Jack Coleman was said to be a role model for gay viewers in the 1980s playing John Forsythe's on-screen son on the TV series, 'Dynasty.' Jack had said, "You know by the way the fans react to you they don't know you. I understand that they're seeing Steven. I'm not God. They recognize my face, that's all." In the 1984-85 season, 'Dynasty' was the most popular program on television. As reported, "Though nothing can really dent 'Dynasty' at the moment (back in 1985), the show writers are going to be very careful with the 'gay' theme. Nothing overt or flamboyant. You won't see any tell-tale gestures from Coleman. There is always the chance, he seems to be telling viewers, that Steven will be OK."
Jack recognized when he took over the role of Steven from Al Corley in the 1982-83 season, "I don't think anyone is really looking for realism in terms of real-life problems. It's just entertainment. Sometimes it's realistic and sometimes it's not. It's there for prop purposes. It's really almost impossible to have a gay storyline. You can talk about it and hint about it and innuendo, but you can't really do it. You just can't put that on prime time TV. The standards won't allow it. Sometimes I think, 'Oh, no problems,' and sometimes I think again and hope that this is not the way. I will be perceived always in the public eye."
Jack was "the youngest of 7 children of Professor John Coleman who taught American history at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania." He was also the 6th-generation grandson of Benjamin Franklin on his mother side. His other grandfather Herbert Agar won the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1934. "After college, I went to New York and I was lucky right from the start – I starred in 'Grease' on Long Island for 6 months. But then I was unemployed for another 6 months."
Then "television found me – I never sought a TV career." An agent reportedly found Jack and asked him to read for a part on the daytime soap opera, 'Days of our Lives'. He was successful and left New York in 1981 for Los Angeles to play Jake Kositchek. After 8 months on the show, Jack recounted at the time, "I came back from my Christmas vacation and told the producer, 'Hey my storyline isn't really going anywhere'. He said, 'Funny you mention it, I have good news and bad. The good news – you're going to be involved in a major storyline (the Salem Strangler *). The bad news – we're firing you, you'll be off the show in 6 months (by June 1982)'. I was shocked to say the least but after I got control of myself, I realized this was a great opportunity to play against type and stretch my acting muscles. My fan mail tripled and 2 other soaps have made me offers." At the time, "While I'm certainly not burning my bridges behind me, I'd rather do theater or film work next."
* The "Salem strangler" was "a madman who stalked the town using a knotted pink silk scarf to finish off 4 characters within 2 months."
After 'Days of our Lives', Jack spent some 4 months auditioning before landing the Steven Carrington part on 'Dynasty'. "The show is the winner because of looks, cast and pace in equal parts," Jack enthused at the time. "I still pretty much believe that any member of the cast could leave and the show will succeed. It's that strong an entity." He also made the observation, "It takes a lot of guts to decide that a series isn't what you want to do because, let's face it, it's a very lucrative life. There aren't too many people in our business who can go away on a long vacation knowing that a terrific job is waiting for them when they get back." Jack described 'Dynasty' as "a great gig and a comfortable set to work on. There aren't a lot of ego battles and star wars going on, there are no temper tantrums and everyone behaves very professionally. Television is a high-pressure business, and we just don’t have the time to get bogged down in trivial things."
When Jack's contract expired in 1988 he was "stampeding towards 30." At the time, "It doesn’t bother me at all. Actually, I'm looking forward to it. I found the 20s exciting – but the 30s, I'm looking forward to them both personally and professionally. For the past few years I've been looking too old for college-aged parts, and I'm too young, in the traditional sense, to play a leading man."
Jack also understood, "I'm well aware that when it's all over, I'll have a hard time escaping the 'Dynasty' image, but I'm confident in my ability to do it. All it's going to take is one good role which is very different from Steve, and I'll be able to turn people's heads and convince them that I’m an actor – not just a model!" He believed, "The prejudice against doing a soap has broken down a lot. I don’t think anyone is exactly scouring the soaps for talent, but I think the casting people now (in 1985) realize that just because you're doing a soap doesn't mean you can't act. They understand the economics of being an actor. They know you have to work."
On reflection, "It's not as if there have not been times when 'Dynasty' has allowed me to do scenes which have been challenging and difficult. But television is about stories rather than about performances, so it's often difficult to showcase your talent. I'm not saying the medium doesn't need good actors, because good stories wouldn't work without them. But let's face it, 'Dynasty' isn't 'Out of Africa!'"