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 being altruistic, wanting to

We watched her struggle with her choices, and come to accept that she has the capacity to be caring and forgiving AND vengeful and impulsive.

help others, being instilled with a sense of healing, or something logical like that.  I was too embarrassed to tell them the truth:  I was five years old in 1976, the year Marlena Evans came to help the residents of Salem.  She was beautiful, confident, intelligent, and was dating Don Craig.  Who wouldn’t want to be exactly like her?

Over the next 10 years, Deidre Hall’s down-to-earth, realistic portrayal of this struggling woman would strike deep emotional chords in all of us.  When she fell in love with Don, we loved him, too.  When she cried over the death of her baby D.J., we cried, too. When she was terrorized with fear by the Salem Strangler, we felt afraid as well.  When she found love again in the arms of her cop/protector Roman, it symbolized hope and second chances for all of us.  And when her worst nightmare of Roman dying was realized, we felt her pain as she spent the next year grieving (unheard of by today’s rushed story standards). 

Marlena was tragically “killed” in a helicopter crash in 1987, and then “revived” by Stefano DiMera four years later.   Some have suggested that her emotional nuances have been missing since she returned.  I would suggest that her appeal shifted from portraying emotional subtlety to symbolizing inner structural dichotomies.  Since 1991, Marlena has been portrayed as somewhat cool, calm, and detached.  So when she started doing very un-Marlena like things under the influence of the DiMera or the Devil himself, like burning churches or killing off half the town, it made for ratings gold.  Her struggles represented our own psychic apparatus containing the classic “superego” (i. e., the rational controlled self) vs. the “id” (i. e, the wild, impulsive, gratification seeking self).  Or to put it another way, it was relevant and meaningful to watch the “nice” Marlena struggle with the “wild” Marlena.  

In this past year, Marlena enthralled us again by violently immobilizing Stefano with a drug that completely paralyzed him physically, but left him cognitively aware, essentially leaving him a waking corpse.  What made this action shocking was that it was really Marlena performing it. There was no mind control, no satanic influence, just one pissed off lady.  We watched her struggle with her choices, and come to accept that she has the capacity to be caring and forgiving AND vengeful and impulsive.  She no longer had to divide these virtues within herself as she learned to balance them all.  After 32 years, she has finally found some peace within herself.  Perhaps the best thing we can do to honor her absence is to search for this balance within ourselves as well.

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Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of the newly published book, Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve.  For more information, go to www.shouldless.com.

Comments

  1. John says:

    That is a lovely tribute. My favorite Marlena story wasone after she returned: the affair with John. That was the ultimate soap story imo. And Hall had amazing chemistry with both Northrop’s Roman and Hogestyn’s John: sweet and caring with Roman and hot and passionate with John.

    I will miss her. I won’t miss my Days habit.

    Damon says: Thank you John! It seemed that the Roman/John triangle in the early 90s really first tapped into the tension between Marlena’s rational calm side (Roman) and wild passion (John). Again, TPTB wisely used that tension to create huge ratings.

  2. JONNYSBRO says:

    Marlena, the thing about Deidre Hall is the woman was a gold mine ratingswise. James E. Reilly was the one who saw that. He was so smart about using Deidre at every point. I think I remember Jim saying that any big storyline with Marlena as the key part of it was a huge ratings booster. Look at the possession storyline that was a big ratings jump, look at the city of Paris with John, and then my favorite, the big huge Kristen reveal. We had Marlena/Kristen locked together in a secret room until the big huge reveal. Kristen had been keeping all these secrets because of her hatred toward Marlena. The ratings went like gangbusters and also the Salem Stalker. The week of the Marlena reveal was huge. Reilly was so smart, he knew Deidre was by far the show’s biggest draw. You could make her the main focus of anything and numbers would hit the roof. It is sad Corday and Co. never could see the real value of Marlena on DAYS. IMO the most important character in DAYS history. Deidre getting axed is not surprising considering how DAYS has wasted her over the years and she is very expensive. I cannot imagine a Salem without Dr Marlena Evans.

    Damon says: Yes, Jonnysbro, Jim Reilly absolutely knew how to focus on the symbolic aspects of Marlena’s psyche. I always like to say that Reilly really knew “how to mess up Marlena’s hair,” and that messiness became so compelling for the viewers. Thank you for your insights!

  3. Christine says:

    Who wouldn’t want to be exactly like her? Exactly! I so wanted to be like her when Marlena was first on in the late 1970s. I was 11 years old, a girl, and thought I would grow up to be just like her – beautiful, intelligent, funny, the woman was IT! And yes, I cried with her, laughed with her, felt angry with her – Marlena lept through my television set and I was swept away for an hour into her life. I will miss her; I already do. The early part of this year was great, it was wonderful to see her having a backbone and passion. I think she is still IT and her many fans would follow her to the ends of the earth.

    Damon says: Thank you Christine for sharing your experience of enjoying Marlena with us. I think anyone who is still a fan of after these past two years has already proven they will follow her to the ends of the earth. But will they follow her to another show?

  4. Alta says:

    This whole situation makes me incredibly sad. I’ll definitely will follow Deidre’s career wherever it leads her. However, when she is gone from Days, so I’m I.

    Damon says: I would seriously consider writing a hand written letter to Ken Corday telling him just that!

  5. Kori says:

    I can’t help but to be sad thinking of the history of Marlena. I remember being four years old sitting and watching Days, and I wanted to be just like her. I can’t even imagine Salem without Dr. Marlena Evans. I for one, will not be tuning into Days once she is gone. With the downfall of the storylines in recent years, Deidre was my only reason for sticking around. I was always there being toyed with waiting for the reunion of John and Marlena. Through bad business decisions and horrible writing, the dedication and passion for this show has been completely drained.

    Goodbye Marlena … goodbye Days.

    Damon says: Thank you Kori, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who wanted to be Marlena at such a young age. Anybody else?

  6. Sisi says:

    I’ve been trying for a week to accept the reality that Deidre Hall has been fired and that Drake is fired. As stupid as it may sound to accept the fact that your favorite couple that took the reality of life away from you for a whole hour every day for years and years to a world of love passion and angst, is one of the hardest think you can do. Marlena Evans has been a part of my lifem a role model, and I can say a role model to a lot of people. From the first day she entered Days she entered the hearts of million of fans who have watched her laugh, love, mourn and CRY! The strong sensitive blonde bombshell shrink will live on and as she leaves the show so do I.

  7. Matthew Cormier says:

    i am only an occasional watcher of DOOL but even i must admit that Marlena is such a pivotal character to daytime that I cannot believe she is being let go. This is one of the worst decisions ever made by a daytime executive.

  8. Preacher'swife says:

    John & Marlena will always be “Dool” to me. they should bring them back one last time to do battle with Stefano and win driving a cross through his evil heart. Marlena should marry Roman and become more realistic and multi-layered. John should be the priest that drives the cross through Stefano’s heart!

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