‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ star Susan Blakely Reveals Biggest Regret

by Matthew Memrick
(Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

“Rich Man, Poor Man” star Susan Blakely recently talked about her biggest regret, and it had to do with one of her most significant TV roles.

Blakely opted out of her role as Julie Prescott in the sequel to the 1976 show. It’s something she’s still stewing about, that 46-year-old decision. The actress remembers the movie wasn’t about the money because Universal and ABC wanted to write her a blank check.

“I wanted to do other things,” Blakely told Closer Weekly via Fox News. “But when you have that sort of success, you shouldn’t turn your back on it. It was just youthful ignorance.”

According to IMDb, Blakely appeared in nine episodes of the miniseries. The show dove into the lives of the Jordache family from World War II to the late 1960s. 

Another famous co-star followed suit. Well, kind of.

According to IMDb, co-star Nick Nolte also refused to come back and do the new “Rich Man, Poor Man – Book II” show. However, that would’ve been impossible, according to the website, because Nolte’s character died in the previous show. 

By the way, that “Rich Man, Poor Man” series had 21 episodes in all, going from 1976 to 1997.

Legendary Comedienne Helped Blakely Get The Part

Susan Blakely started her career in 1972 and had one significant role in 1974’s “The Towering Inferno” under her belt.

But she got a little help from comedy icon Carol Burnett for her award-winning performance on “Rich Man, Poor Man.”

Burnett saw Blakely in her 1975 flick “Reporter to the Commissioner” and recommended her to producer Harve Bennett for the TV miniseries. Bennett and Burnett were friends.

Blakely didn’t find out until years later of Burnett’s help.

“Carol is an idol of mine, but she never told me because she’s so humble,” Blakely said. “She didn’t want to take credit.”

Blakely Fond Of Her ‘Rich Man, Poor Man’ Co-Stars

Looking back, Susan Blakely described getting along with her castmates while bringing “Rich Man, Poor Man” to life.

Nolte, now 80, and Peter Strauss were a big part of the show’s success. Add in the late Ed Asner, “Hulk” star Bill Bixby and “Brady Bunch” star Robert Reed and the show was a success in the making. The miniseries won four Emmys and 23 nominations.

“Oh, I love Nick,” she said. “He is such a consummate actor, but also a nice, fun guy. And Peter was fabulous – we’ve reconnected recently. There were other leading men in that show who were fabulous, too: Bill Bixby, who my character married, Ed Asner and Robert Reed.”

Susan Blakely is still performing after all these years. She appeared in the 2021 movie “Emily or Oscar.” She’s also had guest roles in “This Is Us,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “NCIS.”