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The Murder of Mary Phagan is a 1988 two-part American Television miniseries starring Jack Lemmon and dramatizing the true story of Leo Frank, a factory manager who was charged with murdering a 13-year-old girl, a factory worker named Mary Phagan, in Atlanta in 1913. His trial was sensational and controversial and at its end, Frank was convicted of murdering Mary Phagan and sentenced to death by hanging. After Frank's legal appeals failed, the governor of Georgia commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment on Monday, June 21, 1915, destroying his own career in the process. On the morning of Tuesday, August 17, 1915 Frank was kidnapped from prison and lynched by a small group of prominent men from Marietta, Georgia, Mary Phagan's home town.

The Murder of Mary Phagan
Written byJeffrey Lane (teleplay)
George Stevens Jr.(teleplay)
Story byLarry McMurtry
Directed byWilliam Hale
StarringJack Lemmon
Richard Jordan
Kevin Spacey
Rebecca Miller
William H. Macy
Theme music composerMaurice Jarre
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)George Stevens Jr. (producer)
Caroline Stevens (associate producer)
Production location(s)Richmond, Virginia
Petersburg, Virginia
CinematographyNicholas D. Knowland
Editor(s)John A. Martinelli
Running time251 min.
Production company(s)Orion Pictures
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseJanuary 24 (1988-01-24) –
January 26, 1988 (1988-01-26)[1]

Written by Larry McMurtry, produced by George Stevens Jr., and directed by William "Billy" Hale, the miniseries stars Lemmon and features Kevin Spacey, Rebecca Miller, Peter Gallagher, Charles Dutton, Richard Jordan, Cynthia Nixon, Dylan Baker and William H. Macy. Lemmon noted during a publicity appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson that shortly before the miniseries was broadcast, the cast was the best with which he had ever worked.

The film was shot in Richmond, Virginia, extensively in Shockoe Bottom, with a running time of 251 minutes (over 4 hours), originally broadcast over two evenings by NBC.




The film won the 1988 Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries and a Peabody Award.[2]

Other treatmentsEdit

An earlier movie version of the case, with the names changed, was directed by Mervyn LeRoy in 1937 and titled They Won't Forget, starring Claude Rains and Lana Turner. In 1997, David Mamet published a book about Leo Frank titled The Old Religion. The following year a Broadway musical titled Parade, written by the playwright Alfred Uhry, with music composed by Jason Robert Brown was produced. In 2004 the journalist Steve Oney published his history of the Mary Phagan case, titled And the Dead Shall Rise. The trial and Frank's lynching have also been explored in works of academic history.


  1. ^ "The Murder of Mary Phagan (1987)". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 16, 2008. Retrieved January 20, 2018.
  2. ^ "The Murder of Mary Phagan". Retrieved 2019-01-30.

External linksEdit