Soap Operas

All posts in the Soap Operas category

Dawn Rollo & the Winter of My Discontent

Published December 2, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Soap operas saved my life this past winter. I lived and worked in a solitary tundra, often alone almost 24/7, as friends and co-workers fell prey to COVID and flu bugs or just kept their distance for safety’s sake. I was still in high school when the AIDS crisis began and was somewhat shielded from the devastating losses that era of gay men (and women) reeled from. Still, I felt a keening commonality with those spiritual brothers & sisters as I faced the disease devastated landscape of this past January & February. Thankfully, the people I knew were vaccinated and thus not lost to the world, but the impact felt somewhat similar.

Consistently facing the quiet at work, I would throw on YouTube to keep me company throughout the day. Gladly, I discovered numerous fans had downloaded months of episodes from various long cancelled daytime dramas to their channels. I soon got swept into the over-the-top circumstances their favored shows had presented and, as so often happens, the fictional people in those often-ridiculous circumstances soon became like old friends to me.

Ultimately, the plot line that I connected with the most was the more realistic late ‘80s saga of Another World’s Dawn Rollo (Barbara Tyson). Her plight rang in with a keening similarity as it seemed to have a significant parallel to the world I was then inhabiting. A quietly intense musical student, Rollo was the first long term soap character to be diagnosed with HIV and as her disease became full blown, the show dealt with her day-to-day struggles and sensitively chronicled her romance with Scott (Hank Cheyne), one of the show’s charming heroes. Most impact-fully, she also successfully sued her school for discrimination, an arc that tied in many of the shows heavy hitters, including (soap legend) Denise Alexander’s long suffering Mary, who was Scott’s mother. 

A bit more fantastically, Dawn’s brother, played by future soap hopper Richard Burgi, also ultimately of Days of our Lives, General Hospital & The Young and the Restless, had to be one of the youngest, handsomest ex-pimps ever. His arrival on the scene was precipitated by his desire to reconnect with M.J. McKinnon (Sally Spencer), a respected police officer who had once been an important part of his stable of workers. With that kind of background, it was unsurprising when it was revealed that the duo’s mother was a prostitute who had infected Dawn through a blood transfusion. (As if only criminals, gays & their innocent bystanders got the disease back then!) Still, the writers got the heart of the story down correctly and I shed many a work shift tear as Dawn eventually lost her battle with the illness. 

Months later, I still feel a heart filled connection with Tyson, who has gone onto appear as a guest on such horror themed shows as Poltergeist: The Legacy & Fear Itself, Cheyne, the macho gym-jack ass in Death Spa & Burgi, known as well for such projects as Hostel 2, Harper’s Island & Friday the 13th (2009). Of all our worldly cures, art is still the one, I find, that illuminates & heals the most.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Ann Williams

Published October 20, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Often operating with a silken haughtiness, the late, lamented Ann Williams imbued The Edge of Night’s conniving Margo Huntington with a convincing maternal instinct, as well. This quality definitely humanized the character as she, impulsively, tried to broker a baby for her temporarily barren daughter or manipulated an old acquaintance into hindering her son-in-law’s chances at receiving a job located far away from her watchful grasp.

Of course, like many a glamorous shrew before her, Huntington also was the paramour of a handsome, yet deceitful younger man named Elliot. Suavely played by Lee Godart, Elliot was also, unsurprisingly, the ticket to her downfall – if in a roundabout way. After their disastrous union ended in a hostile separation, Dorn took up with a possessive movie goddess named Nola Madison (Kim Hunter). Eventually, Madison, in a fit of jealous pique, bludgeoned Margo to death, unleashing one of the show’s most popular mysteries of the late ‘70s. (Margo’s angry son-in-law, played by the popular Tony Craig, would be convicted of the misdeed, at least initially.) 

