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Falcon Crest is an Americanmarker primetime television soap opera which aired on the CBS network for nine seasons, from December 4, 1981 to May 17, 1990. A total of 227 episodes were produced.

The series centers around the feuding factions of the wealthy Gioberti/Channing family in the Californianmarker wine industry. Jane Wyman stars as Angela Channing, the tyrannical matriarch of the Falcon Crest Winery, alongside of Robert Foxworth as Chase Gioberti, Angela's nephew who returns to Falcon Crest following the death of his father, and Lorenzo Lamas as Lance Cumson, Angela's playboy grandson. The series was set in the fictitious Tuscany Valley (modeled after the Napa Valleymarker) just north of San Franciscomarker.


The show was created by Earl Hamner, noted for his work on The Waltons which had just finished its last season in 1980–1981. Hamner wanted to create a family drama involving the wine industry, but CBS requested he make the show more sensational, along the lines of Dallas. They then scheduled Falcon Crest at 10PM, right after the top-rated Dallas. The Dallas-Falcon Crest one-two punch proved lucrative for CBS and Falcon Crest was a Top 20 show in the Nielsens for several years. Both shows (like The Waltons) were produced for CBS by the same company, Lorimar.

The show revolved around Angela Channing (Jane Wyman), a corrupt, despotic matriarch who ruled with an iron fist over the Falcon Crest vineyards. Angela's honorable nephew Chase Gioberti (Robert Foxworth) was new to the area and had just inherited a portion of the Falcon Crest vineyards and winery from his father, Angela's brother Jason Gioberti (who died after a fall in the winery during the premiere episode). The rivalry between the established professional and the newcomer, who were tied together as blood relatives, set the tone for much of the series.

Angela's heir was her lazy playboy grandson, Lance Cumson (Lorenzo Lamas), who loved money and yearned for power but lacked Angela's discipline and determination, which was proven after she persuaded him to work in the vineyards. Her ever-tightening grip on him, eventually sent him to work for his grandfather's newspaper, The San Francisco Globe. Eventually realizing that she would not gain control over Chase's land any time soon, Angela hoped to enlarge her empire by forcing Lance into an arranged marriage with winery heiress Melissa Agretti (Ana Alicia), who was herself a selfish schemer and would cause trouble for many residents of Tuscany Valley. Other major characters introduced in the first season were Angela's daughters, Julia (Abby Dalton), who was chief winemaker and Lance's mother, and the emotionally troubled Emma (Margaret Ladd), who became friends with both Maggie and Victoria, and her crooked lawyer Phillip Erickson (Mel Ferrer). Chase's family included Chase's sympathetic wife Maggie (Susan Sullivan), who would eventually work as a freelance writer, with the encouragement of her aunt-in-law. Chase and Maggie's grown-up son Cole (William R. Moses) fell in love with Melissa, who later rejected him due to Lance's determination to have her for himself, and daughter Vickie (Jamie Rose, later replaced by Dana Sparks) was an open-minded college girl. But none could truly rival Angela until the conniving Richard Channing (David Selby) arrived in the show's second season. Originally a powerful newspaper editor, Richard later got into the wine business and made several attempts to wrest control of Falcon Crest from both Angela and Chase. Richard was originally thought to be the love child of Angela's late husband, Douglas, after his affair with Chase's mother, Jacqueline, and Angela therefore despised him, unaware that he is actually her long lost son.


First seasons

Despite its reputation as merely being "Dallas with grapes”, Falcon Crest soon found its own niche amongst the prime-time dramas of the 1980s, occupying the middle ground between the two extremes of the genre — being more glamorous than Dallas yet not quite as outrageous as Dynasty. The distinctive location filming in the Napa Valleymarker and the dry, wryly humorous tone of the scripts gave the series a personality of its own.

The rivalry among Angela, Chase and Richard stayed at the core of the show for years, as more romantic entanglements spun around them. Lance and Cole found themselves not only caught up in their family battles, but also competing for Melissa's affections.

