Here’s the behind-the-scenes drama of ‘Dynasty’
‘Dynasty,’ which was almost called ‘Oil,’ was one of the most popular TV shows in the 1980s. The program was about a ridiculously wealthy family in Denver, Colorado, and all the “catfights” and drama they got into. The CW recently revived the program with new, younger actors. Whatever goes on behind the scenes of the CW’s show probably pales in comparison to the drama on set of the OG ‘Dynasty’ …
1. Joan Collins and Linda Evans ‘weren’t best friends’
Collins’ and Evans’ characters, Alexis Carrington Colby and Krystle Carrington, often ended up in “catfights” which the audience eagerly anticipated each week. The press often wanted the actresses to hate each other — it would make sense as their characters despised each other on the TV program.
CBS correspondent Mo Rocca brought this up to Collins in a 2019 interview, to which Collins replied, “Yeah. We weren’t best friends.” It doesn’t seem like they necessarily hated each other — which is what media reports of the show at the time wanted.
NEXT: This caused quite a stir on set.
2. Collins’ ‘Playboy’ photo shoot caused drama
Collins did a photo shoot for the notorious magazine Playboy in 1983. While many men were probably fans, Collins’ costar John Forsythe wasn’t happy about it, says a report in British publication The Mirror. “According to Joan, John was ‘aloof’ and branded her ‘a disgrace’ when she posed for Playboy,” says the report.
“However, she said Dynasty stylist Nolan Miller suspected he was simply jealous. After all, it was the arrival of Alexis and the character’s popularity that saw the ailing show’s ratings soar.” Did Forsythe wish that he was on the cover of Playboy? Perhaps …
NEXT: Ever wonder what being on set of Dynasty was like?
3. The set was a pressure cooker
The actress that played Fallon Carrington Colby, Pamela Sue Martin, ended up leaving the show due to the pressure on set, according to a report in Closer Weekly. The publication said actor John James (who played Fallon’s husband Jeff) had something to say about Martin’s departure.
“She couldn’t take (the pressure) anymore.” Apparently, the directors of Dynasty required a lot from their actors. For example, the infamous 1983 lily pond fight between characters Alexis and Krystle required the actresses to stand on their knees — that must’ve hurt!
NEXT: The team behind the mega-hit TV show wasn’t exactly nice.
4. On-set bosses were bullies
So you think you have a hostile work environment? Well, you probably do, but the actors on Dynasty probably had it much worse (except for the fact they probably made more money than you do). A report in Trend Chaser says the on-set bosses “didn’t have much respect for actors on Dynasty.”
“Lee Bergere was reportedly fired from Dynasty after he simply asked if his character could possibly get a little more screen time. Catherine Oxenberg was allegedly fired over a simple contract dispute,” says the report in Trend Chaser.
NEXT: But for some people, Dynasty was a powerful time in their life.
5. ‘It was a powerful time in my life, thank God “Dynasty” came along.’
Linda Evans was quoted by Closer Weekly as saying the above. John Forsythe agreed with the magnitude of the show, saying, “We had an impact.” Dynasty even impacted some viewers enough that they named their children after characters on the show. For example, the name “Fallon” seemed popular.
“I said, ‘Fallon? That’s an interesting name,’” Forsythe is quoted by Closer Weekly as saying of a woman he had recently met. “She said, ‘My mom watched Dynasty.’ It’s the third time I’ve come across somebody named Fallon!”
NEXT: This character changed actors, and more about him was changed after ABC had their way.
6. ABC was uncomfortable with ‘Dynasty’s’ gay character
Early in Dynasty’s history, the Carringtons had a gay son, Steven. Pretty progressive for the 1980s, right? But ABC decided to change — or attempt to change — Steven’s orientation because it thought that might help raise Dynasty’s low ratings, says a report in The New York Times that recaps a TV miniseries about Dynasty’s behind-the-scenes moments. The actor that played Steven, Al Corley, wasn’t having it.
So ABC fired Corley and wrote in an oil-rig accident that disfigures Steven. After Steven goes through what seems like an incredibly efficient plastic surgery, he comes back on the show — straight. A new actor replaced Corley and gay themes were nixed.
NEXT: Here’s what Corley did outside of Dynasty.
7. Al Corley had a singing career
Actor Al Corley had played the show’s openly gay character and son of the Carringtons, Steven Carrington. Although Corley was replaced by another actor, he did make a reappearance in 1991 for the miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion, says a report in Trend Chaser. He wasn’t just an actor, however.
Corley also had a brief singing career. His song “Square Rooms” was a No. 1 hit in France, notes the report in Trend Chaser. Corley has three albums: Square Rooms (same title as his hit song), Riot of Color, and The Big Picture.
NEXT: Producers often heard the concerns of this actor.
8. John Forsythe often voiced his concerns to producers
ABC aired an unflattering movie about Dynasty’s behind-the-scenes moments in 2004 that portrayed actor Forsythe as a “stick-the-mud” who always complained about the show’s story lines. USA Today reached out to the actor (who was 86 at the time) for his reaction to the movie.
