Cast of Knots Landing: then and now

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Knots Landing started off as the spin-off that spawned CBS’s Dallas but the 80’s melodrama soon outperformed its predecessor. At the height of its popularity, Knots Landing reached a record-breaking 20 million viewers and ran for a staggering 344 episodes before its series finale in 1993. Knots was different from Dallas in 2 ways; the storylines were more relative to domestic disputes and substance abuse, and the overall tone of the drama was far more extravagant than its 70’s counterpart. With a large cast that birthed the careers of major television (and movie) icons, it’s no surprise that fans still question what happened to their favorite on-screen characters.

Michele Lee: Then

The character of Karen Mackenzie was flawlessly executed by Michele Lee, who was the frontrunner of Knots Landing for every single episode that aired. Lee was nominated for an Emmy, plus countless Soap Opera Digest Awards, during her time as Karen Mackenzie. Today, she holds the record title of the actress with the most appearances of any American-primetime tv show.

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Michele Lee: Now

Michele Lee made a Broadway comeback in 2015 when she signed on for the role of Madame Morrible in Wicked. Her triumphant return to the stage earned her 2 Tony Award nominations. She also became the first woman to direct, author, and star in a Lifetime movie project, Color Me Perfect. Lee has also made appearances on Will & Grace and played Ben Stiller’s mother in Along Came Polly.

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Ted Shackelford: Then

Ted Shackelford took over the role of Gary Ewing from Dan Ackroyd, who couldn’t return to the reprise the part on Dallas’ spin-off. Shackelford owed his big opportunity to Joan Van Ark; after filming an episode of Wonder Woman together, Joan felt that their on-screen chemistry would transpire into the new series. In real life, however, Shackelford was living with his girlfriend and Knots co-star, Teri Austin.

Ted Shackelford: Now

Today, Ted Shackelford is still reprising his role as Gary Ewing on the revival of Dallas. After Knots Landing ended in 1993, though, he moved on to the world of soap operas. He joined the cast of The Young and the Restless in 2006 as Genoa City district Attorney, William Bardwell. Now, Ted is still a cast member on The Young and the Restless but is playing both William and his twin brother, Jeffrey.

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Joan Van Ark: Then

Before she joined the cast of Knots Landing, Joan Van Ark was a Tony Award-winning stage actress. In 1971, she nabbed the Tony for her performance in The School for Wives. Joan first played Valene Ewing on Dallas when she was offered the part in 1978 so obviously, she was the clear-cut choice to reprise the role on Knots Landing.

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Joan Van Ark: Now

Joan Van Ark made a few cameos following the finale of Knots Landing. She took small guest roles on Bonanza, MASH, and Nip/Tuck. She attempted a run as Gloria Fisher Abbott on The Young and the Restless but decided to depart from her contract after a year on the soap opera. Today, Joan Van Ark has received a lot of negative attention due to her use of plastic surgery and facial reconstruction.

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Kevin Dobson: Then

Kevin Dobson took on the role ‘Mac’ Patrick Mackenzie and eventually, became part of the show’s primary centerpiece. As an actor, Dobson took his character’s storyline into his own hands and was the reason the show’s producers greenlit the idea of a Mackenzie family son.

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Kevin Dobson: Now

Kevin Dobson exercised his talent and experience as an aspiring soap star following the completion of Knots Landing but sadly, his career never hit a high point again. Dobson made appearances in shows like Hawaii Five-0, CSI, and Touched by an Angel. He also joined John Cusack in 1408 and Sean Patrick Flanery in Dark Power.

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William Devane: Then

William Devane was cast on Knots Landing after becoming well-known for his performance as John F. Kennedy in The Missiles of October. He was the recipient of an Emmy Award for his role in the movie Fear on Trial. On Knots, Devane played the role of Greg Sumner at one point, had his son cast as the younger version of his character during season 8.

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William Devane: Now

William Devane is a partially retired actor who has still managed to surprise audiences with small parts and cameos. He’s appeared in big budget films like Interstellar, Space Cowboys, Hollow Man, The Dark Knight Rises, and Payback. Devane also had a role in ABC’s Revenge as Edward Grayson.

