She was remembered on Twitter by her "Falcon Crest" co-star Susan Sullivan, who wrote, "The lovely Abby Dalton has left the stage. She was a mother a wife an accomplished actress and beautiful friend. #FalconCrest."
Another co-star, Sarah Douglas, tweeted, "Very sad to learn of the death of the fabulous Abby Dalton with whom I was fortunate enough to work with on #FalconCrest She was always SO much fun and a terrific talent. Condolences to all her family and friends."
Born Gladys Wasden in Las Vegas on August 15, 1932, the effervescent blonde got her start as a dancer and model, and made her film debut in the Roger Corman teen exploitation drama "Rock All Night" (1957). She went on to appear in several of his other lurid, crowd-pleasing flicks, including "Teenage Doll" (1957), "Carnival Rock" (1957), and "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" (1957).
She was never fond of these roles, but chalked them up to being inexperienced; she walked onto a soundstage for the first time to shoot a leading role for Corman. Presented with a cheesecake portrait of herself from the period in 2011, the actress laughed, declaring, "It's a perfect Hollywood picture — perfect. There's not an honest thing in it."
She was next directed by the esteemed actor Paul Henreid in the not-so-esteemed "Girls on the Loose" (1958) and Oscar winner José Ferrer in "The High Cost of Loving" (1958) opposite Ferrer and Gena Rowlands before segueing into TV roles.
In 1958, she played Belle Starr on an installment of "Schlitz Playhouse" called "Way of the West," and quickly became a familiar face on other westerns, including "The Rifleman" (1958), "Have Gun - Will Travel" (1958), "Jefferson Drum" (1958), "Sugarfoot" (1959), and "Rawhide" (1959).
On a 1959 episode of "Maverick," the ingénue was the subject of a brawl between characters played by James Garner and Clint Eastwood.
Other early TV work included appearances on "Mike Hammer" (1959) and "Hawaiian Eye" (1962) before she was cast opposite veteran Jackie Cooper on the popular series "Hennesey" (1959-1962), playing nurse Martha Hale. She was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series in 1961. Her character and Cooper's wed when the series ended after 95 episodes.
Dalton immediately went into "The Joey Bishop Show" (1962-1965), playing the comic's wife for 90 of the show's 125 episodes.
She became an original and longtime recurring panelist on "Hollywood Squares" beginning in 1966, allowing her a venue to showcase her devilish wit.
Following her second series, Dalton was choosier with roles, making fewer episodic-TV appearances and averaging one feature per decade, including a winning turn as Calamity Jane in "The Plainsman" (1966) and a part in the children's movie "A Whale of a Tale" (1976).
She was in the pilot for "Barney Miller" in 1974 as the detective's wife, but the part was recast with Barbara Barrie.
Dalton achieved her widest audience as conniving, mentally disturbed vineyard heiress Julia Cumson on 98 episodes of "Falcon Crest" (1981-1986) and also gained a son-in-law for a spell — her TV son Lorenzo Lamas was wed to her real-life daughter, actress Kathleen Kinmont, for four years.
Following her character's exit from "Falcon Crest," Dalton made only a handful of appearances, including on "Murder, She Wrote" (1986) and in the features "Roller Blade Warriors: Taken by Force" (1989), "Cyber Tracker" (1994), "Buck and the Magic Bracelet" (1998), and "Prank" (2008).
In 2013, Dalton acted in a thriller short written and directed by Kinmont, which became her final performance.
In addition to Kinmont, Dalton is survived by her husband of 60 years, Jack D. Smith, their sons Matthew and John, three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.