Flashback Friday: Is Dallas villainess Katherine Wentworth the mother of Rebecca and Tommy Sutter?
Once upon a time there was a beautiful young actress with striking blue eyes named Morgan Brittany who was a go-to girl among Hollywood casting agents for squeaky-clean ingenues. Brittany, who as a successful child actor named Suzanne Cupito appeared in movies like Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” reinvented herself with a new name as an adult, modeling and facing off with Morgan Fairchild’s evil character in the campy 1978 TV movie “The Initiation of Sarah.” After appearing in the small yet pivotal role of Vivian Leigh in the 1980 TV movie “The Scarlett O’Hara War,” Morgan’s career took a pivotal turn in 1981 when she nabbed the juicy role of Pam and Cliff’s half-sister Katherine Wentworth. The character’s multi-year storyline played out as a slow-burn tour de forcefor the young actress who would become Dallas’s most complex and deadly female character. Katherine was the lone daughter of Texas mogul Herbert Wentworth, founder of Wentworth Industries, and Rebecca Wentworth, Pam and Cliff’s long-lost mother. Having studied journalism on the East Coast, Katherine relocated to Dallas after Rebecca was reunited with her other offspring. While it was Rebecca’s fondest wish to live in harmony with her three children, Katherine was less than enthusiastic about the sudden appearance of older siblings in her life. Although initially receptive to Pam’s sisterly affection, she resented Cliff’s involvement in her father’s company, Wentworth Tool and Dye, and when she laid eyes on Bobby, her seemingly innocent crush grew into an all-consuming obsession. Rebecca’s death in a plane crash during a trip to conduct business on Cliff’s behalf compounded her bitterness and she launched a covert campaign to destroy Cliff and steal Bobby from Pam. A poker-faced Katherine faked a letter from Pam to her lawyer that convinced Bobby she had given up on their marriage and she teamed up with JR to put the screws to Cliff at every turn.
Although she succeeded in breaking up Pam and Bobby, her quest to win him was sidetracked by the sudden appearance of Jenna Wade, his first love. Bobby turned to Jenna for solace instead of her, and JR preferred Bobby be with Jenna so Katherine tracked down Jenna’s shady ex-husband Naldo Marchetta to reveal that Jenna had led Bobby on about the possibility of his being the father of her daughter Charlie. Despite Katherine’s best efforts, Bobby never could see her in a romantic light and she was especially ruined in his eyes after she confessed to sleeping with JR to enlist his help in winning Bobby over. Exposed as an unstable manipulator, a desperate Katherine tried to kill Bobby twice to keep Pam and Jenna from finding happiness with him. She also ran him over in the famous cliffhanger that led to the Dream Season of 1986. We all know how that ended up. When Victoria Principal’s exit from the show in 1987 brought Pam’s storyline to an end, Morgan made two eerie return appearances as Katherine hovering over Pam’s bandaged body in the hospital and failing to convince Bobby that life on the lam had changed her. Although it was later revealed that a missing Pam had not been kidnapped by Katherine, it’s understood that the wicked Wentworth may still be out there somewhere tormented by her dashed dreams of a life with Bobby. Several story points in this week’s two-hour Dallas premiere on TNT led me to suspect that the new writers might be planning the return of this dangerous woman. The obvious tip-off that there’s a Barnes/Wentworth twist in the works is the name of Christopher’s wife Rebecca, which could be a coincidence or could indicate that she’s the love child Cliff had with his longtime lover Afton Cooper. Afton named the child Pamela Rebecca in honor of Pam and her mother Rebecca, who were very close to Afton. Further evidence of a connection are the suspicious parallels between Rebecca Sutter’s history and Katherine’s iconic storyline. Rebecca’s parents supposedly died in a plane crash, like Rebecca Wentworth, when she was 12. Rebecca met Christopher after the young Ewing fled a painful breakup with his former love Elena caused by a mysterious email, which would be the modern equivalent of the forged letter that broke up Christopher’s parents. Finally, the Sutter siblings have infiltrated the lives of the Ewings with a secret agenda. Could it be that their mother is actually Katherine, who’s built a new life in Europe or Asia? Has she sent her children to wreak havoc in the lives of Bobby and the rest of the Ewings? It could be that the coincidences are just a ruse by the writers but wouldn’t it be fun if it were true?
UPDATE January 2013: My Katherine theory was amazingly popular and remains one of the most visited posts on Dallas Redone. Although it turned out that Katherine is only Pamela Rebecca’s aunt, this doesn’t preclude a possible appearance by the deadly Ms. Wentworth in the future. One can only hope.
UPDATE March 2013: On the March 18 episode Bobby said Katherine is dead in TNT’s sequel to Dallas. It was matter-of-fact, but I wouldn’t be so sure. We all know she has nine lives. It wouldn’t surprise me if she had Pam kidnapped all those years ago and J.R. was tracking her down this whole time. We shall see.