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Flamingo Road

By Wikipedia

Flamingo Road was NBC's first attempt to jump into the 1980s primetime soap opera craze. It was first seen as a TV movie on May 12, 1980, and as a series on January 6, 1981, after a rebroadcast of the pilot on December 29, 1980. The show was based on the 1949 movie starring Joan Crawford, which was, in turn, based on the novel by Robert Wilder. It was created to be NBC's idea of competition against CBS's Dallas and Knots Landing, nighttime dramas that were inspired by the daily soap operas that aired in the afternoon.

The series took place in the fictional town of Truro, Florida, which was situated on the inside of corner of the panhandle. Action revolved around the various characters of the show, most of whom had ties to the very wealthy Weldon family, who resided on the high-priced Flamingo Road: Claude, who gained his fortune through the paper industry; Eudora, his naive wife; Constance, their believed to be adopted daughter, and Skipper, their son who was in his early 20s. Fielding Carlyle was Constance's husband, whilst Lane Ballou was his frequent mistress. Lane worked for bar owner Lute-Mae Sanders, Constance's biological mother (Claude was her biological father, but no one knew it). At Lute-Mae's Lane became good friends with Sam Curtis, a construction magnate. Other important members in the cast were Titus Semple, the ruthless sheriff, and Elmo Tyson, editor of the Truro Clarion and Eudora's high school sweetheart.

Though the show was semi popular throughout 1981, it soon succumbed to being scheduled against ABC's hit romance/mystery Hart to Hart. NBC pulled the plug on the show in Spring 1982, though reruns aired in the timeslot until mid summer of that year. Several of its stars went on to become famous for other works, including Morgan Fairchild, Mark Harmon, John Beck, and Woody Brown. Others were already relatively known when the series debut, such as Howard Duff, Stella Stevens, and Barbara Rush.

Pilot (May 12, 1980, 2 hrs)

In the first part of the TV movie, we learn about how Lane Ballou, a singer in the traveling circus, was left behind when the show ran out of Truro, Florida. She is found by Deputy Fielding Carlyle, and they begin to bond over time. The sheriff, Titus Semple, is dismayed at this, because he wants Fiedling to someday become a Senator, and he believes that he must marry the rich bitch socialite Constance Weldon. Lane stays in town, and starts a "secret" affair with Field and takes a job at the Eagle Cafe, alongside Annabelle Troy, a middle-class young woman who is dating Constance's brother Skipper. Constance starts planning her wedding, and begins to worry about Field's whereabouts when he would be with Lane. Lute-Mae Sanders, a local bordello owner, starts worrying about Constance, who doesn't know that Lute-Mae is her biological mother. At the end of the hour, Lane is falsely picked up for solicitation.

In the second hour, Lane comes back to town and gets a job at Lute-Mae's, angering Titus, who thought he had finally gotten rid of her. Lute-Mae is confronted by the sheriff, but has the upper hand in the situation and Lane stays. Field and Constance are married in the Weldons' backyard, and much of the town is in attendance. Those who aren't, though, are partying at Lute-Mae's, where Lane is miserable over Field's nuptials. Lute-Mae steps out and heads over to the reception to have a quick chat with Claude, Constance's father. Claude comforts her, much to the dismay of an observant Eudora Weldon, Claude's wife. She gets even and gets "comforted" by Elmo Tyson, claiming that "it's hard to watch my little girl get married." Annabelle dies in a fire set at the Weldon Paper Mill & Company, where Skipper planned to meet her.

Season One (January 6, 1981 - April 2, 1981, 15 episodes)

The series began with a steady start. Field and Constance honeymoon in the Bahamas, yet most of the time out there, Field is thinking of Lane. They are abducted by a couple hired by a drug dealer that received a bad deal from Titus. When they return, however, the drama continues. Field keeps his relationship up with Lane, including taking her with him on a business trip to Tallahassee. Constance gets wind of Field's deception and conspires with Titus to get Lane sent out of town, but they prove unsuccessful. Meanwhile, Mary Troy, Annabelle's mother, comes to town upon learning of her daughter's violent death. She, Skipper, and Lane, come to the conclusion that the Weldon fire was an arson, though they are never quite sure who set it up. Field goes back to drinking and is drunk on the day of an important campaign function, resulting in Constance blabbing unconfirmed information about his opponent. In the end, however, Field wins the election is made a Senator of Florida. After various fights and arguments, the Carlyles separate. Skipper, on the other hand, begins a relationship with new girl in town Christie Kovacs, who moved to Truro with her overbearing sister Alice. Skipper also prepares to leave town to accept a job in New Orleans, but decides to stay after Claude is seriously injured in an accident at the mill.

