Winner 1988

The Murder of Mary Phagan


The brutal murder of a young woman in Atlanta in 1913 set off a series of tragic events that reverberate to the present day. The accused murderer of Mary Phagan, Leo Frank, became the focus of public hatred because he was wealthy, educated, and Jewish, all characteristics that alienated him from the mob of citizens who demanded vengeance. Vigilante rule took Frank’s fate out of the hands of elected officials and placed it in the hands of a lynch mob. The evidence in the case, however, strongly suggests that he was innocent. The Murder of Mary Phagan allows a look behind the exterior of a society and its sense of justice. Jack Lemmon’s powerful performance as Georgia governor John Slaton combines with fine direction and historical detail to paint a comprehensive picture of the events. NBC-TV, George Stevens Jr. Productions, and Orion Television have combined their talents to create a program of exceptional quality, thus a Peabody for The Murder of Mary Phagan.