Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Colleen Dewhurst has never read any of Danielle Steel's romantic best-selling novels. She is not even familiar with the titles of Steel's books. But that didn't stop Dewhurst from accepting a juicy role opposite Jaclyn Smith and Perry King in the NBC movie "Danielle Steel's 'Kaleidoscope,' " airing Monday at 9 p.m.
King plays a private detective hired by a dying man to find three women who were separated as children after the strange deaths of their parents. Dewhurst is a wealthy Southern matron who adopted one of the girls.
"I have decided," says Dewhurst with a laugh, "that everyone in these type of stories are rich. They wear very beautiful clothes and they have a lot of jewelry. They are married to very powerful men."
Starring in such a glitzy movie, says the actress, was fun. "I love to suddenly find myself playing posh instead of heavy, heavy hangs the sword."
"Murphy Brown" fans will be pleased to know that Dewhurst makes her annual visit to the series Nov. 5 as Murphy's strong-willed mother, Avery. The role brought Dewhurst an Emmy last year.
Dewhurst also is in her second term as president of Actors Equity. She's only the second woman to hold the office since the union was founded in 1913. It was Equity that decided to bar English actor Jonathan Pryce from playing a Eurasian in the upcoming Broadway production of "Miss Saigon." After heated debates and the cancellation of the production, Equity reversed its decision.
"I am happy it came to a conclusion," says Dewhurst. "These situations are not attractive. But I think the country became aware that there is a problem (of hiring minority actors). The country had no idea this was going on. Minority groups stood up for each other within the union. They stood up for the Asian group and helped them to fight. I don't think it was a racist issue. What we had was a lack of awareness."