Like Dallas and Dynasty, Falcon Crest employed the use of memorable end of season cliffhangers to boost ratings. The 1982–1983 season climaxed with the culmination of a murder mystery whodunit plot (surrounding the death of Melissa's father, Carlo Agretti) that had spanned most of the season. The killer — Angela's daughter Julia Cumson — was confronted in front of the entire cast, only to produce a handgun. Shots were fired (and heard from outside as the camera panned away from the mansion), and that faded into the final scene of a coffin being lowered into the ground, leaving the audience to wonder the entire summer, who had been killed off? Other cliffhangers included a plane crash carrying most of the major characters which ended the third season (and killed three main characters), a bomb explosion which ended the fourth season leaving Richard and Maggie in peril, and an earthquake that ripped through the valley that ended the fifth season. The earthquake killed two major cast members. The cliffhanger of the sixth season put Melissa, Richard, Dan Fixx and Maggie's baby in danger. At the beginning of the seventh year it was revealed that Chase had presumably drowned in the San Francisco Bay in a rescue attempt though the body was never found. At the end of the seventh season, Richard had joined and ultimately turned against The Thirteen, a murderous group of wealthy businessmen who planned to ruin the United States economy. Eric Stavros was brainwashed and sent to murder Richard. Melissa was finally able to succeed in winning her battle against Angela with serious repercussions for both characters at the end of season seven and the start of season eight. In the last few moments of the season finale, Angela was seen lighting candles in a church. Then as the back of a man's head comes into view, she asks, "When are you going to tell Maggie you're alive?" It was revealed in the opening episode of Season eight the head belonged to Richard Channing. By the beginning of the ninth (and final) season, Lance, Angela and Emma were the only three members of the original season one cast, an attempt on Angela's life left her in a coma for most of the year, and the season revolved around a battle between Richard and Maggie's 2nd cousin newcomer Michael Sharpe for control of Falcon Crest. Angela returned towards the end of the season and the last scene of the series shows her toasting the land, "A toast to you Falcon Crest, and long may you live."

The series also frequently cast former Hollywood royalty in guest roles; Lana Turner, Gina Lollobrigida, Cesar Romero, Robert Stack, Cliff Robertson and Celeste Holm all appeared in Falcon Crest. Kim Novak joined the cast in 1986 and enjoyed a season-spanning story arc that was similar to her role in the classic film Vertigo. This aspect to the series seemed to be consciously embraced by the producers, who at one stage instituted a rotating guest star policy, in which her character would be revealed to be running from a murderous mob boss played by Robert Stack, who was responsible for killing Peter Stavros' real stepdaughter; Leslie Caron, Lauren Hutton, Eddie Albert, Eve Arden, Roscoe Lee Browne and Ursula Andress all made appearances during the 1987–1988 season.

Later seasons

Some intriguing plot developments occurred later in the series, such as the long love affair between Richard and Maggie, and the shock revelation that Angela and Richard, bitter enemies for many years, were in fact mother and son. However, with the departures of many of the core cast, coupled with the shifting tastes of the public in the mid 1980s, ratings began to drop (as had ratings for all of the primetime soaps of that era). When Soap Opera Digest named Falcon Crest's season 8 "Most Ruined Show", it was clear that the series had lost its former sparkle.

The last straw for many viewers came when Angela, who had been the pivotal character since day one, lay unconscious in a coma for most of the 1989–1990 season. This was not due to any contract negotiations as is widely believed, but due to actress Jane Wyman's ongoing health problems with diabetes. The series attempted to revitalise itself, much in the way that rival soap Knots Landing had successfully done, as the season followed the powerplays resulting from Angela’s absence. A number of new characters were introduced, but failed to strike a chord with the audience. And everyone at one point or another in the ninth year took control of Falcon Crest—eventually, even a spoiled teenager Danny , the supposed son of Michael Sharpe who ended up turning out to be Richards long lost son before the series ended. CBS executives made the decision to end Falcon Crest at the climax of the ninth season, and Jane Wyman defied doctors’ orders to return to the show for the last three episodes.

