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Classic TV

The ‘Beauty and the Beast’ 1987 Romantasy Series Cast, Then and Now

When you hear the name Beauty and the Beast, it seems likely that Disney’s animated classic comes to mind, though for many people the greatest interpretation of the fairy tale was the Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV series starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton.

Running on CBS from 1987 to 1990 (and reimagined as a series starring Kristin Kreuk and Jay Ryan from 2012 to 2016), the Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV series brought the story to contemporary New York. In it, Assistant District Attorney Catherine Chandler (Hamilton), in a case of mistaken identity, is attacked by a group of men who slash her face and leave her for dead in Central Park.

Vincent (Perlman) — the lion-like beast man of this take — discovers her and brings Catherine beneath the streets of New York to a wondrous underworld led by a man known as Father (Roy Dotrice) and populated by people who have migrated from the surface.

There she heals, her face wrapped in bandages and her only solace coming from the soothing voice of Vincent. The healing process is slow, and the two of them gradually fall in love — a love that’s threatened when Catherine finally removes her bandages and discovers what Vincent really is. Yet, as was the case with her predecessors in this particular tale, her love remains, albeit in unconsummated form.

It should be noted that in its earliest days, there was a “crime of the week” element with Catherine getting in danger and Vincent coming to rescue her, but gradually there would be more of an embracing of the fantastical elements of the tunnel world, which was the sweet spot for the rapidly growing Beauty and the Beat 1987 TV series fanbase.

Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman in Beauty and the Beast, 1987
Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman in Beauty and the Beast, 1987©Paramount Pictures/courtesy MovieStillsDB.com

The show owes its existence to the fact that then CBS President Kim LeMasters had seen a 1946 French version of Beauty and the Beast and approached writer/director Ron Koslow to see if there was a way to turn it into a series. Insofar as Koslow was concerned, the timing was perfect as he had become interested in mythology and spent time with author and professor of literature Joseph Campbell, best-known for the book The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).

“I wish I had had a recording, because everything that came out of his mouth was brilliant,” says Koslow in an exclusive excerpt from the book Above & Below: The Unofficial 35th Anniversary Companion to Beauty and the Beast. “We were talking about the hero’s adventure, and at one point I asked him, ‘What is the adventure for my generation?’ He looked at me with this mischievous smile, and he said, ‘Love.’ Then I remembered that in the preface to Hero of a Thousand Faces, he talks about the pervasiveness of myth in every day life, the themes of mythology, and he mentions that, even as we speak, the story of Beauty and the Beast is being played out on a street corner in New York.

“At the same time,” he continues, “I had read a series of articles in the New York Times about people living in the network of tunnels beneath New York, and beneath the Waldorf. The idea of the juxtaposition of class distinctions and inequality, the idea that there were people living in tunnels beneath the Waldorf, was such a potent image. All of these things came together. I mean, this is how an idea is born. All these myths, all these ideas and thoughts and concepts sort of merged. It was amazing, actually, when you think about how it happened.”

The writing staff that Koslow brought together — including George R.R. Martin, future creator of Game of Thrones — coupled with a magnificent cast brought the Beauty and the Beast 1987 series to life in a way that captured the imagination of viewers. And while the show would go through a radical reconfiguration in its third and final season, it remains — as noted at the outset — thoroughly unique, as its fans would no doubt agree.

Linda Hamilton as Catherine Chandler

Linda Hamilton, 1987 and 2024
Linda Hamilton, 1987 and 2024Getty

CHARACTER PLAYED: Assistant District Attorney Catherine Chandler

BORN: September 26, 1956 in Salisbury, Maryland

BEST KNOWN FOR: Sarah Connor in The Terminator (1984), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019); as well as Dante’s Peak (1997), Recurring roles in TV series The Line (2008-2009), Chuck (2010-2012), Defiance (2014 to 2015) and Resident Alien (2021 to present).

PERSONAL: Married twice, 2 children.

THOUGHTS ON BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: “Ron Koslow wrote it specifically for me. A lot of people see me in this kind of role from the film Terminator, because in the pilot, especially, it starts out with Catherine being weak and she grows and transforms and gets in touch with her courage. That is what I did in the Terminator role also.

