TEXAS, l-r: Lily Barnstone, Gretchen Oehler, Jim Poyner, Beverlee McKinsey, Donald May, 1980-82.

Courtesy of the Everett Collection

New Year’s Eve 1982 wiped Another World offshoot Texas right off the map.

It was on December 31 nearly 40 years ago that NBC aired the final episode of Texas. But really, the Another World spinoff had been dead already for a little over a year — since the day that it had lost Beverlee McKinsey.

We know what you’re thinking: “Can one actress really kill a show?” And the unequivocal answer answer is, “Oh, honey, you bet your butt she can if she’s Beverlee freakin’ McKinsey!”

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ANOTHER WORLD, Douglass Watson, Victoria Wyndham, Beverlee McKinsey, (1979), 1964-99.

Above: Iris would have done — and practically did — anything to keep daddy Mac away from gold digger Rachel.

An Iris Blossoms

Longtime soap fans will recall that after a short stint on Love Is a Many Splendored Thing, the legend-to-be briefly appeared on Another World as frumpy Emma Frame. Zzz. Except for one thing…

In that short time, McKinsey managed to so dazzle headwriter Harding Lemay (who, you may have read, was not always enamored of his cast) that he created for her a much more interesting role: glamtastic bitch goddess Iris Carrington.

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On the off chance that you are reading this article and unfamiliar with Iris, allow us to put her in perspective for you: She was to daytime what Alexis Carrington and Amanda Woodward eventually became to primetime, the character you loved to hate.

As for her portrayer, her presence was so pivotal to the success of Another World that she was not only given her own spinoff, she was given star billing. The only other performer ever to receive such a distinction was Rosemary Prinz at All My Children. But we digress… 

heather-locklear-joan-collins-ec

Above: Iris predates both Amanda, played by Heather Locklear, and Alexis, played by Joan Collins (who, ironically, would briefly try on for size McKinsey’s Guiding Light role of Alexandra Spaulding).

Her Second Act

In 1980, owing to the popularity of both McKinsey and primetime’s Dallas, NBC decided to spin off Iris into her own Texas-set soap. Unfortunately, to put it in terms that J.R. Ewing might appreciate, the network did not strike oil. So a year later, the show’s leading lady walked — taking with her about a million viewers.

So NBC cancelled the soap and rang in 1983 with Wheel of Fortune and Hit Man in its time slot.

TEXAS, l-r: Randy Hamilton, Carla Borelli, Bill Rafferty, 1980-82.

Above: Texas scene stealer Carla Borelli married her co-star in real life. Not Randy Hamilton or Bill Rafferty, though — Donald May, who played Grant Wheeler.

A Texas Autopsy

In this case, you couldn’t really blame the network for dropping the axe on a soap. Texas’ missteps were… let’s say plentiful.

For instance, it filed down the fangs on Iris, who had been so adored as a villainess; no wonder her portrayer took a hike. And it stole away from General Hospital Kin Shriner (Scotty) to play Jeb Hampton, then gave him… well, almost as little to do as he now has on General Hospital. And when it stumbled upon something that worked — like the pairing of Jay Hammer and Carla Borelli as Max Dekker and Reena Bellman — it blew it (in this case, by not convincing Guiding Light’s future Fletcher Reade to renew his contract).

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In other words, in its short run, Texas did not earn itself a reputation for making smart decisions. So rather than relive its mistakes, let’s instead savor the best of McKinsey’s work on the show via the video above. Then revisit Another World, the soap that — until she joined Guiding Light as Alexandra — really let her shine. Click on the photo gallery below, and off to Bay City you’ll go.

Video: YouTube/Texas