Dynasty was ABC’s solution to battle Dallas in the 1980s battle of the glitzy prime-time soap operas.
Dallas, which ran on CBS, was all about the Ewings. They dominated the oil business in Texas, with Southfork, their ranch, serving as a side business. J.R. Ewing was the nasty, but beloved character who enticed America to watch the prime-time soap.
Dynasty premiered in 1981. To get you in the mood, here’s the opening theme to the series. But it’s from season two, when Dynasty blasted off. We’ll tell you more on the other side, including which actor stayed on the show for all 220 episodes.
John Forsythe Was Head of the Dynasty
John Forsythe starred as Blake Carrington, the self-made CEO of the oil company, Denver-Carrington. At the beginning of the series, he introduced his family to new wife, Krystal (Linda Evans) his former secretary. As Krystal settles into the 48-room mansion, she butts heads with Fallon, Blake’s beautiful daughter (Pamela Sue Martin).
Super producer Aaron Spelling created Dynasty with Richard and Esther Shapiro. Spelling was the definition of TV in the 1970s and 80s. He developed hit shows like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Vega$ and Hart to Hart.
And he also brought the United States Charlie’s Angels. That’s where he got to know Forsythe, who was the unseen voice of Charlie. He gave the assignment to his Angeles via speaker phone.
The suave, handsome Forsythe was perfect as Blake Carrington. But the ratings for the show in the first season weren’t stellar. So for season two, Spelling brought in Alexis as Blake’s ex-wife. Joan Collins portrayed Alexis as an almost female J.R. Ewing. Except Alexis was British, not Texan. She was beautiful and glamorous. And she and Krystal had cat fights.
Plus, the show added Heather Locklear to the cast as Sammy Jo, Krystal’s niece. She married Blake’s son, Steven, who had yet to come out as gay. The family disliked Sammy Jo, because she’s “common.”
It all made for a terrific cocktail — or a glass of vintage champagne — of a TV show.
The series lasted until 1989. The show reached No. 1 in the country in 1984-86, averaging more than 21 million viewers per episode.
And John Forsythe stayed steady through all 220 Dynasty episodes. He was the only cast member on every show.
Forsythe received three Emmy nominations playing Blake Carrington for outstanding lead actor in a drama series. He never won an Emmy. But he did take home two Golden Globes.
And Dynasty gave Americans a perfect complement to Dallas.