Wishing @DynastyTVShow Alum Gordon Thomson Happy Birthday via @tdmiller820917 #ClassicDynasty

Today, March 2 is Gordon Thomson’s birthday.
In the Fall of 1982, I was a 17 year old high school senior. That fall the prime time soap Dynasty began its third season. The Season 2 cliffhanger left Blake Carrington on a literal cliff: The oil tycoon was rendered unconscious on a mountaintop following a fight with a revenge driven Dr. Nick Toscanni (James Farentino). However, Toscanni’s wrath didn’t end there. The vengeful doctor orchestrated the kidnapping of Blake’s infant grandson, Blake Carrington Colby. With the kidnapping story line, viewers discovered that there was another Carrington heir: Long lost first born son Adam Alexander Carrington (Gordon Thomson) living in Billings, Montana under the name Michael Torrance. The irony was that Adam also had been kidnapped as a baby twenty-five years earlier.
From the first moment I saw Gordon Thomson on screen he instantly became a favorite actor of mine. In these pre-Internet days, it was a challenge researching performers. Still, I succeeded in finding out about Thomson’s background in classical theatre. As a Shakespeare aficionado and lover of other classical literature, learning about Thomson’s classical training further endeared him to me.
As a teenager, I remember wishing that I could interview him about his career. This long time wish came true thirty-four years later when I had the privilege of interviewing Gordon Thomson for The Nerdy Girl Express in 2016.

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts…”

William Shakespeare

The Bard of Avon would have certainly smiled upon Gordon Thomson, a man who embraced his creative talents as an actor and allowed numerous characters to walk across the stage of life.  For a half century, Thomson has established himself in radio, stage, film, television and web series; he has used his artistic gifts and instincts to tell the stories of the many characters that he has played.

A classically trained Canadian actor, Thomson began his illustrious career at the prestigious Stratford Festival in the 1960s. In a 2016 interview with The Nerdy Girl Express, he confessed to me that he didn’t initially envision performance as his calling. However, after securing an apprenticeship with the Stratford Festival and studying with a host of renowned actors, Thomson’s passion for acting was cemented.

Before becoming a household name as Adam Carrington in the 1980s mega hit Dynasty, Gordon Thomson spent over sixteen  years honing his craft in a variety of mediums. Establishing a rapport with a live audience as a stage actor certainly served Thomson well, as did his uncanny ability (as he noted) “to memorize and deliver large amounts of complicated dialogue.” Dynasty may have had a campy style reminiscent of the primetime soaps of its era, but Thomson’s Adam Carrington was a true practitioner of Machiavellian politics: Painting rival Jeff Colby’s office with a toxic compound left viewers both horrified and mesmerized at the same time. Further, Adam was simultaneously a villain and a man who garnered sympathy when viewers learned of his tortured past with its lingering scars. Gordon Thomson succeeded in making Adam Carrington an intriguing man, a layered character who was intelligent and charismatic.

When Dynasty ended its network run on Thursday, May 11, 1989, a year later, Thomson easily made the transition to daytime dramas. He assumed the role of Mason Capwell from Terry Lester in NBC’s Santa Barbara.  Like Adam, Mason was the eldest son with a fractured relationship with his powerful father C.C. Capwell (Jed Allan). In addition, Mason was also a lawyer (and later a judge). Thomson had wonderful on-screen chemistry with Nancy Lee Grahn (who played his wife Julia Wainwright Capwell).  While Thomson said that “Adam was a huge treat to play”, he added that Mason was “probably his best part in front of the camera.” Having followed Gordon Thomson’s career for thirty-six years, I admit that I have a soft spot for Adam Carrington, but I also concede that as Mason, Thomson was able to do both drama and comedy without missing a beat. Dynasty didn’t offer Thomson any comedic opportunities: Adam was a serious character throughout Thomson’s seven year run.

After Santa Barbara was cancelled in 1993, Thomson kept busy with film and other television roles.  In 2013, he joined the Michael Caruso web series Devanity as Preston Regis. In 2015, Thomson was cast in another Caruso web series, Winterthorne, as patriarch Maxmillian Winterthorne.

The actor, whose roots began on stage, stated that he would love to return to the theatre in the future. I’ve never seen Gordon Thomson on stage so I know that I would enjoy experiencing his talent in a live performance.

Today, March 2, is Gordon Thomson’s birthday. Thanks Gordon for giving the world a wealth of character portrayals over these many decades.

A life well lived, a birthday poem for Gordon Thomson
by Tracy Diane Miller

The memories safeguarded within the closet of the mind:
Those images of childhood, of youth, of who you were then
And of who you are now, all tell the story of a life well lived.

As an actor for over half a century, your mind has memorized
numerous scripts.
You have become the embodiment of characters; men who boasted great potential, yet who also wrestled with their own egos, who fed society’s wrath;
Men born to greatness, still led down an uncertain path.

A Carrington prince, whose birthright was stolen
on a September day;
An old woman who claimed the title of a grandmother,
on her deathbed the truth she conveyed.
“Promise me you’ll go to Denver, go to your real parents”, she said, and with a silver baby rattle, as Michael Torrance, you wondered, where the future led
To take your place within an oil dynasty, what challenges were ahead?

To become Adam Carrington
An enigma that he seemed
A mixture of intelligence, charisma and cunning
What was his latest scheme?

Later, as Mason Capwell
You continued with skill
To mold a character
Your rapport with viewers, you definitely fulfilled.

Yet, before you assumed these characters on television,
these men for viewers to engage;
You perfected your craft
Upon a theatre stage

Acting is about truth, you said
For there is a reason why
A covenant with the audience;
Means that through his performance, an actor must not lie.

To breathe life into a writer’s script,
To let the emotions flow,
A noble profession,
Is how actors let characters grow.

Yet, what else through a performance
does an actor reveal?
Is it the essence of his soul
that he doesn’t conceal?

A life well lived
Is to capture the moments, then hold them
within the palm of your hand;
To give freely of your heart, one must understand.

The memories safeguarded within the closet of the mind:
Those images of childhood, of youth, of who you were then
And of who you are now, all tell the story of a life well lived.









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