By Marlena De Lacroix
Whenever I talk about favorite old soaps with longtime soap fans, the conversation always ends the same way: “Weren’t soaps so much better then?”
We all yearn for yesterday. For many of us, soaps have been part of our lives for decades. It feels good to look back, just as it would looking at a family album.
And since Marlena has been around soaps for a long time, I’d like to share some of my memories and soap memorabilia with you. In the early 80s I was the editor of two soap publications. One of them was Soap Opera World, a newsprint mail-order monthly. Today, from 1983, I’d like to present Kristian Alfonso’s first-ever soap interview. Kristian was only 19 then, and had been on Days of Our Lives as Hope Brady less than a month.
Recalls writer David Johnson, still one of Marlena’s closest friends: “She was astonishingly beautiful. I remember her eating lettuce leaves throughout the lunch interview.” David shyly remembers that she still had a smidgen of baby fat then.
So here it is, 24 years later, an interview with the always slender, very beloved actress, who has come into our households most of the days of our lives …
KRISTIAN ALFONSO GOES FOR THE GOLD!
By David Johnson
From Soap Opera World, November 1983
Beautiful brunette Kristian (that’s her real name — it’s actually Kristian-Joy, no middle name) Alfonso is lunching in her studio dressing room. She munches on lettuce leaves and cucumber slices with a straight vinegar dressing from a plastic container brought from home. ”I’m always on a diet,” she volunteers. ”I have to watch myself — as you can see. Want a cucumber?”
“My dream was to ice-skate in the Olympics,” says just-turned-19 Kristian, who plays Hope Williams on Days of Our Lives. ”I started when I was almost nine. I was already taking dance lessons — lyrical jazz, ballet, tap. My sister, Lisa — she’s 13 months older than I am — was taking skating lessons, and I used to go and watch. (She goes into a little-girl voice routine.) I said, ‘Mom, can I skate too?’ So I started skating, and I took right off.”
That was in the suburbs outside Boston, Massachusetts, and Kristian says about the training, “There’s a lot of discipline involved. I’d be up at four o’clock and start skating before school and then it was back to the rink after school. You really have to train every single day — Sundays too — because it’s so intense. But I loved it.”
A tobogganing accident brought Kristian’s dream of the Olympics to a crashing halt. “I broke my leg. I had crushed the whole leg. I was absolutely heartbroken, because I’ll never be able to skate the way I used to, even though I can still jump and spin.
“I was out of commission for about a year and a half. While I was in the hospital, they found out I also had mono(nucleosis) and tonsillitis and a strep throat and everything-I was a mess! I had surgery and had my leg in three different casts. I convalesced at home. The best part of it all was that my teachers had to come to my house to give me my lessons.”
Before the accident, Wilhemina, owner of one of New York’s top modeling agencies, spotted Kristian during a skating competition and signed her to a contract. “Wilhemina had never accepted anyone under 18 years of age before. I was 13 going on 14 when I signed. I was never a teen model. I was on the big board with all the top models in the office.
“If you saw my pictures, you’d think I was 25. I photograph a lot older. I work for Vogue and everything.
“My spirits were real down (because of the accident), but everything happened so fast with the modeling. It bothered me not being able to skate anymore, so I had to do something. I had to look on the positive side, or I would become terribly depressed.”
NBC saw a picture of Kristian, which resulted in her playing a key role in the four-hour TV-movie, The Starmaker. (She was 16 and had just started taking acting lessons.) A development contract with the network followed.
Kristian says Doris Sabegh, who’s in charge of casting Days of Our Lives, “really pushed me. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here.” A successful screen test with Wayne Northrop (“he’s a doll”) , helped cinch her signing a contract with Days, a show she’d watched during her recuperation. (“I was thrilled when they told me I got the part.”)
The long, hard hours it takes to produce a daily one-hour episode of a soap demand a great deal of discipline. Kristian Alfonso feels at home in this kind of atmosphere. She chomps on a cucumber and says, “As long as it’s something I enjoy, I work real hard at it.”
Kristian Alfonso today