22 July 2006 | garrard
Oscar winner Jane Wyman ruled the court!
Wyman, The former wife 39th President Ronald Reagan triumphantly returned to television in the nighttime soap opera "Falcon Crest". For most of the show's nine-year run, no one could best Jane Wyman's "Angela Channing," the writers providing her with the best lines, the best wardrobe, and, in most episodes, the final scene. It wasn't until the show's last season that poor health prevented her from appearing in no more than the first and last installments.
However, she was surrounded by a cast of superb performers. Though Robert Foxworth received second billing, it was evident that other characters were more popular. Susan Sullivan, already a favorite from the daily soap "Another World," gained a wider audience as Chase's wife Maggie, following his dream to achieve success as a wine maker. William R. Moses and, initially, Jamie Rose were their children, brought into a community to which they were ill-suited. Lorenzo Lamas and Ana Alicia as Angela's grandson and granddaughter-in-law provided enough tension, in and out of the bedroom, to supply several soap operas. Margaret Ladd as "looney" daughter "Emma" was a treat to watch each week, as was Abby Dalton as her manipulative sister and the mother to Lamas's character. Chao Li Chi played the chauffeur and confidant to Mrs. Channing.
Possibly the most popular characterization was David Selby as "Richard Channing," Angela's chief nemesis that would later be revealed as her son. Their ongoing battles were priceless.
Other cast members came and went, a veritable "who's who" of "Old Hollywood". Lana Turner, Mel Ferrer, Cesar Romero, Eve Arden, Celeste Holm, Kim Novak, and Rod Taylor were just some of the famous that entered the gates of Falcon Crest.
There were some major casting "snafus," from rock star and Prince-protégé Appolonia, playing to type as a character sporting her same name, to Gregory Harrison as a rival for Richard Channing's empire. Both seemed ill-at-ease with their roles.
Though the show drifted into absurdity in season four with a "Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-like" search for a treasure buried beneath the estate/vineyard (complete with the film's star Paul Freeman as the sinister leader behind the search), it still maintained its cutthroat machinations for most of its run.
Another plus were the thrilling season-ending cliffhangers. "Dallas" may have started them all, but "Falcon Crest" had the best.
The show never had the ratings success of "Dallas" or "Dynasty" but it was still an enjoyable way to spend an hour on a Friday night.