After many traumatic events over the course of nine seasons of the wine country soap (plane crashes, explosions, murders, drownings), Falcon Crest ended happily with a wedding taking place on the grounds of the mansion. Taking a walk outside, Angela delivered a speech — written by Jane Wyman herself — that brought the series to a conclusion, mentioning past characters and events but looking forward to the future. Raising a glass of champagne, Angela ended the series with "a toast to you, Falcon Crest, and long may you live."

Characters and cast

Original cast

Main characters

Angela Channing née Gioberti - Jane Wyman (Seasons 1-9)
Angela is the tough, tyrannical matriarch of Falcon Crest and a powerful woman in Tuscany Valley. Having two daughters - Julia and Emma - in from first marriage to newspaper owner Douglas Channing, she goes on to marry three more times. Destined to preserve and enlarge Falcon Crest, which she considers her patrimony, she ruthlessly combats all challengers, with her nephew Chase and her Douglas' bastard son Richard proving the most formidable opponents. Eventually, Richard is revealed to be her own son, thought stillborn. Jane Wyman appeared in 208 of the 227 episodes of the series, missing most of the final season due to health problems.

Chase Gioberti - Robert Foxworth (Seasons 1-6)
Former airline pilot and Vietnam veteran, Chase moves back to Tuscany Valley from New York after the death of his father, thinking a change of scenery an opportunity to reunite his troubled family. Having inherited a few vines from his father, Chase is determined to make a go of running the winery, which brings him into conflict with his aunt Angela. The mysterious nature of his father's death makes him owner of half of Falcon Crest. Later, he dramatically recovers from paralysis after a gunshot and is later presumed dead after rescuing his and Maggie's baby son Kevin from the San Francisco Bay.

Maggie Gioberti Channing - Susan Sullivan (Seasons 1-8)
Chase's wife, Maggie is a freelance writer who supports her husband in his endeavour to build a new life for their family in Tuscany Valley. A warm-hearted but resilient woman, Maggie becomes the sympathetic heroine of the series. After Chase's presumed death, she went on to marry Richard Channing. Maggie died tragically after getting her ring stuck in the swimming pool's drain and drowning.

Julia Cumson née Channing - Abby Dalton (Seasons 1-4; recurring afterwards)
Angela's eldest daughter and the mother of Lance, she works as a wine-maker at Falcon Crest, unable to resist her mother, who succeeded in driving her husband Tony away. Found out to be the murderer of Angela's competitor Carlo Agretti, she is imprisoned and eventually lives as a nun in a convent.

Emma Channing - Margaret Ladd (Seasons 1-9)
Angela's younger daughter, she played a central role in her uncle Jason's death (thus kicking off the series) and has been emotionally fragile ever since, though she eventually learns to resist Angela's constant attempts to control her. Much unlucky in love, her relationships with men always end in heartache or tragedy.

Lance Cumson - Lorenzo Lamas (Seasons 1-9)
Julia's son, he is Angela's intendet heir to Falcon Crest. A handsome ladies' man, he enjoys a playboy lifestyle but is also used by Angela as a henchman in her schemes. His grandmother forces him to marry Melissa Agretti to merge the adjoining Agretti lands with his inheritance. After divorcing Melissa, Lance then marries Richard's stepdaughter Lorraine, who later dies. After relationships with singer Apollonia and a second relationship with Melissa, Lance eventually marries Pilar Ortega, the vineyard foreman's daughter. Lorenzo Lamas is the only actor to appear in all 227 episodes of the series.

Cole Gioberti - William R. Moses (Seasons 1-6)
Chase and Maggie's short-fused son, he supports his father in his new venture running the vineyards, foregoing his ambition to become an archeologist. He falls in love with Melissa Agretti, fathers her son, Joseph. After Melissa's divorce from Lance, Cole marries her though the marriage is equally as brief.

