Knots Landing
Knots Landing opening logo
Opening screenshot and caption for the CBS TV series "Knots Landing", from 1980-1993.
Notable main cast members:
Ted Shackelford
Joan Van Ark
Donna Mills
(Seasons 1-9)
Michelle Lee
Don Murray
(Seasons 1-2)
John Pleshette
(Seasons 1-9)
James Houghton
(Seasons 1-9)
Kim Lankford
(Seasons 1-4)
Julie Harris
(Seasons 1-8)
Michelle Phillips
(Seasons 12-14)
William Devane
(Seasons 1-14)
Kevin Dobson
(Seasons 1-14)
Created by:
Executive Producer:
David Jacobs
Running time:
47-50 minutes
CBS-TV / United States (USA)
Preceded by:
Followed by:

Knots Landing is the spin-off of the primetime soap opera Dallas which aired from December 28, 1979 to May 13, 1993 on also CBS. In fact, the original plot was made for Knots Landing.

Knots Landing was created by David Jacobs (one-time writer of Family and later producer of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) in conjunction with producer Michael Filerman (who would also later co-produce Falcon Crest). The idea was initially rebuffed by CBS in 1978, as the network wanted something more "saga-like." Jacobs then created Dallas, which the networked accepted and premiered in 1979. After Dallas became a hit, Jacobs was then able to adapt Knots Landing as a spin-off series. The series was loosely inspired by the 1979 Ingmar Bergman movie Scenes from a Marriage, but with four marriages. Though initially not as popular as Dallas, Knots Landing eventually outlasted it and garnered much critical acclaim. The series peaked during the 1979–80 season with a 20.8 rating (finishing in 11th place) and a 20.0 rating for the 1980–81 season (when it finished 9th). This can be attributed, in part, to more dramatic storylines as the series became more soap-opera like, and the gradual inclusion of newer characters to interact with the original cast. By the 1991–92 season, Knots Landing was ahead of Dallas in the ratings, though audiences for both shows by this time were less than their earlier years.


Gary Ewing was the middle son and the black sheep of the Ewing family from Dallas. Gary was an alcoholic, whose father Jock and older brother J.R. had never treated as an equal. The insecure Gary met Valene when they were aged 21 and 22 years old respectively. They were married briefly, and Gary left Southfork Ranch and later divorced Valene. With Gary gone from Southfork Ranch, J.R. had Valene followed and 'run out of town' as he took her daughter and manipulated Gary away from her. Years later, Valene and her daughter Lucy reconnected, causing Valene and Gary to reunite. They remarried and Gary's mother, Miss Ellie, bought the couple a house in a cul-de-sac in California. Gary came up with name of the place; he called it "Knots Landing".