“Of course I worried about the scripts and story lines … And being the member of the cast with the most seniority, experience and long-standing work history with Aaron Spelling, I would proudly and yes, sometimes defiantly take my concerns to the executive producers for discussion.”
NEXT: Forsythe didn’t like this story line.
9. He was not OK with adultery in the script
We’ve already established in our previous slide that actor John Forsythe was often vocal about the TV show’s scripts. His character, patriarch Blake Carrington, often engaged in sketchy behavior such as lying, stealing, cheating, and blackmailing, says a report in Trend Chaser. Blake wasn’t exactly a “nice guy.”
However, Forsythe wasn’t cool with adultery being written into the script. (Some sins are more OK than others, guys!) The second half of season seven had Blake suffering from a bout of amnesia and then falling in love with ex-wife Alexis.
NEXT: Remember the “Moldavian Massacre”?
10. The cast was unaware of the ending of the ‘Moldavian Massacre’
During the character Amanda’s wedding to Prince Michael (whom she didn’t want to marry) in the principality of Moldavia, terrorists crashed the party and shot into the crowd of wedding guests, says a report in Mental Floss. (Guess that’s a good excuse to get out of a wedding, Amanda?)
The cast was unsure of their characters’ futures. “We had no idea who was going to live or die. None of us knew … Might as well call your agent and say, ‘I need a job,’” Mental Floss reported Collins saying during the Dynasty Reunion.
NEXT: He didn’t like Collins.
11. Forsythe didn’t like Collins
Collins didn’t exactly have kind words for Forsythe, either: “John didn’t like me. Because John is old-school masculine, misogynistic, and a bit sexist. He frankly didn’t like this English woman, and every single person say, ‘Oh, she’s made the show,’” she told CBS in 2019.
Can’t win them all, I guess … Their characters, Blake and Alexis, were exes on Dynasty, so the hatred Forsythe felt toward Collins could’ve been channeled into his acting. (Use that anger, John! Put it into your art!)
NEXT: The gender pay gap was alive and well in the 1980s.
12. Forsythe was paid more than Collins
In response to a list of highest-paid actors the BBC put out in 2017, Collins tweeted: “Oh dear only couple of actresses on BBC Rich list reminds me when John Forsythe contractually had to receive much more than me on Dynasty!” Not that gender pay gaps are shocking or anything …
According to British publication The Mirror, Collins revealed: “But when I reported for work, I was told, ‘Sorry, Joan, we can’t afford to pay you every week, so you’re only going to be in half the episodes.’”
NEXT: This is why Evans and Collins had to stand on their knees in a pond.
13. The lily pond ‘catfight’ was in shallow water
Dynasty was known for its “catfights” — especially between main characters and enemies Alexis and Krystle. A report in Mental Floss details the behind the scenes of what the publication says is Dynasty’s most famous fight — the lily pond scene. Evans and Collins filmed the iconic scene at a Pasadena estate.
“It looked like we were in six feet of water but in reality we were in only two and a half feet, and fighting on our knees! It felt absurd and we struggled all day to make it look authentic,” Mental Floss reported Evans saying.
NEXT: Audiences today would’ve reacted differently.
14. Rock Hudson’s AIDS diagnosis caused an uproar
The mega movie star played character Daniel Reese on Dynasty from December 1984 to April 1985. This was unfortunately his last acting role. He died in October 1985 from AIDS-related complications. Hudson’s diagnosis caused an uproar among Dynasty viewers …
We’ll preface this next part of the story by saying that in the 1980s, there was very little information about HIV. When Hudson had to kiss Evans in an episode, the viewers panicked — some thought that HIV was transferred through kissing.
NEXT: Steven wasn’t the only character played by different actors.
15. Two different actresses played Fallon
The Carrington daughter Fallon was “saucy” and “rebellious,” according to a report in The New York Times. Like different actors played son Steven, two different actresses played the part of Fallon Carrington Colby — Pamela Sue Martin and then Emma Samms. Actor John James had a theory on why Martin left.
(We discussed this in slide three.) “She couldn’t take (the pressure) anymore,” John James was reported saying. The behind-the-scenes production folks of Dynasty put a lot of pressure on the cast. For some — possibly Martin — the pressure was too much.
NEXT: You probably didn’t know this about Martin.
16. Pamela Sue Martin wore a wig for filming
Unbeknownst to viewers of Dynasty back then, actress Pamela Sue Martin (who portrayed Fallon Carrington Colby before Emma Samms) suffered from a medical condition — hair loss, says a report in Trend Chaser. The condition was exacerbated by stress. Stress wasn’t in short supply on the set of Dynasty by any means …
To hide her hair loss, Martin often wore a wig while filming. “I found it hard to cope with everything. It was physically debilitating, and I became thin and stressed. I reacted emotionally, which then affected my body,” Trend Chaser reported her saying.
NEXT: When budgets are tight, people are let go.
17. Diahann Carroll was cut because of the budget
Actress Diahann Carroll (left) played the awesomely named character Dominique Deveraux. She was supposed to make cameos as Ms. Deveraux during season eight, says a report in Trend Chaser, but those plans were nixed due to the budget of the show. There were rumors about her joining the cast permanently.
