Remembered: A Day With the Late, Great Larry Haines

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 22:  pjs praises Search for Tomorrow’s man of yesterday … Cherry Ames remembers Stu and Jo … DS0816 wishes the young’ns could have seen Mr. Haines … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Larry Haines passed away July 17 at 89 in Delray Beach, Fla.  How sad that is for soap fans!   He was a character actor character’s actor.  During 35 years on Search for Tomorrow, he delivered wit, wisdom, tears, inspiration, love, sympathy, excitement, sweetness, pathos and more.  And he played all that in just one character, Stu Bergman.Search for Tomorrow

Stu was Jo’s (the great Mary Stuart) best friend through the whole run of the show, but he was nobody’s side kick.   The astounding versatility with which he played Stu made him the most human of soap characters.  Any one of today’s overly plot-oriented soaps could use a drop of the heart and genuine human warmth Haines offered by just by showing up every day to tape Search for Tomorrow.

In 1986, I had the opportunity to work with Haines for two episodes of Search.  The show was about to be cancelled and NBC was looking for newspaper publicity.  So to write a story on what it was like to act on a soap, I was cast as Connie Bronson, a bitchy  80s hair teased-out-to-there nightclub critic (typecasting?) who had an axe to grind with Stu’s then love, a singer named Wilma Holliday, played by an adorable Anita Gillette.

I can’t act, darlings!  After I was shown “enjoying”  Wilma’s performance at Stu’s club, I nastily told her what I thought (and later let her have it in my column) and Anita ran away, out to her car in the parking lot.  Stu ran after her, and they had a shatteringly emotional reunion love scene — a long, full-blown one of the sort you’d never see now between characters over 60 these days!

The whole long shooting day is still kind of a blur to me because I couldn’t see without my glasses and they kept demanding I take them off.  And did I mention that I can’t act? But I do vividly remember watching Haines, who was not the Uncle Stu of the screen who I could just go up and kiss.

He was very quiet and very, very serious, a total professional going about what must have been his 6,583rd shooting day of Search.  He was kind of remote, standing quietly to the side preparing  to go on.  Unlike some of the other actors on the set that day, like the very sweet David Forsyth (Hogan), Haines  didn’t even feign patience with me.  When the director said go, he drew in his breath and seemed to attain the height of a 6′ man (Bergman was legendarily short).  He fed me my first  line. I was NEVER so intimidated in my life.

What had looked so easy to me on screen every day was the hardest thing in the world in person. But there I was shaking!  Ignoring my plight, he was tart with me (I mean Ms. Bronson), and then ran off to find Anita on another part of the stage in the club’s parking lot.  To her, he was so charming and tender in declaring his love, I got tears in my eyes.   So did the director and the lighting guy.   My eye make-up  ran down my face.  I knew my short acting career was over. After that day I understood how difficult the actor’s craft really is. Watching Haines at work, I was an eyewitness to soap acting as it was done by a true master.Times Square

As you may know, Haines won two Daytime Emmys (in 1976 and 1981) for playing Stu, and a very deserved Lifetime Achievement Award in 1983 from American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  And he had another whole career in theater, earning Tony nominations for such Broadway hits as Promises, Promises and Generation.  And if you’ve never seen him, rent the movie version of The Odd Couple, in which he’s hilariously one of the guys who plays poker with Walter Matthau.

For Haines’ generation of soap opera actors, it was very common to leave the soap set and go straight to the theater.  (Remember soaps were only a half hour then.) It was all in a day’s, and night’s, work for him to put in a full day as Stu, then head for the theater district to appear on stage with, to name a few examples, Sada Thompson in Twigs, Jack Lemmon in Tribute and Jason Robards, Jr. in A Thousand Clowns. The theater and soap opera nourished each other then.  Haines was a valued and beloved player in that great era. He’ll be missed.

Comments

  1. Leona says:

    Thank you for your tribute to such a wonderful actor. I had the good fortune to meet both Mr. Haines and Ms. Stuart (Jo and Stu) and will never be able to put into words what that meant to me.

    If there’s a heaven, it puts a smile on my face thinking that Jo and Stu are together again.