Vickie Gioberti - Jamie Rose (Seasons 1-3), Dana Sparks, Seasons 6-8)
Chase and Maggie's daughter, intially struggles with growing up, especially in her relationships with men, and her family's move from New York to Tuscany Valley. She eventually marries Angela's stepson, Nick Stavros.

Melissa Agretti (Ana Alicia (Seasons 1-8), Delores Cantu (in one episode)
Feisty young heiress of her father's vineyard, Angela plots to have Melissa marry Lance as a scheme to bring the Agretti vineyards under her control, only to find that Melissa herself is as unscrupulous and scheming as she is. Melissa is the mother of Joseph Gioberti, following an affair with Cole Gioberti whom she later marries. After winning control of Falcon Crest from Angela at the end of the season 7, she becomes mentally unstable and ultimately sets the manor on fire, dying from severe smoke inhalation.
In a desperate attempt to revitalise ratings, producers brought back Ana Alicia at the end of season 8 to play Samantha Ross, a Melissa lookalike working for in one of Richard's schemes.

Richard Channing - David Selby (Seasons 2-9)
A shady businessman, he first appears as the bastard son of Angela's husband Douglas after having inherited half of his father's newspaper, the San Francisco Globe, and proves to be a formidable adversary of both Angela and Chase. Later, Richard marries a widowed Maggie Gioberti. Eventually, he is revealed to be Angela's so, thought stillborn.

Minor characters

Chao-Li - Chao-Li Chi
Angela's faithful Chinese major domo and chauffeur.

Philip Erickson - Mel Ferrer (Seasons 1-3)
Angela's lawyer, and eventually second husband.

Terry Hartford - Laura Johnson (Seasons 3-5)
Maggie Gioberti's younger sister. Beautiful but devious, she is a former call girl who creates scandal in Tuscany Valley with her attempts to move up the society ladder. After inheriting her husband Michael's wealth following his death in a plane crash, she blackmails Richard Channing into marrying her. She was killed in the Tuscany Valley earthquake .

Pamela Lynch - Sarah Douglas (Seasons 3-4), Martine Beswick (Season 5)
Personal assistant to Richard Channing.

Greg Reardon - Simon MacCorkindale (Seasons 4-5)
Smooth British lawyer who works for Angela.

Gustav Riebmann - Paul Freeman (Season 4)
Head of a sinister neo-Nazi cartel who raises hell in Tuscany Valley.

Father Christopher Rossini - Ken Olin (Season 5)
Priest and illegitimate son of Julia Cumson.

Peter Stavros - Cesar Romero (Seasons 5-8)
Billionaire Greek industrialist who eventually becomes Angela's third husband.

Eric Stavros - John Callahan (Seasons 5-7)
Peter Stavros' son, who marries Vickie Gioberti

Dan Fixx - Brett Cullen (Seasons 6-7)
Son of Elizabeth Bradbury Tucker Fixx and ward of Angela Channings.

Frank Agretti - Rod Taylor (Seasons 7-9)
Melissa's uncle, and love interest for Angela who becomes her fourth husband.

Nick Agretti - David Beecroft (Season 8)
Melissa's cousin and Frank's son.

Pilar Ortega - Kristian Alfonso (Seasons 8-9)
Former teenage sweetheart of Lance Cumson and eventually his wife. Her father is the Falcon Crest Winery foreman.

Lauren Sharpe Daniels - Wendy Phillips (Season 9)
Maggie's second cousin and love interest for Richard Channing, who later becomes his wife.

Michael Sharpe - Gregory Harrison (Season 9)
Maggie's second cousin, brother of Lauren, and a ruthless businessman who becomes an opponent of Richard Channing.

Genele Ericson - Andrea Thompson (Season 9)
Frank Agretti's murderous sister-in-law.

