Celebrating the Glorious Life of Guiding Light: From 1992, Marlena’s Analysis of GL at its Peak

blogtalkradioDon’t miss Marlena’s farewell to Guiding Light on blogtalkradio’s Brandon’s Buzz at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 or later on the network’s archive.

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 By Marlena De Lacroix

In March 1992, Guiding Light reached the apex of soap quality, that perfect blend of excellence in writing, acting and production.   I thought it had everything going for it to  reach #1 in the ratings.  Here’s my column from Soap Opera Weekly, March 2, 1992,   Volume 3, Issue 9, in which I analyzed this blueprint for building a perfect soap.  A framed copy of this column hung over the desk of GL’s then executive producer Jill Farren Phelps for the duration of her stay there.

Intelligence, integrity, heart — GL had all three. It was a soap that not only deserved to rise to the top of the ratings, but should have stayed there forever. What a tragedy we are losing America’s oldest and historically beloved soap on Friday.   Farewell, Guiding Light.  You were glorious!

Here’s my column as it appeared originally. If you can [Read more...]

Remembered: A Day With the Late, Great Larry Haines

Thinking Fans Comment Update July 22:  pjs praises Search for Tomorrow’s man of yesterday … Cherry Ames remembers Stu and Jo … DS0816 wishes the young’ns could have seen Mr. Haines … and more. See Comments below.

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By Marlena De Lacroix

Larry Haines passed away July 17 at 89 in Delray Beach, Fla.  How sad that is for soap fans!   He was a character actor character’s actor.  During 35 years on Search for Tomorrow, he delivered wit, wisdom, tears, inspiration, love, sympathy, excitement, sweetness, pathos and more.  And he played all that in just one character, Stu Bergman.Search for Tomorrow

Stu was Jo’s (the great Mary Stuart) best friend through the whole run of the show, but he was nobody’s side kick.   The astounding versatility with which he played Stu made him the most human of soap characters.  Any one of today’s overly plot-oriented soaps could use a drop of the heart and genuine human warmth Haines offered by just by showing up every day to tape Search for Tomorrow.

In 1986, I had the opportunity to work with Haines for two episodes of Search.  The show was about to be cancelled and NBC was looking for newspaper publicity.  So to write a story on what it was like to act on a soap, I was cast as [Read more...]

Beverlee McKinsey: Singularly Magnificent

Beverly McKinseyBy Marlena De Lacroix

I feel sorry for younger soap fans who never got to see Beverlee McKinsey on soaps prior to her retirement from major roles in daytime in 1992. McKinsey, who died last week in California at 72 of complications from a kidney transplant, was singularly  magnificent!

When she came to Another World in 1972 as rich, rich Iris Cory Carrington, she was all icy blond upper class matronly bitchiness.  But in frequent vicious argument scenes with Iris’ remarried father Mac Cory (the volcanic Douglas Watson), we could see that what Iris was really doing was begging for love when Mckinsey said  just one  word:  “Daddy!”  Shattering!

The exquisite vulnerability of McKinsey’s soap characters — Iris Cory on Another World and Texas; Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light — was always [Read more...]

General Hospital: Looking Back on 45 Years

(A note from Marlena:  It’s General Hospital’s 45th anniversary!  Here’s a celebration of the event by my good friend and journalistic colleague Ed Martin.  Ed and I have been happily debating General Hospital over coffee now for almost ten  years — and believe moi, we’re not always happy about the current state of the show.  Still,  Ed is clearly very sentimental about the show he once dearly loved.  Read Ed’s authoritative column TV Buzz at www.jackmyers.com.)General Hospital

By Ed Martin

General Hospital today is marking its 45th anniversary. The daily drama about the residents of fictional Port Charles, New York isn’t the oldest soap opera on television – CBS’ Guiding Light and As the World Turns have it beat – but it is still a vital and important show. It is the centerpiece of ABC’s afternoon lineup and remains the most talked about serial on daytime television – a distinction it first achieved 30 years ago this year when a young character named Laura Vining, who began on the show in 1976, moved to the center of the show’s narrative. Laura, one of the most messed-up kids in the history of soap opera, was played by Genie Francis, who was then only in her mid-teens. She had a [Read more...]