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Constance McCashin: Then

The role of Laura Avery was played by none other than Constance McCashin. In 1987, after 10 years of playing Laura, the character was killed off of the show due to financial issues. Laura Avery’s funeral took place on Noises Everywhere Part II, which was partially improvised and written by the cast members.

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Constance McCashin: Now

Constance McCashin made the decision to retire from acting after she was written off of Knots Landing. Her last role was in 1999, where she played Mrs. Wellstone in The Out of Towners. Today, McCashin is a practicing therapist in Massachusettes and lives with her husband and their 2 sons.

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Donna Mills: Then

Prior to her time on Knots Landings, Donna Mills was an accomplished stage actress who had played in Woody Allen’s Broadway comedy, Don’t Drink the Water. On Knots, Mills played the part of Abby Ewing – a mischevious character with a knock for causing trouble – and for her role as the femme fatale, she won 3 Soap Opera Digest Awards.

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Donna Mills: Now

Following Knots Landing, Donna Mills starred in 2 made for tv films, Love is a Four Letter Word and The Stepford Husbands. Then, the experienced actress was offered a recurring role on Melrose Place as Jane Mancini. Today, Mills is a Daytime Emmy Award winner, an honor she picked up for her role on General Hospital.

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Julie Harris: Then

Julie Harris joined the cast of Knots Landing and was written off in 1987 due to financial complications on set. Before she was offered the role of Lilimae Clements, Harris was a Broadway actress who received 10 Tony Award nominations and won 5 of them. When she first accepted the role of Lilimae, it was because she was emerging from a career hiatus and had “nothing better to do” at the time.

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Julie Harris: Now

Julie Harris passed away in 2013 but not before winning 3 Emmy Awards out of the 11 she was nominated for and prior to her recurring spot on Knots Landing, she was nominated for an Academy Award. In 2002, Harris was honored with the Tony Lifetime Achievement Award and was indicted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Her final role was in The Lightkeepers as Mrs. Deacon.

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Larry Riley: Then

Larry Riley played Frank Williams on Knots Landing, a police officer who eventually pursued a career as an attorney. In 1989, Riley signed himself into rehab for alcohol and drug treatment; during this time, he was informed that he was HIV Positive. Following his stint in rehab, Riley returned to Knots Landing and continued filming without exposing the disease to his cast members.

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Larry Riley: Now

Larry Riley passed away in 1992 after experiencing AIDS-related renal failure. During his final days on Knots Landing, it had become obvious that he was battling the virus; he lost 80 pounds and aesthetically aged at least 10 years. The producers and writers of Knots Landing attempted to accommodate Riley’s work schedule the sicker he became. He was 38 years old at the time of his death.

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Lisa Hartman: Then

Lisa Hartman was one of the most popular characters on Knots Landing, first introduced to viewers as rock singer Ciji Dunne. Ciji was killed off, and done so off-screen, which led to a water revolt that demanded the return of Hartman. She returned as Cathy Geary and played the character until 1986 when members of the cast were cut due to budget problems.

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Lisa Hartman: Now

Lisa’s career has never been dependant on acting; she’s a Grammy nominated country singer who has been releasing solo albums since the 90’s. She’s currently marrried to Clint Black and the couple lives in Nashville, Tennessee with their 2 daughters. In 2015, she had a guest spot on her husband’s most recent country album.

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Teri Austin: Then

Teri Austin played Jill Bennet for 5 years on Knots Landing and for her portrayal of the character, she won a Soap Opera Digest Award for Outstanding Villain. When she left the show in 1989, she went on to make appearances in Quantum Leap, Seinfeld, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, LA Law, Beverly Hills 90210.

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Teri Austin: Now

In the 90’s, Teri appeared in 2 films – The Vindicator and Raising Cain. In 2001, she officially retired from acting and began working as an animal rights activist in Los Angeles, California.