Dr. Howell - Richard Eastham (Season 1)

Gus Nunouz - Nick Ramus (Season 1)
Foreman at vineyard and a friend to Chase

Douglas Channing - Stephen Elliott
Angela's estranged husband and father Julia, Emma and Richard (Season 1)

Tony Cumson - John Saxon (Seasons 1, 6-7), Robert Loggia (Season 2)
Julia's husband and Lance's father

Father Bob - Bob Curtis
Catholic priest and Angela's friend, involved with several major characters throughout the series

Carlo Agretti - Carlos Romero
Melissa's wealthy father, and owner of the Agretti vineyards (Seasons 1-2)

Mario Nunouz - Mario Marcelino
Gus Nunouz's son, romantically involved with Vickie Gioberti (Seasons 1-2)

Alicia Nunouz - Silvana Gallardo
Wife of Gus Nunouz, and mother of Mario (Seasons 1-2)

Nick Hogan - Roy Thinnes
Vickie Gioberti's first husband. (Season 2-3)

Diana Hunter - Shannon Tweed
Personal assistant to Richard Channing who is secretly involved in the mysterious Cartel organisation (Season 2)

Darryl Clayton - Bradford Dillman
Film producer who works with Maggie Gioberti on a script as part of a plot by Angela (Season 2)

Katherine Demery - Joanna Cassidy
Woman who becomes romantically involved with Cole Gioberti (Season 2)

Sheila Hogan - Katherine Justice
Former wife of Nick Hogan (Seasons 2-3)

Linda Caproni - Mary Kate McGeehan
Cole Gioberti's first wife (Seasons 2-4)

Vince Caproni - Harry Basch
Linda's father (Seasons 2-4)

Joel McCarthy - Parker Stevenson
Terry Hartford's unsavoury former husband (Season 4)

Lorraine Prescott - Kate Vernon
Stepdaughter of Richard Channing and love interest for Lance (Season 4)

Charlotte Pershing - Jane Greer
Maggie's biological mother who gave her up for adoption at birth (Season 4)

Connie Giannini - Carla Borelli
Woman with whom Chase Gioberti has a brief affair (Seasons 4-5)

Damon Ross - Jonathan Frakes
Brother of Cassandra Wilder, and son of Anna Rossini (Season 4)

Robin Agretti - Barbara Howard
Melissa's cousin, the daughter of Phillip and Teresa Agretti and Chris Agretti's sister who becomes pregnant with Cole's child Hope Margaret as part of a surrogate pregnancy arrangement (Seasons 4-5)

Apollonia - Apollonia Kotero
Budding pop star and love interest for Lance (Season 5)

Dwayne Cooley - Daniel Greene
Dashing truck driver who falls for Emma Channing before being killed in the Tuscany Valley earthquake. (Season 5)

Jeff Wainwright - Edward Albert.
Press agent for a book written by Maggie Gioberti, whose interest in Maggie takes on a disturbing edge (Seasons 5-6)

Li-Ying Chi - Rosalind Chao
Chao-Li's daughter (Season 5)

Erin Jones - Jill Jacobson
Mysterious woman who works for Richard Channing (Seasons 5-6)

Meredith Braxton - Jane Badler
Erin Jones' sister, and later assistant to Richard Channing (Season 6)

Guy Stafford - Jeff Kober
Hired killer involved with Kit Marlowe (Season 6)

Francine Hope - Melba Moore
Woman who tries to help Maggie Gioberti trace her baby (Season 6)

Lori Chapman - Cindy Morgan (Season 1)
Love interest for Lance

Gabrielle Short - Cindy Morgan
Love interest for Chase (Seasons 6-7)

Dina Wells - Robin Greer
Love interest for Lance (Seasons 6-7)

Garth - Carl Held
Personal assistant to Richard (Seasons 6-8)

John Remick - Ed Marinaro
Vietnam veteran and an old friend of Chase's (Season 7)

Carly Fixx - Mariska Hargitay
Dan Fixx's Step-sister (Seasons 7-8)

Ben Agretti - Brandon Douglas
Son of Nick Agretti and Anna Cellini (Season 8)

Cesar Ortega - Castulo Guerra
Pilar Ortega's father who works on the vineyards (Season 8)

