Icons from the 80s Loni Anderson (WKRP in Cincinnati), Morgan Fairchild (Falcon Crest), Donna Mills (Knots Landing), Nicollette Sheridan (Knots Landing) and Linda Gray (Dallas) won audiences over with their characters’ antics — not to mention their fabulous style. In Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas, the legends come together for a tongue-in-cheek holiday movie about daytime soap opera veterans who are called back to tape a very special episode. We share everything you need to know about the Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas movie, and look back at why the 80s were ruled by Lifetime actresses Anderson, Fairchild, Mills, Sheridan and Gray.
A preview of Ladies of the ‘80s: A Divas Christmas movie
In the new Lifetime movie, five daytime legends are invited back for the final Christmas episode of their long-running soap, The Great Lakes. The idea is that the legacy characters will give the special episode a dose of nostalgia and gravitas. Instead, the stars get caught up in old feuds and rivalries.
With decades of onscreen troublemaking under their fabulous belts, Anderson, Fairchild, Mills, Sheridan and Gray have a blast vamping, bickering and throwing tantrums as the titular Divas. The faux soap opera’s young producer and director, Alex and Nell (played by Lifetime newcomers Travis Burns and Taylor Ann Thompson), try to reign them in, but production quickly spins out of control.
Ultimately, the Divas get over themselves for the sake of the show and once they do that, they unite for an even better cause — young love! Now scheming for good, the Divas play matchmakers for Alex and Nell and by the time Ladies of the ‘80s: A Divas Christmas ends, everyone is feeling the holiday spirit. Here, we get to know the legendary actresses who bring this movie to life!
Loni Anderson: Before she was a Lifetime actress
Forget the whole dumb blonde stereotype: Anderson changed the blonde game by playing brilliant bombshell Jennifer on WKRP in Cincinnati from 1978–1982.
More than just the beauty who shared a Hollywood love story and contentious divorce with Burt Reynolds, Anderson is a powerhouse actress who has made us laugh and cry.
Born in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1945, Anderson broke into the business with a bit part opposite Steve McQueen in 1966, and then couldn’t seem to land a role. Thankfully, after she appeared on S.W.A.T in 1975, her career started rolling with primetime guest gigs.
Throughout her run on WKRP, Anderson made TV movies like The Jayne Mansfield Story. After the sitcom wrapped, her vehicles like Partners in Crime didn’t take off, but Anderson continued to star in TV movies and appear on memorable shows of the 80s and 90s like The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Clueless and Melrose Place. She also brought Jennifer back for two episodes of the 1991 reboot, The New WKRP in Cincinnati.
While her work has slowed down over the years, Anderson has continued to add roles to her roster, including a lead in the 2016-2020 web series, My Sister Is So Gay. Anderson shares her own story in the 1995 tell all, My Life in High Heels.
Morgan Fairchild: Before she was a Lifetime actress
This 80s icon is known for playing conniving, pretentious and glamorous women we loved to hate on primetime soaps like Flamingo Road, Falcon Crest and Dallas. That said, like her Ladies of the ‘80s character, Fairchild is no stranger to causing drama in daytime.
Born Patsy Ann McClenny in Dallas, Texas in 1950, Fairchild got her start on Search for Tomorrow in the 70s. She appeared on The City and General Hospital in the mid-90s and Days of our Lives in 2017 — and as recently as November 2023, Fairchild popped back into General Hospital to play home shopping snob, Haven de Havilland.
By Fairchild’s 80s heyday, she’d already built quite the resume. She boasted a string of primetime guest gigs — from sitcoms like Mork & Mindy to procedurals like Barnaby Jones. Fairchild also originated Dallas’ Jenna in 1978, long before Priscilla Presley made it her own.
Fairchild’s star catapulted during her run as Flamingo Road’s spoiled Constance — a young beauty who pulled off just about every soap trope between 1980 and 1982. The rest of the decade would see Fairchild play a troubled soul on Falcon Crest, along with a mix of comic and romantic roles on series like The Love Boat, Magnum, P.I., Paper Dolls and Murphy Brown.
By the time the 90s came, Fairchild was a household name — one that has always managed to keep working and continues to win over new generations of fans.
Donna Mills: Before she was a Lifetime actress
Adored for her run as manipulative schemer Abby on Knots Landing, Mills is another Ladies of the ‘80s star who knows daytime. She got her start on The Secret Storm in 1966, played a former nun on Love is a Many Splendored Thing from 1967-1970, and in 2014, joined General Hospital as Nina’s truly evil mother, Madeline.