During season ten, that is, but Dynasty got canceled after the ninth season wrapped up. Guess Ms. Deveraux never got enough time on-screen on the show Dynasty … But her acting career flourished in 40-plus other TV shows and movies, says Trend Chaser.
NEXT: The part of Krystle was almost played by this famous actress.
18. Angie Dickinson rejected the role of Krystle
The actress best known for her roles in Dressed to Kill, Ocean’s 11, and Police Woman was once offered the part of Krystle. Linda Evans ended up playing the part after Dickinson rejected the role. Not realizing that Oil had become Dynasty, she asked Aaron Spelling about it at a party.
“Aaron nearly fell backwards,” Mental Floss reported Dickinson telling People magazine. “He said, ‘Well, it’s on every Wednesday at 9 o’clock, and it’s called Dynasty.’” Spelling did offer Dickinson another role on Dynasty, but she turned that one down too.
NEXT: Collins was almost not on the show.
19. ABC didn’t want Collins as Alexis Carrington Colby
In 2004, ABC aired a movie that revealed a very unflattering view of the cast of Dynasty, called Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure. “The movie reminds us that before Collins became Alexis Carrington Colby, she was a forgotten B-movie actress whom ABC didn’t want for the role,” says a 2004 report in USA Today.
The film also portrayed Collins as someone that had no qualms flirting with married men. She’s shown putting “the moves on happily married Forsythe, then makes fun of his advanced years.” She also replaces her love interest with a younger model, among other scandals.
NEXT: Here’s how her manager responded to the film.
20. Her manager called ABC ‘lowlifes’
Collins’ manager Tom Korman wasn’t very pleased with the film ABC aired in 2004 — Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure. “Despite ABC publicity’s insistence that Collins would be available to promote the movie,” says a USA Today report, “she read the script and wants nothing to do with it.”
“It’s typical ABC,” USA Today reported Korman saying of the network. “They’re lowlifes.” No matter “which side you’re on,” it’s clear that there was some major drama behind the scenes that viewers of Dynasty had absolutely no idea about.
NEXT: Why did Dynasty get canceled?
21. ABC unceremoniously ended the TV show
They even left viewers on a cliff-hanger episode with the main characters in danger of losing their lives. How could you do that to us, ABC?! Turns out that the network got a new president in 1989, Robert A. Iger, who straight-up had no qualms about canceling Dynasty.
Ratings had been plummeting for the program and Iger decided to pull the plug before things got any worse. The last episode of season nine became the very last in the series, with ABC not bothering to make a proper finale episode like other beloved TV shows have done.
NEXT: This paper wasn’t very kind to the Dynasty reunion.
22. ‘The New York Times’ called the reunion a ‘freak show’
“There is no point in pretending that Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar isn’t primarily a freak show,” wrote Alessandra Stanley in a 2006 article in The New York Times. Yikes, Alessandra! The writer goes on to comment on Evans’ and Collins’ appearances — and she doesn’t have good things to say.
“Mostly the actresses look like latter-day Mrs. Skeffingtons — elderly women hoping that in the right light, with the right hairpiece and strategic tuck, they do not look as if they were falling to bits,” writes Alessandra Stanley. Ouch!
NEXT: Young Blake Carrington’s story would’ve been told in this.
23. There was about to be a ‘Dynasty’ movie
The creators of Dynasty said they were working on a prequel movie script in 2011. It was to be set in 1961 and focus on a young Blake Carrington, says a report in Mental Floss. “We’re taking Blake Carrington back to his young manhood and when he met Alexis,” Ester Shapiro had said.
There were reunions to wrap up the loose ends when Dynasty was abruptly canceled. However, the Dynasty movie was inspired by the Star Wars series’ format — jumping from movies four, five, and six to one, two, and three, says a report in ABC.
NEXT: Some Dynasty cast members were upset about this.
24. ‘Dynasty’s’ stars weren’t keen on this TV movie about the show
When Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure was released in 2004, USA Today checked out the scandals on set that were reenacted by new actors. The original actors declined to promote The Making of a Guilty Pleasure and didn’t seem to appreciate it that much …
It makes sense because The Making of a Guilty Pleasure cast a largely unflattering light on many of the cast members. It even possibly made up things. For example, Evans is portrayed as a “Stepford wife” that shows up to an audition with brownies. Evans says that never happened.
NEXT: Here are examples of Dynasty’s impact on popular culture.
25. ‘Dynasty’ appears in a Prince song and a reboot, among other things
The music artist Prince references the drama of Dynasty in his 1986 song, “Kiss”: “You don’t have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude,” Prince croons in his iconic falsetto. Although it’s not the 1980s anymore, we still haven’t forgotten about Dynasty. Now, the iconic TV show has been rebooted.
The CW Network created the reboot, which premiered in October 2017. It’s been renewed for a third season, which premiered in October 2019. It’s basically the same concept as the 1980s TV show — two wealthy families — but modernized to fit with life in the 2000s. Some of the stars are Elizabeth Gillies as Fallon and Grant Show as her dad, Blake.