Celebrating 40 Years...
On Dec 4, 1981, "Falcon Crest" premièred on CBS.
On Dec 4, 2021, the "Falcon Crest" staff and the DFCF relive the vintage years and toast to one of the most successful dramas in television history...
Greetings from the Staff and Crew
(in alphabetical order):
STEPHEN BLACK & HENRY STERN,
writers, executive script consultants and co-producers (seasons 2, 3 and 8):
It is hard to drive through the Napa Valley and not recall the fictional lives of the dynamic self propelled Angela Channing and her family, friends and enemies. Henry and I let our imaginations loose during the pandemic lockdown and conjured up some ideas of what those characters might be up to today. Spoiler alert. Lance is a grandfather and has silver hair.
Congratulations, dear fans, for keeping the Tuscany Valley's best winery alive all of these years.
A special nod to "Falcon Crest's" creator RIP, EARL HAMNER.
STEPHEN BLACK and HENRY STERN
senior vice president TV publicity at LORIMAR:
I simply cannot believe that December 4 will mark the 40th anniversary of "Falcon Crest". [...] I found a letter from EARL HAMNER, written to me after your and my first interview, which I had told him went well as he had assured me it would. He was 93 when he wrote the letter and passed away just weeks afterwards. He was such a dear man. We shared a July 10th birthday! Different years, however!!
I am trying to organize my "man cave 'office'" and [...] found some lovely pictures of JANE WYMAN and I at Lake Como in Italy for an event. She is interred not far from my home here in the Coachella Valley desert. I pass her old home each time I go to the hospital and I always say "Hi, Janie!" when I do. Silly I suppose, but I loved her so much. As she always said to me, "Honey, we're joined at the hip!" We worked together about 27 years at the time we were doing "Falcon Crest", having known each other via a PR firm prior to her brief retiral to Carmel, CA.
Thanks to YouTube, etc. on computer and other re-run channels, I am able to watch episodes of the series from time to time. Such lovely memories, for the most part, except towards the end when the producers and writers had been changed and her [JANE's] health was fading. But she was the ultimate pro right to the end. She left L.A. and moved to the desert and then I did the same a couple of years later. During my 40+ years in Hollywood, working on dozens of films and series I only look back with happiness at very few shows: "Falcon Crest", "Mary Tyler Moore", "The Carol Burnett Show" and "Murder, She Wrote", starring ANGELA LANSBURY. JANE and I were personal friends not just co-workers.
I trust that you are well and happy. Keep in touch with me, because I don't know if I will be around for the 50th anniversary!!
set costumer ("The Vintage Years" and seasons 2 through 9)
I apologize for being such a poor correspondent. I can't seem to make myself get on the computer. I am fine and have survived without getting Covid. I have gotten all my shots and the booster and do or go nowhere but those places of necessity. I haven't seen my family [...] for two years. I look forward to this all being a bad memory. I read, watch T.V., and talk or text friends and family. It's a very simple way of living.
I can't believe it's been forty years for "Falcon Crest"!!! I talked to SUSAN SULLIVAN not long ago and she said she and DAVID SELBY keep in contact and are both doing fine. I am still extending an invitation for you and Dörthe to come visit and stay with me here [...].
Hopefully all will clear up Covid wise and we can get back to the life as it was two years ago.
I want to wish you both the very best Christmas and best peaceful, health new year.
music editor (seasons 1 through 7):
Working on "Falcon Crest" holds so many wonderful memories for me in my (still-going!) music editing career. The crew became my second family. I'm not surprised that this is the 40th anniversary because I was pregnant with my daughter, Brooke, when we spotted episode # 1 for music with BILL CONTI. My daughter is now turning 40 on Christmas Eve! When she was little and people asked her what I did, she would just blurt out: "Falcon Crest!"
I thought I had everything perfectly planned out: I was to finish season 1 about 3 weeks before my baby was due (mid-Feb 1982). As it turned out, my daughter arrived 2 months early! I was literally spotting an episode almost every week so I used to have 3 episodes (in various stages) in my possession at any given time. When I went into labor on Christmas Eve 1981, I was about to leave for the studio to spot an episode. The doctors didn't understand why I had to call work but the show had to go on! I was fortunate to find a friend and fellow music editor (PAT PECK) to step in for me at a moment's notice while agreeing to step aside when I was ready to come back. As it turned out, the show "Dallas" was needing a new music editor so PAT was able to transition to that show.