Tommy Ortega - Dan Ferro
Pilar Ortega's brother (Season 8)

Gabriel Ortega - Danny Nucci
Pilar Ortega's younger brother (Season 8)

Anna Cellini - Assumpta Serna
Love interest of Nick Agretti (Season 8)

Charley St. James - Mark Lindsay Chapman
Sleazy villain who manipulates his way into Emma's affections and tries to kill Angela to gain control of Falcon Crest (Season 9)

Ian St. James - David Hunt
Charley St. James' equally villainous brother who was behind the deaths of both Emma's husband R.D Young and Chris Agretti (Season 9)

Sydney St. James - Carla Gugino
Young wife of Ian St. James who has an affair with Robin's younger brother Chris Agretti(Season 9)

Danny Sharpe - David Sheinkopf
Headstrong young man who believes that Michael Sharpe is his father only to find out later Richard Channing was (Season 9)

Mercedes Vargas - Martha Velez
Aunt to Pilar Ortega/Cumson who is secretly raising Pilar's daughter (Season 8)

Walker Daniels - Robert Ginty
Lauren Daniels' husband (Season 9)

Special guest stars

Jacqueline Perrault - Lana Turner
Chase's flamboyant mother and an enemy of Angela (Seasons 1-2)

Dr. Michael Ranson - Cliff Robertson
Chase's cousin who works as a surgeon at the region's hospital. He later marries Terry Hartford (Season 3)

Francesca Gioberti - Gina Lollobrigida
Angela's Italian half-sister who visits Tuscany Valley with a claim to a share of Falcon Crest (Season 4)

Cassandra Wilder - Anne Archer
Cool businesswoman who makes her presence felt at Falcon Crest. Daughter of Anna Rossini, and mother of Michael Channing (Seasons 4-5)

Anna Rossini - Celeste Holm
A widow with a score to settle with Angela (Seasons 4-5)

Jordan Roberts - Morgan Fairchild
A glamorous attorney who works for Richard Channing (Season 5)

Kit Marlowe - Kim Novak
A woman with a shady past who causes mayhem when she arrives in Tuscany Valley, posing as Peter Stavros' stepdaughter, Skylar Kimball. (Season 6)

Roland Saunders - Robert Stack
Mafioso-type criminal who briefly romances Angela and is out to kill Kit Marlowe (Season 6)

Vince Karlotti - Marjoe Gortner
Psychic medium who has Emma Channing under his spell (Season 6)

Nicole Sauget - Leslie Caron
Wealthy woman and old friend of Chase's (Season 7)

Jay Spence - John David Carson
Mysterious con artist and former horse trainer (Season 7)

Liz McDowell - Lauren Hutton
Businesswoman who has dealings with Richard Channing (Season 7)

Carlton Travis - Eddie Albert
Villain whose business with Richard Channing turns deadly (Season 7)

Lillian North Darlington - Eve Arden
Killer of Adam, Carlon Travis' brother (Season 7)

Madame Malec - Ursula Andress
Exotic woman whom Richard Channing deals with in his efforts to rescue Vickie Gioberti Stavros from a white slave ring (Season 7)

Anne Bowen - Susan Blakely
Danny Sharpe's mother, and an old flame of both Richard Channing and Michael Sharpe (Season 9)

Behind the scenes

An unaired pilot for the series was filmed entitled The Vintage Years, which featured number of significant differences from the series that would eventually air. The character of Richard Channing was present in the original pilot, played by Michael Swan; this alternate Richard was Angela's biological son fighting for his domineering mother's favor. Abby Dalton's character, Julia, was called Dorcas, Jane Wyman wore a grey wig as Angela, and Chase and Maggie were played in the pilot by Clu Gulager and Samantha Eggar respectively. Emma was not a character, but there was a subplot concerning a mysterious woman crying for her mother while locked away in one of the upstairs rooms.