Interestingly, this was not the first time that Williams, who had decades of experience in daytime, met her end onscreen. Eunice, the popular character that she played for 10 years on the legendary Search for Tomorrow, was eliminated in the mid-70s by Morgan Fairchild’s increasingly unbalanced Jennifer. (This move allowed Fairchild some career latitude and supposedly gave the show’s matriarch, Mary Stuart, a sense of relief, as well. Williams’ popularity was rivaling her own.)

Sadly, Williams, whose Broadway credits included a supporting stint opposite Lauren Bacall in the musical Applause, lost her real-life battle with cancer in 1985 at the incredibly young age of 50. Her 4 children have written a beautiful account of that time entitled The Kids Are Alright, a memoir that highlights the distinguished actress’ sense of humor and resilience in the face of uncertainty. Their memories about her soap stints, which also included runs on The Doctors and Loving, also leave readers with the correct impression that Williams was a prime example of the sophisticated thespians that populated New York City’s casting halls & premium television studios in that almost hallowed period of time. 

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Horror Hall of Fame:

According to IMDB, Williams starred in an episode of 1961’s Great Ghost Stories, a television show. The entry, entitled A Phantom of Detail, is described, plot line-wise, as being about the adventures that ensue when the protagonist discovers that his friend’s fiancé is a ghost. An all-too-common occurrence, right?!?

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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In Memoriam: Robyn Griggs & Anne Heche

Published September 16, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Dying, tragically, within days of each other, former Another World actresses Anne Heche (May 25, 1969 – August 11, 2022) & Robyn Griggs (April 30, 1973 – August 13, 2022) both had strong connections to the world of horror, as well. 

10 years after her popular reign as Maggie Corey on the lauded soap ended, Griggs began appearing in a bevy of zero budget, indie terror epics with titles like Severe Injuries, Slashers Gone Wild!, Demon Divas and the Lanes Of Damnation and Hellweek. Often cast as a villainess, her enthusiasm and love for the genre definitely bled thorough in her performances. Of special note, she gives a delightfully spastic turn as a member of a murderous tribe of ne’er do wells in Hellweek. But Severe Injuries, a feministic take on traditional slasher tropes by Amy Lynn Best and Mike Watt of Happy Cloud Pictures, may just be the best of her many scare-based offerings. She also was the force behind her own homegrown horror convention, further proof that her death at 49 from an aggressive form of cancer was a huge loss to the world of genre cinema. 

The projects of Heche, who passed away after a tragic car crash, definitely had a higher mainstream pedigree. But her major terror credit, an almost frame for frame remake of the classic Psycho (1999), was a controversial offering that was, overwhelmingly, ripped apart by critics, who found its existence unnecessary. Still, the film’s queer influence can be highly felt. Gay director Gus Van Sant definitely invests understanding in the film’s outsider themes while giving us the ass shot that John Gavin never would have allowed by recasting his role with the gamely beautiful Viggo Mortensen. His encouraging Julianne Moore (in the Vera Miles role) to dive into her role with a no bullshit Sapphic energy also stands proud while Heche’s wispy beauty here makes one feel the intense attraction that Ellen DeGeneres, who she was involved with at the time, must have felt for her. Counting 1997’s I Know What You Did Last Summer & 2013’s Nothing Left to Fear among her other genre credits, Heche left behind not only a legacy of great acting work but an advocacy for the LGBTQIA community that has too long been under appreciated. Proclaiming the truth about her three-year love affair with DeGeneres definitely hurt her career and the stony backs that greeted her upon the dissolution of that romance were truly unnecessary- especially for a woman who helped narrow the scope of the public’s prejudices and broaden their overwhelming personal limitations. 

Indeed, both Griggs and Heche have left this coil far too soon. May their AW peers, including such profound talents as Constance Ford, David Oliver, Philece Sampler & Charles Keating, rise among them to assist them to their new planes of existence.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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The Horrific Mummification of Nancy Karr

Published July 19, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Being on a soap opera isn’t always glamorous- just ask Ann Flood! Perhaps one of the most elegant and refined daytime performers from the golden era of the ‘70s and ‘80s, Flood played The Edge of Night’s industrious, very lady like reporter Nancy Karr for twenty-two years. One of Flood’s more unusual plot lines, though, found her practically mummified for the majority of its runtime.

