1 9 8 0 (USA)
3 x 120 minute episodes
Based on the best-selling novel by Judith Krantz, the three-part miniseries Scruples followed the life story of the improbably beautiful, preposterously wealthy young widow Billy Ikehorn and her path to riches.
The glossy, super-slick $6 million production opens with Billy (Lindsay Wagner) leaving her mansion in Beverly Hills to scatter her zillionaire husband’s ashes over the Pacific Ocean from a helicopter flown by pilot Hank Sanders (Robert Wood).
Having dispensed with hubby’s remnants, Billy invites Hank to make love to her in a motel room, where she already has chilled champagne waiting by a plush king size bed . . .
From the motel, she goes directly to the opening party for her new luxury Beverly Hills fashion boutique (called ‘Scruples’, geddit?).
It is here that Billy thinks back over her life . . . firstly to Boston in the late 1960s when she was an overweight and badly-dressed schoolgirl of 18.
At an Aunt’s insistence, she is sent to Paris where her appearance improves as much as her French. The ugly duckling, predictably, becomes a beauty.
She falls in love, has her heart broken and returns to America a tougher and wiser girl.
The series then follows Billy through love affairs, marriage to a millionaire, widowhood, her creation of the exclusive Scruples boutique, her remarriage to film-maker Vito Orsini and ultimately motherhood.
Along the way she’s doped at a party and compromising pictures are taken. Blackmail rears its ugly head, she foils the attempt, is attacked and someone else is murdered.
As in all blockbusters, there’s a tangled web of sub-plots with the emphasis on who’s been sleeping in whose bed.
For starters, there’s sexually prolific photographer Spider Elliott and his partner, French designer Valentine O’Neill (Marie France Pisier), who both work for Billy. Spider falls in love with a model, Melanie, who makes it to Hollywood via a lesbian relationship with the editor of a fashion magazine; meanwhile Valentine falls in love with a homosexual.
The cast is stacked with beautiful people and the plot has everything you would expect from a novel which dominated airport bookstands – torrid love affairs, blackmail, intrigue, and murder.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Edouard de la Cote de Grace
Marie France Pisier
Mary Ann Evans
Lilianne de Vertdulac
Lieutenant Tony Bakersmith