Lane becomes frightened when she realizes that a murderer is after her, because she has inside information about a killing that went on several years earlier. Her friend from the circus, Beth McDonald, is killed, and within weeks, Lane is secretly kidnapped. While she is gone, Field and Constance finally divorce. Hurricane Michelle storms towards town and leaves most of the main cast stuck at Lute-Mae's, with the exception of Elmo and Eudora who have dinner at the Clarion's headquarters. The hurricane sends Lane's kidnappers back to Lute-Mae's as well, and try to play on the act that they all entered the bar separately. Soon, though, hell breaks loose and one of the men is shot, while they are all arrested. Field comforts Lane, but Constance breaks them up, claiming that the divorce papers she had drawn were fakes and that she and Field were still married. In a rage, Field sent Constance over the railing at the top of the stairs and unto the floor.

Season Two (November 3, 1981 - May 4, 1982, 22 episodes)

Constance survives her fall, but is paralyzed indefinitely from the waist down as a result. Claude is ready to press charges on (and kill) Field for pushing down his little girl, but Constance agrees to keep him quiet if Field continues their farce of a marriage. He agrees to her terms. While in the hospital, Lute-Mae and Claude have a candid talk about Constance, not knowing that Eudora is in the chapel with them. She soon learns that Lute-Mae and Claude are Constance's biological parents. Lute-Mae faces her own problems, though, when she is raped by a delivery boy who works for the grocery store she shops at. Since the boy is part of an affluent Flamingo Road family, Titus refuses to press charges against him, but Lane and Lute-Mae soon get their justice. Field, acting as Senator, tries to fix a Cuban barrio in town, but then discovers that Claude Weldon owns it, though it is signed in Eudora's name.

Michael Tyronne makes his first appearance in town, bidding against Sam for a piece of waterfront property. Sam also becomes closer to Lane as the two slowly start to fall in love. After winning the bidding war with Sam, Michael also wants to buy the Cuban barrio, but Eudora doesn't want to sell, despite Claude's efforts to make her think otherwise. Eudora becomes addicted to painkillers and eventually is sent to live in a mental institution.

Constance regains the use of her legs, but realizes that while she was in her wheelchair, Field felt softer to her and that a reconciliation might happen. She pretends to still be paralyzed, but the truth comes out when Eudora has a fit for pills and Constance hops out of her chair to help her. Field happens to pass by the open door to Eudora's room and sees Constance out of her chair, running frantically around Eudora.

While Eudora is away, Claude forges her signature to sign over the barrio property to Tyronne. Tyronne has Titus evict the Cubans who live there, which includes two early 20 somethings who have ties to the Weldon family: Julio Sanchez, who starts a sexual relationship with Constance, and his sister Alicia, who falls in love with Skipper. Skipper and Alicia's relationship seemed doomed. They were working late at the Clarion office one night when an explosion went off. They both survived, but Skipper lost his sight in the accident. Soon they eloped and moved into the Weldon mansion together.

Michael Tyronne finally gets the barrio property and wants to build a casino resort on it. The problem is that gambling is illegal in Florida. He tries all he can to make Field rock the vote in the Senate to legalize gambling. Tyronne buys the bank that Claude has the Weldon Mill's trust at and forecloses on it, making Field the new owner. As much as this pleases Field, he still goes against Tyronne's plans. Tyronne loses the barrio, however, when Eudora gets wind of her name being forged.

Fielding begins to stray away from Constance again, but not with Lane (who had gotten married to Sam in a beautiful ceremony). He meets a reporter named Sandy Swanson and they fell in love. Unknown to Field, though, Sandy was Michael Tyronne's sister. Tyronne had vengeance on his mind when he came to Truro. Over 20 years ago, Tyronne's father had lived in Truro. He was convicted of a murder and Fielding's father, Judge Andrew Carlyle, and Titus, who was still the sheriff back then, had him receive the death penalty. Tyronne firmly believed that his father was innocent, despite the endless evidence that pointed to his guilt. Still, Tyronne wanted everyone connected to Titus and Judge Carlyle to suffer. His method of destruction was voodoo. He kills Sandy by having her car go off a cliff, because she was sleeping with Field.

After Tyronne beds most of the women on the show, and Constance beds most of the men, they find each other, but only for a while. Tyronne leaves her for a few rendezvous with Lute-Mae, after finding out that she is Constance's mother. Lane is shocked that Lute-Mae would date a man like Tyronne, and it drives a wedge between the longtime friends. Lane also has good news. She and Sam are expecting a baby.

