Saturday, November 7, 2009

Steve Frame

As I surfed the 'net over the years, I came across a man who shared the same name as one of the most popular characters in the history of soap operas: Steve Frame. Steve and I didn't interact much, just occasionally agreeing or disagreeing as we shared our knowledge of daytime soaps. At one point, Steve asked me to contribute to his new website, which paid tribute to the rich history of daytime television. Unfortunately, I didn't have the time to do so.

Then, earlier this year, I was lurking on one message board and saw a discussion between Steve and a few other people about actor Jarrod Ross, who was the original Phillip Spaulding on Guiding Light. I wasn't a member of the subscription-based message board, so I couldn't contribute to the discussion. But then I spotted Steve's name one day on Facebook and sent a message to let him know that, to my knowledge, Jarrod had been killed in a car accident sometime in the late 1980s (he lived in Milltown, NJ, the town next to my hometown, East Brunswick). That message to Steve was the start of a rich and wonderful friendship.

Steve quickly befriended me on Facebook and we started chatting about all kinds of things: soaps, life, men, sex. You name it, we discussed it. We shared laughs. We shared our lives. I told Steve about my life with my husband Eric and he told me about the man who shared his life and his heart, Gil. I shared with him about my battle with melanoma back in 2003. And Steve shared with me his heart disease. He comforted me when my cat Mulder passed in September. I encouraged him as he battled fatigue and sleepless nights. I laughed at his jokes. I treasured the photographs he posted on Facebook: pictures of sexy men and photos that he found funny. He sent me risque videos. I shared with him photos of a very sexy model named Gilmar Rodrigues, which he quickly posted on Facebook. We talked about Guiding Light and other soaps. We dished the best and worst of the Internet. I treasured all the wonderful photos of Guiding Light that he posted in the days before and after the venerable soap opera ended.

I shared with Steve my concerns about my health. A mass had been detected in my groin, I had a hernia, and also had swollen lymph nodes. There was concern that my melanoma had returned and spread. I was scared. And Steve offered hope, inspiring me. I had surgery in early October and every few days Steve would check in on me, to make sure I was doing OK. I was so touched by his concern, especially since he wasn't feeling very well. Together, we rejoiced that all was OK. My melanoma hadn't returned.

Then, I think it was a Saturday, I opened my email to find a message from Steve's partner Gil, sharing the news that Steve had suffered a major stroke. I was shaken. I posted the news on Steve's Facebook page and on Soap Opera Network and Danfling's Message Board, two sites that Steve frequented. Within minutes, messages of support and encouragement began to pour in. I shared many of the messages with Gil. Gil shared these and many others with Steve, offering encouragement to the man who befriended so many of us.

A week passed and then came another email from Gil. Steve had been doing well for a few days but then developed pneumonia and started building up fluid. I again shared the news with his friends. We all hoped and prayed for the best.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I came back from lunch, opened my Comcast email, and there was the message from Gil:

Steve was gone.

In his email, Gil shared a message that Steve had given him about a month ago, a message that Steve wanted to pass along to all of his friends, about how much he appreciated our friendship and how we touched his life. But, Steve, my friend, you touched our lives too in every way...ways you never knew. As evidenced by all the posts I've seen on the Internet the past day, you touched many lives, many hearts. Your life changed people's lives. You, my friend, changed the world.

Though we never met in person, never spoke on the phone, Steve was a friend in every sense of the word. He touched my heart in immeasurable ways and I richly value the past few months that I got to know him. I'll miss him and I will forever treasure him. And I will take to heart the poems that he shared with Gil, words he wanted all of his friends to consider:

Remember me with smiles,
Because your smiles helped get me through.
They gave me peace and comfort,
And hope to hold on to.

Remember me with laughter,
It was precious for me to hear.
It took away the pain I suffered,
It took away my fear.

Remember me with smiles and laughter,
For that's the way I'll remember you all.
If you can only remember me with tears,
Then don't remember me at all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Guiding Light: A Fond Farewell

There is a destiny that makes us brothers.

