The BEST Episodes of American Masters

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Last Updated: Oct 27, 2019

Network: PBS

Produced (or acquired) by Thirteen/WNET New York for the Public Broadcasting System, episodes of American Masters are dedicated to documenting and honoring America's most notable creative artists and the inspiration behind their work. Each year a series of special broadcasts profiles a cross-section of the nation's finest artistic pioneers from the past and present.

Woody Allen: A Documentary (1)

#1 - Woody Allen: A Documentary (1)

Season 25 - Episode 7

A film that traces the life and accomplishments of America's unique and recognized comedian/writer/filmmaker.

star 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Robert B. Weide
Writers: Robert B. Weide
Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution

#2 - Alice Waters and her Delicious Revolution

Season 17 - Episode 4

Portrait of an American woman who helped pioneer the fresher and simpler cuisine that emerged in California in the later 1970s.

star 10.00
1 votes
Judy Garland: By Myself

#3 - Judy Garland: By Myself

Season 18 - Episode 5

A detailed examination of the celebrated vocalist's career, from her amazing successes to her self-doubts and personal problems.

star 10.00
1 votes
Bob Dylan: No Direction Home

#4 - Bob Dylan: No Direction Home

Season 19 - Episode 7

A journey through the poetry and music of Bob Dylan.

star 10.00
1 votes
The Day Carl Sandburg Died

#5 - The Day Carl Sandburg Died

Season 26 - Episode 6

For much of the 20th century, Sandburg was synonymous with the American experience, a spokesman on behalf of the people. One of the most successful writers in the English language, Sandburg was a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winner for his poetry as well as part of his six-volume Lincoln biography. Yet, after his death, Sandburg’s literary legacy faded and his poems, once taught in schools across America, were dismissed under the weight of massive critical attack.

star 10.00
1 votes
A Fierce Green Fire

#6 - A Fierce Green Fire

Season 28 - Episode 3

An exploration of the environmental movement from the 1960s through 2009. Included: the battle in the 1960s to block dams from the Grand Canyon; the Love Canal scandal of the 1970s; Greenpeace's efforts to save whales and baby harp seals; the global resource crises of the 1980s; and the 25-year effort to address climate change. Narrators include Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd, Van Jones and Isabel Allende.

star 10.00
1 votes
Woody Allen: A Documentary (2)

#7 - Woody Allen: A Documentary (2)

Season 25 - Episode 8

Iconic writer, director, actor, comedian, and musician Woody Allen allowed his life and creative process to be documented on-camera for the first time. With this unprecedented access, Emmy®-winning, Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Robert Weide followed the notoriously private film legend over a year and a half to create the ultimate film biography.

star 10.00
1 votes
Directors: Robert B. Weide
Writers: Robert B. Weide
American Ballet Theatre:  A History

#8 - American Ballet Theatre: A History

Season 29 - Episode 4

Delving into the rich history of one of the world’s preeminent ballet companies, Ric Burns combines intimate rehearsal footage, virtuoso performances and interviews with American Ballet Theatre’s key figures.

star 9.50
2 votes
Lennon NYC

#9 - Lennon NYC

Season 24 - Episode 7

A look at the period of time musician John Lennon and his family spent living in New York City during the 1970s.

star 9.00
1 votes
Lucille Ball: Finding Lucy

#10 - Lucille Ball: Finding Lucy

Season 15 - Episode 4

The incredible career of Lucille Ball, from youth through the movies, from television star to media mogul. Some of the personalities that comment in this film include Fran Drescher, Van Johnson, Dick Martin, Edie Adams, and Carol Burnett. This episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Non-Fiction Program.

star 9.00
1 votes
Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter

#11 - Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter

Season 25 - Episode 9

From 1941 to 1978, this husband-and-wife team brought unique talents to their partnership. He was an architect by training, she was a painter and sculptor. Together they are considered America’s most important and influential designers, whose work helped, literally, shape the second half of the 20th century and remains culturally vital and commercially popular today. They are, perhaps, best remembered for their mid-century modern furniture, built from novel materials like molded plywood, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, bent metal wire and aluminum – offering consumers beautiful, functional, yet inexpensive products. Revered for their designs and fascinating as individuals, Charles and Ray have risen to iconic status in American culture. But their influence on significant events and movements in American life – from the development of modernism, to the rise of the computer age – has been less widely understood. Charles and Ray Eames are now profiled as part of American Masters. A film by Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey. Narrated by James Franco.

star 9.00
1 votes
Stella Adler: Awake and Dream!

