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Paper Dolls
Main title card
Format Soap opera
Starring Morgan Fairchild
Nicollette Sheridan
Terry Farrell
Lloyd Bridges
Brenda Vaccaro
Lauren Hutton
Dack Rambo
Richard Beymer
Mimi Rogers
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 14
Running time 60 minutes
Original channel ABC
Original run September 23, 1984 – December 25, 1984

Paper Dolls is an American prime time soap opera set in New York's fashion industry. The show centered on the head of a top modeling agency (Morgan Fairchild), her conflicts with the family of a cosmetics tycoon (Lloyd Bridges), and the careers of two teenage models (Nicollette Sheridan and Terry Farrell). This show marked the debut of Sheridan.

The soap opera, based on a 1982 TV film of the same name, aired for 14 episodes on ABC from September 23, 1984 to December 25, 1984. Reruns of the series have been shown on the SOAPnet cable channel. In Germany, where the show was called Karussell der Puppen (Carousel of Dolls), the show was more successful than Dallas and Falcon Crest.


1982 TV movie

Prior to the TV series, a TV movie had been made and shown in 1982 with Joan Collins, Daryl Hannah and Alexandra Paul in the roles that would be taken by Morgan Fairchild, Nicollette Sheridan and Terry Farrell in the series. (Jennifer Warren and Jeffrey Richman were the only two actors to return for the 1984 series.) The movie's theme song was 'Paper Doll' written by Mark Snow and performed by Brock Walsh.

1984 TV movie pilot and series

In 1984, MGM decided to produce a weekly series based on the TV movie for ABC, recasting several of the original roles from the 1982 production. Racine (Morgan Fairchild) was the modeling agency owner and was frequently at odds with Grant Harper (Lloyd Bridges), who helmed the board of Harper Cosmetics. Playing both sides was Grant's son Wesley (Dack Rambo) who thirsted for more power in the family business and allianced himself romantically with Racine. Wesley's sister Blair Harper Venton (Mimi Rogers) was a supermodel fearing her career was on the downslide now that she was 30 years old. Despite health problems, Blair was determined to carry her baby to full term. Blair's husband David Venton (Richard Beymer) was a sportswear designer; since David was too proud to accept financial assistance from the Harpers, his business partner resorted to accepting money from loan sharks to fund his upcoming collection, which put David and Blair in danger.

Racine was also at odds with Taryn Blake (Nicollette Sheridan), the top teen model in the business but proving to be a liability with unprofessional behavior, problems with drugs and alcohol, and a sensationalized romance with 1980s pop star John Waite (playing himself for several episodes). To keep Taryn and her stage-mother/manager Julia (Brenda Vaccaro) in line, Racine decided to promote a new fresh teen face, Laurie Caswell (Terry Farrell). The naive Laurie wasn't prepared for the fast success, despite her mother Dinah's (Jennifer Warren) best efforts to keep her grounded. The time Dinah spent on her daughter's career started causing problems in her marriage to Michael (John Bennett Perry). Despite all the trials, though, Taryn and Laurie remained very good friends. Taryn sometimes wished that Dinah, who was much more compassionate than the overbearing Julia, was her mother; and considered Laurie one of her only friends, given that her life as a model was sometimes very lonely, and she wasn't often allowed to socialize with others her age.

Mark Bailey (Roscoe Born), a reporter doing a story on the fashion industry, became enamored of Racine, causing problems in his relationship with sensible lawyer Sara Frank (Anne Schedeen). A suspicious Sara cautioned her boyfriend on becoming too interested in Racine. One of her verbal putdowns: "She's been in more beds than a hotel breakfast tray!"


The series gained a small coterie of fans who loved the behind-the-scenes aura of the fashion industry and the biting wit of the scripts, which featured catfights and verbal matches between Racine and most of the other characters. In one scene, Mark entered Racine's office while she was getting a massage. He asked, "Do you want me to wait outside until you're decent?" Racine responded, "How much time do you have?" In another scene, an irate Julia, brandishing a Barbie-style fashion doll, stormed into Racine's office. "This will not be the new Taryn Blake doll!" she barked. "The eyes are brown!" Coolly, Racine quipped, "I guess they couldn't quite match that bloodshot tone."

Even with a series of rave reviews in People magazine urging viewers to give the show a chance, ratings remained poor and the series was not able to find an audience.[1 ] The final episode of the series found David on the verge of failure after an influential fashion critic was blackmailed by Wesley and Racine to pan his new sportswear collection; Marjorie was feared dead in a plane crash; and Racine received a call from Mark intimating that his digging into her secretive past had uncovered something very interesting. The cliffhangers were left unresolved.).



  1. ^ [Christopher Schemering, The Soap Opera Encyclopedia, Ballantine Books, New York, 1985]
  • Mary Ann Copeland, Soap Opera History, Mallard Press, 1991

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