show, cast, and trivia
This is the spin-off show of the incredibly popular “Dallas”. It was set in California, where J.R. Ewing’s brother, Gary, (Gary Shackelford), is settling with his former wife, Valene, (Joan Van Ark). It also centers around three other married couples in the cul-de-sac of Seaview Circle. Karen, (Michelle Lee) and Sid, (Don Murray) Fairgate, Laura, (Constance McCashin, and Richard, (John Pleshette) Avery, and Ginger, (Kim Lankford) and Kenny, (James Houghton) Ward.
Gary and Valene‘s daughter, Lucy, (Charlene Tilton), of course makes an appearance during the first season, but then returns to Dallas, despite the fact that they were hoping she would stay in California with them. Karen and Sid have three children together, Eric, (Steve Shaw), Diana, (Claudia Lonow), and Michael, (Patrick Petersen). Sid also has a daughter from his previous marriage, Annie Fairgate, (Karen Allen). She however only makes one appearance during the pilot episode. Laura and Richard have one son, Jason.
Also entering into the mix in the second season, is Abby Cunningham, (Donna Mills). Abby is the scheming, manipulative, vixen of the cul-de-sac with loose morals and a yearning for wealth and power. She has affairs with many of the men, with no remorse. She also has two children from her first marriage to Jeff Cunningham, (Barry Jenner), Olivia (Tonya Crowe) and Brian (Bobby Jacoby and Brian Austin Green).
Other important characters that are introduced into the show a little later are as follows. Mack Mckenzie, (Kevin Dobson), becomes Karen Fairgate’s second husband as well as an integral part of the show. Greg Sumner, (William Devane), is a friend of Mack’s from way back. They don’t always get along, and eventually become more like rivals. Lilimae Clements, (Julie Harris), plays Valene’s long-lost mother. Ben Gibson, (Douglas Sheehan), a reporter, and Valene’s second husband. Paige Matheson, (Nicollette Sheridan), Mack’s daughter with his first love, Anne Matheson, (Michelle Phillips). Ciji Dunne/Cathy Geary, (Lisa Hartman), who plays dual roles. And Joshua Rush, (Alec Baldwin), who plays the abandoned son of Lilimae, and the sister of Valene.
This series was a spin-off of Dallas. And though they were somewhat linked, eventually Knots Landing became an incredibly popular show in its own right. It is full of intrigue, twists and turns, and storylines that keep you so involved that you never want it to end. It lasted for 14 seasons, making it one of the longest primetime dramas on television, after Gun smoke and Bonanza. I give it 9 out of 10.
Gary Ewing-Ted Shackelford
Valene Ewing-Joan Van Ark
Karen Fairgate/McKenzie-Michelle Lee
Mack McKenzie-Kevin Dobson
Sid Fairgate-Don Murray
Laura Avery-Constance McCashin
Richard Avery-John Pleshette
Greg Sumner-William Devane
Ginger Ward-Kim Lankford
Kenny Ward-James Houghton
Lilimae Clements-Julie Harris
Abby Cunningham/Ewing-Donna Mills
Recurring Cast Seasons
Ben Gibson- Douglas Sheehan 5-8
Anne Matheson-Michelle Phillips 8 &10-14
Paige Matheson-Nicollette Sheridan 7-14
Claudia Whittaker-Kathleen No one 12-14
Kate Whittaker-Stacy Galina 12-14
Diana Fairgate-Claudia Lonow 1-5 &14 Cathy Geary-Lisa Hartman 5-7 (also played Ciji Dunne in season 4)
Joshua Rush-Alec Baldwin 6-7
Jill Bennett-Teri Austin 7-10
Michael Fairgate-Pat Petersen 1-12
Olivia Cunningham-Tonya Crowe 2-11
Frank Williams-Larry Riley 9-13
Eric Fairgate-Steve Shaw 1-11
Brian Cunningham-Bobby Jacoby 2-7 (also played by Brian Austin Green 8-10) Joe Cooper-Stephen Mach 3
Chip Roberts-Michael Sabatino 4-5
Mary-Frances Sumner-Danielle Brisebois 5 (also was played by Stacy Galina in season 11)
Dr. Mitch Ackerman-Laurence Haddon 6
Peter Hollister-Hunt Block 7-8
Jean Hackney-Wendy Fulton 8
Linda Fairgate-Lar Park Lincoln 9 &11-12
Pat Williams-Linda Moody 9-11
Harold Dyer-Paul Carafotes 10-12
Johnny Rourke-Peter Reckell 9-10
Julie Williams-Kent Masters-King 9-12
Paula Vertosick-Melinda Culea 10-11
Ted Melcher-Robert Desiderio 10
Aunt Virginia-Betsy Palmer 10-12
Danny Waleska-Sam Behrens 11
Det. Tom Ryan-Joseph Gian 11-12 &14
Nick Dimitri-Lorenzo Caccialanza 12&14
Pierce Lawton-Bruce Greenwood 13
The actors on Knots had more input than on most shows. During one season, the writers wanted Mack to indulge in an extramarital affair with his first love, Anne Matheson. Michele Lee who plays Karen, said, “There has to be at least one stable couple on the show.”
William Devane re-wrote an enormous amount of his character’s lines.
The storyline where Val’s babies are kidnapped was supposed to be one of Abby’s evil schemes. However, Donna Mills said she didn’t think that Abby was THAT evil, and asked for it to be by accident. The writers agreed.
Constance McCashin and Julie Harris were both fired from the show to cut production costs.
Only Michele Lee was in every single episode of the show.
Gary gets a call in 1985 that his little brother, Bobby, had died. The following year of course, they decide to bring Bobby back to “Dallas”. Due to so many storylines that would have been affected had they gone along with it, Knots decided to never mention Bobby’s resurrection. The two shows stayed separated forever after this. However, Gary and Valene did appear in the series finale of Dallas.
The character of Sid Fairgate was killed off because of a salary dispute with Don Murray.
Larry Riley, who played Frank Williams for five seasons, shocked audiences when after being on only a 5 month hiatus. He looked thin and ravaged. He explained that he had a kidney condition, and that he had lost over 80 lbs. in those 5 months. He said he would need to be on dialysis for the rest of his life. He died only a few months later, and his widow then informed the world that his kidney problem was due to AIDS.
Almost a year after the series ended in 1994, Telly Savalas died. Both Kevin Dobson and Nicollette Sheridan attended the funeral. Dobson co-starred with him in the series “Kojak.” Sheridan is his real-life stepdaughter.
Julie Harris Lilimae), died on August 24, 2013, of congestive heart failure.
Joan Van Ark has been married to her husband, John Marshall, since 1966.
When Joan Van Ark was only 15 years old and a student reporter, she interviewed actress Julie Harris, who later recommended that she (Van Ark), should apply to the Yale School of Drama. It would be 22 years later, Van Ark and Harris would work together, as mother and daughter on Knots Landing.
In the scene where Karen (Michele Lee), takes off her wedding band on the show, due to her husbands’ (Don Murray) death, Lee was actually taking off her own wedding band, because her and her real-life husband, James Farentino were getting divorced.
The only on-screen nudity of Donna Mills’ career, was in a love scene with Clint Eastwood, in the movie, “Play Misty for Me”.
Kevin Dobson (Mack), a forrmer soldeir, has received the “Silver Helmet Peace Award” and the “American Legion Award”, having long assisted with the needs of hospitalized veterans.
William Devane’s father, Joseph Devane, was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s chauffeur when he was Governor of New York.