Lorimar producers searching for a location to use as the principal backdrop for the show decided upon a Napa Valleymarker winery located in Saint Helena, Californiamarker known as Spring Mountain Vineyards. Located there was the building cast as Angela's home, in reality the 1884 Victorian mansion "Villa Miravalle", as well as the winery building which, by contrast, had just been constructed in the mid-1970's.

Barbara Stanwyck had been considered for the role of Angela Channing, but turned it down. Dorothy McGuire was another casting suggestion for the part.

According to rumor, Jane Wyman had a running feud with Robert Foxworth, to the point where they measured each other's dressing room trailers just to make sure they were equal in size. When Foxworth became a director for the show, Wyman demanded CBS add a clause to her contract also allowing her to be a director. Although she ultimately never directed any episodes, Wyman was pleased that she had the same designation as Foxworth.

Wyman had had a long-running feud with fellow movie star legend Lana Turner which dated back to their Hollywood years. The two legendary actresses quickly refused to speak to each other and the producers had to film their confrontational scenes separately and then splice them together; Turner was written out of the show soon after. A few years after she appeared on the program, Turner noted that she believed Wyman was negative in demeanor due to the fact that her ex-husband, Ronald Reagan, was elected President during the 1980s, something that Turner believed Wyman could not reconcile within herself.

Celeste Holm also stated that Wyman drove her off the show and Mel Ferrer and Simon MacCorkindale claimed in the press that the actress didn't give any support to them when they were written off the show.

Richard Burton was offered $ 2.5 million for a five-minute cameo as Jean-Pierre Charbone (Jacqueline's husband or lover) but it did not work out.

Producers were interested of having another special guest star in season 3, after Lana Turner's departure and asked Lauren Bacall and Mia Farrow to join the show. They both declined the offer and the roles were terminated of the script.

Sophia Loren was set to star in the role of Francesca Gioberti, Angela's secret half-sister who comes to the valley to threaten Angela's control of Falcon Crest. Loren was to play thirteen episodes, and producers promised a fabulous wardrobe and a dynamic character that would rival Dynasty's Alexis At the last minute, negotiations with Loren went sour and the deal fell through. Gina Lollobrigida was recast in the role, but only signed on for four episodes. Interestingly, Loren was also Aaron Spelling's first choice for the role of "Alexis Carrington" in Dynasty, but was passed over as she was requesting too much money, thus allowing the role to go to Joan Collins.

Brooke Shields was asked to join the show as Greg Reardon's sister and a love interest for Lance, but the actress was not interested by TV at the time.

At the end of season 5, Peter Savros receives an unpleasant phone call. The producers intended to reveal the following season that the person who called was Peter's brother and planed to lure Anthony Quinn to play the role. But the actor turned down the role and the phone scene turned out to be meaningless.

Angie Dickinson was considered to play Angela's first child, before the final decision was made that this plotline would work much better with Richard.

Although Raquel Welch was not interested to join the cast, she arranged for her daughter Tahnee Welch to have a role in season 7.

The Gustav Riebmann/Nazi treasure storyline was not very popular with the audience. CBS received letters from viewers who were turned off by a Nazi character being a part of the main cast. CBS forced the producers to wrap up this story at very short notice, and the full season story arc was rewritten to accommodate the new direction.

The character of Meredith Braxton was supposed to be a lesbian whose female lover was her cohort in a scheme to extract a fortune from Richard Channing. It had been rumored that if Meredith and her lover Erin Jones were rewritten to be sisters instead it's because Jane Wyman, a staunch Catholic, objected to the storyline. That was confirmed by Jill Jacobson in 2009.

Jane Wyman, Chao-Li Chi, and Lorenzo Lamas were the only cast members to stay throughout the show's entire run; David Selby appeared in eight of the nine seasons, without missing an episode. Beating Wyman's character, Lorenzo Lamas was the only actor to appear in all 227 episodes of the series. Jane Wyman appeared in almost every episode of the series, with the exception of 19, before and during the final season, for a total of 208 of the 227 episodes.

