Who's the New Dish on the Dynasty Soap? Her Name Is Emma Samms

An Open Letter To Pamela Sue Martin

Maybe you’d better pull a Barbara Bel Geddes fast and get back to work. Hey, we all know you were happy with that Chilean businessman you married in 1982, but are you sure you should have left Dynasty so hastily last year? The show’s been edging out Dallas in the ratings lately (no wonder they bagged Donna Reed and got Barbara back as Miss Ellie). And your character—that selfish, spoiled Fallon Carrington Colby—has been missed. At least that’s what Esther Shapiro, Dynasty’s co-creator, has been saying.

Sorry to break it to you, Pamela Sue, but now Esther’s done something about it: You’ve been replaced. Her name is Emma Samms. You know, she’s the one who’s been playing Tristan Rogers’ wife on General Hospital since 1983. Well, she’s making a permanent move out of daytime; she started in Dynasty’s last episode. Pam, it’s like you never existed. They changed the portrait in the mansion, put Emma in that sexy, red Nolan Miller gown you wore last year, and now she’s doing the love scenes with John James.

I know it’s confusing. After all, they supposedly killed Fallon off in a plane crash last season. But you know you can’t trust these nighttime soap people. They rigged it so Fallon survived. She turned up in an L.A. police station, a victim of—can you believe they had the nerve?—amnesia. I thought that went out in the 1940s with Random Harvest. Wrong. The ratings were great. And, Pamela Sue, they didn’t even try to make her look like you. I mean besides being a Brit, this Samms number is 5’4″, a good three inches shorter than you. And—oh, I do hate to rub it in—she’s 24, eight years younger. Cruelty, thy name is Nielsen.

Wait. It gets worse. Samms is set to figure prominently in the Dynasty cliff-hanger on May 15. Esther won’t breathe a word about what happens, of course. But she did say that Emma’s been signed for seven episodes next season. And wait, this will really kill you. Emma and John James will star—yes, dear, I said star—in a Dynasty spin-off series called Dynasty II: The Colbys of California. Where were these offers when you were around, right?

Emma Samms is a cynic’s delight. She lives in a Westwood condo, works for charity, sleeps in a lavender four-poster and collects stuffed animals. She says things like, “My life has always worked out for the best” and “I was thrilled to be considered for the part.” Ah, but was there a touch of bitchiness when she was asked about you? “I’m not going to sit and watch hours of Pamela Sue so I can reproduce the kind of performance she gave,” Emma purred. “I want to be accepted as me.”

Yes, Pam, don’t underestimate her: There’s solid granite under all the treacle. Her mother, Madeleine, formerly a dancer with London’s Royal Ballet, confirms it. Emma’s London childhood—she is one of four—wasn’t easy. She wanted to be a ballet dancer like her mother (Dad is co-owner of a film-services firm). But Emma was stricken with bursitis at 16. End of dancing career. “Emma would never give up,” says Madeleine. After graduating from the Royal Ballet School at 16, she became a model. That led to a few acting roles, then General Hospital.

And get this: Emma’s agreed to stay with General Hospital until her character’s story line can be resolved. She explains this by saying she has “an emotional commitment” to the show. She does—Tristan Rogers. They’re lovers. They weren’t at first. Emma found him “brash.” Tristan says she was “prim and uptight.” Later though, when Rogers split with wife Barbara and Samms ended a “disastrous” affair, they liked each other quite a lot better. Emma says she worries that their relationship will change when she leaves GH. “I nearly always find myself attracted to the man I’m working with. If you spend time with someone and they’re cute and you’re doing love scenes, then you tend to let your imagination go.” Joan Collins couldn’t have said it better.

Yes, little Emma is learning fast. But—can you take this, Pam?—her naughtiness is a put-on. Do you know what she did to celebrate her Dynasty debut? She invited a few pals over “to throw pies at the screen when the show got corny.” Goodness knows, the screen must have been a mess. But with an attitude like that, even the most resolute cynic is tempted to forgive the stuffed animals and the lavender bed. Pamela Sue, the time to reconsider is now. Get Esther Shapiro on the horn. Emma Samms has put a new face on your old character, and she’s making it stick.

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