1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 7 (USA)
1,300 x 30 minute episodes
Launched with great fanfare in a nighttime special on 26 March 1982, this CBS daytime soap opera revolved around the power struggles and personal machinations between two feuding political families in Washington DC – the wealthy and superpowerful Clegg family and the ambitious middle-class McCandless family.
In the finest Romeo and Juliet tradition, university student Julie Clegg (Kimberly Beck initially, and then Catherine Hickland) and Air Force hero Tyler McCandless (Dane Witherspoon) were lovers.
The Clegg clan included Julie’s wealthy industrialist father Sam (Richard Egan), her meddling socialite mother Myrna (Carolyn Jones), their children Jordy (who had a drinking problem) and Brenda, and Sam’s son Trey (Nicholas Walker), who was a member of the House of Representatives.
Tyler’s family comprised his beautiful blonde mother, Clarissa (Constance Towers), his collegiate brothers Wally (Bill Beyers) and Matt (Shea Farrell) and doctor brother Thomas, and his sister Gillian (Kelly Preston), an adoptee. Wally’s gambling difficulties led to loan shark Danny Donato blackmailing football hero brother Matt.
The animosity between the families stemmed from Myrna, who had destroyed the career of Clarissa’s father Judson Tyler (Rory Calhoun) in the 1950s by pegging him as a Communist sympathiser. Myrna also hated Clarissa for marrying Baxter McCandless, Myrna’s one-time passion who now was presumed dead.
Myrna was not thrilled about Julie’s planned nuptials, nor was Trey, who viewed it as a liability in his effort to ultimately become President.
Luckily for them, Julie developed amnesia, so crafty Myrna planned for her aide Lawrence Barrington (Jeff Chamberlain) to marry Julie and convinced the unknowing girl to do so. But Myrna did not know that Lawrence was actually a schemer called Gordon Hull.
Meanwhile, Myrna tried to destroy Tyler’s run against Trey by making it appear that he had leaked government secrets from a top-secret committee. She blackmailed another committee member using prostitute Shelley Granger, but when Shelley learned of their plot she changed her name to Kelly Harper and went to work for Trey. The two of them fell in love, but the affair ended when she confessed her past and left town.
Following several more failed romances and much intrigue among the lead characters, Capitol went into plot overdrive in 1986 when Clarissa, thinking herself a widow, was about to marry Senator Mark Denning (Ed Nelson) when her first husband Baxter (Ron Harper) – now calling himself Jarrett Morgan – arrived on the scene very much alive. Denning turned out to be a traitor anyway, working for foreign interests against the United States (causing Nelson to quit the show in disgust).
Meanwhile, Prince Ali (Peter Lochran) of the fictional Middle Eastern country Baraq, revealed to Matt McCandless he was his real father and wed Sloane Denning. In the final episode, Sloane was facing a firing squad in Baraq.
Despite fairly respectable ratings, CBS believed the show could do better and replaced it with The Bold and the Beautiful.
Carolyn Jones had cancer during her time on Capitol and as her prognosis worsened, she could not continue working full-time. Marla Adams initially filled in as Myrna Clegg, with Marj Dusay eventually taking over the role. Carolyn Jones passed away in August 1983. She was just 53.
Catherine Hickland took over the role of Julie and added some spark that the character desperately needed. Her character virtually faded into the woodwork in later storylines.
Carolyn Jones (1)
Marla Adams (2)
Marj Dusay (3)
Kimberly Beck (1)
Catherine Hickland (2)
Senator Mark Denning
Judge Judson Tyler
Todd Curtis (1)
Grant Goodeve (2)
Russell Todd (3)
Leslie Graves (1)
Shannon Terhune (2)
Karen Kelly (3)
Dr Thomas McCandless
Brian Robert Taylor (1)
Michael Catlin (2)
Shelley Granger/Kelly Harper
Jane Daly (1)
Jess Walton (2)
Lawrence Barrington’/Gordon Hull
Victor Brandt (1)
Eddie Zammit (2)