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Michelle Phillips: Then

Michelle Phillips was a member of the singing The Mamas & Papas before entering the universe of television. When she joined Knots Landing, she played Anne Matheson Sumner, the mother of Nicolette Sheridan’s character and a constant cause for trouble. She left Knots Landing in the early 90’s to play Tiffani Amber Thiessen’s mother on Beverly Hills 90210.

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Michelle Phillips: Now

Michelle is currently on her fifth marriage, to Steven Zax, and has 3 children with her 2 of her former husbands. She hada recurring role on 7th Heaven in the 2000’s as Annie Camden’s sister. Michelle has since reitred from acting and singing, making her final film appearances in Harry + Max, No One Would Tell, and Betrayal.

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Claudia Lonow: Then

Claudia Lonow played Diana Fairgate on Knots Landing, the daughter of Karen. As a character, Diana always seemed to fall victim to circumstance; she eventually chose to leave Knots Landing and was written as accepting a fashion job in New York. Off-screen Claudia Lonow simply decided to pursue other areas of the entertainment industry.

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Claudia Lonow: Now

Claudia ventured into the realms of writing and producing after departing from Knots Landing. She has worked on projects such as The War at Home, Crowded, and Less Than Perfect. Recently, Lonow was awarded the Audience Choice Award at the 2015 Los Angeles Indie Film Fest for her personal film project, Bummed.

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John Pleshette: Then

John Pleshette worked as both a writer and an actor on Knots Landing for 4 years. Richard Avery, whose on-screen wife was Laura, was a lawyer frustrated with his uneventful career. When the character was written off the show, Richard Avery was seen resiging from the Knots Landing Law Firm to go work in Chicago.

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John Pleshette: Now

John Pleshette’s claim to fame, other than his portrayal on Knots, was as Lee Harvey Oswald in 1977’s made for tv film, The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald. Pleshette has also made guest appearances on shows like Law & Order: LA, American Horror Story, and Happily Divorced.

Susanne Pleshette Honored with Posthumous Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

Kathleen Noone: Then

Kathleen Noone joined the Knots Landing cast in 1990 as Claudia Whittaker, the older sister of Greg Summer. For the final 3 seasons of the series, Noone’s character served as the primary antagonist and for her performance, she was nominated for a Soap Opera Digest Award. Before joining Knots, Noone had already won a Daytime Emmy Award for her work on All My Children.

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Kathleen Noone: Now

In 1997, Kathleen Noone made a return primetime drama in Aaron Spelling’s Sunset Beach as a gossip columnist named Bette Katzenkazrahi. From 2002 until 2008, Noone hada recurring role on Passions as Edna Wallace. In 2010, she appread on Dexter, The United States of Tara, and About Fifty.

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Kent King: Then

Kent King broke into the soap opera genre as Julie Williams in 1988 on Knots Landing. After leaving in 1991, King was offered a role on The Young and te Restless before deciding to join Port Charles in 2003. In 2005, she given a recurring guest spot on General Hospital which was bumped to a primary cast member by 2006.

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Kent King: Now

In 2007, Kent King was made the center of a General Hospital spin-off, Night Shift, while still starring on the parent show. In 2008, she was released form her contract and returns to General Hospital occassionally, as a recurring character. Her last film appearance was in 2013’s Aftermath.

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Hunt Block: Then

Hunt Block joined Knots Landing as Peter Hollister in 1985 and played the role until he left the show in 1987. Block was written out of the script by the end of his run with the show, meaning, the producers had hischaracter killed off during the big budget cut. Hollister was, however, considered one of the best looking actors on the show.

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Hunt Block: Now

Hunt Block hit the soap opera circuit hard after his time on Knots Landing. In 1997, he joined the cast of Guiding Light as Ben Warren for 2 years, played Guy Donahue on All My Children in 2000, then signed a 5 year contract with As the World Turns as Craig Montgomery. Finally, he played Lee Ramsey on One Life to Live from 2007 until 2008. In 2010, he joined Angelina Jolie in Salt.

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Lar Park-Lincoln: Then

Lar Park-Lincoln played Linda Fairgate on Knots Landing, the daughter in law of Karen Fairgate (played by Michelle Lee). She was married to Eric Fairgate and fell in love with his brother, Michael, after he had moved to Saudi Arabia. At the end of her run on the show, Linda was killed Brian Johnston and Lar Park-Lincoln was released from her contract.

