Question: I know this is another one of those "Was she or wasn't she?" questions, but please settle something. Was Jane Seymour really pregnant when they had her give birth to little Katie on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman? Thank you for your answer. Kerri B., West Monroe, La.
Televisionary: That she was, Kerri with twins, in fact. So the producers resorted to hiding their star's bulging stomach with different camera angles and strategically placed tables and pillows for the first seven episodes shot during her pregnancy. But they soon realized it made the most sense for Dr. Mike to be with child on the show, too. So they went heavy on the work early in her term, cutting short the show's summer hiatus to load Seymour up with scenes early in her pregnancy, then reduced her number of scenes in months five and six.
At the time, people considered Seymour to be lucky because she was working with a female boss who was more likely to sympathize with her condition. ("If I were a male producer, I would have probably taken the news that my star was having twins as the end of the world," creator-writer Beth Sullivan told TV Guide at the time. "But I was thrilled.") However, many people didn't realize the bond went further than that: Sullivan was pregnant with twins of her own at the time.
Not that any of that made it easy, mind you. When a reporter visited the set in the brutal California heat, Seymour was shooting a scene for a Christmas episode in a wool dress with petticoats, pretending to be perfectly cool. ("Somehow, between the words action and cut, I managed to do it," the actress said.)
In between takes, she wore ice packs on her back and stomach to help avoid overheating, and labored under the watchful eye of her crew, who'd seen her suffer light-headedness just the day before. "I could just see that look on her face when all of a sudden it gets to her," cinematographer Roland Smith recalled, "and I immediately alarmed everybody, 'Come on, let's shoot this now. Let's wrap this up.'"
And when the crew wasn't looking out for her, her cast mates were. At one point, Seymour tripped at the top of the wooden stairs to her character's house. "It was scary," costar Joe Lando, who played her husband, Sully, said. "Suddenly there were five of us who just rushed toward her with our arms outstretched."
Of course, to read the tabloids at the time, one would've thought Seymour was being irresponsible. One headline claimed she'd collapsed on the set, while another account had husband James Keach furious with her for putting the show's welfare ahead of the kids'. "It was nothing like that," her obstetrician told TV Guide of the supposed collapse. "If anything, the producers made sure Jane's work schedule would not jeopardize the babies." And an angry Keach went one step further. "'Pregnant Jane Seymour Collapses' that is absolutely ridiculous," he said. "The tabloids say I begged her not to go to work. Ridiculous. The idea that she would risk the lives of our unborn children for fame, or anything, is ludicrous. Our family comes first."
It wasn't the first time Seymour felt the bite of the tabs years before, the gossip sheets had a field day with an earlier divorce when a writer who worked with her on a biography turned around and sold personal details to the highest bidder but she was always cognizant of the threat such portrayals posed to her family-centric show. As it turned out, though, when Dr. Quinn, which debuted in January 1993, finally met its end, it had nothing to do with tabloid slime or on-set pregnancy.
The show bit the dust the old-fashioned way, when CBS decided it was bringing in too few ratings points and too much of an older, female audience, and canned it despite the efforts of fans who raised $11,000 for a rescue campaign that generated thousands of letters, phone calls, faxes and pieces of e-mail. "The cold, cruel reality of the business we're in is that advertisers don't pay for letters, and they don't pay for the intangible, emotional attachment that people may have to a show," a network exec said.
And that was that. Aside from a later TV-movie, the show breathed its last in June 1998.