Joan Collins as Alexis Carrington (1981)
|Portrayed by||Joan Collins|
|First appearance||Episode 15
"The Testimony" (non-speaking, face unseen)
|Last appearance||Episode 220
|Created by||Richard and Esther Shapiro|
|Dynasty: The Reunion (1991)|
• CEO and Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of ColbyCo. Oil Company (Owns 70% of the company's voting stock)
• Partner in Lex-Dex Corporation
• Owner/Publisher of The Denver Mirror newspaper
• Owner of the Carlton Hotel
• Owner of Fashion Fury
• Owner of "Denver-Carrington"
The role was originated by Joan Collins in the first episode of the show's second season in 1981 (the character appeared briefly in the first season finale, non-speaking and face unseen). Collins remained on the show until the finale in 1989, and then returned as Alexis for the 1991 miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion.
Alexis' schemes to destroy ex-husband Blake, undermine his marriage to angelic Krystle, and control her children drive much of the action over the series' run. Passionate yet vengeful, Alexis loves her children fiercely and will do anything to protect them, but she often ignores their own needs and desires in place of what she thinks is best. Often seen smoking her trademark Nat Sherman cigarillos, Alexis rises and falls again and again, continually stirring up trouble for all around her.
During the series Alexis is married three additional times, to Cecil Colby, Dex Dexter, and Sean Rowan. Alexis is widowed twice, first by Cecil and then by fourth husband Sean, prompting Alexis' cousin Sable to remark that with Alexis "death is always a simpler solution than divorce." Her third marriage (to Dex) ends in divorce after Alexis catches him in bed with her adult daughter Amanda. The name Alexis uses the most consistently over the course of the series is Alexis Colby, though her marriage to Cecil Colby is her shortest. Alexis is romantically linked to a number of men over the years, including oilman Rashid Ahmed, tennis pro (and Krystle's first husband) Mark Jennings, King Galen of Moldavia, shipping tycoon Zach Powers, Congressman Neal McVane, Blake's brother Ben Carrington, Dirk and Gavin Maurier, Cecil's brother Jason Colby, and even a near-reconciliation with an amnesiac Blake.
Behind the scenes
Candidates for the plum role of Blake Carrington's ex-wife, initially named Madeleine, included film legend Sophia Loren. Series co-creator Esther Shapiro later claimed that the character of Alexis was based on the Roman empress Livia, as characterized in the 1934 novel I, Claudius. A change in the writing and the addition of Alexis were credited with lifting Dynasty in the ratings, and the character "quickly set off a host of female imitators in other prime-time soaps." Producer E. Duke Vincent said of Collins in 2005, "Joan Collins is the queen of the archetype … How do you get that? You get it in the storytelling, obviously, but the actress herself, her personality, brought something to that role which I don't think anybody else could have done." Executive Producer Aaron Spelling added, "We didn't write Joan Collins. She played Joan Collins … We wrote a character, but the character could have been played by 50 people and 49 of them would have failed. She made it work."
Alexis' annual catfights with Linda Evans' Krystle became eagerly anticipated, and Alexis would later have similar brawls with Dominique Deveraux (Diahann Carroll) and Sable Colby (Stephanie Beacham).
Alexis was conspicuously absent from the Season Six opener which followed the infamous Moldavian Massacre cliffhanger; Collins was in a tense contract renegotiation with the show, seeking an increased salary. As a result, the first episode of the season had to be rewritten to explain her absence. Collins' demands were met (she reportedly signed a $60,000 per episode contract) and she returned to the series in the season's second episode.
As Dynasty declined in ratings in later seasons, Collins was contracted for only 13 of the 22 episodes in the series' ninth season as a money-saving move (by this time, Collins was bringing in $120,000 an episode). She later announced that she would not return for a tenth season but the series was cancelled at the end of the ninth season due to low ratings anyway. The majority of the cast (including Collins) reunited for the two-part, four-hour miniseries Dynasty: The Reunion in 1991.