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Lar Park-Lincoln: Now

Today, Lar Park-Lincoln lives in Dallas, Texas with her 2 children. Her husband, Michael Martin Lincoln, passed away in 1995. In 2008, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and has undergone multiple surgical procedures as she continues to fight off the disease.

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Alec Baldwin: Then

Alec Baldwin got his break when he was cast as televangelist Joshue Rush on Knots Landing. After he met and married Cathy Gear, he became abusive and their marriage grew increasingly volatile. Baldwin’s character then jumped off of a building to his death, trying to take his wife Cathy with him.

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Alec Baldwin: Now

Alec Baldwin found mainstream success following his departure from Knots Landing. He went on to star in The Departed, The Aviator, and The Shadow. His performance in 2003’s The Cooler, earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He joined the cast of Tina Fey’s 30 Rock in 2006 and for his role as Jack Donaghy, he won 2 Emmy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, and 7 Screen Actors Guild Awards. He has been married to Hilaria Thomas since 2002 and they have 4 children.

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Victoria Ann Lewis: Then

Victoria Ann Lewis a veteran soap opera actress during the peak of her career, starring in daytime dramas The Young and the Restless and Amazon Women on the Moon. She joined the cast of Knots Landing in 1984, playing Peggy, the faithful secretary to ‘Mac’ Patrick MacKenzie. Lewis was always seen wearing a leg brace during filming, a result of childhood battle against polio.

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Victoria Ann Lewis: Now

Victoria Ann Lewis became a successful support system for actors with physical ailments or disabilities and in 1993, recieved critical acclaim for her stage production of Light Sensitive. She also reprised her role as Peggy on the Knots Landing: Back to the Cul-de-Sac reunion in 1997.

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Joseph Cousins: Then

Joseph Cousins joined the cast of Knots Landing in 1987 as Bobby Ewing and was accompanied by his twin brother, Christian, whom he had shared the role with. Prior to their Knots Landing casting, the twins had become famous for their role as Dominic in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Kindergarten Cop.

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Joseph Cousins: Now

Joseph Cousins, along with his twin, retired from acting in 1995. Before retiring, though, they starred in 2 final films – Twin Sitters and Critters 3. At the age of 31, Joseph now works as a stylist and Christian is a director of sales for the Orient Express Furniture company. The Cousins live in California.

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Steve Shaw: Then

Steve Shaw played Eric Fairgate on Knots Landing from 1979 until 1987. His character, Eric, was married to Linda – throughout his time on the show, Linda and Eric experienced marital problems and she eventually wanted to divorce him for his brother, Michael.

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Steve Shaw: Now

Steve Shaw returned to Knots Landing occassionally, after his character had moved to Saudi Arabia. In 1990, however, Shaw died in a traffic accident in Los Angeles at the age of 25.

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James Houghton: Then

During the first 4 seasons of Knots Landing, James Houghton played record producer Kenny Ward. The character of Kenny Ward as popular as he was controversial, known for his numerous affairs with many different women at the same. By the end of his character arc, however, Ward matured and began to take responsibilities for his hurtful actions.

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James Houghton: Now

After James Houghton left Knots Landing in 1983, he became a writer for The Young and the Restless, as well as The Bold and the Beautiful. Today, Houghton has 4 Daytime Emmy Awards for his participation on the soap operas’ writing teams and won 2 Writers Guild of America Awards.

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Kim Lankford: Then

On Knots Landing, Kim Lankford played the wife of Kenny Ward, Ginger. The character of Ginger worked as a kindergarten teacher who also happened to be an aspiring singer. Ginger and Kenny had split and then reconciled after the anouncement of her pregnancy and then moved to Nashville after the couple accepted new job offers.

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Kim Lankford: Now

After leaving Knots Landing, Kim Lankford made appearances on In the Heat of the Night, Martial Law, and Diagnosis: Murder. In 2015, Lankford participated in the documentary The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst to discuss the murder od her close friend, Susan Berman.