  2. Patrick Erwin says:

    Marlena – I had NO idea Larry had passed away. How sad!

    I miss Larry and Mary Stuart — and Jo and Stu. I loved those characters because they reminded me so much of people I knew — Stu reminded me of an uncle, and my mother was Jo in many ways.

    I miss those kind of characters!

    And this reminds me of that last shot of Search, which wisely showed the two of them (Jo and Stu) together.

    Marlena says: Patrick, I thought you were in the crib back then! The best part about the last scene was when Stu asked Jo, “Where are you going?” and she said, “I’m searching for tomorrow.” It was too, too much and I mean that in a giggling, though admiring way.

  3. pjs says:

    Hi, Marlena…

    In these more-soap-blogs-than-soaps-bleary days, I would have bet money that only one, the one that is clearly the best of the bunch, would have devoted an entire column to a man of yesterday who helped make “Tomorrow” so friendly and funny! And while others may get on your bandwagon, you’ve already published the most loving look-back at Larry Haines we’re likely to get. All the more remarkable because he intimidated you so!

    I remember watching the 15-minute SFT and loving Jo Tate’s bff’s, Stu and Marge Bergman. Who wouldn’t want to have such loyal friends/neighbors! As I recall, Stu and Marge not only gave moral support to Jo during her countless crises, they also added a hardcore of comic relief … not to mention a hardcore of commercial sell! Stu and Marge aften extolled the virtues of P&G’s kitchen and laundry products in those days long before product placement led to money-making revenue! Which was brilliant, because they were everybody’s favorite neighbors!

    What surprised me was watching Larry Haines move the character of Stu from domestic comedy to sad widower (Marge died after her creator, Melba Rae, died in real life.) to romantic lead in stories to come in the final decades of the show. He was, as you said, a truly accomplished actor. He made Stu Bergman real. I doubt any viewer of SFT ever watched the show and thought, “he’s an actor,” when they saw Stu. All we ever saw was a genuine friend, an everyday sort of guy who we couldn’t not care about.

    Thanks for giving those of us who do go back a chance to remember one of the all-time greats, Larry Haines. We never ever caught him acting!

    Marlena says: Oh pjs! You certainly know a lot about having and nurturing a longtime close and humorous friendship! (That’s with me, folks)! And your compliments on this column as compared to other soap blogs mean a lot to me.

    And thanks for giving younger readers a good picture of what Stu’s long storyline arc was on SFT. I never saw Bergman’s early years, but he really pulled out all the dramatic stops when I watched the show in its late NBC years. (It had been on CBS). But as my observations on my little day behind the scenes on the set illustrated, Haines actually was acting — on screen. But really, too, you are right — how subtle and absolutely natural his acting was! Haines was such a treasure. Sorry most viewers of today had to miss out on him.

  4. Cherry Ames says:

    SFT and Joanne Tate and Stu Bergman were two of my first soap memories as both my grannies were fans and I watched with them during school break and summer vacation. What a warm and wonderful relationship Stu and Jo had. I know Stu had a wife of his own but she was seldom , if ever seen, These two (Haines and Stuart) were so natural as actors that ,for the longest time, I thought that soap actors thought up their own dialogue-sort of improvised what they would say. Little did I know that many soap actors are actors in the best sense-that they are passionate about the play, the character they portray and the motivation. I mourn this wonderful character actor. I remember seeing him in The Odd Couple and being so excited even though he wasn’t the lead. “It’s Stu from Search for Tomorrow!”

    I still miss the warm and loving Joanne Tate. Viki Lord reminds me so much of that warm mother, dear friend, loving wife that Mary Stuart always played – I can easily see Bo as her dear friend and confidante, but not her leading man. And that is a compliment to both RSW and ES.

    Why does it feel so good to remember the “good old days”. Why can’t the shows today revamp and update but keep the best of what Irna Phillips created? Ron C. of OLTL is coming close. We’re losing our legends of daytime too often these days.