Long before Lorenzo Lamas auditioned for and won the role of Lance Cumson, Jane Wyman first met his father Fernando Lamas on an episode of her own anthology show in the 1950s.

According to Dallas creator David Jacobs, before auditioning for Falcon Crest, Robert Foxworth turned down the role of J.R. Ewing on Dallas because he did not want to play such an unsympathetic character. The role ultimately went to Larry Hagman.

In 1988, Ana Alicia had an argument with Executive Producer Michael Filerman. Filerman did not think the part of Melissa was worth it to continue. She had to leave. But this turned out to be unpopular with the viewers and she was asked to return to the show. Since Ana Alicia was still under contract, she was receiving two separate paychecks: one for the role of Melissa and a second one for the role of Melissa's look-a-like 'Samantha Ross'.

Susan Sullivan appeared in all the episodes for eight of nine seasons. She left the show at the beginning of the last season, because she realized that her character was "repeating herself".

US ratings

Falcon Crest was a top-30 hit during six seasons.

  • Season 1 (1981-1982): #13
  • Season 2 (1982-1983): #8
  • Season 3 (1983-1984): #7
  • Season 4 (1984-1985): #10
  • Season 5 (1985-1986): #25
  • Season 6 (1986-1987): #23


Falcon Crest's heraldic theme was composed by Bill Conti, who also composed the themes to Dynasty, The Colbys and Cagney & Lacey. He also composed the music of the very first episode. In season 9, the theme music was totally reimagined by composer Patrick O'Hearn.From season 1 to 5, the music was performed by an orchestra. In seasons 6 and 7, the background music was performed by only one single artist or an artist duo per episode, using synclavier, one of the early high-tech synthesizers. Mark Snow, who later composed the theme of X-Files was the main composer and performing musician for both seasons. During season 8, the music was more classic again before the composers returned to synthesizers in the ultimate season.

Opening credits

Like Knots Landing, Falcon Crest ran different styles of opening credits. In season 1 and in the first half of season 2, each actor's title card was followed by a multi-picture combo. In the second half of season 2 and in seasons 3 and 4, the multi-picture combos were replaced by location footage transitions.

Coat of arms of Falcon Crest as seen at the first seasons' main title card

In season 5, the title cards appeared directly on the location footages, exactly like it did in the opening credits of Dynasty. The previous logo for the first four seasons with the initial red-white coat of arms and the yellow "Letraset Romic" italics was updated with the addition of a frame around the logo and a new elegant typeface, "Benguiat Book", replaced the former font.

In seasons 6 and 7, an independent design consultant was hired, Billy Pittard, which was something completely new at the time for a nationally broadcast television show. He added transitions between the title cards which would be smoothly dissolved in the form of an ellipsis similar to the ellipse created by swirling wine in a wine goblet. The logo was also redesigned in a most elegant gold and blue color variation; the "Benguiat Book" typeface, now also appearing gold, was set in small caps. In season 7, that logo was even animated - it took six weeks to be produced since it was an early stage of computer generated animation.

In season 8, the main title was quite the same than in two previous seasons (changes were minor) while in the last season it was completely transformed. Each actor's title card was immediately followed by an image featuring sex or violence instead of footage locations in order to introduce a crime drama's atmosphere. The traditional falcon coat of arms was absent of the season's premiere and due to several thousands of fan complaints in the one week between the second episode, the classic crest logo was reintroduced in the second episode and remained until the final episode aired on May 17, 1990 on CBS.

DVD releases

The rights to the series are held by Warner Bros. (successor-in-interest to the original production company Lorimar). The first season was released on DVD in various European countries in April and May 2009 and the second season is scheduled for October 20 in Spain and for January 26, 2010 in Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

On October 14, 2009, it was announced that Warner Home Video plans on releasing Falcon Crest on DVD in Region 1 in 2010.

See also


  15. Simon Hoggart, "Simon Hoggart's week: High-class rolling stones in Boulder", The Guardian April 15 2006

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