She was born Alexis Morell in either May or June (she's a Gemini) of 1937 in London, but was schooled in Switzerland. She was the daughter of a Royal Warrant holder as British tailor to King George VI. She was first a painter and attended the Royal Academy of Arts, but dropped out after nearly a year and worked as an artist's model in Brussels.
In 1954, Alexis met Blake Carrington when she was 17 and, three days later, Blake proposed to Alexis. Within a month they were married. In early 1957, Alexis gave birth to their first child, Adam Alexander Carrington. On the morning of September 29, 1957, Adam was kidnapped. When Alexis reached out to Blake for support, she was met with coldness. He threw himself into building his company, Denver-Carrington. Just before the kidnapping, Alexis had become pregnant with second son Steven Daniel Carrington, who was born in June 1958. However, in the back of her mind, Alexis was upset with Blake for calling off the search for Adam and he was now trying to replace their first son with Steven. Blake continued his laser-like focus on the building of Denver-Carrington, and, feeling neglected, she reached out and started an affair with Cecil Colby. Eventually, she became pregnant again and did not know the paternity of the child. She later gave birth to a daughter, Fallon, who would turn out to be Blake's. Alexis became jealous of the attention that Blake showered on their daughter.
During the final years of their marriage, Blake went on several business trips often leaving Alexis alone for weeks on end. She started an affair with Roger Grimes, the estate manager of the Carrington Estate, who encouraged Alexis to pursue her dream as a painter and built her an artist's studio on the grounds. One particular afternoon, Blake found the two in bed. He divorced Alexis and exiled her from Denver for years, paying her a lavish settlement on the condition that she never contact him or their children again.
In Dynasty's first season finale episode, "The Testimony," Blake Carrington is on trial for killing his son Steven's male lover, Ted Dinard. A veiled surprise witness for the prosecution appears, and Blake angrily asks his lawyer: "What's she doing here?" Blake's daughter Fallon gasps in recognition, "Oh my God, that's my mother."
As the second season opens with the episode "Enter Alexis", the character has not only a face but a name: Alexis Morell Carrington. She had been exiled from Denver by Blake after an affair with Carrington estate manager Roger Grimes; her testimony, that Blake has a violent temper, proves damaging to his case. At odds with his father, Steven is drawn to the mother he hardly remembers; Fallon, however, is devoted to Blake and has long held a grudge against Alexis, a grudge further fueled by her testimony. Fallon says to her mother:
|“||You're even more beautiful and more ugly than that grand English lady I vaguely remember, and whom I've tried very hard to forget existed these past sixteen years.||”|
— Fallon Carrington Colby, "Enter Alexis"
Alexis soon sparks the ire of Blake's wife Krystle, and brazenly moves into a cottage on the Carrington estate: her former art studio which she still owns, thanks to a technicality. The household staff remembers the first Mrs. Carrington all too well — especially longtime Carrington majordomo Joseph Anders. Staunchly loyal to Blake, Joseph has a particular dislike for socialite Alexis and has followed her scandalous adventures for years through the tabloids. Fallon, though not openly hostile, keeps an icy distance from Alexis and the two trade subtle barbs; Steven is seduced by his mother's apparent devotion to him, but soon gets a taste of her poison. According to Alexis, Fallon is not Blake's daughter at all: her father is really Blake's longtime friend and business rival, Cecil Colby. The secret eats at Steven, and Fallon eventually finds out. Ultimately, it is proven untrue. Alexis' consistent meddling and intrusions help improve Krystle's relationship with Fallon, Joseph, and the rest of the household staff and they soon accept her unconditionally as Blake's wife.
Alexis makes an enemy in Krystle when she purposefully fires a shotgun to make Krystle's horse throw her; a pregnant Krystle loses her baby, and is told she will probably be unable to have more. Alexis becomes romantically involved with Cecil, now Blake's adversary, but Cecil has a heart attack while in bed with her. They marry on his deathbed, Cecil exacting a promise from Alexis that she will use his company ColbyCo to ruin Blake.