Main charactersEdit

  • Michele Lee (Original cast) as Karen Cooper Fairgate-MacKenzie
    • First married to Sid Fairgate, and later to Mack McKenzie, and the mother of Diana, Eric and Michael Fairgate. She and Mack later adopted Meg, (Laura's daughter with Greg Sumner). Karen worked as a community activist and later proved herself to be a good businesswoman by running Knots Landing Motors and Lotus Point, of which she was a joint-owner with Gary and Abby. (Michele Lee would also become the only cast member to appear in all 344 episodes which was a record for most appearances of a female character on American primetime television. The record was surpassed in 2008 by S. Epatha Merkerson's character on NBC's Law & Order).
  • Ted Shackelford (Original cast) as Garrison Arthur "Gary" Ewing.
    • The son of Jock and Ellie Ewing, first introduced in the TV series Dallas. Gary, the middle Ewing son between J.R. and Bobby, was the family blacksheep and a recovering alcoholic. The true love of Valene's life and father of their daughter Lucy (from Dallas) and twins Bobby & Betsy Ewing. After his arrival in California, he began working for Sid Fairgate at Knots Landing Motors, where he was eventually promoted to vice president. He was later fired by Karen after Sid's death, and his marriage to Val was wrecked by his affair with Abby. After his father (Jock Ewing) died, he inherited $10 million and later married Abby, though the marriage ended after a couple of years. After a relationship with the scheming Jill Bennett, he later remarried Valene. (Ted Shackleford is the only castmember along with Michele Lee to remain in the series throughout its entire run, but he did not appear in every episode)
  • Joan Van Ark (Original cast) as Valene "Val" Clements Ewing Ewing Gibson Waleska Ewing (main : seasons 1-13 ; special guest : season 14).
    • The true love of Gary's life, she is the mother of his three children, including Dallas' Lucy Ewing (Charlene Tilton) and twins Bobby & Betsy Ewing. Valene originally came from Tennessee, and married Gary while they were still in their teens, but she was outcast from the Ewing family by J.R.. After she and Gary remarried, they moved to Knots Landing where she became Karen's neighbor and best friend. After their marriage failed again, she later married journalist Ben Gibson, and then psychotic Danny Waleska, before finally marrying Gary for the third time. (Joan Van Ark appears in all but six of the episodes for her 13 seasons, and returned for the series two-part finale in 1993.)
  • Don Murray (Original cast) as William Sidney Fairgate (seasons 1-3).
    • Karen's first husband, and the owner of Knots Landing Motors. Hard working, fair and at times stubborn, Sid was the emotional rock of the show during the first two seasons. Sid was killed after his car was sabotaged. He is announced dead of an chirurgical operation in the second episode of the Season 3.
  • Constance McCashin (Original cast) as Laura Avery Sumner (seasons 1-9).
    • The wife of Richard Avery, and later, Greg Sumner. Initially an oppressed housewife, she later became a successful real estate agent. Laura is found dead in the hospital, she died in 1988 of a brain tumor.
  • John Pleshette (Original cast) as Richard Avery (main : season 1-4 ; special guest : season 9)
    • A lawyer, and later a restaurant owner. Unhappily married to Laura, he struggled to assert himself after she launched a successful career in real-estate. In 1979, he suffered a nervous breakdown (where he held Laura hostage at gunpoint) and left town in 1983 without his family, as he and Laura divorced.
  • Kim Lankford (Original cast) as Ginger Ward (seasons 1-4).
    • A kindergarten teacher who wanted to be a singer, she was jealous of her husband's involvement in Ciji Dunne's career.
  • James Houghton (Original cast) as Kenny Ward (seasons 1-4).
    • A young record producer who, at first, cheated on his wife Ginger, but reformed upon the birth of their daughter Erin Molly. Both he and Ginger moved away from Knots Landing at the end of the 1st season in 1981.
  • Donna Mills as Abby Fairgate Cunningham Ewing Sumner (main : seasons 2-10 ; special guest : season 14).
    • Sid's sister, and the neighborhood troublemaker. After divorcing her first husband, Jeff Cunnningham, Abby decided to move to Knots Landing where she began working as a bookkeeper at Knots Landing Motors. She engaged in affairs with Richard, and later Gary, destroying his marriage to Val. Abby then married Gary herself (mainly to get his inheritance) but they divorced a couple of years later, though by this time she was working with both Gary and her former sister-in-law, Karen, as joint-owners of Lotus Point. She later married Greg Sumner (for political reasons) but the marriage lasted only a few months before Abby moved to Japan. Although Abby adored her brother Sid, Abby and Karen rarely got along. Donna Mills appeared in almost all the episodes of the series for all her seasons, with the exception of one episode during the 1989–90 season.
  • Kevin Dobson as Marion Patrick "Mack" MacKenzie (seasons 4-14).