While investigating a tip about the true paternity of the offspring of a potential home wrecker, Karr was kidnapped and held hostage at a mysterious spa. The lair of a doctor who performed plastic surgery on high profile criminals, she was soon terrorized and wrapped in bandages to hide her identity by the surgeon’s very villainous thugs. 

Flood, naturally, enacted Karr’s hysteria over these horrific circumstances with justified aplomb. Further fueling the Mansion of the Damned, Poe-like circumstances of the plot, actor (and famed As The World Turns producer) Chris Goutman, who ably portrayed the heroic lead of Joseph Zito’s acclaimed slasher The Prowler, also brought a gleeful villainy to his characterization of Matt Sharkey, one of the goons torturing Karr. His joyously dark enthusiasm imbued the proceedings with a definitive macabre essence, resulting in a gothic adventure that fans of the show never forgot.

Side note: This story also introduced actress Leah Ayres, one of the ‘80s most earnestly recognizable performers, to the series. Best known to horror fans as the lead female camp counselor in The Burning, Ayres’ character Valerie Bryson was the confused offspring of the industrious, face changing doc here. Interestingly, both The Prowler, Goutman’s flick, & The Burning featured top of the line gore effects from the legendary Tom Savini, another one of the many circles of familiarity that often occur among afternoon television actors. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Andrea Evans & Kim Johnston-Ulrich

Published June 7, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Crawford & Davis, Loni Anderson & Lynda Carter, Tyne Daly & Sharon Gless, Janine Reynaud & Rossana Yani…there have been many amazing female duos in entertainment history, but the two best baddies-in-arms might just be the gloriously glamorous Kim Johnston Ulrich and vivaciously voluptuous Andrea Evans. Playing Passions’ cunning comrades in arms, Ivy (Johnston) and Rebecca (Evans), this pair was among daytime drama dynamo James Reilly’s finest creations. 

While these two divas were often at each other’s throats, as both were determined to claim the fortune of the show’s ne’er do well multimillionaire Julian Crane, they often found the time to band together to take down a common enemy. The woman usually in their sights, as long-term viewers were aware, was the normally virtuous Theresa (Lindsay Hartley), the young woman who had the drunken misfortune to be impregnated by the wealthy, duplicitous Crane. Snake-ily conniving to deprive this trembling ingenue of any of her due fortune, these two were frequently found with their heavily hennaed heads together, plotting over tea and cookies…or occasional shakers of cocktails. Whether it was Rebecca accusing Theresa of murder or Ivy trying to convince her honorable lawyer son to help her crooked cause, these two scene stealers were always the most vibrantly amusing part of any given afternoon’s shenanigans. 

With years of experience behind them – Johnston had played the spoiled Diana McCall on As The World Turns while Evans was both the kittenish Tina on One Life to Live and the emotionally virginal Patty on The Young and the Restless – these two pros were obviously taking delight in all of the antics that were written for them, securing this team a place in the corridors of the soap opera greats.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Both actresses appeared in gloriously cheesy, late ‘90s horror fare. Evans played a two-timing, small-town hottie who ran afoul of Clint Howard’s gloriously demented Ice Cream Man. Johnston, meanwhile, was the honorable heroine in the over-the-top fairy tale riff Rumpelstiltskin. 

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Until the next time, make sure your baby-daddy doesn’t have vengeful ex-wives and… SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan

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Va-Va-Villainess: Deanna Wright

Published April 26, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

“Talk about a makeover!” – Kay (post body morph) 

In marked contrast to Robyn Lively’s kindly Louise Miller, Deanna Wright’s Kay Bennett was definitely a very mean teen witch. Wright’s character on the quirky, supernaturally tinged soap opera Passions was so determined to capture the handsome Miguel (Jesse Metcalfe) and steer him away from his true love Charity (Molly Stanton) that she used several varieties of supernatural mayhem to achieve her goals. 

