Rags to Riches (TV series)

Rags to Riches is an American musical comedy-drama that was broadcast on NBC for two seasons from March 9, 1987 to January 15, 1988. Set in the pre-British Invasion 1960s, the series tells the story of Nick Foley, a self-made millionaire who adopts five orphan girls. Each episode included musical scenes of hit songs from the era performed by the girls integrated into the plot (with the lyrics modified to provide commentary on the storyline).

Rags to Riches
Created byBernie Kukoff
Opening themeMark Mueller (lyrics)
ComposerJ. Peter Robinson (1.1)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes20
Executive producers
CinematographyPaul Onorato
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time48 minutes
Production companies
DistributorVine Alternate Investments
Original networkNBC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseMarch 9, 1987 (1987-03-09) –
January 15, 1988 (1988-01-15)


Nick Foley (Joseph Bologna), the millionaire owner of Foley Foods, is a streetwise New Jersey-born businessman with a playboy lifestyle. In the TV movie pilot which launched the series, Foley attempts to develop a family man image by bringing a group of six orphaned girls, who were featured in a newspaper story saying that they refused to be separated from each other, to live in the mansion in Bel Air where he lives with his butler, John Clapper (Douglas Seale). Foley does this to seal a business deal and does not intend to keep the girls permanently, but Foley's plans change as he grows attached to the girls, and he ends up adopting them as his legal daughters

The adjustment is huge on both sides, as the girls acquire a new father with no parenting experience. Having spent the past few years in a rundown orphanage, the girls suddenly find themselves in a life of luxury (hence the series' title). The series follows the trials and tribulations of the girls and a man who has previously never loved anyone but himself, and often struggles to cope with his new family.

In the pilot for the series, Foley takes in a group of six girls; however, Foley only adopted five of them for the remainder of the series' run: Rose, 17; Diane, 16; Marva, 15; Patty, 14; and Mickey, 8. The sixth girl, Nina, appears only in the pilot (after the pilot was produced, it was decided that six children was too many for the series cast, so Nina was written out of the series as having been reunited with her birth mother as referenced in the episode "Patty's Mom").

The series differed from regular comedy-dramas in that the girls would frequently burst into song to help explain their feelings or move along the plot. Each episode therefore contained at least two musical scenes with covers of popular songs from the early 1960s with the lyrics changed to provide commentary on the storyline of the episode.


Promoted with the tagline, "If you liked Annie, you'll like Rags to Riches". After very good ratings on Sunday night, it got moved to Friday in the fall of 1987 to make way for Family Ties. Ratings for the series were not strong enough for its Friday night time slot, and NBC canceled the show part way through its second season.[1][2]

Musical numbersEdit

Mark Mueller wrote new comedic lyrics for existing hit songs from the '50s and early '60s that were featured in most episodes of both seasons of the show. He also wrote the lyrics to the show's theme song. Many of the songs used were not around yet during the time frame when the series takes place; 1961-63.

