19 Facts About “Santa Barbara,” the Soap Opera That Kept Us Glued to Our Screens
The story of wealthy families living in a small but respectable town in California touched the hearts of TV viewers on both sides of the ocean. In the US and Europe, viewers dropped everything and stayed glued to their screens to find out how the Capwell clan and their main rivals, the Lockridge family, were doing. Has C.C. come out of the coma, have Cruz and Eden made up? Viewers worried about the characters of Santa Barbara as if they were their own family members.
To be honest, many Bright Side employees have also watched this legendary soap opera. And we also found out that the story of the show’s creation is no less scandalous than its dashingly twisted script.
Santa Barbara was broadcast on TV for 8.5 long years. Despite these impressive numbers, this soap opera didn’t become the longest TV series in history. The first place belongs to the Guiding Light saga, which has been on-air for 57 years. The second place goes to the series General Hospital, which was first shown on TV in 1963 and continues to this day.
By the way, Bridget and Jerome Dobson, the creators of Santa Barbara, began their careers as screenwriters for General Hospital. And they also worked on Guiding Light.
The spouses spun the plot of the soap opera around several wealthy Californian families. Season One featured the central plot that involved several subplots like the murder of Channing Capwell Jr. This event happened 5 years before the start of the events in the series. The TV show starts with Joe Perkins (who was unjustly convicted of the murder of Channing) being released from prison for good behavior. He returns to Santa Barbara to prove his innocence.
At first, the TV series was rated pretty low, criticized for its predictable storylines, and was even called one of the worst TV programs. Then the Dobsons decided to reduce the number of characters. That’s why an earthquake and a serial killer were needed in Santa Barbara.
Bridget and Jerome worked like crazy — they wrote 100 pages of scripts a day. The couple focused on the most popular characters: Eden Capwell (Marcy Walker) and Cruz Castillo (A. Martinez); C.C. Capwell (Charles Bateman, later Jed Allan) and his wife Sophia (Judith McConnell); Mason Capwell (Lane Davies) and Julia Wainwright (Nancy Grahn); Gina DeMott Capwell (Linda Gibboney, later Robin Mattson); Augusta and Lionel Lockridge (Louise Sorel and Nicolas Coster). Afterward, their soap opera ratings started to go up.
Specific humor also contributed to the popularity of Santa Barbara. In the episode released on July 14, 1986, the former nun, Mary Duvall McCormick, was killed by a giant neon letter C (the first letter from “Capwell” on the Capwell Hotel sign) when she was standing on the roof of the hotel trying to remember what she ate for breakfast.
By the way, the shooting took place in a studio that was located 87 miles away from the real city of Santa Barbara. But the film crew sometimes went to foreign places, like Paris and Moscow — according to the plot, Warren Lockridge visited his friend, Pavel Ivanov, in the latter.
In 1988, a scandal erupted on the set of the soap opera. After several attempts by the Dobsons to fire the series’ lead writer, they were banned from appearing on set. The couple sued and won, but the show’s ratings continued to go down, even though it won 3 consecutive Emmy Awards for “Best Daytime Drama.”
Actress Marcy Walker, who played Eden, was one of the few actors who stayed with Santa Barbara from the beginning to the end. During the filming of the series, she managed to give birth to a child, and her little boy played the role of her character’s newborn daughter.
- Martinez also admitted that he considered Cruz to be a very bad policeman. “In fact, he unravels only a few mysteries, and when he tries to protect someone, the unfortunate person turns out to be dead or wounded,” the actor said in an interview.
- The most extravagant character of the series, Augusta, was played by actress Louise Sorel. She left the series 3 times due to disagreements over the storylines in which her character was involved. But each time she came back because her character was one of the most popular among audiences.
- The actors on the show would get replaced often, and this also undermined the show’s ratings. For example, one of the main beauties of Santa Barbara, Kelly Capwell, was played by 3 different actresses, the first being Robin Wright. She was the only cast member who managed to go on and have a successful career in Hollywood (apart from Leonardo DiCaprio, who played little Mason). On that note, viewers were the most disappointed by the older Mason replacement. Lane Davis, who played this charming cynic, was adored both in the US and in Russia, and audiences welcomed his replacement, Terry Lester, very coolly.
- But the actors who played C.C. Capwell changed the most often — the head of this venerable family was played by 6 actors. Moreover, the C.C., who was played by Charles Bateman, fell into a coma and Jed Allan was the one to come out of it. And “between these actors,” Jarstin Witnnes was the one lying down in the hospital bed.
- By the way, the full name of the head of the Capwell family is Channing Creighton Capwell, and C.C. is an abbreviation formed from the first letters of his name (Channing Creighton).
- Jed Allan has Slavic roots. His ancestors’ last name was Branovski and they emigrated to the United States from Kyiv.
- The series’ ratings started to drop and the soap opera began to lose its audience in major cities, including Boston and Philadelphia, so in 1992, it was decided to end the project. The last episode of Santa Barbara was released on January 15, 1993.
- Lane Davies admitted his workload on Santa Barbara could sometimes get the best of him: “One day they wrote me into 58 pages. A lot of it was trial stuff. I went up to Jerry Dobson and said, ’I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I’m sorry you have finally written one I can’t do. I’ll have to read half the show off [cue] cards.’”
- Many viewers don’t know that Cruz and Eden broke up. The reason is that she turned out to be crazy and almost killed her own mother, Sophia. Eden fled the city and sent her lover a letter, asking him to not look for her. Cruz had an affair with Kelly, but that didn’t end successfully. Castillo took the blame for a murder he didn’t commit in order to protect his friends’ daughter. However, he didn’t go to prison — he fled to Mexico. Mason married Julia, but they couldn’t conceive a child and adopted a girl from an orphanage. In the final episodes, Julia announced that she was pregnant. C.C. Capwell got back together with Sophia, and Lionel Lockridge married Gina.
- Most of the actors from Santa Barbara were never able to build a successful career in cinema, but some of them have had an especially interesting fate. For example, actress Marcy Walker, who played Eden, serves as a pastor for a church in a small town in Oklahoma.
What do you think about Santa Barbara? Have you watched this show?