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 all-encompassing it was almost operatic in nature. And then there was Marlena, whose combination of cool intelligence and warm sensuality was hard to ignore. It’s no wonder the character, and Hall, became an instant hit.

It’s actually a testament to Hall’s tremendous popularity and appeal that Marlena became the linchpin of the show. After all, characters like Erica on All My Children and Viki on One Live to Live have been carefully woven into the canvas since day one. Even Guiding Light‘s Reva has some deep roots with the Lewis family on that show’s canvas.

But Marlena had virtually no family (other than sister Samantha). Today’s soap writers might do well to take note that Marlena came on as a friend and colleague of Mickey Horton. Since we cared about Mickey, we came to care about Marlena, too. No matter how crazy the storyline became (demonic possession, anyone?) Hall played Marlena with grace and consistency. And she and Drake Hogestyn (John) still have amazing chemistry.

Marlena has always remained a smart and savvy character, but I do think that the DAYS supercouple machine may have blurred Marlena’s edges as an individual. When and if Hall and Marlena return to Salem, here’s hoping the show finds a way to remind us why we love Marlena on her own as well as part of the iconic love she shares with John.

Comments

  1. John says:

    Very eloquent indeed. Deidre’s Marlena is soap’s greatest heroine ever. Created in the era of the feminist movement, Marlena didn’t need a man to be happy. yet, she wanted a companion, friend and lover and Days gave her three great love stories over the years. My favorite was John and Marlena, although in recent years, in spite of the still wonderful chemistry between Deidre and Drake Hogestyn, they have been written very badly. Sad for this long time viewer.

  2. James says:

    Patrick,

    Marlena certainly was a favorite of mine. As you point out, her deatched warmth made a nice contrast to the ever suffering Julie.

    And you know, she was never intended as a long term character. They just brought Marlena in since they needed a psychiatrist on the canvas while they found a suitable replacement actress to play Laura Horton when Susan Flannery departed.

    But boy, did she ever set that show on fire! She had such great chemistry with Jed Allan (Don Craig). And they wrote great comedic romantic scenes for Don and Marlena. That was so revolutionary. At least for me. All the soap romances I’d seen up to that point were of long suffering for love.

    It’s really interesting that they never established roots in Salem for Marlena. Usually when a soap character takes off, they bring in many family connections for the character. But aside from her sister Samantha and her cousin Trista (both short term characters), they never brought in any relatives for her. And after hearing about her parents in Colorado for years, we’ve never once seen them! Not at any of her weddings or any of her funerals!

    Salem certainly won’t be the same without Marlena around. And unfortunately, her departure will likely just be several more nails in the Days coffin. So very sad.

  3. SallyV says:

    Me thinks it’s a “bit more” than good living and genetics!

  4. Preacher'swife says:

    Farewell sweet Marlena! The Roman-Marlena-John triangle was too long & too outlandish! They should have let Drake Hoygeston be Roman with out bringing back Wayne Northrop.

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