It premiered July 8, 1992, as your standard prime-time drama—a sort of thirtysomething about a group of twentysomethings living at the same Los Angeles apartment complex. But the Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off soon became a steamy soap, complete with kidnappings, multiple personality disorders and a whole lot of sex. Heather Locklear‘s favorite love scene as Amanda, the show’s vixen? “On the desk with Grant Show—I thought it looked really good, too!” says Locklear. Adds creator Darren Star: “Bad taste was never a consideration. If we were laughing, we knew we were onto something.” Of course the wacky plotlines could get confusing, even for the cast. “I remember trying to get my story straight on David Letterman once,” says Daphne Zuniga, who played Jo. “I’m kidnapped, I shoot the father, then his parents try to take the baby away. Then she’s taken and nursed by crazy Kimberly…. The whole thing was just bizarre.” Fans stayed glued for seven seasons, and many castmates found lasting stardom as well as offscreen romances. Read on for their favorite memories and what they’re up to now.
Josie Bissett & Rob Estes
Married in ’92, the couple split two years ago and share custody of kids Mason, 7, and Maya, 5. The Seattle-based Bissett, 36, says she and Estes (recently on CSI: Miami), 43, “are good friends.” A spokeswoman for Murad skin care and the author of The Tickle Monster, a kids’ book due in ’08, Bissett says she’s now dating “after taking two years to become whole again.”
MARRIED SINCE 1998
Laura Leighton & Doug Savant
As spunky ex-stripper Sydney and openly gay social worker Matt, they didn’t have many scenes together, but Leighton (who first dated Grant Show for three years) and Savant became a couple right after both left Melrose in ’97. “We were friends on the set, but then it became, ‘Oh my God, this person I think is so perfect is right here,'” says Savant, 43, now on Desperate Housewives. They’re raising their four children in L.A. (two are from Savant’s previous marriage) and say their relationship’s going strong. “We’re in it forever,” says Leighton, 38. Adds Savant: “The best thing that happened to me as a result of Melrose was meeting my wife.”
As Melrose’s deliciously psychotic Dr. Kimberly Shaw, “[I] did wild-and-crazy things,” Cross, 45, has said. Nowadays the Desperate Housewife is a real-life wife (to financial adviser Tom Mahoney) and mom to 4-month-old twin daughters Savannah and Eden: “I don’t take any of it for granted,” she says.
Now appearing onstage in L.A. in the comedy It’s Just Sex, Calabro, 48—who played Dr. Michael Mancini—is the father of three kids ages 7 to 12 with his soon-to-be ex-wife, Elizabeth. His Melrose evolution from nice guy to resident scoundrel “basically saved my job,” he says. “I never stopped cheating for six seasons!”
Dating Andrew Shue in season one was “very sweet,” she says, but breaking up? Awkward: “We had to do a kissing scene. I remember going, “Yesterday, yes tongue. Today, no tongue.” After playing alcoholic ad exec Alison, Thorne-Smith, 39, starred in Ally McBeal and now According to Jim and has a novel, Outside In, out this fall. She wed Roger Fishman, who runs a media firm, in January: “We met on an airplane. It does happen.”
Melrose‘s cast “had experience, but not that kind of exposure,” says Williams, 44. “I felt like I hit the jackpot.” Although her character, Rhonda, was written out after the first season, “it’s great to be part of the legacy,” she says. Living in L.A. with her husband, Andre Wiseman, and sons Omar, 10, and Haile, 3 (above), she’s since starred in such shows as Chicago Hope and Soul Food and is shopping a TV drama she produced.
“I had to dust off the shoes,” says Shue, 40, of returning to acting in this year’s indie soccer drama Gracie. After his full-series run as nice-guy Billy, the Dartmouth grad has concentrated on his nonprofit foundation DO Something, which he cofounded in 1993. Shue married floral designer Jennifer Hageney (below) in ’94 and lives in New Jersey with their three sons. He still attracts the odd Melrose fan, but “I enjoy living a normal life.”