Actress Abby Dalton, best known to TV viewers as Julia Channing Cumson on Falcon Crest, has died. The actress was 88.
Abby Dalton Passes Away
Deadline reported the news that Dalton died on November 23 in Los Angeles after a long illness. A native of Las Vegas, Dalton debuted in the movie Rock All Night. She went on to appear in the films Carnival Rock, Stakeout on Dope Street, and Teenage Doll.
Dalton scored an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series in 1961 for her role on the Jackie Cooper series Hennesey on which she played Martha, Cooper’s girlfriend. Next came a gig as Joey Bishop’s character’s wife Ellie on The Joey Bishop Show.
Other credits include Love American Style, My Three Sons, and Nanny and the Professor. But the show that made her a household name among TV fans was Falcon Crest. Initially, Dalton was cast as the uniquely named “Dorcas” Cumson in The Vintage Years, a series that was later retooled into Falcon Crest on which Dalton played Julia.
She played Lance’s (Lorenzo Lamas) mother and the daughter of forceful Angela Channing (Jane Wyman). In a shocking twist, Julia was revealed to be the killer of Carlo Agretti (Carlos Romero). She then took a second victim’s life — Jacqueline Perrault (Lana Turner). Making the killer in a whodunit be a series regular is not always the norm in murder mystery storylines.
Being a double-murderer, however, didn’t mean the end of Dalton’s run as Julia. The character continued to appear on the show for many seasons; she survived a fire, in which she was presumed dead, and later became a nun. She last appeared on the show in 1986. The character got a mention in the 1990 finale in Angela’s memorable farewell speech in which the family matriarch said: “Julia is safe and happy in the convent…”
After Falcon Crest, Dalton continued to act. In 1995, she appeared as Lydia, Phyllis’ (Michelle Stafford) mother, on The Young and the Restless. Her last credit was the title role in the 2013 film Mrs. Sweeney, which told a tale of elder abuse and the consequences of bad behavior. That film was directed by Dalton’s daughter Kathleen Kinmont Smith.
Dalton is survived by her husband of 60 years, Jack D. Smith of 60 years, and their three children, Matthew, Kathleen, and John, and also three grandchildren and a great-grandson. Soap Hub sends sincere condolences to Dalton’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.