    • Karen's second husband; an attorney who worked for the Governor's office before opening his own private practice. He first met Karen when he worked as the Federal Prosecutor, helping to catch the men responsible for Sid's death. He later worked for his old classmate, Senator Greg Sumner, at his crime commission though later quit because he could not tolerate Sumner's schemes which led to the pair of them becoming rivals. (From joining the series in Season 4, Kevin Dobson appears in all the episodes of the series with the exception of two, during the final season).
  • Julie Harris as Lilimae Clements (special guest : season 1 ; recurring : season 3 ; main : seasons 4-9).
    • Valene's mother. Though they'd been estranged for many years, after Lilimae virtually abandoned Valene as a teenager in her quest to become a country singer, Lilimae reappeared in Valene's life during Season 1 and she moved in with Valene in season 3 until Season 9.
  • Claudia Lonow (Original cast) as Diana Fairgate (recurring : seasons 1-4, and 14 ; guest : season 6 ; main : season 5).
    • Karen's daughter who fell in love with the evil Chip Roberts. She eventually left Knots Landing in the end to study in New York City.
  • Douglas Sheehan as Ben Gibson (seasons 5-8).
    • Valene's second husband. He was a journalist, who later worked at Abby's television station.
  • William Devane as Greg Sumner (seasons 5-14).
    • Mack's ex-best friend and classmate who attended law school with him and even offered him a job working for the crime commission. Initially a politician, Greg became a businessman after inheriting his father's corporation. He often plotted with Abby, whom he later married.
  • Lisa Hartman as Ciji Dunne (recurring : season 4) / Cathy Geary (recurring season 5 ; main : seasons 6-7).
    • Ciji and Cathy were both singers. Ciji was killed and raped and strangled and murdered, leaving almost everyone in Knots Landing as a suspect. Some months later, Ciji's doppelgänger Cathy Geary showed up after being released from prison. Singer Ciji Dunne was declared and murdered and killed by Chip Roberts, who died of an accident when he saw Cathy.
  • Alec Baldwin as Joshua Rush (seasons 6-7).
    • Lilimae's son whom she abandoned as a infant little baby. He was raised by his dead deceased preacher father and came to Knots Landing as a rather innocent young preacher. He later became a televangelist and married Cathy Geary, but became mentally ill and extremely violent. After he tried to kill Cathy, he accidentally fell off a roof and died in the tenth episode of the season 7.
  • Nicollette Sheridan as Paige Matheson. (guest : season 7 ; recurring : seasons 8-9 ; main : seasons 10-14).
    • Mack's daughter with Anne Matheson. She became involved with Greg Sumner (whom she also worked for), police detective Tom Ryan, and also Pierce Lawton who tried to kill her.
  • Teri Austin as Jill Bennett (guest : season 6 ; recurring : seasons 7-9 ; main : season 10).
    • An ex-colleague of Mack's and later Gary's mistress who later tried to kidnap, mutilate, rape, strangle, kill and then murder Valene in cold blood She accidentally killed herself after locking herself in the trunk of Gary's car so it would seem like he'd kidnapped her. She was raped, mutilated, strangled, murdered and killed at the end of the show in 1993 she died of mutilation, rape, strangulation, and suicide of killing herself and locking herself in the trunk of Gary's car and then stabbed herself to death
  • Patrick Petersen (Original cast) as Michael Fairgate (recurring : seasons 1-10 ; main : season 11-12).
    • Sid and Karen's younger son who would later have an affair with his step-sister Paige Matheson and his brother Eric's wife, Linda.
  • Tonya Crowe as Olivia Cunningham Dyer (recurring : season 2-10 ; main : season 11).
    • Abby's rebellious daughter who became addicted to drugs. She later married mobster's nephew Harold Dyer against her mother's wishes, making Abby cut her off financially.
  • Michelle Phillips as Anne Winston Matheson Sumner (recurring : seasons 8 and 11 ; guest : season 10 ; main : seasons 12-14).
    • Paige's mother and Mack's first love. She initially tried to split up Mack and Karen, but after failing she turned her attentions to Greg and also attempted to cheat Paige out of her inheritance from her grandfather.
  • Larry Riley as Frank Williams (recurring : seasons 9-11 ; main : seasons 12-13)
    • Frank moved to Knots Landing with his wife Pat and daughter Julie as part of the witness protection program. He eventually took a job in Mack's law firm.
  • Stacy Galina as Mary-Frances Sumner #2 (guest : season 11) / Kate Whittaker (recurring : season 12 ; main : seasons 13-14)
    • Claudia's daughter who resembled Greg's late daughter Mary Frances. She was a semi-professional tennis player, but broke her arm which ended her budding career. She later became romantically involved with Gary Ewing.
  • Kathleen Noone as Claudia Sumner Whittaker (recurring : season 12 ; main : seasons 13-14)
    • Greg Sumner's sister, who moved to town under the guise of accompanying her daughter for college; in reality, she wanted to meddle in Greg's affairs.