Cast and charactersEdit

Main castEdit

Recurring castEdit


Season 1 (1987)Edit

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"Pilot"Bruce Seth GreenBernie KukoffMarch 9, 1987 (1987-03-09)
In 1961, Nick Foley, a successful millionaire of food products, adopts six girls in order to secure a company merger and shed his playboy bachelor image. With help from his fun-loving butler John Clapper, Nick gets into more trouble raising the girls than he can handle. Patty has difficulty reading and Nina runs off with a motorcycle gang.
22"High Society"Bruce Seth GreenBernie Kukoff & Bill DaleyMarch 15, 1987 (1987-03-15)
Nick enters Rose to participate in a debutante ball, much to her chagrin. Rose then falls for Matthew Taylor (Grant Cramer), a rich kid who is only dating her for a one-time sexual fling.
33"Foley vs. Foley"Michael LangeDavid Garber & Bruce E. KalishMarch 22, 1987 (1987-03-22)
With encouragement from Nick, the girls organize a protest helping Greek immigrant Spiro (Jack Kruschen), from having his malt shop (and the girls' favorite hangout spot) from being torn down led by Miles Parnell (Richard Herd), a greedy land developer. Parnell turns out to be Nick's business partner, and the malt shop is being demolished to build an office building which has been a dream of Nick's for years.
44"First Love"Bruce Seth GreenAndrew SchneiderMarch 29, 1987 (1987-03-29)
Nick is worried about Diane's blossoming relationship with Duke (Sasha Mitchell), an older student fearing that it will become sexual. Nick falls for Jessica Lynn (Mel Harris), a beautiful socialite.
55"Business Is Business"Mike SwitzerDiane FrolovApril 5, 1987 (1987-04-05)
Marva has plans to buy a food truck from Skip (Ken Osmond) and Rusty (Fabian), two men leaving the sandwich making business, despite discouragement from Nick about entering the tough business world. Nick competes with Al Schweikert (Sandy Ward), an easily aggravated businessman, in buying a hotel.
66"Patty's Mom"Chuck BravermanSteven Baum & Neil Alan LevyApril 12, 1987 (1987-04-12)
Patty believes that a random woman that she has spotted in the street is her biological mother. It turns out the woman is her mother, a wacky prop comedienne named Gloria Lang (Gina Hecht), who has no parenting skills.
77"Bad Blood"Michael LangeSteve Johnson & Sharon SpelmanApril 19, 1987 (1987-04-19)
Nick's brother Frankie (Joe Cortese) unexpectedly shows up, re-opening unresolved issues between the two men. Taking advice from Frankie, Patty gets even with a bully.
88"Born to Ride"Bruce Seth GreenAndrew Schneider & Bernie KukoffApril 26, 1987 (1987-04-26)
A newly-licensed Diane gets into a car accident, but is actually set up by Arnie (David Paymer), a petty criminal who is out to collect insurance money. Nick has the girls star in a TV commercial for his newest breakfast cereal.