General Hospital’s Stephen Macht: Can Character Actors Save Soaps?

Stephen Macht

By Marlena De Lacroix

Every week for months, there have been rumors that Stephen Macht’s tough mob lawyer character, Trevor Lansing, is about to be whacked on General Hospital.   So, while there’s still time, I’d like to say that I’m really enjoying Macht’s performances in the role this season.  Yes, Macht, the 60ish actor with the pock markets, the slitty, beady brown eyes, and the formidable stack of gray-white hair.  I bet he’s never heard the word “hottie” in his life.

But, oh, can this actor talk and talk and talk and talk!  Or, more  precisely, confront, confront, confront.  It’s been Trevor’s job to protect the Zacchara family business, (led by the seldom seen loony bin [Read more...]

As the World Turns: Good-bye to Martha Byrne, The Real Thing

Martha ByrneBy Marlena De Lacroix

It’s hard to watch daytime soaps chip away piece by piece, and of course no one actor is daytime TV.  But watching Martha Byrne leave As the World Turns (because of a contract disagreement  with P&G) is really painful.  If ATWT can be looked at as a truly American, heartland soap (as do my friend Sam Ford and his students do in his soap class at MIT), than Byrne is indeed Mom and Apple Pie.

But not in the goody, goody sense!  For the last twenty-three years (with one hiatus), we’ve watched her Lily grow up from a bubbly, giggly teenager to wise wife and mother.  We love Lily and Martha because they are both always true and real.

Bryne, then a teenager from New Jersey, came to soaps by way of Broadway’s Annie, in which she played one of the orphans.  As Lily, there was no hiding behind tons of make-up, false eyelashes and teen queen phony cleavage.  At age 15, when Byrne made her debut on ATWT, Lily was just [Read more...]

Douglas Marland: A Personal Remembrance

Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993

Douglas Marland

By Marlena De Lacroix

In 1981 I was the editor of a soap magazine which had a great reputation and no budget.  Every year we gave out awards, but we had to do it in small ceremonies on the set.  My head was whirling from the first one on the set of All My Children.  An actor I had admired who played a nasty character took his statuette, turned to me and said, ” I can’t accept this.  It’s made of plastic.”

We went over to Guiding Light to give Douglas Marland his award for Best Writing. There were perhaps three people on the set.  Tanned, dressed beautifully in a custom-made light blue double breasted blue suit, Doug accepted his statuette with a long, heartfelt speech and tears of gratitude in his eyes.  That is how I met Doug. I was fortunate enough to know him as a journalistic source and friend for the next 13 years.

Doug was a very real, very charming person, full of the gusto of a life he thoroughly enjoyed living, long before he ever became [Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: Timeless Storylines, Timeless Talent

 Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993

By Patrick Erwin

It’s been fifteen years since Douglas Marland’s death. That seems impossible to me, but then again, maybe that’s because I still see aspects of his work and his characters on screen every day.

Certainly, his body of work has had a big impact on me. I was eagerly watching his work before I even knew who he was. When I watched Another World and The Doctors during those sick days and snow days, Doug was writing those shows. When my sisters became big fans of General Hospital and I watched to see what the fuss [Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: Actors Recall Their Marland Moments, Part 2

Douglas Marland:  May 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993 

By Patrick Erwin

We continue our celebration of the life and work of Douglas Marland with some more memories from the people who performed Doug’s work on a daily basis — the actors. Today we’re featuring comments from two gifted performers who worked with Doug on As The World Turns, Hayley (Barr) Sparks and Tamara Tunie, as well as Michael Tylo, who played Quinton Chamberlain on Guiding Light.

[Read more...]

Remembering Douglas Marland: Highlights of a Great Career

  Douglas MarlandMay 5, 1935 – March 6, 1993Loving

By Patrick Erwin

As an actor:

– Doug appeared in a 1956 episode of Playhouse 90 called Forbidden Area (as Marland Messner, his real name).

– In 1973, he appeared on As The World Turns, playing Lisa’s doctor, Eric Lonsberry, during the infamous “phantom fetus” storyline.

– Doug also appeared [Read more...]