Born Donna Jean Miller in Chicago in 1940, Mills spent her ingénue years cast as the damsel in distress. In addition to leading movies of the week and guest starring on primetime, Mills worked with Woody Allen in Broadway’s Don’t Drink the Water and with Clint Eastwood in 1971’s Play Misty for Me.
While her early career is impressive, the 80s saw Mills reign over Dallas spinoff Knots Landing. She’s since stuck to vamping in primetime, and like her Ladies of the ‘80s character, she also brought Abby back for the Knot Landing’s 1993 series finale.
It’s hard for a woman to have it all in Hollywood, so Mills took a break from the spotlight at 50 years old to raise her daughter, Chloe. Since returning to acting full-time, she’s worked in every medium — from web series and streaming to the screen and stage. Mills most recent credits include Jordan Peele’s Nope, CBS’ The Rookie: Feds, and the current Ava Duverney biographical drama, Origin. In fact, she’s even the cover girl for First for Women magazine this month (pick your copy up here!)
Nicollette Sheridan: Before she was a Lifetime actress
This former model burst onto the screen with the primetime soap Paper Dolls in 1984 and the teen comedy The Sure Thing in 1985. A year later, she was causing trouble on Knots Landing — and yes, Sheridan crossed with Mills, and her character even lost a man to Abby! Interestingly, while her character of Paige started out as a scheming troublemaker, she softened a bit over time — but the bad girl roles have stuck with this statuesque blonde.
Born in Worthing, England in 1963 and brought to the states at 10 years old, Sheridan graced the cover of Cosmopolitan and the pages of Vogue before breaking into acting. She also shot sexy TV commercials for Martini when she was only 18. Of course, that was back when it was legal to drink at that age!
While Sheridan appeared in a host of primetime movies in the 90s and early 2000s, younger fans remember her for her wild time as Desperate Housewives’ Edie — as well as the $20 million lawsuit she filed but didn’t win against the show’s creator/producer Marc Cherry and ABC after it wrapped.
Since 2010, Sheridan has done a string of interesting indie and Hallmark films. Most recently, she slipped into some serious vixen shoes when she assumed the role of Joan Collins’ Alexis in The CW’s Dynasty reboot from 2017-2019.
Linda Gray: Before she was a Lifetime actress
Unlike her blonde Lifetime costars, Gray’s 80s reign was as a fierce redhead on Dallas. Saddled with a scheming, vile husband like J.R. Ewing, Sue Ellen didn’t exactly have it easy. Regardless, she sure could handle her own — and throw a good punch!
Born in Santa Monica, California in 1940, Gray did hundreds of TV commercials and lent her legs to the movie poster for The Graduate before sliding into primetime in the 70s. She also played the first transgender series regular on American TV in 1977’s campy soap spoof, All That Glitters.
While playing Sue Ellen made her famous, Gray also worked behind the camera, directing five episodes of Dallas. After exiting in 1989, she returned to reprise her role for the series finale. She also resurrected the role for the ‘96 and ‘98 Dallas TV movies and TNT’s 2012-2014 Dallas reboot.
Along the way, Gray played Heather Locklear’s mother on Melrose Place and Models Inc. and appeared in several TV movies. She’s also spent time on stage in London’s West End and Broadway, starred in several indie films, and in 2004, booked her first daytime soap, The Bold and the Beautiful.
Most recently, Gray went across the pond to join the British soap opera Hollyoaks, and appeared in Amazon’s 2017 drama Hand of God.
Gray shares her own story in her 2015 autobiography, The Road to Happiness is Always Under Construction.
How to watch Lifetime’s the Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas movie
Anderson, Fairchild, Mills, Sheridan and Gray will get into the holiday spirit when Lifetime’s Ladies of the ’80s: A Divas Christmas movie premieres on Lifetime Saturday, December 2 at 8/7c and then streams the next day.
In another nod to the era, 80s shopping mall sensation Tiffany performs the theme song, Ladies of the ’80s, and Christopher Atkins (Blue Lagoon), Patrika Darbo (Days of our Lives), Alec Mapa (Desperate Housewives) and Mills’ real-life daughter Chloe Mills (Aftermath) also star in the movie.
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