    Marlena says: Love your recollections of your childhood days watching Search for Tomorrow. And yes, Viki has always been just like Joanne, in that both were women who were constantly overcoming all problems and challenges. They had courage, they had soul, they were … women. That’s why we loved to watch them so. Of course, I still love Viki and as long as Ron C gives her full frontburner life and a romantic interest I will probably say nice things about him. (Can you believe some people are turning on him already???)

  5. Jim says:

    I was so sad to read of Larry Haines’ passing. I had to go back and watch the 35th Anniversary episode of “Search for Tomorrow” as well as the final episode. In less than an hour, he proved what a tremendous actor he was. What a loss for daytime

  6. DS0816 says:

    Dear Connie/Marlena,

    Thanks so much for the timely tribute to Larry Haines (1918-2008). I read of his death, at age 89, from “Snark Weighs In”—which provided a link to the obituary (“Snark” also provides one to this site. The link is provided below).

    I think few among the current, younger soap-watching generation will know of Mr. Haines, the two-time Emmy-winning pro (1976′s best actor, 1981′s best supporting actor) who made magic with the late Mary Stuart on “Search for Tomorrow” (CBS/NBC, 1951-1986. Both were on it from beginning to end).

    My soap-watching experience—dating back to the mid-1980s—included exposure to this serial, with even more time from the late-1970s with ABC’s “Ryan’s Hope” (ABC, 1975-1989). (I was born in 1971.)

    Haines was in that league of actors whose real, relatable, and resplendent work made an indelible impression—giving [his] daytime soap’s heart more beats to continue “living.”

    Haines was to “Search” what the late Bernard Barrow and (thank goodness she’s still with us) Emmy- and Tony-winner Helen Gallager were to “Ryan’s Hope” … Macdonald Carey and Frances Reid to “Days of Our Lives” … Ray McDonnell and Eileen Herlie and (the retired) Mary Fickett to “All My Children” … Don Hastings, Kathryn Hays, and Helen Wagner to “As the World Turns” … the late John Beradino and Emily McLaughlin and (a recently retired) Rachel Ames to “General Hospital” … and the late Charita Bauer to “Guiding Light”—a human, humane, evolved, involved, classy talent. A sublime presence delivering dependably likewise performances—making it look effortless and easy in the process—and with such great value that cannot be measured.

    Losing Haines is also losing some memories—the strength, the vitality that is so seldom seen nowadays among the “young at heart,” who—as we soap-watching vets know (all too well)—are so seldom ever seen. Daytime’s “newest” viewers have so little idea—let alone the opportunity to appreciate.

    I’m sorry for Mr. Haines’s passing. I wish any and all of his survivors the best that they can ask for (or expect). And I’m thankful we viewers were lucky to have Larry Haines in the daytime-drama genre for 35 years of “Search”…and other endeavors (which included a post-”Search” turn on ABC’s “Loving”).

    —DS0816

    http://www.legacy.com/PalmBeachPost/DeathNotices.asp?Page=LifeStory&PersonId=113690706

  7. esther says:

    Thanks for the wonderful tribute you did for him, Marlena.

    He was such a sweet man and gifted actor. I had the honor of meeting Larry. Just a joy to speak with — a kind and dear man. My heart goes out to him that he outlived both his wives and only child — and Mary Stuart. That’s a lot of loss for one person. But what a life. I hope he’s enjoying acting in that big soap opera in heaven.

  8. Fabobug says:

    I also want to list my acknowledgment of this sweet man. I only caught SFT in it’s last few years on NBC, but he brought so much heart and integrity to every scene. Even in the midst of less than stellar material and backstage strife (pending cancellations at NBC..) he brought dignity and soul to the process. I also really enjoyed him in his way-too-short stint at AW where, again, he rose above less than stellar material.

  9. Carl says:

    Like many here, I never had the opportunity to see Larry Haines on SFT. There are some early 1980′s episodes on AOL Video, if anyone wants to see them.

    I first saw Mr. Haines on “Loving”. Sadly, his run came when the show was winding down, and his potentially very juicy storyline was reduced to mere threads. What Larry did with those threads was quite marvelous. His character, Neal, was a chef who began dating Ava’s mother, Kate (Nada Rowland). No one knew Neal was Gwen Alden’s long-lost father. Gwen was at this time dealing with a split personality based on her daughter, and the alter was the town serial killer. Neal telling her he was her father just made her even worse, but the reveal scenes between Haines and the superb Christine Tudor were wonderful. I was amazed at how much Larry Haines put into what could have been just a throwaway role for an actor who had already had many decades of far more prominent work.