Field finally cuts his ties with Tyronne when he decides to resign from the Senate, making him useless in Tyronne's urge to make gambling legal in Florida. This angers Tyronne much more, and leads him to get his job done faster. He plots to drive Titus insane and reveals to Constance her true parentage. Soon after, though, someone gets the guts to kill him. After he dies, many people are suspected in the crime, everyone from Lute-Mae to Constance to Eudora to Claude, but the murder is never solved. The series' last scene was of Michael's spirit rising from a burning barn, revealing to the audience that he was not dead.

Main Cast

John Beck as Sam Curtis.
Proprietor of Sam Curtis Construction. Bedfellow of Constance and later, devoted husband to Lane. Field's campaign manager.
Woody Brown as Skipper Weldon.
Claude and Eudora Weldon's son. Soon goes blind and marries the poor Alicia Sanchez.
Peter Donat as Elmo Tyson.
Editor of the town's newspaper, The Truro Clarion and secret admirer of Eudora. Candidate for Sheriff.
Howard Duff as Titus Semple.
Corrupt sheriff of Truro County. Has done many dirty deeds, such as setting Lane up as a prostitute and orchestrating the Weldon Mill fire.
Morgan Fairchild as Constance Weldon Carlyle.
Wealthy, spoiled daughter of Claude and Eudora. Married to Field, yet sleeps with everyone but him. Rival of Lane.
Mark Harmon as Fielding 'Field' Carlyle.
Constance's husband and high school sweetheart. Started as a deputy but became a Senator. Lover of Lane and Sandy and one-time ally of Michael.
Kevin McCarthy as Claude Weldon.
Overly nervous paper mill owner and ally of Titus'. Secretly fathered Constance with Lute-Mae.
Cristina Raines as Lane Ballou Curtis.
Streetwise singer who works for Lute-Mae at her bar. Carried on a relationship with Field before marrying Sam.
Barbara Rush as Eudora Flowers Weldon.
Claude's mentally unstable wife who was committed to a sanitarium. She befriends Lute-Mae.
Stella Stevens as Lute-Mae Sanders.
Kind, friendly ex-madam who owns a bar/brothel. Mother figure for Lane and Sam.

Recurring Cast

Fernando Allende as Julio Sanchez (Season 2 only).
Joel Bailey as Tony.
Denise Galik as Christie Kovacs (Season 1 only).
Gina Gallego as Alicia Sanchez Weldon (Season 2 only).
Sandra Kearns as Beth McDonald (Season 1 only).
Glenn Robards as Jasper, the Weldon butler.
Charlie Robinson as Phil, bartender at Lute-Mae's.
Marcia Rodd as Alice Kovacs (Season 1 only).
Esther Rolle as Julia, voodoo priestess (Season 2 only).
David Selby as Michael Tyronne (Season 2 only).
John Shearin as Deputy Tyler (Season 1 only).
Cynthia Sikes as Sandy Swanson (Season 2 only).
Carmen Zapata as Lupe Sanchez (Season 2 only).

Trivia

The address for the Weldon mansion is 1600 Flamingo Road, Truro, Florida 83245. Notice that 1600 is also the number for The White House in Washington, D.C.

The character of Constance ranked at #16 on E!'s list of "The 50 Most Wicked Women in Primetime."

Mason Adams portrayed Elmo Tyson in the pilot movie. Other notables in the pilot were Melba Moore (popular singer), Norm Alden (character actor), and Dianne Kay (of Eight is Enough fame).

In the 1949 movie, Joan Crawford's Lane was much older and more hard-edged.

The show aired in the United Kingdom from 1982-1983. It also was reran in the United States on the Goodlife TV Network from June 2003 to September 2004.

 

Share Your Memories!

Do you have a favorite episode of Flamingo Road? What do you remember about the series? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"This was my favorite show when I was a senior in high school. I absolutely loved this show. I thought I was in love with Cristina Raines who played Lane Ballou. I was so upset when this show went off the air. I have never been able to find it in reruns so I have no episodes taped. I would give anything to have this show on tape."

--Elliott

"Flamingo Road is one of my favorite shows of all time. I found it in reruns on the Goodlife TV Network and instantly fell in love. I love Morgan Fairchild's portayal of Constance Weldon Carlyle, the spoiled b**** of the show! The storylines all interested me and the characters were very good and likeable. It should have lasted longer! And it needs to be on DVD!"

--JT

 

TV TIDBITS

Aired: January 6, 1981 - May 4, 1982

Cast: Howard Duff, Morgan Fairchild

Network: NBC

Genre: Drama

Theme song

Image courtesy of NBC


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