Abby Dalton, the soap opera star known for her roles on the primetime shows “Falcon Crest” and “The Joey Bishop Show,” died at her home in Los Angeles. She was 88 years old.
The specific cause of Dalton’s death is not confirmed.
“Emmy-nominated actress Abby Dalton passed away this past week,” representatives said in a statement. “Described as beautiful, generous and glamorous, Abby was terrific at off-the-cuff humor. She leaves behind her husband of 60 years, Jack D. Smith and their three children, Matthew, Kathleen and John. She is also survived by her grandchildren Mac, Jack, Ayden Grace and the newest member of the family, her great grandson, Mathias.”
Born Gladys Marlene Wasden in Las Vegas, Dalton’s career in television began in 1957 and spanned over 50 years. She was best known for her role as winery heiress Julia Cumson in the ’80s drama “Falcon Crest.” In that role, Dalton played opposite actress Jane Wyman, whose work on the Jane Wyman Theatre show inspired Dalton’s first film role in “Rock All Night.” Dalton was a mainstay on “Falcon Crest” for five years until the show concluded in 1986.
Dalton’s widespread appeal also made her an object of desire both on- and off-camera. In 1958, Clint Eastwood and James Garner got into a fist fight over her affection in an episode of the sitcom “Maverick.”
In 1962, Dalton became a regular on “The Joey Bishop Show,” where she played the titular character’s wife, Ellie Barnes. Several years later, she joined the “Jonathan Winters Show” as Winter’s fictional wife, playing the straight foil to Winters’ comedic host and honing her chops at live comedy.
“She made her work look effortless,” Dalton’s representatives said.
Dalton was also well known as Navy nurse Martha Hale on “Hennesey,” a military-themed comedic drama that aired for three seasons beginning in 1959. Dalton’s portrayal of Hale earned her a nomination at the 1961 Emmy Awards for outstanding performance in a supporting role by an actor or actress in a series.
In addition to her acting career, Dalton boasted a “vast range of quite random knowledge” and was a frequent competitor on quiz shows. “She was a mainstay panelist on the famed Hollywood Squares alongside Cliff Arquette, Wally Cox and Rose Marie. She was also a semi-regular panelist on both Match Game and Super Password,” representatives said.
An avid outdoorswoman, Dalton frequently took ski trips to Mammoth, Calif., and was also an accomplished equestrian and tennis player. Representatives said Dalton was “a ranked amateur celebrity tennis player, having won numerous championships throughout the years.”