How ‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’ was ‘Never Even Supposed to Be Made’

by Leanne Stahulak

According to Hollywood star Jane Seymour, the classic TV hit “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman,” almost didn’t happen. The Western medical drama aired from 1993 to 1998 and spanned 150 episodes. But when Jane Seymour took on the project, it wasn’t supposed to take off as it did. Instead, Seymour hoped that “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” would be the first rung on the ladder to lift her out of devastation.

“I was never supposed to do it. It was never even supposed to be made,” Seymour told Entertainment Weekly. The actress had just divorced her husband of 10 years, David Flynn, in 1992.

“We got married, we had two children, and then I had a devastating divorce in which I lost everything,” she said. “I was like $9 million in the red, with lawsuits from every major bank, including the FDIC. I was penniless, homeless, with two children. And so I called my agent and said, ‘I will do anything.'”

“Anything” included a CBS drama that was just a halfway point to Seymour’s next big project. She had a tentative comedy in the works with Paramount. But committing to “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” meant a five-year contract.

“I got the script at 10 o’clock that night. At 10 the next morning I had to say yes or no and go straight into wardrobe at noon and start filming at six the following morning. And I had to sign for five years,” Seymour explained.

Meanwhile, the folks at Paramount told her, “‘Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s a woman in the lead, it’s a medical show, it’s children and animals. It’s dusty,’ meaning it was a Western, ‘and it’s a period piece, and it’s morality. It will never make it, so don’t worry about it. It’ll become a nice movie of the week, you’ll be lovely in it, you’ll make some money, and then you can do our show.'”

‘Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman’ Took Off, Surprising Everyone But Jane Seymour

Jane Seymour told Entertainment Weekly how everything changed for her the minute she stepped on the “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” set. She met co-star Joe Lando and knew that the show “just had a magic to it.”

“It all was just working,” Seymour revealed. “And it fit for me too, because I was at the lowest step of my life, and there was this woman who’d gone back West and had to go deal with all these issues and problems, and there was I.”

But even the bigwigs at CBS didn’t believe Seymour when she told them it would be a big deal. They expected “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” to perform like “Springtime for Hitler,” a show that was “designed to fail” from the beginning.

“They thought they were cleaning house from all the deals they had. I only found that out because I kept saying to all the affiliates, ‘This is the hit of the year.’ And I remember [the president of CBS at the time,] Jeff Sagansky, looking at me, and he said, ‘Why did you say that?’ I said, ‘Because it is, I just watched all the other shows. This is it.’ [He was like,] ‘Oh please. No, don’t.'”

But Seymour had the right of it. “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” remains a huge cultural influence and continues playing in nearly 100 countries to this day. There might even be a revival in the works, if Seymour has anything to say about it.

“We actually have the most wonderful scripts and everything ready to go for a reboot,” Seymour told EW back in 2020. “We would start 26 years later when it’s all about women’s liberation. We’ve got to find a network or somebody who wants to do it, but we’re all on board. We have it all mapped out, [original series creator] Beth Sullivan did it, it’s brilliant.”