Masada is an American television miniseries that aired on ABC in April 1981. Advertised by the network as an “ABC Novel for Television,” it was a fictionalized account of the historical siege of the Masada citadel in Israel by legions of the Roman Empire in AD 73. The TV series’ script is based on the novel The Antagonists by Ernest Gann. The siege ended when the Roman armies were able to enter the fortress, only to discover the mass suicide by the Jewish defenders when defeat became imminent.
Masada was one of several historical miniseries produced in the early 1980s following the success of NBC’s Shogun in 1980.
The miniseries starred Peter O’Toole as Roman legion commander Lucius Flavius Silva, Peter Strauss as the Jewish commander Elazar ben Ya’ir, and Barbara Carrera as Silva’s Jewish mistress. David Warner, as Pomponius Falco, won an Emmy Award for his role. O’Toole was nominated for an Emmy for his performance. It was his first appearance in an American miniseries. Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens composed the series’ score. Goldsmith received an Emmy for his contribution.
Masada was filmed on location at the site of the ancient fortress, in the Judean Desert, Israel. Remains of a ramp, created during the filming to simulate the ramp built by the Romans to take the fortress, can still be seen at the site.