Recurring and guest charactersEdit

  • Steve Shaw as Eric Fairgate (seasons 1-9 and 11) : Karen and Sid's elder son.
  • Karen Allen as Annie Fairgate (pilot).
  • Patrick Duffy as Bobby Ewing (3 episodes, seasons 1-2 and 4).
  • Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing (5 episodes, seasons 1-2 and 4).
  • Charlene Tilton as Lucy Ewing (1 episode, season 1).
  • Mary Crosby as Kristin Shepard (1 episode, season 2).
  • Claudette Nevins as Susan Philby (1 episode, season 1) : Sid's ex-wife and Annie's mother.
  • Bobby Jacoby as Brian Cunningham #1 (seasons 2-6) : Abby's son.
  • Louise Vallance as Sylvie (seasons 1-2) : Kenny's lover.
  • Jane Elliott as Judy Trent (season 2) : Gary's lover.
  • Paul Rudd as Earl Trent (season 2) : Judy's husband, he tried to rape Valene.
  • Denise Galick as Linda Stricker (season 2) : Sid's mechanic.
  • Allan Miller as Scooter Warren (seasons 2-3) : Laura's boss and lover.
  • David Haskell as Karl Russelman (season 2) : Ginger's date when she quit Kenny.
  • Stephen Macht as Joe Cooper (seasons 3-4) : Karen's brother.
  • Michael Sabatino as Chip Roberts (seasons 4-5) : Diana's deceased husband. Ex-lover and killer of Ciji.
  • Joanna Pettet as Janet Baines (seasons 4-5) : detective in charge of Ciji's murder case.
  • Millie Perkins as Jane Sumner (seasons 5-6 and 11) : Greg's first wife and Mary-Frances' mother.
  • Danielle Brisebois as Mary Frances Sumner #1 (season 5) : Greg and Jane's daughter.
  • Howard Duff as Paul Galveston (seasons 6 and 11) : Greg Sumner's deceased father.
  • Ava Gardner as Ruth Galveston (season 6) : Greg Sumner's mother.
  • Hunt Block as Peter Hollister (seasons 7-8) : Jill Bennett's brother who was accidentally killed by Paige Matheson.
  • Ruth Roman as Sylvia Lean (seasons 7-8) : Paul Galveston's former lover and "mother" of Peter Hollister.
  • Brian Austin Green as Brian Cunningham #2 (seasons 8-10) : Abby's son.
  • Louis Giambalvo as Phil Harbert (season 8) : Greg and Mack's old friend, he kidnapped Karen.
  • Wendy Fulton as Jean Hackney (season 8).
  • Red Buttons as Al Baker (season 9) : Lilimae's new boyfriend, with whom she left Knots Landing.
  • Lar Par Lincoln as Linda Fairgate (seasons 9 and 11-13) : Eric Fairgate's ex-wife who started a relationship with his brother Michael and later with her boss Greg Sumner. She was brutally killed in 1991.
  • Michael York as Charles Scott III (season 9) : Abby's former and first true love.
  • Lynne Moody as Pat Williams (seasons 9-11) : Frank's wife. Died in a car accident in 1990.
  • Kent Masters King as Julie Williams (seasons 9-13) : Pat and Frank's daughter.
  • Peter Reckell as Johnny Rourke (seasons 9-10) : Paige's former lover.
  • Paul Carafotes as Harold Dyer (seasons 9-11) : Olivia's husband.
  • John Aprea as Manny Vasquez (seasons 9-10) : Harold's uncle.
  • Robert Desiderio as Ted Melcher (seasons 10-11) : Abby's lover when she was married to Greg Sumner.
  • Melinda Culea as Paula Vertosick (seasons 10-11)
  • Betsy Palmer as Aunt Virginia "Ginny" Bullock (seasons 10-12) : Lilimae's sister, she came to live with her niece after Lilimae left.
  • Sam Behrens as Danny Waleska (seasons 10-12) : Valene's third husband, he raped his ex-wife and then died drowned in the Williams pool.
  • Penny Peyser as Amanda Michaels (season 11) : Danny's ex-wife, whom he raped.
  • Joseph Gian as Tom Ryan (seasons 11-12 and 14) : Paige's lover and one-time fiancé.
  • Stuart Whitman as Mr Willis (season 11).
  • Herbert Edelman as Sgt. Levine (season 12) : detective in charge of Danny's presumed murder.
  • Thomas Wilson Brown as Jason Lochner (seasons 12-13) : The Mackenzie's foster son and Julie's boyfriend.
  • Lorenzo Caccialanza as Nick Schillace (seasons 12 and 14) : Anne's and later Claudia's lover.
  • Lance Guest as Steve Brewer (season 12) : Claudia's illegitimate son with Paul Galveston.
  • Tracy Reed as Charlotte Anderson (season 12) : Frank's lover after Pat's death.
  • Bruce Greenwood as Pierce Lawton (seasons 13-14) : Paige's lover, he tried to killed her.
  • Mark Soper as Joseph Barringer (season 13) : Kate's lover.
  • Stuart Pankin as Benny Appleman (season 13).
  • Boyd Kestner as Alex Barth (seasons 13-14) : Kate's fiancé, he cheated with her mother and her best friend.
  • Felicity Waterman as Vanessa Hunt (seasons 13-14) : Alex's and later Nick's lover.
  • Maree Cheatham as Mary Robeson (seasons 13-14) : mysterious lady who claimed to be Laura's mother.
  • Tara Marchant as Toni Fields (season 14) : Mary's lawyer and later Mack's associate.
  • William Allen Young as Cliff Templeton (season 14) : Toni's lover.
  • David James Elliott as Bill Nolan (season 14) : Paige's lover.

Related linksEdit

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