Lawsuits and court cases are a staple of soap opera storytelling. But every once in a while, legal matters such as these can ensnare your favorite daytime performers and the writers who delicately craft your favorite afternoon programs. Even Hunter Tylo, one of The Bold and the Beautiful’s biggest stars, has found herself involved in some serious litigation.
The Case: Hunter Tylo vs. Aaron Spelling
Plaintiff: Hunter Tylo, actress
The Defendant: Spelling Television Inc. and the Spelling Entertainment Group
The Brief: In 1996, after six years with the CBS daytime soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, Tylo opted to exit her role as Dr. Taylor Hayes and join the cast of Melrose Place, the nighttime serial produced for the FOX network.
The proposed character – scheduled to last a minimum of eight episodes – was Taylor McBride, a scheming seductress out to steal her former lover, Peter Burns (Jack Wagner; ex-Frisco, General Hospital), away from his current wife, Amanda (Heather Locklear).
Upon announcing her pregnancy to the show’s producers, Tylo’s contract was terminated – with the executives citing a “material change” clause contained within the document – and the role was recast with fellow daytimer Lisa Rinna.
The 34-year old mother of three immediately filed a lawsuit claiming pregnancy discrimination, wrongful termination, and breach of contract. At the trial, Tylo’s lawyers contended that Tylo’s condition could have been camouflaged using creative camera angels or even a body double claiming that the same had been done for series star Heather Locklear.
Tylo also maintained that she had overheard a producer say, “Why doesn’t she just go out an get an abortion? Then she can work!” Spelling’s representatives vehemently denied the statement and argued that Tylo’s pregnancy, and the congruous expansion of her waistline, would render the actress unbelievable in the role of a sexually amorous bed hopper.
Throughout the trial, Tylo – now in her third trimester – appeared in the courtroom attired in short, tight mini skirts and flattering tops silently showing that her condition was barley noticeably and rendering the prosecution’s argument moot. Following closing arguments the jury – composed of two men and ten women, one of whom was pregnant – deliberated for five days.
The Verdict: On Monday, December 22, 1997, Tylo was awarded $4.8 million – $4 million for emotional distress and $894,601 for economic loss. The defense had asked for $2.5 million.
Ironically, during the trial’s waning days, producers of Melrose Place announced that not only was Lisa Rinna pregnant but she would be permitted to continue in the role of Taylor McBride and they would work around her condition. The Bold and the Beautiful airs weekdays on CBS.