In 1982, after their infant grandson L.B. Colby (son of Fallon and Jeff Colby) is kidnapped, former spouses Blake and Alexis make a televised plea that he be returned. Alexis confesses a dark secret from their past: their firstborn son, Adam, had been kidnapped as a baby and had never been returned. Traumatized by the event, they had hidden his existence from their subsequent children Fallon and Steven. Meanwhile, in Billings, Montana, an old woman named Kate Torrance tearfully tells her grandson Michael that he is really the Carrington heir. Armed with items from Adam Carrington's baby carriage, lawyer "Michael" comes to Denver and is eventually accepted as a Carrington; but like Alexis, his selfishness, greed and ambition put him at odds with all of his relatives at one time or another.
In 1984, a young woman named Amanda Bedford appears on Alexis' doorstep; she is Alexis' daughter, and as news of her spreads, Blake takes a special interest. He soon learns that Alexis was pregnant when he banished her decades before. Though Alexis insists that Amanda's father is a ski instructor with whom she was involved, it is eventually revealed that she is indeed Blake's daughter.
In 1986, Alexis' younger sister Cassandra Morell is released from a Caracas, Venezuela prison, having been incarcerated years before after an incident involving Alexis and her then-paramour, Zach Powers. Calling herself Caress, the younger Morell comes to Denver and hopes to make a fortune by writing a scathing tell-all book about Alexis and exposing her sister's darkest secrets. Alexis finds out about the book, secretly buys the publishing company and scuttles the project.
A handsome stranger saves Alexis from drowning in a river in 1987; dashing Sean Rowan soon sweeps her off her feet and they marry. Sean soon insinuates himself into her business, alienating Alexis' son Adam. It is revealed that Sean is actually the son of former Carrington majordomo Joseph Anders, and is bent on avenging his father and sister, Kirby, who had been ill-treated by Alexis and the Carringtons. Sean has an affair with Leslie Carrington and schemes to destroy the family, but is ultimately killed by Dex after he attempts to murder Alexis.
The additions of Collins as Alexis and the "formidable writing team" of Eileen and Robert Mason Pollock are generally credited with Dynasty's rise in the Nielsen ratings in its second season, the start of the series' rise to #1.
Notes and references
- Dynasty: The Authorized Biography of the Carringtons. Doubleday/Dolphin. 1984. p. 28. ISBN 0-385-19525-7.
- Schemering, Christopher (September 1985). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (1st ed.). Ballantine Books. pp. 80–84. ISBN 0-345-32459-5.
- Maggie Wickman appeared at the end of "The Testimony" as the veiled surprise witness who would later be identified as Alexis.
- Bretts, Bruce; Roush, Matt; (March 25, 2013). "Baddies to the Bone: The 60 nastiest villains of all time". TV Guide. pp. 14 - 15.
- Hack, Richard. "Portraying of Characters: Casting (Excerpt of Aaron Spelling/Douglas S. Cramer interview)". The Hollywood Reporter. UltimateDynasty.net. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
- Sturges, Fiona (January 24, 2011). "The good, the bad and the wildly bitchy". The Independent. Independent.co.uk. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
- Idato, Michael (September 19, 2005). "The Great Escape". The Sydney Morning Herald. SMH.com.au. Archived from the original on 30 January 2009. Retrieved February 25, 2009.
- "Behind Dynasty 's breakdown ... and recovery". TV Guide. UltimateDynasty.net. May 17, 1986. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
- Amanda's arrival is foreshadowed in the Season Four episode "Birthday" when Alexis mentions that she has been through four pregnancies. Krystle notes the discrepancy (at this time, Alexis is known to have just three children, Adam, Fallon and Steven), but Alexis explains that one resulted in a miscarriage. Amanda appears 11 episodes later in "Amanda."
- Schemering, Christopher (September 1985). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-345-32459-5.
- TV Guide Book of Lists. Running Press. 2007. p. 191. ISBN 0-7624-3007-9.