Dee-A-Palooza Day Three: Searching for the Real Deidre

Deidre Hall 3

Thinking Fans Comment Update: John says “Deidre’s Marlena is imo the greatest soap heroine ever” … though Alan Ryan prefers the Dr. Marlena Evans of the 70s and 80s … and more.  See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

In 1986 I was given an assignment by a major women’s magazine to interview Deidre Hall, the star of Days of Our Lives, who had just premiered in a primetime show called Our House.

I had been a Days fan for a long time, and had always been fascinated by how perfect, even-tempered  and all-American Deidre seemed, both on and off the screen. (There was certainly no one who looked or acted like Dr. Marlena in ethnic Queens where I grew up!)  The angle of the story I proposed was to find the “real” Deidre Hall. So I went to [Read more...]

Dee-A-Palooza, Day Two: Days’ Marlena’s “Cool Intelligence and Warm Sensuality Hard to Ignore”

Deidre Hall 2

Thinking Fans Comment Update: James sees Deidre’s departure as another nail in Days’ coffin … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Patrick Erwin

I’ve watched Deidre Hall as Dr. Marlena Evans on Days of Our Lives since Marlena came to Salem in 1976. By some miracle of good living and genetics, Hall looks almost the same now as she did then. (I, on the other hand, have far more crow’s feet and far less hair than I did then!)

Like all good soap opera viewing habits, I got hooked on DAYS because it was one of Mom’s favorites. Her two favorite characters were a study in contrasts. There was Julie, whose ability to suffer was so [Read more...]

Farewell Dee-A-Palooza Week, Day One: Soap Shrink Says, “I Wanted to Be Dr. Marlena!”

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  Jonnysbro can’t imagine Salem without Dr. Marlena Evans … while Christine thinks Deidre’s “many fans would follow her to the ends of the earth” … and more. See Comments below. 

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To mark executive producer Ken Corday’s ver-ry curious decision to fire Deidre Hall and Drake Hogestyn from Days of Our Lives, we here at Marlenadelacroix.com figured we’d pull out all the stops to honor both Dee and one of the most popular characters in history, let alone daytime history, namely Dr. Marlena Evans –  32 years in Salem, 32 years as a daytime superstar!

Yes, it’s our own Farewell Dee-A-Palooza. On successive days our Soap Shrink Damon L. Jacobs, Patrick Erwin and moi will examine why both actress and character were so mega-popular over the years. And we’ll reflect on what they mean to us personally. Day One:  a man whose life was profoundly influenced by Dr. Marlena Evans — Damon L. Jacobs.

                                                                                                Marlena

                                                                                                XXXOOO

By Damon L. Jacobs

I must begin discussing Deidre Hall’s portrayal of Marlena Evans with a confession:  I announced to my parents at age five that I intended to become a therapist, and forced everyone who came through the house to tell me their problems. During graduate school people often asked how I knew I wanted to study psychology so early in life.  I made up answers about [Read more...]

An Open Letter to Anne Sweeney, Co-chair, Disney Media Networks and President, Disney-ABC Television Group

Dear Ms. Sweeney:

I am writing to strongly protest the current Todd and Marty storyline on One Life to Live. It’s in effect the long delayed second chapter of a story that began in 1993, when Todd was the leader of three college students who gang raped Marty. The two chapters couldn’t be more shockingly different in intent.Todd and Marty 

The 1993 chapter, though brutal,  was told with intelligence and sensitivity, shedding light on the humanity and compassion gained through this tragic crime. It deservedly won numerous Daytime Emmys. The current chapter — in which an “amnesiac” Marty was kept in captivity again by Todd for five months,  fell in “love” with him and begged him to have sex with her (which he did) — lacks any such redeeming insight. Instead, it is simply revolting.

Starting with the hackneyed soap opera device of amnesia, the current writing team seeks to exploit the audience rather than enlighten it. The current story extends ancient rape myths (“I raped her because she wanted it”).  The story’s aim is far from social issue education. Rather, it is the  [Read more...]