Season 2 (1987–88)Edit

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
91"Vegas Rock"Michael SwitzerAndrew SchneiderSeptember 18, 1987 (1987-09-18)
The girls travel to Las Vegas to obtain an autographed guitar signed by Elvis Presley for a charity. Nick also travels to Las Vegas collaborating with the FBI to entrap Michael Rapp (Alex Rocco), a shady businessman. Clapper falls for Ruby (Priscilla Pointer), a fellow Vegas vacationer.
102"Once in a Lifeguard"Bruce Seth GreenChris CarterSeptember 25, 1987 (1987-09-25)
Rose wants to become a lifeguard, but must deal with her sexist employer to prove herself. Patty changes out of her tomboy look, to get the attention of Sean Howland (Ken Olandt), a handsome lifeguard.
113"That's Cheating"Kim FriedmanStory by : Molly-Ann Leikin
Teleplay by : Molly-Ann Leikin and Harry Longstreet & Renee Longstreet
October 2, 1987 (1987-10-02)
Rose is struggling in Mr. Mazza's (Graham Jarvis) chemistry class, and is tempted by Arnold (Rob Stone) to cheat on a big exam. Nick competes to win a major award while also donating to a struggling hospital and is butting heads with a dedicated doctor Stanley Strumlan (Oliver Clark). Mickey goes overboard selling Girl Scout cookies, with Diane giving in to eating them despite trying to keep her slim figure.
124"Wilderness Blues"Michael SwitzerStory by : Deborah Baron
Teleplay by : Deborah Baron & Andrew Schneider
October 16, 1987 (1987-10-16)
Nick feels that he and the girls don't spend enough time together, so he forces them to join him on a weekend getaway in the woods. Marva, however, would rather spend time with her college boyfriend. Patty is remaking the film Psycho for a video school project.
135"Dear Diary"Daniel CahnRobin SchiffOctober 23, 1987 (1987-10-23)
Phil Johnson (Dick Van Patten), a fellow businessman friend of Nick's, leads a campaign to have the girl's English teacher Ms. Newman (Robin Curtis) fired for her unorthodox teaching ideas. As a result, Marva and Rose use the school newspaper to fight for Ms. Newman and protect their first amendment rights. Patty is having difficulty with writing in her English class, so Ms. Newman gives her a blank diary, so she can go wild her imagination. With help from Diane, Clapper takes part in series of radio trivia contests.
146"Hunk in the House"Bruce GreenHarry Longstreet & Renee LongstreetNovember 6, 1987 (1987-11-06)
Billy Gallento (Richard Grieco), Nick's godson of an old World War II buddy, stays over at the Foley mansion, having most of the girls swoon over him. Diane just coming off a difficult breakup, falls for Billy the most and uses Rose's advice to impress him, while Rose is also interested in being with Billy. Mickey is given a school assignment to look for safety hazards around the mansion.
157"Marva in the Key of Cee"Michael SwitzerSusan GoldbergNovember 13, 1987 (1987-11-13)
Celia Smith (Margaret Avery), Rose's new piano teacher was once a famous singer. Marva then discovers this, and tries set up a comeback for Celia without her permission. Ernie (Aeryk Eagan), an old friend of Mickey's from the orphanage, sneaks over to the mansion and plans on running away to Mexico.
168"Beauty and the Babe"Bruce Seth GreenChris CarterNovember 20, 1987 (1987-11-20)
Diane enters a beauty pageant, which interferes with her studies. Brady Ladean (Peter Barton), a popstar and one of the judges of the pageant makes the moves on Diane. Nick begins dating television star Babe Adair (Shannon Tweed), who has a long list of ex-lovers. Mickey becomes obsessed with unicorns, after spotting a non-sellable unicorn glass statue at a store.
179"A Russian Holiday"Charles CorrellAndrew SchneiderDecember 11, 1987 (1987-12-11)
Viktor Leskov (Joseph Mascolo), a Russian diplomat and his son Alex (Jay Pickett) visit America to form a business deal with Nick. Rose takes a liking to Alex and shows him a good time, sneaking away from security. Mickey tries to soften up one of Leskov's security guards.
1810"A Very Foley Christmas"Daniel CahnStory by : Susan Goldberg & Robin Schiff
Teleplay by : Andrew Schneider and Harry Longstreet & Renee Longstreet
December 20, 1987 (1987-12-20)
Louise McMillan (K Callan), a stern social worker, visits the Foleys on Christmas Eve, and the girls look back on memories since being adopted by Nick. Meanwhile, Nick's car breaks down on a far away road and seeks help from Eli Tuttle (Robert Donner), a curmudgeon car mechanic.
1911"Guess Who's Coming to Slumber?"Michael LangeRobin SchiffJanuary 8, 1988 (1988-01-08)
Marva runs for class president and decides to throw a slumber party to impress the female student body, while Nick is away and Clapper is sick with the flu. The party soon gets out of control when rowdy students show up. Nick gets Patty a job at a horse stable, and she steals a racehorse who can no longer run.
2012"Sweet 16"James KellahinSteven Baum & Neil Alan LevyJanuary 15, 1988 (1988-01-15)
Diane agrees to have a late Sweet Sixteen birthday party, until the Cuban Missile Crisis ruins the plans. Fearing the worst in relation to the crisis, Nick installs a fallout shelter.

Home mediaEdit

On June 5, 2012, Image Entertainment released Rags to Riches: The Complete Series on Region 1 DVD.[3]

DTP Entertainment released the entire series on DVD in Germany. Season 1 was released on May 13, 2011 and season 2 on October 27, 2011.

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient Result
1988 Young Artist Award Best Young Actress Under Ten Years of Age in Television or Motion Pictures Heidi Zeigler Won
1988 Young Artist Award Best Family Comedy Series
1988 Young Artist Award Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress in a Television Comedy Series Blanca De Garr Nominated


  1. ^ Shales, Tom (1987-03-09). "Rags: Moderately Rich; NBC Rips Off Annie, Hits Easy Street". The Washington Times.
  2. ^ McNeil, Alex (1996). Total Television: The Comprehensive Guide to Programming from 1948 to the Present. Penguin Books. p. 683. ISBN 0-14-024916-8.
  3. ^ Lambert, David (February 29, 2012). "Rags to Riches - We've Got the Scoop on a DVD Release of the Show Starring Joseph Bologna and Tisha Campbell". tvshowsondvd.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012.

External linksEdit