Jane Wyman's iron grip over the show was allegedly as ruthless as Angela Channing's over the valley. Former co-stars Mel Ferrer, Celeste Holm and Simon MacCorkindale have claimed in the press that Wyman drove them off the show. Most notorious, however, was Wyman's bitter feud with Lana Turner. The two women allegedly hated each other so much they never spoke off set, and scenes between their characters were filmed separately and spliced together in editing. After Turner's character was killed off in the second season, she talked to the press of how Wyman's ugly behavior was due to the fact that Wyman could not accept that her ex-husband Ronald Reagan was then President of the United States.
At the beginning of the ninth season of Falcon Crest, despite health problems, Jane Wyman was allegedly so displeased with the direction the writers and new producers were taking the show in that she refused to play the scenes. She asked that they release her from her contract, but the producers refused. A compromise was reached in which they wrote her character out as being in a coma. At the end of the series, when it was determined that CBS was canceling it, Wyman returned for the final three episodes.
The role of Francesca Gioberti was initially offered to Sophia Loren. The producers of the show tried to lure her with promises of a fantastic wardrobe and a dynamic character that would rival Alexis Colby from Dynasty (1981), but contract negotiations with Loren broke down and the part was then offered to Gina Lollobrigida. Ironically, Loren was Aaron Spelling's first choice for the character of Alexis in Dynasty, but was passed over because she was requesting too much money, thus allowing the role to go to Joan Collins.
The pilot filmed for Falcon Crest was entitled "The Vintage Years." In it, Angela (still played by Jane Wyman but in a gray wig) has two children: the alcoholic Dorcas (played by Abby Dalton) and Richard Channing (played by Michael Swan). Richard is a Vietnam vet who fights for a place in his mother's good favor. Although there is no Emma, there was a subplot of a mysterious woman locked in the attic crying for her mother. In this version, the roles of Chase and Maggie were played by Clu Gulager and Samantha Eggar.
A staunch Catholic, Jane Wyman scrapped a proposed lesbian storyline that was to involve Jane Badler's character Meredith Baxter and the character of Erin Jones. Meredith and Erin were rewritten to be sisters instead.
Jane Wyman allegedly had a running feud with Robert Foxworth, to the point where they measured each other's dressing room trailers just to make sure they were equal in size. When Foxworth became a director for the show, Wyman demanded CBS add a clause to her contract making her a director, although she never directed any episodes.
By the second season, the show became more serialized and abandoned the self-contained episode format of the first season. When the show first premiered, creator Earl Hamner Jr. stated that he did not want the show to become another soap opera like Dallas (1978), however, by its second season, that is exactly what the show became.
Kim Novak's dual role character in the sixth season was a tribute to her famous dual role in Vertigo (1958). The scene her character has with Richard Channing at Fort Point near the Golden Gate Bridge was deliberately set there as an inside nod to a famous scene she had with James Stewart decades earlier on the same spot.
The producers considered killing off Chase at the end of season 2 as Robert Foxworth was not happy with his role (he had complained about the series drifting away from the original vineyard concept). He was convinced to stay after he was offered the chance to direct some of the show's episodes.
The producers tried to lure Richard Burton into a special guest appearance in the third season as Jean-Pierre Charbone, one of Jacqueline Perrault's former husbands. One of the rumors had him being offered $2.5 million for a five-minute cameo.
Kim Novak played Kit Marlowe, which was the pseudonym that Harry Cohn, CEO of Columbia Studios, suggested she should change her name to when she was a young starlet. Novak supplied the writers other inside jokes when they were naming Kit's aliases: Kit's real name is Susan Cameron, the name of Novak's agent during her time on the set. Another alias, Madeleine McKittrick, was a combination of the first name of one of her characters in Vertigo and the McKittrick hotel on Eddy Street in San Francisco where Vertigo's Maddy lived.
Shortly before the earthquake cliffhanger, Peter Stavros received an unpleasant phone call in the season finale. The phone call was to set up a storyline for the next season in which Peter's brother would drop into the valley to wage war on the Channings. Anthony Quinn was considered for the role, but the story was scrapped when negotiations with the star failed, and the phone scene turned out to be meaningless.
The character of Terry's ex-husband Joel McCarthy, played by Parker Stevenson, was originally slated to be a serial rapist who terrorized the women of the Tuscany Valley. Terry's sister Maggie was supposed to be his major victim. The story was scrapped.
Jane Wyman and Lorenzo Lamas were the only actors that were part of the main cast through out the entire series. Lorenzo Lamas was the only actor who appeared in all 227 episodes. Jane Wyman nearly appeared in every episode, omit 3, prior to the final season (due to temporary health conditions), and then 16 more episodes during the ninth and final season. That gave Wyman a total of 208 appearances during 227 episodes, which in turn means that David Selby beat Wyman by one episode, even though Selby didn't appear until the start of the second season, as he was present in all 209 episodes from season 2 through 9. Chao Li Chi wasn't a part of the main cast during the 6 first seasons, but still only missed 7 episodes up until season 7. For the last three seasons Chi was promoted to the main cast, with the exception of 7 episodes during season 9 where he was temporarily denoted from the main cast, which gives him the third highest episode count as part of the cast, at 214 episodes. But Chi was in turn absent from another 26 credited episodes during the final three seasons, lowering his actual appearances to 188 episodes, which in turn means that not only David Selby, but also Susan Sullivan passes by Chi in number of appearances, as Sullivan was present during all of the series first 207 episodes, until she left the main cast and the show. Clocking in at 188 appearances, Chi beats Margaret Ladd by five episodes, as Ladd appeared in 183 episodes out of the 193 in which she was part of the cast. (Note: Jane Wyman, Lorenzo Lamas, William R. Moses, Jamie Rose, Abby Dalton and Chao-Li Chi each has one added episode count to their total number of credits in the IMDb database, as they were also present in the unaired pilot.
Marion McCargo Bell, the real-life mother of William R. Moses, played the character of Harriet Roberts, the mother of Jordan Roberts (Morgan Fairchild). In 1980, Bell unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Maggie Gioberti but the producers thought she was too old to play the part. In 1984, she auditioned for the role of Maggie's mother Charlotte Pershing, but this time the producers thought she was too young.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
Chase was slated to return to the show after presumably drowning at the end of season six in the San Francisco Bay saving his baby from drowning. Robert Foxworth took a year off to be with his long-time companion Elizabeth Montgomery during her lengthy illness. At the end of season seven, Angela is seen talking to a mysterious man in a monastery asking him if he thinks it's time to tell Maggie he's alive. Viewers were supposed to guess if the man was Richard or Chase. The original plan was to have the man Chase, but Foxworth and the producers could not work out a deal and Foxworth never returned as earlier planned.
The writers had planned a storyline for seventh season that would have seen Angela's long lost daughter come to Tuscany Valley in order to wage war with Angela over control of the winery. The producers wanted Angie Dickinson for the role. However, when contract negotiations between the producers and Dickinson broke down, the planned lost daughter storyline was changed, and Richard Channing's character was instead made Angela's long lost child.