Norn on One Life to Live’s Starr and Blair: Victims of Todd’s World of Hurt

Blair and Starr 

Illustrator/Thinking Fan Norn Cutson wrote me that he was so sad for One Life to Live‘s Starr and Blair after they found out Todd had planned to kidnap Starr’s baby and had gotten involved with Marty, he had to “do something.” So he drew this illustration. Here’s Norn’s  heart-wringing interpretation of the sad  mother and daughter. I think it’s magnificent.

                                                                                         Marlena

                                                                                         XXXOOO

One Life To Live’s “Tarty” Controversy: It’s Not Over Until It’s Over

Thinking Fans Comment Update:  Melanie isn’t buying the “poor Todd” routine … Jenn misses the days when “soaps relied on love and chemistry” … and more. See Comments below.

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My friend, television journalist Ed Martin called me last week to congratulate me on my Todd and Marty: Way Beyond Merely Disgusting column, noting the amazing number of responses (53 and counting). It inspired Ed to write his own response in his own column on JackMyers.com. I’m encouraging all TFs to read it because, for his television business site, Ed brilliantly and with great clarity analyzes the choice to air the controversial Todd and Marty story as a deliberate network programming move.Todd Marty

Ed recognizes that the story offends women viewers and emphasizes the folly of the network in airing it, considering that the majority of One Life to Live‘s audience is women. That’s an awful lot of viewers to risk losing!  He also scoops Marlena on another piece of OLTL misogny: the frequent close-ups of Jessica’s dead baby in another story aired at the same time. Ed writes:  ”I don’t believe women want to see dead babies in their entertainment. Not ever.”

Ed has his opinions as a longtime viewer of OLTL, and this is where we differ.   Despite the offenses he clearly sees, he still likes — no — loves the melodrama of the story and calls it great soap opera  But Ed insists [Read more...]

All My Children’s Agnes Nixon, Always Our Guardian Angel

Thinking Fans on Agnes’ visit to Pine Valley:  renee “cried buckets and emailed everyone” … n69n says she “is the cutest, dearest, smilingest little lady” … while tess remembers the days of 15- and 30-minute soaps … and more. See Comments below.   

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Agnes NixonBy Marlena De Lacroix

Just as I was fantasizing about throwing a cherry bomb at ABC headquarters over the misogynistic, disgusting Todd-Marty redux story playing out  on One Life to Live, along  comes an episode of All My Children which soothed the fires of r age within me. It was the 10,000th episode of AMC, my all-time favorite soap, on Thursday! I’ve watched since its premiere in 1970!

In a world where soaps have grown sensationalistic and emotionally empty, how healing it was to watch an episode which included family scenes of the Martins, the Hubbards and the Kanes.  With parents like Zack and Bianca actually kissing their children, including perpetual ingénue Erica actually kissing her grandchildren!  With family members holding hands, and — get this — actually praying, thanking God for surviving the recent tornado.

Love! Family! Spirit! I began to think I had died and gone to soap heaven, circa 1970!

And there to guide me around Pine Valley was a blithe, ancient spirit named Aggie who, just like Clarence in It’s a Wonderful Life, mysteriously appeared and

How charming Agnes was throughout the magically written episode … She was wise, loving, funny and bright, everything her All My Children always was and everything Agnes Nixon always has been.

disappeared throughout the episode.  Dressed adorably in antique Victorian garb, Aggie popped up in various scenes to tell residents things she knew about them.

Like, “Tad, how’s your arm?” To which Opal, Tad’s biological mother, immediately shouted,  “Ray Gardner broke [Read more...]