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Stacy Galina: Then

Stacy Galina was responsible for the role of Kate Whittaker; she had been offered the series regular position by David Jacobs who had employed her on another one of his primetime shows, Paradise. As a character, Kate was naive and much younger than Gary Ewing, whom she entered a love affair with after the supposed death of his wife, Valene.

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Stacy Galina: Now

After Knots Landing ended, Stacy Galina fell victim to a string of short-lived sitcoms in which she temporarily appeared on; these shows include Daddy’s Girls, Lost on Earth, Alright Already, and Hidden Hills. She is also remembered for her lead role in 1988’s Children of the Corn. During the 2000’s, she guest starred on Will & Grace, Boston Legal, and Friends.

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Mark Haining: Then

Mark Haining’s acting career wasn’t as extensive as Knots Landing fans would assume. In 1989, his first major role was as Mort Tubor and he was cast as a series regular until the show ended in 1993. Following Knots Landing, he joined te cast of The Young and the Restless in 1994 as Norman Peterson.

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Mark Haining: Now

In 1991, Haining starred in The Taking of Beverly Hills and then, in 1995, he starred in Vampire in Brooklyn. In 2015, the retired actor reentered the entertainmnet industry as a director with projects such as Left Behind or Led Astray? and 2017’s Bardo Blues.

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Carlos Cantú: Then

During the 60’s, Carlos Cantú was a cast member of General Hospital. Before he came to the Knots cast, he had starred in 2 made for tv productions – The Neon Empire and 1984’s On the Line. He reprised his role as Carlos on the Knots Landing reunion in 1997, Back to the Cul-de-Sac.

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Carlos Cantú: Now

In 1999, Carlos Cantú played Col. Juarez in Active Stealth and then, as it appears, retired from acting. He also participated in the 1992 documentary, The Pandora Project, providing a voice-over translation to English from Spanish.

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Kristy Swanson: Then

Long before she became the original Buffy, Kristy Swanson had a recurring role on Knots Landing from 1987 until the following year. For 1 season, she played the role of Jody Campbell and was featured in 8 episodes. Swanson made the segway from modeling to tv after deciding to pursue a career in film.

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Kristy Swanson: Now

Kristy Swanson starred in Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend before being offered the lead role in Flowers in the Attic. She gained massive attention for her part in the VC Andrew’s adaptation and consequently, job offers began flooding in her direction. In 1992, Swanson starred in Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Luke Perry and Keifer Sutherland. The action actress has been married to figure skater Lloyd Eisler since 2009 and they have birth to a daughter in 2007.

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Charlene Tilton: Then

Charlene Tilton was always first and formerly recognized as Lucy Ewing from Dallas, Knots Landing’s parent show. She entered the world of Knots for one episode as her usual character, Lucy. Lucy, Gary, and Valene reunite in this particular episode, trying to deal with their parent’s neglect and reconcile as a family.

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Charlene Tilton: Now

Charlene became a pop culture icon thanks to her part in Dallas/Knots Landing universe. In 2012, she reprised the role of Lucy in the TNT’s Dallas revival and was a contestant on the British reality competition, Dancing on Ice. From 2001 until 2009, Charlene was engaged to Cheddy Hart but sadly, he died of heart failure before they could marry. The former Dallas star has 1 daughter, Cherish Lee.

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Nicollette Sheridan: Then

Nicolette Sheridan defined the term “drama” on Knots Landing crom 1986 until 1993. As Paige Matheson, she involved herself in countless extra-marital affairs, was shot and kidnapped, and sadly, was left at the altar by her husband to be. For her longstanding performance as Paige, Sheridan took home 2 Soap Opera Digest Awards.

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Nicollette Sheridan: Now

The former soap star found consistent fame after the series finale of Knots Landing aired in 1993. Sheridan was cast as Edie Britt on ABC’s Desperate Housewives and received her first Golden Globe nomination for the part. What most Nicolette fans don’t know, is that in 1998, she lost the part of Grace Adler to Debra Messing on Will & Grace. In 2016, she divorced her second husband, Aaron Phypers.

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