Paper Dolls was a Prime time soap which ran for only 14 episodes on the ABC television network. It ran from September 23 to December 25, 1984.
The show starred Morgan Fairchild (Search for Tomorrow; Flamingo Road, et al) as Racine, the head of a prestigious Manhattan modeling agency, and Lloyd Bridges (Seahunt) as Grant Harper, the head of Harper Cosmetics, a division of his family's umbrella company, Harper Worldwide Incorporated. The show also starred Dack Rambo (All My Children, Dallas) and Mimi Rogers (at that time, Mrs. Tom Cruise) as Grant's grown children, Wesley Harper and Blair Harper Fenton.
Also prominently featured was veteran actress Brenda Vaccaro as manipulative Julia Blake who had a daughter, Taryn (played by future Knots Landing actress, Nicolette Sheridan) who was a troublesome model (drugs, alcohol, a publicized romance with singer John Waite, who played himself in several episodes), which gave Racine a lot to do in keeping her busy.
To keep the two of them in line, Racine would hire a new teen model named Laurie Caswell (played by future Star Trek Voyager and Becker star, Terry Farrell).
Jennifer Warren (She and Jeffrey Richman, who played a fashion photographer, were the only two actors from the 1982 movie which inspired the series, to star in the series as well) played Dinah Caswell, a former model who managed her daughter, Laurie. She felt that this would be wonderful for her daughter, as she had very low self-esteem issues. This would lead to marital issues for her and her husband, Michael (John Bennett Perry), who felt Laurie was too young for modeling.
Blair was married to a man named David Fenton (Richard Beymer), the head of Tempus Sportswear, whose business was being sunk, because his partner took out money from Loan Sharks. It took Grant to bail out Tempus by buying the company and bringing it under the Harper Worldwide banner.
Grant was married to Marjorie, his second wife, and Blair's mother (Wesley was his son by his late first wife, Virginia). Wesley hated his father, because he felt responsible for Virginia's death. He played both sides against one another, as he was involved with Racine and was always agitating for more work in the family business.
Blair had two best friends, Racine (as she was her first client when she opened her modeling agency) and Sara Frank (played by future ALF co-star, Anne Schedeen) an attorney, who was involved with journalist, Mark Bailey (played by Ryan's Hope and One Life to Live star, Roscoe Born).
Julia was a nasty woman who only saw her daughter as a meal ticket and severely regimented her life from a very early age. Taryn had been modeling from a very early age and had been in the camera's eye for most of her life.
As such, she had no friends, and her troublemaking antics (her drug use, her drinking, her affairs with older men) were cries for attention. The greedy and money mad Julia dreaded the day that Taryn would turn age seventeen, because as such, she would become legal age in the modeling industry and the money from her jobs would come to Taryn directly and not to Julia.
At first, Taryn and Laurie were kind of rivals, as they were in contention for several jobs, but because Laurie, who was somewhat naïve, had no idea of what she was doing in the business, Taryn offered to become her mentor in fashion, as she knew all the ins and outs of the industry and between Taryn and Dinah, Laurie learned well. In return, Laurie helped Taryn to learn to enjoy life as a teenage girl. Besides her modeling, Laurie also had her more down to earth problems as she still attended public school and had to deal with her own set of friends, and her studies.
This learning from one another and getting into their new lives helped to forge a solid friendship that the lonely and isolated Taryn had so dreamed of. She finally had someone who she could talk to and relate with who was her own age and she could see as an equal.
Despite their daughters' friendship, Julia and Dinah became rivals, because they were their daughters managers. Taryn always wished that Dinah, whom she had admired, was her own mother, as she loved the solid mother-daughter bond that she shared with Laurie.
The show had a sparkling wit (especially from Racine, who had quite the mouth on her) and there was a defined sense of humor as the characters were known for a sharp wit, which came out in their verbal sparing. One example was when an angry Julia came in, waving a Barbie-esque fashion doll. She raged that because the eyes were brown, the doll could not be the new Taryn Blake doll. Racine shot back, "I guess they couldn't match the bloodshot look!"
Many of the show's actors went on to bigger fame. Several guest stars from other series included the late Larry Linville (M*A*S*H) as a psychiatrist named Grayson Carr; Lauren Hutton as Collette Ferrier; and Jonathan Frankes (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Racine's aide, Sandy Paris.