    I also remember a brilliant interview with him in Soap Opera Weekly around that time which gave me even more respect for him and for his life.

    They don’t cast actors like Larry Haines in daytime anymore. He didn’t have abs of steel, he wasn’t a teenager. He was simply a warm, friendly, phenomenal actor who helped legitimize an artform and helped keep that artform alive for over four decades.

    I always feel like another part of daytime is dying every time this happens. I hope Larry Haines knew just how many people relied on soaps and how many people respected him and what he worked for.

    Marlena says: What a nice leter! I had forgotten about Haines’ work on Loving, so thanks for reminding us. It was indeed lovely!

  10. David says:

    Hi Marlena,

    Another soap legend passes on. Thank you so much for this column. I hadn’t read anywhere else about Larry Haines death. I stated watching Search for Tomorrow in 1973. In those days Y&R and SFT were lunch time staples during the school year. I loved spending that time in Henderson. Stu was a wonderful father to Janet, grandfather to Liza, beloved friend to Jo and friend to nearly one and all… he was very much like a Jimmy Stewart character…. he was every man.

    What a pro. Two much deserved Emmy awards. He was part of the old guard. He had such great chemistry with Mary Stuart. I was sad that I didn’t get to see Larry after Search went off the air. I was so happy to see Mary Stuart on Guiding Light. I was lucky enough to meet her at a GL fan club luncheon and she spoke fondly of SFT and Larry. I remember she said she still couldn’t bring herself to watch the final episode of SFT and it brought a tear to her eye.

    It’s hard to lose another legend… I treasure the legends we still have left and look back fondly on those that are no longer with us. I am so thankful to have been a soap viewer for over thirty years and have witnessed so many fantastic actors!

    Thanks again Marlena for a creating this place for us thinking soap fans to congregate and read wonderful column… and how wonderful that you had a chance to act with Larry on Search!

    Marlena says: Thank you David, and it’s really great that you’ve joined us as a Thinking Fan. I’ve been so lucky in that just about everyone who’s written to me here has been sweet. respectful and so, so smart. Where else do you find that on the snarky Internet?

  11. James says:

    Chere Marlena,

    It was so saddened by news of Larry’s death. I’m so glad to see you writing up a fitting tribute to the man.
    Thanks for sharing your memories of being on the set.

    I was never a regular Search watcher. I tried picking up Search in 1982 when it moved to NBC, but just never got into it enough to make it a regular part of my soap viewing. But I would occassionally watch and certainly enjoyed Stu and Jo’s relationship — by far the most entertaining part of Search when I would watch.

    But I do have fond memories of Larry when he came aboard at Another World back in 1989, playing Sharkey, one of Ada’s old suiters. AW never really developed that romantic plot very far and I think he was gone within a year. But in that time, I really came to appreciate hiim as an actor. A very reassuring presence. And a nice pairing with Ada, I thought.

    Recently, I’ve been transfering my old VHS tapes to DVD. One of the tapes I transfered was the final week of Search before its Dec. 1986 cancellation. Another was the Feb 1989 AW special epsidoes titled “Valentine’s for Singles,” which were Larry’s debut shows.

    GREATseeing him again on those tapes. Wish I had more tapes of him!

    So, Larry, thanks for the wonderful memories. And Marlena, thanks for giving me a place to share my memories.

    Marlena says: Thank you, James, for such a very nice letter!

  12. renee says:

    Marlena, I keep saying I am going to stop reading your column for the very reason I cannot – ‘You make me remember and feel – and baby, that’s why we write. Thank you to your readers who fill in the cubby holes. Finally, to Larry who now hears and sees all, yeah man, you gave us da funk – licked the strings – tickled our ivories – ripping it up. God bless the child that brings his own to the party.

    Marlena says: Thanks for one of most beautiful letters I have ever received! And what a nice way to commemorate Mr. Haines

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