Jane and I moved our family from New York to Hollywood, we fell
upon lean times. It took six months before I could convince producers
that I could write for film, so we had to learn what it was like
in the low-rent district.
that changed when The Waltons became successful.
There was not only money to pay the bills, but there was money
to invest. My business manager at the time bought a vineyard in
name. It was on the wrong side of the tracks in the Napa Valley.
The vineyard needed five years before it would provide income,
and it was planted in red grapes at a time when chardonnay was
it went to my head. I took every opportunity to casually mention
"my Napa vineyard," as if I had two or three of them
strung along the West Coast. And then one day I came to my senses
and realized that the management, fertilizing, pruning, cultivating,
and harvesting of grapes was extraordinarily expensive. And so
I sold it without earning a dime.
it gave me the idea for a television series called Falcon
Crest. Again, I was fortunate to have an extraordinary
cast; but if the Waltons were gentle backwoods country folk, the
Falcon characters were devious, deceptive, dangerous, and
demanding. Actors have wonderful gifts to give, and my Falcon
people gave abundantly of their talent. Of course, most of them
were such artful scene stealers that they should have been sent
to jail! To this day, each of them is dear to my heart.