The 1990s Western Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, brought viewers back to the old west of Colorado Springs. But there are many aspects of the series that even the biggest fans of the show might not be privy to.
From the last-minute casting of the title role to the low expectations of the show’s success, here are behind-the-scenes facts about the Western drama.
Jane Seymour Took The Role Because She Was In Debt
While Jane Seymour was offered the role of Dr. Quinn, she didn’t have to think too hard about the opportunity. Her now ex-husband had just left Seymour in a debt of $9 million.
According to Seymour, “one day I found out that I was completely beyond bankrupt. Like $9 million in the red with lawsuits from every major bank including the FDIC.” When offered the role, she jumped at the five-year contract.
Joe Lando Did All Of His Own Stunts, Including Eating Worms!
Joe Lando was one of those actors who wanted the full experience of his job. So, he decided to forego a stunt double and do all of his own stunt sequences. This included running on top of a train and eating worms!
According to Lando, he wanted the experience because he had no idea if he would have the opportunity again.
Fans Were Allowed To Visit The Set
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, was one of the few dramas at the time that actually allowed fans to visit the set. Located in Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills, California, fans were invited to visit the set each week to watch an episode being filmed.
During breaks, the cast would interact with fans, signing autographs and taking pictures.
The Demographic Went From 18-40 Years To Solely Over 40
When the series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman first began airing on CBS, the demographic who would tune in to watch were males and females between 18 and 40 years old.
It was a great age difference, one that the network wanted to get back after the demographic switch to solely women over 40 years old.
Expectations For The Show Were Low
The expectations for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, were extremely low because it was being aired alongside college football’s Orange Bowl. The network didn’t think people were going to tune in.
They even advertised the episode as a made-for-tv movie, and many of the actors didn’t commit to a series because they didn’t think the show was going to be picked up. Obviously, it did.
Erika Flores Was Fired Due To Contract Negotiations
Erika Flores played the role of Colleen Cooper for the first two and half seasons of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. One of the main cast members. Flores went into contract negotiations with CBS halfway through the third season.
Not only did she not want to make a four to five-year commitment to the show, but he wanted a salary increase. CBS decided to dismiss her instead.
Joe Lando Was The First Person Cast
The first person to be cast in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, wasn’t the title character but her love interest, Byron Sully. Due to his charisma and charm, Joe Lando landed the role.
During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, creator and executive producer Beth Sullivan said, “He’s real. He’s not the typical star jerk with any kind of pomp and ego trip. He has got incredible charisma.”
The Show Was Based On Female Pioneers Of The 1800s
When series creator and executive producer Beth Sullivan began organizing the concept for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, she went to the history books. She loosely based the series and its title character on the pioneer woman of the mid-1800s.
While not all of the women Sullivan researched were from Colorado, the location of the series, the ladies helped develop the concept as a whole.
Jane Seymour Auditioned A Day Before Production
While she ended up with the title role, in the end, Jane Seymour was a very last-minute casting decision for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She auditioned one day before production on the pilot episode was scheduled to start.
The network didn’t give her much time to decide whether or not she’d like to take on the role. But, the next day, she went into wardrobe fittings.
The Dark Sixth Season Was The Beginning Of The End
Trying to get their younger viewership back, the network decided to switch the tone of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman‘s sixth season. They went for a darker approach, showcasing Dr. Quinn getting shot, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, and suffering from a miscarriage.
Viewers didn’t appreciate the shift in the series, and it was canceled after the end of the sixth season.
There Was A Rumor Surrounding Erika Flores’ Exit
Halfway through the third season of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Erika Flores was dismissed from the show. After her leave, rumors began circulating that Flores’s father told her to end the contract unless the studio offered her more money.
Flores has since gone on record denying such claims, saying she left to pursue other opportunities.
The Cast Was Encouraged To Give Writing Feedback
Creator and executive producer Beth Sullivan developed the idea for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, based on various pioneer women of the mid-1800s.
Since it was her idea and dream, Sullivan oversaw the writing process while encouraging the cast to speak with the writers to help further develop their character’s story.
Two Sequel Movies Were Made
After Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman was canceled in 1997, two movies were made. The first one, Dr. Quinn: Revolutionse, was a TV movie special released in 1999 to horrible reviews bashing the concept.
Then, Dr. Quinn: The Heart Within was released in 2001. This film was better received from the fans of the original series.
Throwing Byron Sully Off A Cliff Was A Precautionary Measure
Rumors were circulating that Joe Lando was unhappy with the direction his character, Byron Sully, was going and wasn’t going to come back for the sixth season. So, Beth Sullivan decided to shake up the fifth season finale, throwing Sully off a cliff and into the river.
It was a cliff-hanger, and viewers didn’t know if he was dead and alive. This way, no matter what Lando decided, there was a way to work Sully in or out of the sixth season.
Mr. Rogers Stopped By The Dr. Quinn Neighborhood
None other than TV personality Fred Rogers was a fan of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. When the producers found out about his love of the show, they invited Mr. Rogers to guest star on the series.
In the only fictional character he ever played, Mr. Rogers took on the role of Reverend Thomas.
Hank Still Have An Active Fan Club
A fan-favorite character during Dr. Quinn’s Medicine Woman‘s run was actor William Shockley, who played brothel owner Hank Lawson. Shockley wasn’t even part of the main cast, but he did garner an active fanbase.
The fan club is actually still active, and in 2014 they appeared during a red carpet premiere for Shockley’s new movie.
Jane Seymour’s House Was Used As A Recording Studio
While filming Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Jane Seymour had to leave her home in England to live in California, as they were filming onsite. But her England house, St. Catherine’s Court, wasn’t sitting unoccupied.
The manor was used as a recording studio for bands such as Radiohead, New Order, and The Cure.
Dr. Quinn Was Quite The Catch
Fans might not have noticed throughout the series that Dr. Quinn was quite the catch. Well, at least according to the multiple men who proposed to her throughout the series.
She was proposed to be Reverend Timothy Johnson, Dr. William Burke, David Lewis, and Andrew Strauss. While she said yes to David Lewis, he passes away. Eventually, she winds up marrying Byron Sully.
Joe Lando Had Two Left Feet
During the episode “Where the Heart Is,” Sully enlists Colleen to help him learn how to dance to impress Dr. Quinn. While learning how to waltz, Sully soon learns that he has two left feet.
As it turns out, Joe Lando didn’t have to act like he had two left feet. In the DVD commentary for the series, Lando admitted that he didn’t know how to dance.
There Were A Few Famous Guest Stars
Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, attracted a lot of famous people to its set, allowing for more than one famous person to guest star on the hit series. Legendary musician Johnny Cash played the role of Kid Cole in four episodes while Willie Nelson played Marshall Elias Burch in two episodes.
Even Kenny Rogers stopped by for an episode, playing the role of Daniel Watkins.