Thinking Fans pay their respects to Mr. Carey: Dale says, “There’s a big hole in Llanview these days named Asa Buchanan. His presence is still very much felt, but it’s never going to be the same” … and Steve recalls, “What made Asa so real was that he truly did love his family, even if he showed that love in the wrong way” … while James adds, “I hope Phil and Bucky are up in Heaven having a good ol’ time” … and more. See Comments below.
By Marlena De Lacroix
Any executive producer of today’s desperate-for-ratings soaps would pay a ransom in gold and maybe sell his/her soul, too, for an actor like Phil Carey. An actor who, on his debut, instantly grabs the viewer’s attention; is immediately talked about everywhere by all soap fans; is charismatic, funny and charming, and has both sex appeal and a real edge.
So it was that great ladies who ran ABC Daytime back in 1979 (Jackie Smith, Jozie Emmerich) knew exactly what they were doing when they cast veteran movie and primetime actor Carey in the role of Asa Buchanan on One Life to Live. One of the
We longtime One Life To Live fans almost don’t need the old tapes. We can practically see Phil Carey’s scenes in our minds.
first things they had fifty-something Asa do was parachute from an airplane into the birthday party of his barely twenty-something new beloved, Samanatha Vernon. How’s that for a grand entrance?
Asa was bigger than life and a Big Bad Daddy when he arrived in Llanview from Texas to live with his sons, Bo and Clint. The easy thing to think was that he was created in the image of Larry Hagman’s J.R. Ewing, who was at the time reigning over primetime on Dallas and all of pop culture, for that matter. But Phil Carey made Asa an original, and wildly outlasted the other supervillains of the Dallas and Falcon Crest era. Carey’s vivid, mercurial and in equal measures heartful and hilarious Asa was a huge part of OLTL‘s Llanview for 28 years.
Besides a heart, the character had a brain that was sharper than any other character’s on the show (or anywhere else on daytime, for that matter), and his truthful pronouncements about Llanview doings were often exactly what you the viewer was thinking. (He must have been so much fun to write for!) If you were an OLTL fan, Asa’s daily antics and humorous, right on-target perceptions were must-see TV.
How sad for OLTL fans to hear Saturday that Carey, 83, had passed away — only a few days after Clint Ritchie, who played Asa’s older son, Clint. The three Buchanans (including younger son, Bo played by Emmy-winning Bob Woods) were a family, both on and off the screen. So much of their real camaraderie and mutual caring came though on the screen.
What made the character of Asa truly entertaining all those years? Was it the character’s 14 wives (Marlena invites her readers to name them in, in order, including repeats), the women for whom he competed in the early years with such younger men as Bo and Max? The lovely character-rich mellower scenes he shared in his older years with butler Nigel or true love Renee?
I think the secret of Asa’s popularity and endurance was Carey himself. Today on soaps, actors over 35 are rarely cast, and most young soap actors who are given the bulk of story responsibilities have little or no acting experience whatsoever. When Carey came to soaps, he was already 54 and had a long, rich career in acting in movies and primetime.
He had done zillions of parts — policemen, soldiers, sailors, cowboys. He worked with great stars of the 50s and 60s and was an eyewitness to a lot of Hollywood history. His fans are lucky we can actually watch so much of his early work on DVD. My favorites are Calamity Jane (1953), in which he played opposite a very young Doris Day, and the classic Mr. Roberts (1955) in which he plays a shipmate of Henry Fonda’s. A working actor (check out his long, long list of credits on the imdb.com) almost all his life, daytime was lucky to get someone as seasoned and creative as Carey.
Unlike so many other long-running characters on daytime, his character was always interesting and vivid, even up to the end We longtime OLTL fans almost don’t need the old tapes. We can practically see Carey’s scenes like these in our minds: Asa seeing his thought-dead wife, the mother of his sons Olympia (a woman who had come to Llanview calling herself Nicole) for the first time at the ball … Asa at the ranch yelling at his sons Clint or Bo (or both) … Asa with his grandson Matthew, tenderly telling him what it means to be a Buchanan … and hundreds more.
Rest in peace, Mr. Carey. OLTL fans will never forget you.