Surviving: A Family in Crisis

Surviving: A Family in Crisis

1993 VHS box cover retitled Tragedy.
Although Zach Galligan was Molly Ringwald's leading man in the film, by 1993 River Phoenix had eclipsed Galligan's stardom, and was given top billing (as well as a photograph obviously taken several years after the film), to promote the VHS release.
Genre Drama
Written by Joyce Eliason
Directed by Waris Hussein
Starring Zach Galligan
Molly Ringwald
Ellen Burstyn
Len Cariou
Marsha Mason
Paul Sorvino
River Phoenix
Heather O'Rourke
Theme music composer James Horner
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Frank Konigsberg
Larry Sanitsky
Producer(s) Hunt Lowry
Cinematography Alexander Gruszynski
Editor(s) Leslie Dennis Bracken
Kurt Bullinger
John F. Burnett
Running time 118 minutes
Production company(s) Telepictures
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor ABC
Original network ABC
Original release February 10, 1985

Surviving: A Family in Crisis (also known simply as Surviving, and later released on VHS as Tragedy) is a 1985 ABC television movie. Directed by Warris Hussein and starring Zach Galligan, Molly Ringwald, and River Phoenix, the film is described as a modern-day Romeo & Juliet story that examines the tragedy of teen suicide, and the loved ones left behind to pick up the pieces.


Rick (Zach Galligan) is the apple of his father's eye; smart, handsome, and idolized by his younger siblings (River Phoenix and Heather O'Rourke). By stark contrast, Lonnie (Molly Ringwald) is a troubled and withdrawn girl, struggling to put the painful memory of a failed suicide attempt behind her. Both teenagers are dealing with loneliness and family pressures when they begin to find solace in each other, and a young romance develops. As Rick and Lonnie's bond begins to grow stronger, and they become increasingly withdrawn from their friends and families, their protective parents begin to worry that the young lovers are becoming too involved and grow increasingly uncomfortable with the teenagers' relationship. Finally, when Rick's parents (Ellen Burstyn and Len Cariou) decide that Lonnie is a bad influence on their son, and Lonnie's parents (Marsha Mason and Paul Sorvino) decide that boarding school would be the best place for their troubled daughter, Rick and Lonnie, desperate not to be separated, make a tragic decision to take their own lives. In the wake of the young lovers' fatal suicide pact, the two devastated families are left to try and pick up the pieces of their shattered lives and must somehow find a way to go on.


Actor Role
Zach Galligan Rick Brogan
Molly Ringwald Lonnie
Ellen Burstyn Tina Brogan
Len Cariou David Brogan
Marsha Mason Lois
Paul Sorvino Harvey
River Phoenix Philip Brogan
Heather O'Rourke Sarah Brogan
William Windom Dr. Madsen
Marc Gilpin Bobby
Paddi Edwards Alma
Camila Ashland Woman #1
Jane Simoneau May
Joe Berryman Sheriff
Lon Coggeshall Jed
Midge Woolsey Helen
Sandra Gilpin Woman #2
David C. Allen Kid
Kim Valentine Sherry
Robert Douglas Scott Artie
Regina Johnson Supervisor
Norma Moore Psychologist
Barry Brawley Kid


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
1984–1985 Young Artist Awards Best Family Television Special Surviving Nominated [1]
Best Young Actress in a Television Special or Mini-Series Heather O'Rourke Nominated [1]
Best Young Actor in a Television Special or Mini-Series River Phoenix Won [1]
1985 Humanitas Prize 90-Minute Category Joyce Eliason Nominated [2]
1986 Artios Award Best Casting for TV Movie of the week Marsha Kleinman
Kathleen Letterie
Nominated [3]


  1. 1 2 3 "7th Annual Young Artist Awards". Young Artist Awards. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  2. "1985 Humanitas Prize Awards". Humanitas Prize. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  3. "1986 Casting Society of America Awards". Casting Society of America. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
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