After zombifying her rival and even sending her to Hell (often with the help of the town’s revenge filled witch, Tabitha), Kay’s arc during Wright’s heyday reached its apex when the creepily resilient lass enacted a spell that turned her into her rival. Due to this effective disguise, Miguel misguidedly slept with her…and the resulting pregnancy (and birth of a child) nearly destroyed his relationship with Charity. 

As the soap entered into its latter years, Kay, as then played by Heidi Mueller, achieved a certain sense of maturity. But the character’s adventures with the occult – how can anyone forget when she accidentally turned herself into a panther during the program’s 2001 Halloween episodes?!?- were definitely the highlights of her run. 

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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The Edgy Delusions of Mark Hamilton

Published April 4, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

As The Edge of Night hurdled towards its cancellation in late December of 1984, the powers-that-be organized one last darkly grotesque adventure for Raven (Sharon Gabet), its standout diva and favorite anti-heroine. Nine months pregnant, Raven found herself secreted away by a mysterious captor. Sequestered in a room, filled with beautiful lounging gowns, diamonds and an overwhelming Venetian theme, Raven soon discovered her keeper was the rich and handsome Mark Hamilton (Christopher Holder). Hamilton, who had tragically lost his own wife, was convinced Raven was his former bride and was, happily, awaiting the birth of their child…via some very deluded jailor techniques. The reality of Raven going into labor, though, seemingly, brought Hamilton back to his senses and, after helping her deliver a healthy child, he stepped aside so that she and Skye (Larkin Malloy), her true love, could live happily ever after…or at least until the final broadcast.

Interestingly, Holder, who applied a silken kindness to Hamilton’s madness, was then best known for playing the incredibly gullible Kevin Bancroft on The Young and the Restless. Bancroft spent months believing that he was the father of (popular vixen) Nikki Reed’s child and left town, heartbroken, upon learning the truth. Thus, Hamilton must have seemed like a nice change of pace for the actor.

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Horror Hall of Fame:

Holder went even deeper into character driven psychosis in the low budget 1985 slasher The Deadly Intruder. The film’s interesting cast included Hollywood heavyweight Stuart Whitman, The Partridge Family’s trouble making Danny Bonaduce and Elvira hunk (& Italian exploitation movie regular) Daniel Greene.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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The Gothic Plots of Reginald Love

Published March 27, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

Windswept manors…candelabra style lighting…a delusional villain…Another World activated all these gothic melodrama stereotypes in the winter of 1988 as the powerful Reginald Love (John Considine) ended his reign of terror. Targeting his impulsive, pregnant daughter Donna (Philece Sampler), Love was determined to steal her away from her lover Michael (Kale Browne) and raise his soon-to-be born grandchild in his own domineering image. 

Fighting back, Donna and her wicked pater familias wound up free falling out of the windows of a towering mansion. Ever resilient, this pair survived that tumble. Thinking that twice might prove the charm, Reginald soon confronted Donna again in the same setting. The plunge that this damaged heroine took this time, in the middle of her sister Nicole’s highly dramatic fashion show nonetheless, caused her to lose her baby – a misdeed that even the most cherished baddie can’t return from. Thus, Reginald soon took another tumble (off of a high rise building) himself, perishing for good this time.

The legacy of madness he left behind would eventually claim his other offspring Nicole (Anne Howard), though. On the eve of her marriage to the show’s favorite anti-hero Cass (Stephen Schnetzer), this Love sibling, in a moment of passion, did away with Jason Frame (Chris Robinson), a longstanding thorn in her family’s side. Losing herself in self-protective delusion, Nicole then allowed Felicia Gallant (Linda Dano), the program’s eccentric diva, to take the rap for the crime. When all was revealed, Nicole descended the final step into pure illusionary dementia, ultimately being carted off to an asylum to recover.

