45th Anniversary of The Young Rebels

Fun fact: both Rick Ely and Alex Henteloff guest starred in episodes of M*A*S*H years after The Young Rebels went off the air, Henteloff in February 1973 and Ely in February 1974. The Young Rebels aren’t so young anymore. The series turns 45 today. It debuted on ABC on Sunday, September 20th, 1970. My article about the series can be found here.

Although it may have been a failure, cancelled after just 15 episodes, The Young Rebels had a lot of young fans back in 1970. Just not enough to keep it on the air. It also produced quite a bit of memorabilia for such a short-lived show, with two tie-in novels and a single tie-in comic book from Dell. I reviewed the second tie-in novel back in June 2009 and the comic book a few months later in September 2009.

The series was set in Chester, Pennsylvania. Rick Ely, Alex Henteloff and Lou Gossett starred as the young members of the Yankee Doodle Society dedicated to supporting the fight against the British during the Revolutionary War. Rounding out the cast was Hilarie Thompson, who played the girlfriend of Ely’s character. Philippe Forquet appeared in many episodes as General Lafayette.

Not surprisingly, The Young Rebels wasn’t always historically accurate. Scrolling text and voiceover at the end of every episode attempted to put people and events in their proper historical context but the closing credits also included the following disclaimer: “Some of the dates, events, and people in this episode were fictional.”

Critics were not kind to the series, which was yet another try at youthful “relevance” by one of the networks. I’ve seen a few episodes of The Young Rebels and they were entertaining enough. From the comments left at my article I’m guessing many of the viewers who enjoyed the series back in 1970 were young women who thought Rick Ely was cute. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you loved The Young Rebels, regardless of your feelings about Ricky Ely, hit the comments with your memories.


4 Comments

  • Delbert "Dellie Goose" Hutchinson says:

    I Remember The TV Series It Had Aired On ABC Before The Series The FBI From QM Productions In Association With Warner Bros Television.

  • Jofus says:

    The idea behind “Young Rebels” may have been to tie-in the Revolutionary War with the “relevance” craze that swept TV in 12970 (since networks and advertisers were suddenly interested in demographics and they thought that these “relevance” shows would attract lots of adults between 18 and 49 years of age).

    Additionally, the “countdown” for the 1976 Bicentennial was already underway in 1970, and that may have been another reason “Young Rebels” got picked-up.

    In many communities, plans were already underway as early as 1970 for bicentennial celebrations (the big one, Expo ’76, a world’s fair that would have been held in Philadelphia, never came off because the cost had become too high).

    And TV had other bicentennial plans. In the Fall of 1970, NBC began what was to have been a series of historical documentaries narrated by Chet Huntley (who had just stepped down from co-anchor of the network’s nightly newscast) that were to have appeared two or three times a year through the spring of 1976. But Huntley fell ill, and the series was abandoned when he was no longer able to work on it (Huntley passed away in 1974).

    Additionally, NBC picked-up the BBC-produced history series “America” with Alistair Cooke, which although considered part of TV’s multi-year run-up to the Bicentennial, appeared on both sides of the Atlantic in the 1972-73 season.

  • ERIC R. PLEASANT says:

    As far as I remember, and as far as I have seen in old clips, the show was not much in terms of being historically accurate-as a matter of fact THE YOUNG REBELS was more the Disney view of the revolution-lostsa fun! It was one of those well-meaning, then politically correct revisionist view of history.

  • ERIC PLEASANT says:

    The show had an interesting premise but I believed that it suffered from bad timing. Like the YOUNG LAWYERS it looked as if it was simply a rip-off of the MOD SQUAD.

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