There can be no doubt that Dynasty has earned its place in popular culture today. The mega-popular soap opera ran from 1981 to 1989 and was a primetime television hit; in fact, at the end of season five, over 60 million viewers tuned in to see one of TV’s most memorable cliffhangers. Moreover, Dynasty was nominated for a Golden Globe every year from 1981 to 1986, proving just how much of a critical success it was too. But while there was plenty of drama on screen, there was also plenty of behind-the-scenes-drama that you might not have been aware of…
20. The show was originally called Oil
There can be no denying that a show called Oil doesn’t sound quite as impactful as Dynasty. And yet, originally, this is what the popular soap opera was going to be called. In 1985, moreover, creator Esther Shapiro told New York magazine, “We wanted to do something that would be fun, an American fantasy.”
19. It featured one of primetime TV’s first gay characters
Dynasty proved that it wasn’t afraid to break boundaries when it became the first ever primetime hit TV show to feature an openly gay character. Al Corley played the character of Steve Carrington for 12 months, before Jack Coleman took over the role for a six-year stretch.
18. It was nominated for 24 Emmys during its lifetime… but only won one
While Dynasty was no doubt a success with viewers, it didn’t do so well when it came to awards season. Indeed, despite being nominated for a grand total of 24 Emmys, the show only ever took home one. It was in 1984, in fact, that Dynasty was finally awarded its Emmy for Nolan Miller’s costume design in the episode “The Wedding.”
17. Joan Collins was only supposed to appear for six weeks
In a 2011 article for the Daily Mail, Joan Collins admitted that she was only supposed to be in Dynasty for six weeks. Specifically, she recalled how her agent said that the show wanted her to play Alexis for just that short period of time; she had no idea, then, that her stretch on Dynasty would go on for 195 episodes.
16. The wardrobe budget was $35,000 per week
Winning that one Emmy for the costume design didn’t come cheap, though, given that wardrobe costs for the show ran to an incredible $35,000 per week. Costume designer Norman Miller has admitted to being inspired by Joan Crawford’s ’40s style, and he used that in part to craft an astonishing 3,000 outfits during the show’s eight-year run.
15. Rock Hudson featured in one boundary-breaking scene
Rock Hudson’s cameo in the show took on more significance than expected, since the actor revealed that he had AIDS following a scene in which he kissed actress Linda Evans. And, at the time, it was thought that HIV could be transmitted through saliva. According to Evans, though, Hudson made sure that the kiss was just a little brush on the lips. In her 2011 memoir Recipes for Life: My Memories, moreover, she wrote, “It was incredibly touching how hard he tried to protect me.”
14. Angie Dickinson had been offered the role of Krystle
Angie Dickinson was originally offered the role of Krystle, way back when the show was called Oil. Eventually, of course, she turned it down, and the part went to Evans. In 1985 Dickinson went on to explain her decision to People by saying, “There are too many ladies already. I would want it to be my role.”
13. The cast had no idea who would survive the famous Moldavia Massacre
Over 60 million people watched Dynasty’s season five finale – an incredible number for a rather unbelievable episode. After all, that instalment featured terrorists invading Amanda’s wedding to Prince Michael. Viewers were left hanging, however, until the season six premiere to discover who had survived. Thankfully, none of the main cast were killed off – but they didn’t know that at the time, either, as they too were left entirely in the dark.
12. Alexis was based on J.R. from Dallas
Alexis was one of primetime’s beloved villains, but Joan Collins actually found her inspiration from yet another TV character at the time that audiences loved to hate. Specifically, Collins asked writers to make her role as nefarious and vindictive as J.R. Ewing – and they duly obliged. In her 2011 article for the Daily Mail, meanwhile, the actress said, “Dallas was already a big hit, and Larry Hagman, who played J.R. Ewing, was the number one TV villain. But now there was a new baddie in a rival show – me.”
11. The jewelry on the show was fake
Dynasty’s wardrobe department was complemented by some truly fabulous jewelry. The likes of Tiffany and Harry Winston didn’t lend their jewels to the TV show, however, as the pieces were in fact made by Norman Miller. Still, Miller’s ingenious creations rivaled the real things – and so no one was any the wiser.
10. The original family names were changed from the premiere scripts
Just as the name Oil didn’t stick for the TV show, the initial surnames for its leading families also didn’t make it past the drawing board stage. Originally, in fact, the Carringtons were dubbed as the Parkhursts; the Colbys, meanwhile, were first written as the Corbys. Obviously, though, those names were changed by the time that production came around.
9. Blake and Krystle renewed their vows… eight years to the day after they wed
The pilot of Dynasty featured Blake and Krystle tying the knot in front of the viewers. Fast-forward to season nine, though, and Blake and Krystle were renewing their wedding vows eight years to the day after that pilot episode first aired. Now that’s pretty consistent for a TV show!
8. A massive budget couldn’t stop the spin-off from flopping
The Colbys was the much awaited spin-off from Dynasty, but the show wasn’t nearly as successful as its predecessor. Indeed, after its 1985 premiere it only lasted two years and 49 episodes before it was axed due to poor ratings. And that was despite a particularly high budget at the time, which included $2.5 million for sets alone.
7. Fans can visit the Dynasty mansion
Super-fans of the show can indeed make their way over to the U.S.’ west coast for the opportunity to visit the famous Dynasty mansion. The soap was filmed at the Filoli Estate in California – an impressive mansion that boasts 43 rooms and 17 bathrooms. And while the estate is currently in the middle of celebrating its centennial anniversary, it is undoubtedly for Dynasty that it is best remembered.
6. Diahann Carroll’s cameo never took off
When Diahann Carroll left the show in season seven, there had been rumours of her returning for season eight. Unfortunately, however, that never happened due to budget restrictions. And while there was also another rumour that Carroll would re-join the cast for season ten, that too never came to pass, as the show was canceled just after the ninth season.
5. The famous lily pond fight scene took place in just a couple of feet of water
One of the show’s most famous scenes involved Alexis and Krystle fighting in a lily pond that looked as though it was dangerously deep. In actual fact, however, that body of water was considerably more shallow. Indeed, in her 2011 memoir Evans explained, “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!”
4. Pamela Sue Martin had to wear a wig during filming
While she was playing the character of Fallon Carrington Colby, Pamela Sue Martin was also suffering from hair loss. As she told the Daily Mail in 2007, “It started gradually: my hairline started receding, then I got thin patches across my scalp. What made things worse was that it was the era of big hair. The Dynasty producers insisted I wear a wig when I started the show in 1981.”
3. The Dynasty movie has a plot
While a movie spin-off has so far not materialized, an idea for the plot has nevertheless been mooted. In 2011 Richard Shapiro, one of the show’s creators, explained all to ABC by saying, “During the course of all of Dynasty, Alexis was in love with Blake, and obviously, there was a time when he was in love with her. That is the center focus of this film, the Blake and Alexis love story.”
2. There was a whole range of Dynasty merchandise
The lavish lifestyle that the characters of Dynasty portrayed was replicated in merchandise available at the time. The range of related artifacts grossed a whopping $400 million and included a range of tuxedos, ball gowns and even a “Forever Krystle” perfume.
1. The show fired two of its stars
The show might have been a hit and starred some of TV’s biggest names, but there were some serious controversies going on behind the scenes. Apparently, Joseph Anders actor Lee Bergere was fired after requesting extra scenes; Catherine Oxenberg, who played Amanda Carrington, meanwhile, was reportedly axed over contractual disagreements.