“I was hesitant to do the show, but I saw a drawing of Ron Perlman as Vincent and I just went, ‘Wow!’ Then when I saw him, I just thought he was extraordinary looking. My feelings changed. I mean, he transforms you. Not that he’s not a pretty terrific person without makeup, but something extraordinary happens to him, and I find him extraordinarily attractive.”

Ron Perlman as Vincent

Ron Perlman, 1992, 1987, 2024
Ron Perlman, 1992, 1987, 2024Getty

CHARACTER PLAYED: Vincent

BORN: April 13, 1950 in New York City

BEST KNOWN FOR: Quest for Fire (1981), The Name of the Rose (1986), The City of Lost Children (1995), Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008), the television series Sons of Anarchy (2008 to 2013), Pacific Rim (2013) and Nightmare Alley (2021).

PERSONAL: Married twice, 2 children.

THOUGHTS ON BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: “Vincent doesn’t need to become the prince. I think Vincent is the Prince and I think the job that [makeup designer] Rick Baker has done, and the job that the writers have done and the job that I’m trying to do, bears that out in every episode. He is the most sublime thing in Catherine Chandler’s life. He doesn’t need to change — to become the prince — to be accepted by her. There’s no reason to see this guy change, because he’s as close to perfect as you’re going to get.

“Why are people attracted to Vincent? First of all, there’s not a character around that I’ve come into contact with who possess as much humility as he does. That humility serves as a backdrop to his other qualities, which are incredible strength, both spiritual and physical, and an innate leadership quality based on his solitude and aloneness and good judgment, as well as his compassion for the underdog. Those who have been dealt a few cards less in the big deal. Certainly he has been, and his compassion makes him a sort of Albert Sweitzer. He’s very secure in what he is and who he is.”

Roy Dotrice as Father: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series

Roy Dotrice, 1987 and 2004
Roy Dotrice, 1987 and 2004L-R: ©Paramount Pictures/courtesy MovieStillsDB.com; Scott Gries/Image Direct

CHARACTER PLAYED: “Father”/Jacob Wells, leader of the tunnel community

BORN: May 26, 1923 in London, England

DIED: October 16, 2017 at age 94

BEST KNOWN FOR: His extensive stage work, which garnered him a Tony Award in 2000 for the revival of A Moon for the Misbegotten. Film roles include Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), Suburban Commando (1991), Swimming with Sharks (1994), These Foolish Things (2006) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008). On TV he had a recurring role as Father Gary Barrett in Picket Fences (1992 to 1995) and portrayed Hallyne on HBO’s Game of Thrones (2012).

PERSONAL: Married once, 3 children

THOUGHTS ON BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: “We’re proof networks underestimate the audience. We use literary quotes, actors do scenes from Romeo and Juliet, students listen to Kipling and no one protests. And everyone’s uneasy about sex because of AIDS. We’re offering an alternative — unrequited love. Catherine and Vincent love each other but never even kiss, or only do in their imagination. Old-fashioned, unrequited love is novel these days, and women are fascinated. They want love with sex, and we’re showing love alone isn’t bad.” (SOURCE: The Buffalo News, June 19, 1988)

Jay Acovone as Joe Maxwell

Jay Acovone, 1987, 2019: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series
Jay Acovone, 1987, 2019Getty

CHARACTER PLAYED: District Attorney Joe Maxwell, in the office where Catherine Chandler works

BORN: August 20, 1955 in New York City

BEST KNOWN FOR: Small roles in three dozen films between 1980’s Cruising and 2019’s Rattlesnakes. On TV he had recurring parts on Search for Tomorrow (1983 to 1984), Hollywood Beat (1985), Stargate SG-1 (1997 to 2005), General Hospital (2008), and his latest guest star appearance was on the TV version of Lethal Weapon (2018).

Edward Albert as Elliot Burch: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series

American actor Eddie Albert and his son, actor Edward Albert, attend the 17th Annual Nosotros Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, July 17, 1987
American actor Eddie Albert and his son, actor Edward Albert, attend the 17th Annual Nosotros Awards, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, July 17, 1987 Getty

CHARACTER PLAYED: Real estate magnate Elliot Burch, who was secretly in love with Catherine Chandler.

BORN: February 20, 1951 in Los Angeles

DIED: September 22, 2006 at age 55

PERSONAL: Married once, he had one child. His father is actor Eddie Albert, best known for starring in classic ’60s sitcom Green Acres.

