Michael Nader, Dynasty star who played the smouldering ‘Dex’ Dexter opposite Joan Collins – obituary

Michael Nader and Joan Collins on the set of Dynasty in 1985 - Alamy
Michael Nader and Joan Collins on the set of Dynasty in 1985 - Alamy

Michael Nader, who has died from cancer aged 76, was an actor best-known to US audiences for his roles in daytime soap operas and to British viewers for his turn as Farnsworth “Dex” Dexter, the suavely saturnine third husband of Joan Collins’s Alexis Colby in Dynasty.

Created in 1981 for ABC as a rival to CBS’s hit Dallas, the glitzy soap revolved around the showy shenanigans of the oil-rich Carrington family. It was, however, the introduction of the scheming Alexis, bitchy former wife of paterfamilias Blake Carrington (John Forsythe), that supercharged the storyline. Ever more over-the-top twists and turns propelled Dynasty by 1985 to the head of the ratings in the US and around the world.

Playing the smouldering stud to Dame Joan’s proto-cougar, Nader joined the cast in 1983. Dex was a former Green Beret – when he landed the role Nader had been in the running for the lead in Airwolf – which allowed for action storylines as well as for his arousing Alexis’s molten passions.

Although their characters could not be kept apart, he unwisely became entangled with her impulsive secret daughter Amanda (Catherine Oxenberg), not long before her (Amanda’s) fairy-tale marriage into the Moldavian monarchy. It was Dex who first grappled with the Moldavian rebels when they launched an attack on the wedding, one of the most fondly remembered television moments of the decade.

 Michael Nader with Joan Collins and Catherine Oxenberg - Alamy
Michael Nader with Joan Collins and Catherine Oxenberg - Alamy

He successfully survived the subsequent massacre and several other series cliffhangers. Having traded credibility for camp too often, however, the original run of Dynasty came to an end in 1989 when Dex and Alexis tumbled from a hotel balcony as she confronted him about his tormented affair with her big-haired cousin Sable (Stephanie Beacham).

Michael Nader was born in St Louis, Missouri, on February 19, 1945. His mother, Minette, was then only 17, and his parents split up soon afterwards. She took her son to live in Hollywood, where she worked as a backing singer for Lena Horne.

Michael’s uncle, George Nader, was a film and television actor and, with his lifelong partner Mark Miller, who was Rock Hudson’s private secretary, one of the star’s best friends. He and Miller eventually inherited much of Hudson’s estate.

When he was six, Michael was struck by a car and his face was badly injured. He later credited his mother’s insistence that he be treated by a cosmetic surgeon with enabling his future career, although he was left with a visible scar.

Minette, however, later fell prey to heroin and to abusive relationships, once being saved from a beating by the teenage Michael who produced a gun he had hidden under his bed.

By the early Sixties, he was a keen surfer. It was an article in Life magazine in 1961, in which he was photographed with two friends, that first spread awareness of the California beach culture that was to influence the decade.

In the mid-Sixties, he appeared in several of the “beach party” films of the era, such as How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965), and in the surf-themed television series Gidget, with Sally Field. In between times, he studied acting in New York, working as a waiter and moving in druggy circles with the likes of Janis Joplin.

His first major role, from 1975 until 1978, was in the soap As the World Turns. Turmoil in his private life led, however, to Nader quitting the show and moving to Hawaii for two years. A writers’ strike then impeded his comeback until he landed the part in Dynasty.

He subsequently appeared as a ruthless friend of the protagonist Gino Santangelo in the mini-series Lucky Chances, the TV adaptation in 1990 of (as it happened) Jackie Collins’s twin bonkbusters. This co-starred a young Sandra Bullock and Nicollette Sheridan (who played Alexis Colby in the 2018 revival of Dynasty).

Michael Nader, with Susan Lucci, as Dimitri Marick in All My Children - Alamy
Michael Nader, with Susan Lucci, as Dimitri Marick in All My Children - Alamy

Nader also featured, as a Nazi, in a made-for-television sequel to The Great Escape. In 1991, he began a decade as brooding Hungarian count Dimitri Marick in the hugely popular All My Children. His character was involved with the show’s most iconic character, the 11-times married Erica Kane (played by Susan Lucci), whose penchant for manipulation had been fully inherited by her tricky daughter Kendall (the pre-Buffy Sarah Michelle Gellar).

Nader was cut from the show in 1999 for budgetary reasons but returned the following year following protests by fans. Soon afterwards, however, he was arrested for selling cocaine to an undercover policeman and sacked by ABC.

Although the charges were dropped, his legal bid to force the station to reinstate him failed. In 2013, he featured briefly in the programme’s revival online.

Michael Nader, who had two previous marriages, is survived by his third wife, Jodi, and by a daughter from his first marriage.

Michael Nader, born February 19 1945, died August 23 2021