I think I’ve mentioned a few times on my blog that I lost both of my parents in recent years. I don’t mention it to elicit sympathy, it’s just that they were such a huge influence on my life and did so much to shape the person that I am today, that I can’t help but reminisce about them on occasion. I often get nostalgic for the past because I have so many great memories of spending time with them that I will always cherish.
One of the things I did a lot of growing up as an extremely shy kid without much of a social life was watch tv with my parents, especially my mom since my dad was often either at work or sleeping in preparation for his next work shift.
I can still picture the two of us sitting on the living room couch together watching one of our many favorite shows, which included (in no particular order and boy, am I dating myself!) Dallas, Falcon Crest, Matlock, Murder She Wrote, The Incredible Hulk, Knots Landing, Amen, Highway to Heaven, Remington Steele, Diagnosis Murder . . . Well, I could probably keep going, but let’s just leave it at that impressive list.
Usually when the nostalgia really kicks in I’ll get really sad and wish I was back sitting on that couch watching tv with my mom. Sometimes I’ll actually go ahead and watch one of the shows to relive some of my memories, something I did recently with another show that I often watched with her when I was a teenager, the soap opera Days of Our Lives. I’ve long since stopped watching it regularly, but one time I will watch it is around Christmas time when they sometimes include flashbacks to older episodes.
When I did that this past Christmas, I decided to do what I usually do after I watch an old movie and that’s to look up information about some of the actors on IMDb. In doing so, I discovered that several cast members from the time that I watched the show have some kind of connection to classic film. It’s not necessarily that they appeared in a classic movie, but many of them at some point either worked with someone who did or were influenced in some way by classic film.
Now I’ll admit this information might not mean as much to someone who has never watched Days of Our Lives, but I still think it is interesting to see that soap opera actors, who are often less respected than those in movies and other forms of television, are capable of having very diverse careers. Here are just a few of those actors:
- MacDonald Carey (Tom Horton) – Probably the name most familiar to classic movie fans, he was known in Hollywood as “The King of the B’s” because he appeared in mostly “B” pictures from the 1940′s – 1960′s. His best known role is probably that of the detective who investigated suspected serial killer Joseph Cotten in Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). In describing his career, Carey was quoted as saying, “I’m an actor who likes to work and what’s the difference whether it’s in the daytime or at night.”
- Frances Reid (Alice Horton) – She appeared in an uncredited bit part in the 1938 movie Man-Proof, which starred Myrna Loy, Franchot Tone, Rosalind Russell, and Walter Pidgeon, and she also had a bigger role in the 1966 film Seconds, opposite Rock Hudson, which just happens to be a movie that Rick over at the Classic Film and TV Cafe recently listed as one of his favorite Rock Hudson performances. She also appeared on the television show Perry Mason in 1963, playing the secretary of a character played by Bette Davis.
- John Clarke (Mickey Horton) - He had small parts as a prison guard in the movie Judgment at Nuremberg (1961) and as a pilot in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963). His television appearances included a few episodes of The Loretta Young Show and Death Valley Days, which was a series of western stories that was at one time hosted by actor Robert Taylor. In 1959, he appeared with Ida Lupino in an episode of The Twilight Zone titled “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine.”
- Suzanne Rogers (Maggie Horton) – Suzanne changed her last name from Crumpler to Rogers because of her strong admiration for actress Ginger Rogers, who she cites as her inspiration for joining the entertainment industry. She started out as a dancer and Broadway performer and once attended the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, which was also attended by actors such as Marlon Brando, Warren Beatty, and Robert DeNiro.
- Robert Clary (Robert LeClair) – An actor who starred in one of my dad’s favorite shows, Hogan’s Heroes, he had small parts in the movies Ten Tall Men (1951) starring Burt Lancaster and Thief of Damascus (1952) starring Paul Henreid and Lon Cheney, Jr.
- Peggy McCay (Caroline Brady) – She appeared in an off-Broadway production of Anton Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya opposite Franchot Tone, and the two reprised their roles in the 1957 film version. She also appeared in episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and Robert Montgomery Presents.
Joseph Campanella (Harper Deveraux) – In 1962, he appeared in the Broadway play A Gift of Time with Henry Fonda and Olivia de Havilland and received a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play. On television, he played Barbara Stanwyck’s love interest in the first season of The Colbys, which was a spin-off of the nighttime soap Dynasty. He also appeared in a few episodes of Montgomery Presents and a 1978 episode of one of my favorite classic tv shows, Fantasy Island, with classic movie stars Joseph Cotten and Laraine Day.
- Lane Davies (Evan Whyland) – He appeared in the 1978 movie The Magic of Lassie with a few of my favorite classic movie stars; Jimmy Stewart, Mickey Rooney, and Alice Faye.
So as you can see, they didn’t exactly star in big time roles in classic movies, but it was still fun to see all those classic movie names while doing my research.
Do you know of any other soap opera stars with ties to classic film?
P.S. Speaking of classic tv shows, I just found out that Tom from the blog Motion Picture Gems just started a new blog about classic television shows called TV Gems. I’m looking forward to seeing if he will cover some of my favorites like the ones I just listed! Make sure you check it out!