BEST KNOWN FOR: Goldie Hawn’s Butterflies are Free (1972) and more than 130 different films and television series. Beyond Beauty and the Beast, he had recurring roles in Falcon Crest (1986 to 1987) and Port Charles (1997 to 1999). His final film was the posthumous release Chinaman’s Chance: America’s Other Slaves and on television it was in an episode of She Spies (2003).

Ellen Geer as Mary

Ellen Geer, 1987 and 2009
Ellen Geer, 1987 and 2009L-R: ©Paramount Pictures/IMDb; John M. Heller/Wireimage

CHARACTER PLAYED: Mary, the compassionate and nurturing tunnel denizen, who secretly harbored feelings for Jacob.

BORN: New York City (birthdate unknown)

PERSONAL: Married twice, 3 children

BEST KNOWN FOR: Appearances in 29 films from 1968’s Petulia to 2018’s Unlovable, many episodic guest appearances with recurring or starring roles in The Jimmy Stewart Show (1971 to 1972) and Falcon Crest (1975 to 1976). Her most recent role was on an episode of NCIS (2019).

Armin Shimerman as Pascal: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series

Armin Shimerman, 1987 and 2024: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series
Armin Shimerman, 1987 and 2024Getty

CHARACTER PLAYED: Pascal, tunnel dweller

BORN: November 5, 1949 in Lakewood, New Jersey

BEST KNOWN FOR: So many film and television guest star appearances, but on the small screen he’s most recognized for roles as the Ferengi Quark in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993 to 1999), Principal Snyder in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 to 2000), the voice cast of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy (2001 to 2007), as Judge Brian Hooper on Boston Legal (2006) and reprising the voice of Quark on the animated series Star Trek: Lower Decks (2022).

Following the second season of the Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV series, Linda Hamilton, pregnant, left the show and the writers were forced to reimagine the series without Catherine. Not wanting to recast, they had her and Vincent consummate their relationship, Catherine becoming pregnant and then captured by a criminal known as as Gabriel (Stephen McHattie), who wants that baby.

The baby taken, Catherine is left for dead and when Vincent finds her, she tells him there’s a child before she dies. Vincent returns her body to her apartment and spends the abbreviated third season hunting down Gabriel in an effort to retrieve his son. Added to the mix is FBI profiler Diana Bennett (Jo Anderson), whose investigation leads her to discover Vincent and the tunnel world and track down Gabriel.

The Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV series transformed, becoming much more violent, and — like Wiseguy of the same era — it elected to tell one serialized story arc at a time when the networks were still focused on standalone episodes — the ancient days before binge TV.

Jo Anderson as Diana Bennett

Jo Anderson and Ron Perlman in Beauty and the Beast, 1990
Jo Anderson and Ron Perlman in Beauty and the Beast, 1990©Paramount Pictures/IMDb

CHARACTER PLAYED: FBI Profiler Diana Bennett

BORN: June 29, 1958 in Brooklyn, New York

BEST KNOWN FOR: An actress from stage, film and television, she portrayed Julia Ann Mercer in Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991) and had a recurring role in Sisters (1994 to 1995). Her most recent credits are two episodes of Perception (2014) and the film Fat Rose and Squeaky (2006).

Stephen McHattie as Gabriel: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series

Stephen McHattie, 1987 and 2022: Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV Series
Stephen McHattie, 1987 and 2022Getty

CHARACTER PLAYED: Gabriel, described by writer Christopher L. Bennett as “a nebulously all-powerful crime boss who secretly rules the city, and who’s prone to rambling monologues about his evil philosophy.”

BORN: February 3, 1947 in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada

PERSONAL: Married twice, 3 children

BEST KNOWN FOR: He’s appeared in about 80 films between 1970’s The People Next Door and 2023’s My Animal. Many guest appearances and TV movies, with recurring or starring roles in Centennial (1978 to 1979), Highcliffe Manor (1979), Seinfeld (1992), as Elaine’s psychiatrist boyfriend; Emily of the Moon (1998 to 2000), Cold Squad (1999 to 2001), Happy Town (2010), XIII: The Series (2011), The Strain (2014), October Black (2017) and Essex County (2023).

As noted at the outset, the Beauty and the Beast 1987 TV series was and remains one of television’s most unique shows.

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