One Life To Live’s Todd and Marty: Way Beyond Merely “Disgusting”

Todd and Marty 

Susan Haskell as Marty, Trevor St. John as Todd — ABC Photo by Heidi Gutman

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Thinking Fans Comment Update Nov. 9:  Miajere laments the misogyny in daytime … Christian in Boston is disgusted by Todd’s elevation to “redeemed and tortured anti-hero” status … Steve protests Todd-Marty story exists “for no other reason than shock value” … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

It’s disgusting. Which is what I think all the columnists and most fan posters in the soap community are saying after seeing amnesiac Marty Saybrooke sleep with her one-time rapist Todd Manning on One Life to Live Thursday afternoon . But disgusting doesn’t begin to describe this descent into exploitation and audience insult.

If you care about soaps, this story is way, way beyond disgusting.  And if you are still trying to figure exactly out why they are dying, come with me and have a long look at this story in the context of soap history.   

Years ago soaps were about love, family and relationships.  They were ridiculed in the outside world because their storylines sometimes stretched reality.  To combat this, and show how smart and valuable soaps were, Agnes Nixon invented the idea

It’s a nasty punch in the face to women, still the majority audience for soaps … and to make it worse, TPTB don’t even see it!

of exploring educational social issue stories, which in the 60s she introduced on Guiding Light,  when a character, Bert Bauer, had uterine cancer.  Dozens of great issue stories later, a writer new to daytime, Michael Malone, brought the new character of Marty onto OLTL, and one night in 1993 Todd  (then only known as Frat Boy # 2) and two of his college buddies raped her.

At the time I disliked the story.  The characters had no ties to the OLTL canvas (Todd had not been made Viki’s half-brother yet), and the story lacked [Read more...]

Celebrating All My Children’s Phenomenal Women!

 norn

As a writer and professor, one of my very favorite things is finding new talent.  I got to know Norn Cutson this year because, as one of our Thinking Fans, he frequently writes to this site.  It turns out that Norn is a Thinking Fan who has more than one way to express his enthusiasm for soaps.  When Moose and I saw this illustration, we flipped.  Wow!  What talent!  We asked to share it here at marlenadelacroix.com, and Norn kindly gave us permission.

Norn’s illustration is, of course, of All My Children.  It’s the Kane women, Erica and her daughters Kendall and Bianca.  Phenomenal women characters created and watched over by the phenomenal  Agnes Nixon.  So, happy 10,000th show to Ms. Nixon and everyone who loves AMC

Norn is a graphics designer and illustrator who lives and works here in New York City. He is also a huge fan of One Life to Live.  You’ve got to see his portfolio at Norn’s Island . There’re Charlotte Rae, and Judy Garland, and Ann Magnuson and gaggles and gaggles of impressive illustrations of the celebrities we love.   Norn, what a find!

                                                                                                            Marlena

                                                                                                            XXXOOO

Soap Shrink: From Savvy to Reckless, How General Hospital’s Alexis Davis’ Behavior Makes Perfect Sense

Thinking Fans fret over Alexis:  Purple Haze is puzzled by her treatment of her children … esther says give up a bit of mob air time and tell us what happened to Sam’s father … while Marilyn Henry wants to see her learn from her mistakes … and more. See Comments below. 

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By Damon L. Jacobs

If you’ve been watching Alexis Davis in recent years, you’ve probably been wondering what the heck happened to that whip-smart, savvy attorney who blew into town twelve years ago.

She came to Port Charles with integrity, intelligence, poise, and loaded with self-confidence.  Now she lies, gets easily flustered, and allows Jerry Jacks, a known killer, to grab her and shut her up with a kiss.  It may appear that Alexis (played by Nancy Lee Grahn) has been dumbed down, blinded by hormones and obsessed with mobsters and murderers.  But stick with me, dear Thinking Fans, and we’ll see how all of Alexis‘ behaviors are consistent with classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Now let’s not forget: early in her childhood Alexis was traumatized by witnessing her mother Kristin‘s throat get slashed at the hands of Helena CassadineHelena was jealous and [Read more...]