The mini-series makes a major plot change from the original novel. In the book, Julie Prescott is a minor character who briefly dates Rudy. Her story is actually that of Gretchen Jordache, Rudy and Tommy's sister, who does not appear at all in the mini-series.
Although he had been a working actor for years prior to this production, Nick Nolte became a star after appearing in this very popular mini-series. In fact, the network wanted his character to appear in the sequel they were planning and Nolte refused to alter the story to make that possible. Peter Strauss also became an in-demand actor after this project.
Nick Nolte said that when he played a young man in the early scenes of the project, he weighed about 160 pounds. When he played a middle aged man in the later scenes, he weighed over 180 pounds.
Don Johnson, a good friend of Nick Nolte and his co-star in Return to Macon County (1975) auditioned for the role of 'Rudy Jordache'.
In Italy, this mini series was broadcast with three different titles on three different channels in subsequent years: "Il sogno americano dei Jordache" (The Jordaches' American Dream) in 1977, "Il sogno americano" (The American Dream) in 1982 and "Il ricco e il povero" (literal translation) in 1984.
The film that Tommy Jordache and Claude Tinker watched at the Port Phillip cinema on VE Night was Wake Island (1942)
Alex North's main opening theme originally appeared in the 1956 Clark Gable film "The King and Four Queens."
In later works the two male leads, Nick Nolte and Peter Strauss, each played a role originated by Gregory Peck. Nolte starred in the Peck role in Cape Fear and Strauss in a TV Movie, The Yearling.