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Howard, an accomplished performer, is beloved by genre enthusiasts for her portrayal of Susan Cabot, the radiology student who begins the satanic reign of terror in John Carpenter’s celebrated Prince of Darkness. Sampler’s previous soap gig on Days of our Lives, meanwhile, put her Renee DuMonde in direct contact with Stephano DiMera, perhaps the most baroque, moustache twirling daytime television villain of all time.

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Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Flashback: My Fair Psycho

Published March 6, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

The pride of both Broadway stages and sophisticated cabaret venues, the precise, velvet toned Christine Andreas proved that she was a master of her craft with her work as the manipulatively deranged Dr. Taylor Benson during the 1990 – 1991 seasons of Another World.

Initially presented as the diligent psychiatrist for the soap’s tortured Sharlene (Anna Holbrook), a popular character suffering from multiple personality disorder, Benson soon revealed her own mental weaknesses. Fixated on Sharlene’s handsome husband John (David Forsythe), Benson did everything she could to make him her own. After gaslighting Sharlene into believing her treatment wasn’t working, the twisted doc eventually lost herself in psychosis. After kidnapping Sharlene, she seemingly murdered her in an explosive encounter on her boat. In her last scenes, though, this extremely misguided therapist was so lost in delusion that she couldn’t even recognize John, the man who motivated her diabolical schemes.

The winner of the American Theater Award for her work as Eliza Doolittle in a 1975 revival of My Fair Lady, Andreas proved her daytime mettle here by imbuing this deliciously unsavory character with both a determined sweetness and a calculating intensity. The plot line itself also speaks to this genre’s exploitation parallels – twisted women, gothic crimes and the ability of multiple characters to return from the dead – as Sharlene, Benson’s favored victim, did several years after her fiery “demise” during this iteration of the show.

Andreas, who recently performed a successful show featuring the music of Edith Piaf, meanwhile, is always creatively resurrecting herself at http://www.christineandreas.com.

Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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Va-Va-Villainess: Dorothy Lyman

Published March 1, 2022 by biggayhorrorfan

As the kindly Gwen Frame, actress Dorothy Lyman spent much of 1980 on the late lamented soap opera Another World mentoring Ray Liotta’s down to earth Joey Perrini, helping him navigate a rocky romance with Bradley Bliss’ well to do Kit Halloway.

But when this seasoned performer, perhaps best known for her comic portrayals on Mama’s Family and All My Children, returned for the show’s 25th anniversary in 1989, the writers played a little loose with her history to create some friction filled drama. Fueled with rage over the death of a relative, previously a nonissue on the show, Gwen crackled with anger. Determined to bring down the show’s longstanding heroine Rachel (Victoria Wyndham), who she blamed for the demise, she interrupted a heartfelt monologue by the surprised woman. Later, during a confrontation, she pushed her newfound enemy and knocked her out, leaving her to die in a gas filled room. Of course, Rachel survived and, ultimately, forgave Gwen – probably due to the fact that was Lyman was only contracted for a handful of episodes and a long trial was simply not in the cards for the character.

Decades later, re-watching these episodes, what is most apparent is the caustic joy that Lyman took in Gwen’s turnaround – she bites into her lines with a vicious glee and gladly rides the highs and lows of the character’s emotions like an exuberant child on a roller coaster. It’s a delightful performance – a viper with a bleeding heart –and just one of the many seemingly effortless performances in this skilled veteran’s long career.


Horror Hall of Fame:

A frequent figure on television screens, Lyman made appearances in In The Cards, a first season Tales of the Darkside episode, and The People Across the Lake, a spooky movie of the week with Valerie Harper.


Until the next time, SWEET love and pink GRUE, Big Gay Horror Fan!

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