EARL HAMNER was such a lovely gentleman — I loved working with him. When I came home from the hospital after having my baby, there was an enormous bouquet of flowers in a basket waiting for me on the front porch — with a sweet note from EARL. I worked very closely with our associate producer, VICTORIA LaFORTUNE, who is a friend to this day. I had the opportunity to work with several talented composers on the show. BILL CONTI only scored the pilot and would come back at the beginning of each season to re-record his memorable "Falcon Crest" theme. Some of the other regular composers I loved collaborating with were: PETER MYERS, DANA KAPROFF, (the late) SHIRLEY WALKER, JESSE FREDERICK and BENNETT SALVAY (a team), and NAN SCHWARTZ. ROGER BELLON also scored a few shows near the end of my tenure. Near the end of my time on the show, the producing teams changed and JEFF FREILICH came in as the Executive Producer. JEFF brought in composer MARK SNOW, who scored every episode for the last season or two that I did. MARK and I ended up continuing to work together on movies for quite a while.
It was a difficult decision to leave the show after season 7 but I was starting to work in feature films (thanks to MARK SNOW) and I decided it was time to take a stab at moving away from television and more into features. To this day I work primarily on feature films but have continued to work on some fairly high profile TV movies and mini-series as well.
JANE JANIGER (previously JANE SCHWARTZ),
assistant women's costumer (season 5) / women's costume supervisor (seasons 6 and 7):
I have so many great memories of my time on "Falcon Crest". I got to dress some of the most talented, beautiful and iconic women on television and get paid for it. It was such a wonderful time. I'm happy to say I've stayed in touch with a lot of the actors and am honored to call them my friends.
We need another reunion!!
Best wish to you and your family for a fantastic Xmas and a happy, healthy New Year.
ROBERT L. McCULLOUGH,
writer, executive story consultant, director and supervising producer (seasons 1 through 3):
"Falcon Crest" remains the prime-time highlight of my writing-producing career. I've had several other "hit" shows, but "Falcon Crest" is the one that made all the others possible in so many ways. I was extremely fortunate to have been recruited to "help" EARL HAMNER when the network determined that he needed some fresh perspectives on the characters he had created with "The Vintage Years". While I'm not sure EARL ever fully appreciated that help, feeling that my instincts were somewhat "salacious", he was always a gentleman and I took his soft-spoken approach to heart. Due to the financial pressures of producing a show with a large and expensive cast, most TV shows tend to involve a major degree of behind-the-scenes contentious infighting, hysteria, shouting, and name-calling. During my three-year tenure, neither EARL, myself, or any of the writing-producing team ever raised our voices. With the support of writers like GARNER SIMMONS and a line producer like BARRY STEINBERG — both intelligent, articulate, highly collaborative men of good cheer — my job was more than easy; it was a genuine pleasure.
Of course there were always creative "issues" that came up during those three years, as we were essentially molding the characters that would live well beyond my tenure on the show. But with folks like JANE WYMAN, SUSAN SULLIVAN, DAVID SELBY and BILL MOSES investing their inestimable talents into every line of dialogue, I'm not at all surprised that viewers the world over still feel a connection to the show. I'm still in touch with several cast members (SUSAN, DAVID, LORENZO, BILL), a few writers and directors, and I know that the ongoing interest of the show's fans is sincerely appreciated by everyone who ever worked on the show.
writer and story editor (season 7):
I was thinking of my colleague on the show, CYNTHIA DARNELL (who died too young). I remember her once saying how tumbleweeds don't tumble and then she actually put it in a script: had Maggie say it. I don't know why that stuck with me.
I guess if I were to say anything to the fans it would be to thank them for having watched the show all those years ago, that, for me, it was a privilege to write for such distinguished actors like JANE WYMAN. To be on location at Napa — great fun! It was my first staff job and I couldn't have asked for a better beginning as a writer. If anything I wrote made someone's life a bit better, if I entertained even one person, made them laugh, then I'm happy.
writer and story editor (seasons 1 through 3):
While it hardly seems that long ago, 40 years have passed since "Falcon Crest" premiered on CBS and EARL HAMNER and BOB McCULLOUGH were good enough to hire me to write an episode titled "The Extortionist". Directed by MICHAEL PREECE, it would turn out to be my first on-screen writing credit, something I have always been proud of for it led to many more.
The experience of working with such a tremendously talented group of actors like the legendary JANE WYMAN, ROBERT FOXWORTH, SUSAN SULLIVAN, BILL MOSES, DAVID SELBY and so many more was inspiring.
There is a reason "Falcon Crest" still lives on in the hearts and minds of its many loyal fans — it told a story of real people — a conflicted family who remind us of the words of Leo Tolstoy: "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." For from such family conflict comes great storytelling.
All the best to all of you, our loyal fans. Knowing you were watching made it all worthwhile.