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, Eric Clapton, John Mayer, and Ringo Starr.

  • The life of one of America's great directors, Mike Nichols.

  • Meet 15 women who define contemporary American culture in Greenfield-Sanders' new film.

  • A profile of Mexican-American photographer Pedro E. Guerrero (1917-2012), who worked with three of the most iconic American artists of the 20th century: architect Frank Lloyd Wright and sculptors Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson.

  • Examining the life of of tennis great Althea Gibson.

  • Ric Burns' documentary on the rich, 75-year history of the preeminent ballet company.

  • Discover the violin virtuoso through Itzhak Perlman, students and archival performances.

  • The show examines the career of American playwright August Wilson.

  • Examining the achievements of stage magician, author and actor Ricky Jay.

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American Masters Video Clips & Extras

AMERICAN MASTERS | Edgar Allan Poe: Buried Alive: Official Trailer | PBS Clip (03:06) AMERICAN MASTERS | Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny | Trailer | PBS Clip (00:39) AMERICAN MASTERS | Tyrus: Official Trailer | PBS Clip (02:25) AMERICAN MASTERS | Eero Saarinen - Trailer | PBS Clip (02:23) AMERICAN MASTERS "Janis: Little Girl Blue" | Preview | PBS Clip (01:31) AMERICAN MASTERS | August Wilson: The Rhythms of Life | PBS Clip (02:01) American Masters | Billie Jean King | Trailer | PBS Clip (02:01) AMERICAN MASTERS: Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (Premieres Monday May 20) Clip (00:31)