About the Series

AboutSeries

American Masters, THIRTEEN’s award-winning biography series, celebrates our arts and culture. Launched in 1986, the series has set the standard for documentary film profiles, accruing widespread critical acclaim. Awards include 70 Emmy nominations and 28 awards — 10 for Outstanding Non-Fiction Series since 1999 and five for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special — 12 Peabody Awards; three Grammys; an Oscar; two Producers Guild Awards for Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television; and the 2012 IDA Award for Best Continuing Series. Now in its 29th season on PBS, the series is a production of THIRTEEN PRODUCTIONS LLC for WNET and also seen on the WORLD channel.

One of the most durable and worthwhile jewels in public television’s crown.TV Worth Watching

American Masters enjoys recognition from film events across the country and international festivals from London to Berlin and Toronto to Melbourne. Other honors include The Christopher Awards and the Chicago International Television Awards as Outstanding Documentary Series, and the Banff Grand Prize and the Television Critics Association Award for Outstanding Movies.


When it comes to biography, no one’s doing it better than American Masters. — Wall Street Journal

American Masters has produced an exceptional library, bringing unique originality and perspective to illuminate the creative journeys of our most enduring writers, musicians, visual and performing artists, dramatists, filmmakers and those who have left an indelible impression on our cultural landscape. Balancing a broad and diverse cast of characters and artistic approaches, while preserving historical authenticity and intellectual integrity, these portraits reveal the style and substance of each subject. The series entered its 28th season on PBS in 2014 beginning with Salinger — the series’ 200th episode.

It’s like the Pulitzer for this business. — Don Hewitt

The series’ individually crafted films reflect the specific attention deserved by American Masters subjects, including such great talents as Arthur Miller (the series’ first subject), Georgia O’Keeffe, James Baldwin, Diego Rivera, Martha Graham, F. Scott Fitzgerald, I.M. Pei, Leonard Bernstein, Sidney Poitier, Judy Garland, John James Audubon, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Johnny Carson, Zora Neale Hurston, Albert Einstein, Rod Serling, Bill T. Jones, Lucille Ball, Paul Simon, Richard Avedon, John Cassavetes, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Gehry, Woody Guthrie, Jimi Hendrix, Edward Curtis, Julia Child, Walter Cronkite, Woody Allen, and Billie Jean King, as well as influential cultural institutions and eras such as the Actor’s Studio, the Algonquin Round Table, the Negro Ensemble Company, the Juilliard School, 60 Minutes, the Joffrey Ballet, and a century of Chinese American cinematic history in Hollywood Chinese.

…one of the greatest cultural storytelling franchises in American life. — The Baltimore Sun

Fascinating in their individuality as well as in the aggregate, American Masters has become a cultural legacy in its own right, producing and presenting the extraordinary mosaic of our creative heritage and broadening viewer appreciation of our nation’s traditions and character. An artist’s work can capture, reflect and even shape a society’s experience. Without art, we would lack an identity, a soul and a voice. American Masters exists to give life to that voice.

…the kind of PBS program even a die-hard congressional critic of PBS can love. — Variety

For media inquiries about American Masters, please refer to the THIRTEEN pressroom. To learn more about the history of American Masters, see this interview with series founder Susan Lacy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Schedule?

American Masters does not have regularly scheduled programming and its premiere dates are national, but may vary in time and date by local PBS station. See Schedule at the top navigation of our site to log-in your local station and see what programs are available in the next two weeks.

Do you email newsletters?
We do have a newsletter, and we’d be very pleased if you would like to subscribe. Monthly newsletters highlight upcoming broadcasts, web-exclusive features, screenings and series-related events around the country, and never-before-seen footage from the American Masters Digital Archive. We also send tune-in reminders on the day of or day before a national broadcast.

Where can I purchase a film DVD?

To purchase DVDs of AMERICAN MASTERS episodes, please visit ShopPBS or call 1-800-531-4727. The icon of a shopping cart on this site’s top navigation bar leads to ShopPBS.

Do you have Classroom materials?

PBS LearningMedia regularly creates educational materials to accompany American Masters episodes. Please see Classroom in the top navigation of this site to see the resources available.

Series Funding

American Masters is made possible by the support of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding for American Masters is provided by Rosalind P. Walter, The Philip and Janice Levin Foundation, Judith and Burton Resnick, Ellen and James S. Marcus, The Blanche & Irving Laurie Foundation, Vital Projects Fund, the Lenore Hecht Foundation, Michael & Helen Schaffer Foundation, The André and Elizabeth Kertész Foundation, and public television viewers.

Major Awards Print

Emmy Awards

Outstanding Non-Fiction Series

  • AMERICAN MASTERS (1999)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2000)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2001)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2003)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2004)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2008)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2009)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2011)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2013)
  • AMERICAN MASTERS (2014)

Outstanding Achievement in Directing

  • W. EUGENE SMITH (1989)
  • ROBERT TRACHTENBERG (2013)

Outstanding Sound Mixing

  • BOB DYLAN (2006)
  • ATLANTIC RECORDS (2007)
  • TONY BENNETT (2008)
  • JIMI HENDRIX (2014)

Outstanding Non Fiction Special

  • CHARLIE CHAPLIN (1986)
  • BUSTER KEATON (1987)
  • LILLIAN GISH (1988)
  • The GROUP THEATER (1989)
  • EDWARD R. MURROW (1990)

Outstanding Achievement in Writing

  • BUSTER KEATON (1987)
  • PRESTON STURGES (1990)
  • JUDY GARLAND (2004)
  • ANDY WARHOL (2007)

Outstanding Sound Editing

  • JONI MITCHELL (2003)

Outstanding Picture Editing

  • JUDY GARLAND (2004)

Outstanding Musical Composition in a Non-Fiction Special

  • JOHN MUIR (2011)

Academy Awards

Best Feature Documentary

  • The ALGONQUIN ROUND TABLE (1987)

Nominations Best Feature Documentary

  • ISSAC BASHEVIS SINGER (1987)
  • WALDO SALT (1991)
  • AL HIRSCHFELD (1997)
  • PAUL TAYLOR (1999)

Peabody Awards

  • CHARLIE CHAPLIN (1986)
  • BUSTER KEATON (1987)
  • JOHN HAMMOND (1990)
  • PAUL SIMON (1994)
  • ALEXANDER CALDER (1999)
  • F. SCOTT FITZGERALD (2001)
  • BOB DYLAN (2005)
  • ANDY WARHOL (2007)
  • JEROME ROBBINS (2009)
  • JOHN LENNON (2010)
  • ELIA KAZAN (2010)
  • Charles & Ray Eames (2012)

Grammy Awards

  • LOU REED (1998)
  • BOB DYLAN (2005)
  • THE DOORS  (2009)

Producer's Guild Award

  • Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television (2012)
  • Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television (2013)

Chicago International Film Festival Television Gold Hugo Award

  • Educational Documentary Series (2015)

Series Credits Print

Broadcast Credits

Executive Producer
Michael Kantor

Series Producer
Julie Sacks

Supervising  Producer
Junko Tsunashima

Series Production Assistant
Gabriel Meyers

Digital Producer
Christina Knight

Series Publicist
Natasha Padilla

Series Budget Controller
Jayne Lemma

Music Services
Rosie Fishel
Emily Lee

Series Music Composed By
Thomas Wagner

Series Title Design By
Brian Whitehill


Web Credits

Social Media Marketing
David Ernst

Pagebuilding
Brian Santalone

Technical Director
Brian Lee

Creative Director
Nick Miller

Executive Producer – Interactive and Engagement
Daniel Greenberg