By Marlena De Lacroix
On Saturday, my husband Moose and I were driving on a back road through the Pennsylvania woods to have dinner at a very good restaurant. Suddenly a familiar tell-tale putrid smell entered the car.
I gasped and a few seconds later my eyes welled up in tears. No, the tears didn’t come from the intensity of the odor entering the car. They came from the stab of pure humiliation I was suddenly feeling in my heart. That’s because my mind had immediately flashed back the sight of poor Bob Woods sitting up to his neck in a bathtub of tomato juice on One Life to Live a few days before. This Wednesday’s or Thursday’s episode was one of a
I have watched these shows forever and have written about them … almost forever. Unlike movies or night-time TV, the producers of these daytime shows have been known to — and are allowed to — make ‘comments’ on their actors by showing their characters in certain situations …
week-long storyline in which supposedly amusing “mishaps” kept happening to Bo and Nora, the beleaguered couple, leading up to their planned second wedding ceremony in the same church where they had been wed originally in 1995.
Bo was pictured immersed in a tub of that red vegetable juice because it was said to be skunk odor corrective. He was trying it at the suggestion of psuedo-son/pal Rex. Bo’s soaking was also witnessed by Rex, (John Paul Lavosier), me and an estimated one million viewers in America who, like me, had tuned to watch the show that week! (OLTL is in last place in the ratings.)
Emmy winner Robert S. Woods has devoted thirty years of his career to playing lead character Bo Buchanan on One Life to Live!
“I’ve watched One Life for forty years,” I cried to Moose. ”Imagine, when I smell skunk, for rest of my life, I’ll see Woods in the bathtub of tomato juice!”
That ludicrous, embarrassing image will upstage thousands of others — scenes in which I’ve seen Woods as Bo being all charm, a real stand up guy, as he was always both on screen and as I knew him through years of interviews in real life. Scenes of Bo romancing a dozen young heroines all over Llanview. New Llanview arrival Bo kissing Jacquie Courtney’s Pat Kendall in Paris, kidding around with Asa and Clint, dancing to guest star Little Richard at his first wedding to Nora.
And speaking of Nora, did you see what they did to her on the same episode? “Green hair!” I cried, “And an eye patch!”
Moose, who never watched soaps until he met me in 1997 and only gives them a passing glance even now, looked even more strangely at me. He wasn’t sure what those details had to do with skunkery, but he knew I would explain. And I did.
“Sweetie, let me tell you the back story.”
I’ve been a Bo and Nora fan since then One Life to Live executive producer Linda Gottlieb personally put the characters together as a romantic couple back in 1993. They became wildly popular right away. In fact, I did the first joint interview with Bob Woods and Hillary B. Smith when Bo an and Nora became a couple.
I followed the characters’ first marriage and divorce and waited not so patiently nearly a decade for them to be reunited at last. Bo was supposed to remarry Nora on their June 2010 anniversary. (They had originally wed June 1, 1995) . All of last week (June 1 to June 4) of OLTL had scenes leading up to the second ceremony.
What a disgrace! What an insult to two veteran soap stars!
During that week, preparing for the ceremony, Nora broke a tooth, sprained her leg and hurt her eye. In the piece de resistance set at Foxy Roxy hair salon, hairdresser Roxy accidentally dyed Nora’s hair green and accidentally set the white wedding dress she had originally planned to wear on fire with a curling iron.
Don’t think Carol Burnett or Lucille Ball here. Either of them, backed by their teams of outstanding writers, could have turned this into hysterical comedy. But not this leaden mess, as devised by OLTL‘s ham-handed, mean-spirited crew!
Like Woods, Hillary Bailey Smith is also an Emmy winner. She has played Nora for twenty years and before that had roles in daytime soaps like The Doctors and As the World Turns going back to the early 80s. In these pre-wedding episodes, she appeared gap toothed, eye-patched, on crutches and sporting that dime store green wig –all to no clever purpose. The creatively impoverished OLTL geniuses gave her nothing to do but look ridiculous.
On one of the same episodes, Bo was made the target of a skunk squirting his odorous emission directly in his face as he was preparing for his second wedding ceremony to Nora. The scene happened while Bo and best man Rex were planning the wedding ceremony. The squirting took place in the middle of a pew in St. James Church!
“Skunks,” I shouted at Moose. “That’s what Frons and ABC Daytime and the producers and writers at One Life to Live are! How dare they humiliate not only Woods and Hillary, but a fan like me who has spent almost the past twenty years watching that show for my favorite couple …”
“Oh, Marlena, stop! ” Moose protested good-naturedly. “You know the difference between reality and soap opera. Between soap opera actors and their characters. You take it all so personally The whole ‘mishap’ storyline had to have been written as comedy.”
I looked across at driver Moose over my sunglasses. “Comedy? Comedy? Do you think any of this is funny?”
Moose, who has a keen sense of humor, was stopped in his tracks. “Well, um …”
“Look dear,” I explained, “You know I have watched these shows forever and have written about them … almost forever. Unlike movies or night-time TV, the producers of these daytime shows have been known to — and are allowed to — make ‘comments’ on their actors by showing their characters in certain situations …
“Moose, it’s revolting to disgrace soap actors on national television!”
I gave him examples: Men held in cages by their male tormentors … Young heroines drowned, beaten to death with a club or electrocuted on camera … In the 80s a producer even had a character played by an actress she didn’t like stalked and raped and murdered over a week of agonizing episodes.
“Oh, Marlena,” Moose said, finally getting what I was saying. “Yes, I remember reading all those columns you wrote on OLTL (he dutifully spelled out the acronym) the last two years or so. The one where they made Robin Strasser carry on like Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls and threw Dorian in La Boulie’s pool when they cut that great actor A Martinez who was playing her love interest.”
“Yes, Moose,” I said, “and remember that column where I freaked out when they had poor mentally ill Addie wear scuba gear to dinner?”
By then the skunk smell had receded and Moose and I had pulled in front of the restaurant. I dried my eyes.
“Yeah, Moose,” I said sarcastically. ”Skunking Bob and Hillary and me and thousands of Bo and Nora fans on screen all week was … ‘comedy.’”