L.A. Law shook up television in more ways than one. “We were shooting at 7:00 a.m. one day when an earthquake hit,” Michele Greene, who played attorney Abby Perkins on the groundbreaking 1986–’94 drama, exclusively tells Closer Weekly in the magazine’s newest issue, on newsstands now. “The writers did an episode about it!”
The top-rated hit’s cast had their worlds rocked as well. “It opened up a lot of experiences,” shares Susan Ruttan, who played the role of legal secretary Roxanne Melman. “I got to go to England and attend a tea with Princess Diana!”
They also endured drama in their personal lives. “Right when it started, I discovered I had breast cancer,” reveals Jill Eikenberry (lawyer Ann Kelsey), 71, who’s been married to co-star Michael Tucker (co-worker Stuart Markowitz) since 1973. “I did radiation every day after work. It was very scary.” Adds Michael, “It grew us up.”
L.A. Law’s shocking plot twists often threw the actors for a loop. “We all gasped when we learned that Rosalind Shays, [Diana Muldaur] fell down an elevator shaft,” says Susan, 70. Michele was equally startled when her single-mom character engaged in a taboo-busting, same-sex kiss with colleague C.J. Lamb, who played Amanda Donohoe. “I said to Amanda, ‘Let’s not rehearse the kiss,'” Michele, 56, recalls. “My stunned reaction was real.”
At least one actor was nothing like his character. “Richard Dysart played the straight-laced head of the law firm,” says Michele. “But he was a rebellious ’60s guy who smoked weed.”
The long days of shooting were hard on the stars, especially in the endless conference table scenes. “I actually fell asleep once and Jimmy Smits kicked me under the table,” Michele says. But the cast members agree their days on L.A. Law were a dream. “We knew it was special. You could feel the magic in the air,” Susan gushes. Michelle adds, “It really was heaven. It feels good to look back and say I was on a show that carved out television history.”
For more on your favorite celebs, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!