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
30 Seasons, 239 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 life of the famous Jewish violinist, a transcendent performer and polio survivor.

  • Discover the anonymous New York graffiti artist turned '80s art world rock star.

  • Follow the artist's journey from impoverished childhood to maverick artist, voiced by Meryl Streep.

  • Uncover the hidden depths and complex inner life of the iconic artist you thought you knew. With his life's work as a background, examine his wide range of influences, including modern artists, war, film and the African American community.

  • Discover the 1960s art world icon who changed art history and women's place in the picture.

  • Discover the many sides of the Baseball Hall of Famer with Bob Costas, Wade Boggs and Joey Votto.

  • Discover the story of the most beautiful woman in the world, who was also an ingenious inventor.

  • A profile of playwright and civil rights activist Lorraine Hansberry (1930-65), whose 1959 play "A Raisin in the Sun" changed the face of American theater by depicting the limitations of the American dream through the lives of a black family on Chicago's South Side. Included: home movies; rare photos; unpublished documents; and remarks from Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Harry Belafonte and Louis Gossett Jr.

  • 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.

Most Popular American Masters Episodes

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American Masters Video Clips & Extras

AMERICAN MASTERS | Itzhak | Trailer | PBS Clip (02:04) AMERICAN MASTERS | Artists Flight: Elizabeth Murray | Trailer | PBS Clip (01:05) AMERICAN MASTERS | Artists Flight: Jean-Michel Basquiat | Trailer | PBS Clip (03:40) AMERICAN MASTERS | Artists Flight: Eva Hesse | Trailer | PBS Clip (01:44) AMERICAN MASTERS | Artists Flight: Wyeth | Trailer | PBS Clip (01:36) AMERICAN MASTERS | Artists Flight: Elizabeth Murray | Trailer | PBS Clip (01:05) AMERICAN MASTERS | Ted Williams: "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived" | Trailer | PBS Clip (02:10) AMERICAN MASTERS | Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story Trailer | PBS Clip (01:14)