#12 - Stella Adler: Awake and Dream!

Season 4 - Episode 2

A retrospective on the career of one of America's finest teachers of acting technique.

star 9.00
1 votes
Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval

#13 - Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval

Season 10 - Episode 1

A documentary on the man who pioneered the use of early television for dramatic storytelling.

star 9.00
2 votes
Alexander Calder

#14 - Alexander Calder

Season 12 - Episode 6

A biography of the acclaimed sculptor known for his mobiles and large public art pieces.

star 9.00
1 votes
Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood

#15 - Hitchcock, Selznick and the End of Hollywood

Season 14 - Episode 1

A chronicle of the clash between two film-making legends when they tried to work together in the 1940s.

star 9.00
1 votes
Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character

#16 - Carol Burnett: A Woman of Character

Season 21 - Episode 9

The career of funny woman Carol Burnett, from Broadway to television stardom.

star 9.00
2 votes
Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

#17 - Johnny Carson: King of Late Night

Season 26 - Episode 5

Quite possibly the biggest star that television has ever produced, Carson commanded, at his peak, a nightly audience of 15 million viewers – double the current audience of Leno and Letterman – combined. Rarely giving interviews, Carson chose to remain a very private man whose public persona made him an American superstar.

star 9.00
5 votes
Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel

#18 - Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel

Season 26 - Episode 3

Margaret Mitchell: American Rebel engages leading historians, biographers and personal friends to reveal a complex woman who experienced profound identity shifts during her life and struggled with the two great issues of her day: the changing role of women and the liberation of African Americans.

star 9.00
2 votes
Salinger

#19 - Salinger

Season 28 - Episode 1

Featuring never-before-seen photographs, personal stories and moments from J.D. Salinger’s (Jan. 1, 1919 – Jan. 27, 2010) life and harrowing service in World War II, Salerno’s new director’s cut expands his intimate portrait of the enigmatic author of The Catcher in the Rye. American Masters was the first to close a deal with Salerno for Salinger, securing the exclusive domestic television rights to the documentary in January 2013. An official selection of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and Telluride Film Festival, the film made front page news all over the world with its revelations. Associated Press called the research yielded during Salerno’s 10-year investigation “unprecedented” and “thoroughly documented.”

star 9.00
2 votes
Bing Crosby Rediscovered

#20 - Bing Crosby Rediscovered

Season 28 - Episode 9

Bing Crosby (1903-77) is remembered via home movies, Dictabelt recordings, photos and insights from wife Kathryn, daughter Mary and sons Harry and Nathaniel. He scored nearly 400 hit singles, including the classic "White Christmas"; and appeared in such popular films as "White Christmas" and "Going My Way." The profile details the allegations of abuse leveled against him by son Gary (1933-95); and explains how his beloved duet with David Bowie on "Little Drummer Boy-Peace on Earth" came about.

star 9.00
1 votes
B.B. King: The Life of Riley

#21 - B.B. King: The Life of Riley

Season 30 - Episode 2

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.

star 9.00
1 votes
Fats Domino and The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll

#22 - Fats Domino and The Birth of Rock 'n' Roll

Season 30 - Episode 4

star 9.00
3 votes
Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny

#23 - Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny

Season 31 - Episode 6

A trove of never-before-seen archival footage provides an unconventional look at the fiercely independent style of filmmaking that emerged out of Austin, Texas in the late 1980s and 1990s with Linklater as its poster boy.

star 9.00
1 votes
Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

#24 - Lorraine Hansberry: Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart

Season 32 - Episode 1

Explore the inner life and works of the activist, playwright and author of “A Raisin in the Sun,” Lorraine Hansberry. Narrated by actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson and featuring the voice of Tony Award-winning actress Anika Noni Rose as Hansberry.

star 9.00
1 votes
Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage

#25 - Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage

Season 33 - Episode 10

From award-winning director Ben DeJesus (Great Performances: John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway, John Leguizamo: Tales from a Ghetto Klown), Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage is a warm and revealing portrait of the charismatic, groundbreaking actor’s journey from his native Puerto Rico to the creative hotbed of 1960s New York City, to prominence on Broadway and in Hollywood. Filled with passion, determination and joy, Juliá’s brilliant and daring career was tragically cut short by his untimely death 25 years ago, at age 54.

star 9.00
3 votes