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'Melrose' no place for pregnant actress

Melrose Place

August 21, 1996
Web posted at: 11:55 p.m. EDT

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- "Melrose Place" has built a reputation as a steamy television series featuring a cast of beautiful men and women.

So when actress Hunter Tylo was offered a role on the show, it seemed like the move of her career.

scene from 'Melrose Place'

But Tylo, a longtime actress on the daytime soap "The Bold and the Beautiful," became pregnant. And her "Melrose" career came to an abrupt halt when Spelling Entertainment fired her.

"That was a five-year commitment, and I rearranged my whole life," Tylo said. "I left (one) job and turned down other jobs for these people. I made my half of the commitment. My opinion is they should make theirs."

The letter Tylo received from Spelling Entertainment said in part that, "although we wish you much joy in this event, your pregnancy will result in a material change in your appearance ... (which) does not conform with the character you have been engaged to portray."

But that's not good enough for Tylo, who feels she's being discriminated against.

Hunter Tylo

"When a woman is pregnant, she might have to be camouflaged for a period of two months," she said. "It doesn't seem right they can fire you for that."

Pregnancies on high-profile shows have been accommodated. During "The Cosby Show," Phylicia Rashad became pregnant, but her character did not. Producers hid the actress's condition. On "Cheers," however, Rhea Perlman's real-life pregnancy was written into the show.

"I think the entertainment industry employers are shaking in their boots," said Gloria Allred, Tylo's attorney. "They're wondering whether what they always took for granted as a right -- to fire someone because she became pregnant -- is in fact legally permissible."

Tylo has since returned to the cast of "The Bold and the Beautiful."

In a written statement, Spelling Entertainment said the company has offered Tylo a different role on "Melrose Place" for next fall, if the show is picked up for a sixth season.

But Allred believes that misses the point, saying Tylo is pregnant now -- and has been denied a job because of it.


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