Remembering Douglas Marland: Actors Recall Their Marland Moments, Part 1

Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993

By Patrick Erwin

As part of our celebration of Douglas Marland’s work, we want to share the thoughts and memories of some of the actors and actresses who performed his work day in and day out. We’re posting these remembrances here to share with you, along with a brief outline of their “Marland Moments” — the stories that Doug wrote for these talented performers to play.

ELLEN DOLAN

MARLAND MOMENT: Dolan played Maureen Reardon when Doug was head writer of Guiding Light, and came to As The World Turns in 1989 to play cop Margo Hughes.  Dolan played two of Doug’s most dramatic storylines — a euthanasia story, in which Margo pulled the plug on her dying father-in-law, and the intense rape storyline, in which  an HIV-positive criminal raped Margo, who had come across a robbery in progress.

DOLAN SAYS: “Doug Marland WAS daytime TV.  He gave us so much.  The Snyder farm, the Reardon clan, and Luke and Laura. Laura’s last moments (last fall before falling back into a coma on General Hospital) , the montage of memories that spanned decades brought me to tears saying good-bye to one on Doug’s greats.  He had an art for this genre.  He loved it and we loved him.  We have missed you every day, Doug.”

TODAY: Dolan is still on contract as Margo at As The World Turns

EILEEN FULTON

MARLAND MOMENT: Fulton’s been a cornerstone of ATWT for years as the legendary Lisa; the character experienced a renaissance with Doug at the writers’ reins. Lisa had romance (with Farley Granger’s Earl Mitchell), asserted herself as a powerful businesswoman in Oakdale and stayed in the middle of the action in Oakdale Doug’s respect for ATWT history led to one memorable storyline, about the revelation of Scott Eldridge, Lisa’s son with former onscreen husband John Eldridge. Lisa had been married to John on the ATWT spin-off, Our Private World.

FULTON SAYS: “I loved Doug Marland and miss him terribly. He was so imaginative and had no fear of being creative. He was a strong writer, so secure in his work that he was open to listening to suggestions, considering them and building upon them to create a great story. His creativity was evident everywhere. I remember especially the Christmas parties he had in his house. They were spectacular. Christmas trees in every room. It was like walking into a Christmas card, you were completely taken in. That’s how he wrote, too — with great imagination and an understanding of human nature.”

TODAY: Fulton and Lisa are still a part of ATWT.

MARIE MASTERS

MARLAND MOMENT: Doug’s writing brought Masters – and Susan Stewart — back to ATWT after a hiatus. Masters returned in 1986, and Susan became a part of Oakdale — first as a foil for John Dixon, then as a friend and supporter to recovering alcoholic Andy Dixon.  Masters’ most dramatic Marland moment was the surprising 1990 story where Susan and Bob had an affair.

MASTERS SAYS: “How can you know about a star?  The light gets in your eyes.  But this I know: Doug Marland was one of the biggest, brightest soap writer stars — ever.  I can say with certainty that he was handsome, witty, a prankster, glamorous, fierce, loyal and compassionate.  He believed in redemption. His stories included heroes and heroines who are outsiders, misfits, losers and scoundrels.  He celebrated family, however dysfunctional, and community, however divergent.  He made small town stories loom large and big “issue” stories domestic and personal.  But finally, I am looking at a photo of Doug I took a few months before he died.  He’s smiling into my camera, but full of secrets — a Bodhisattva in a party hat.  Did he know he’d die young at the top of his game?  Is that why he lived life at full-tilt? I’d like to think he knew, being such a good storyteller — and prankster — what a great cliffhanger it would make!”

TODAY: Masters is still a part of ATWT. She’s appeared on screen as Susan, and was also a part of the ATWT writing team during Hogan Sheffer’s tenure as head writer.

MAGGIE REED

MARLAND MOMENT: Reed began portraying Shannon O’Hara on ATWT in 1985. Doug’s writing made Shannon a multifaceted character — she could be involved in hysterically comic hijinks one moment (usually with Lisa and good friend Harriet) and tear your heart out the next. Fans remember the character most for her mercurial romance with the dashing Duncan McKechnie.

REED SAYS: “Doug Marland was the kind of writer every actor wanted to have writing for them.  Doug had everything to do with providing me with that fun and spirited character (Shannon). His generous soul poured forth with insightful, intriguing, and hilarious words that any actor would dream to develop into a full-fledged character.  His stories were brilliantly devised, keeping the audience coming back for more just like Charles Dickens did in the 1830s with Pickwick Papers.  Now that I teach Soap Opera, I am amazed and thrilled to see how his talent and creativity still hold up as a model for any present day writer.  The ’80s were the golden years of soaps with the field being led by Douglas Marland’s brilliant, fascinating, and compelling storylines.  We all miss him a great deal.”

TODAY: Reed is busy acting in prime time (most notably Law & Order: SVU), in theater, and with voiceover work. She also runs Maggie Reed Workshops (http://www.maggiereedworkshops.com/) where her upcoming course offerings include an Advanced Soap Opera Workshop.

Tuesday, more Marland Moments shared by Hayley Barr Sparks, Tamara Tunie and Michael Tylo.

Comments

  1. Khan says:

    Thank you, Patrick, for sharing these actors’ observations w/ us. Douglas Marland was the real deal. There will never be another like him.

  2. Esther says:

    ICAM. And I miss Maggie on the show terribly. There are still so many people on the canvas that Shannon has history with. Douglas would know exactly how to fit her in. He was as much a fan as any writer I’ve ever met. He loved his characters.

    Marlena says: I agree! Maggie is a terrific actress and I’ve always wanted to see more of her work.

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