None goes his way alone.

All that we send into the lives of others.

Comes back into our own.

January 25, 1937 - September 18, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Guiding Light's Most Memorable Actresses, Part 6: Charita Bauer

Of the thousands of actresses who have appeared on Guiding Light over the past 72 years, none is more synonomous with the series than the late Charita Bauer, who is, in my opinion, the most memorable actress in the history of Guiding Light and, perhaps, daytime television.

For nearly 35 years, Charita portrayed the role of Bert Miller Bauer, the matriarch of the serial's core family. Born on December 20, 1923 in Newark, NJ, Charita joined Guiding Light in 1950 while the serial was still on radio. But Charita wasn't the original Bert. Ann Shepherd originated the role, only to replaced shortly thereafter with the actress who would become the heart and soul of broadcasting's longest running drama.

Back in the 1950s, Bert Bauer wasn't the kind, loving, compassionate matriarch that most viewers remember. She was a bit of a nag and somewhat of a social climber. She was married to businessman Bill Bauer, an alcoholic with a penchant for other women. In the early 1950s, Bert and Bill welcomed two sons: Michael and William (Ed).

In 1962, Bert was diagnosed with uterine cancer, a storyline never before tackled on daytime television and a plot that helped create awareness of the disease.

Guiding Light continued to tackle socially relevant stories as the years passed. Bill battled alcoholism as did his son Ed. Bill had a heart transplant in 1968, only to die in a plane crash a year later. The family's patriarch Frederick Bauer died in 1973. And through it all, Bert remain steadfast, headstrong, and devoted to her family and friends. She was a woman who didn't mince her words and who spoke the truth as she saw it. This priceless scene features Charita with the late Don Stewart (Mike) and the late Theo Goetz (Papa Bauer).

In 1977, as Guiding Light expanded to an hour, Bill Bauer returned from the dead, giving Bert a powerful storyline and Charita the opportunity to fully display her talent. Arriving along with Bill was his illegitimate daughter Hillary Kincaid. Before long, Hillary was part of the Bauer family and Bert treated her as though she were her own daughter.

In 1983, Charita was presented with more story material. Now a patient advocate at Cedars Hospital, Bert, along with her grandson Rick and his best friend Phillip Spaulding, befriended an older German man named Martin Bruner, who was dying. Later, Bill Bauer once again resurfaced only to be pushed out of a hotel window to his death. Bert mourned her ex-husband as long-hidden secrets involving the Bauer, Chamberlain, Spaulding, Lewis, and Reardon families came to the surface. Newly arrived Oklahoma oil magnate HB Lewis seemed to take an interest in Bert. But the story was cut short when Charita temporarily left the series in late 1983 for health reasons: a blood clot necessitated the amputation of her leg.

After Charita had recovered, she returned to Guiding Light in the spring of 1984. With Charita's permission, head writer Pamela Long and executive producer Gail Kobe embarked on what would be one of Bert's most memorable storylines: just like Charita, Bert would be diagnosed with a blood clot and have her leg amputated.

The storyline was well received by viewers who rejoiced as Bert triumphed over her adversity. As spirited as ever, Bert nicknamed her prosthesis leg "Edith." She also developed a close friendship with Josh Lewis, who was confined to a wheelchair after a car accident. That friendship resulted in one of the series' most powerful and most memorable scenes where Bert talks with Josh about life (featured in the special tribute montage at the end of this post). Here is another scene where Bert encourages her friend.

Later that summer, Bert would say farewell to her eldest son Mike, who moved to Washington, DC, and Hillary, who was killed. Bert's final goodbye to the woman she treated as her own daughter was heartbreaking and so endearing.

Charita Bauer last aired as Bert in December 1984 as illness once again forced her to leave the show. Sadly, Charita died on February 28, 1985. It was truly the end of an era.

A year later, Guiding Light would have Bert Bauer die in her sleep, leading to a well-deserved tribute to the actress and character who was and will always be the guiding light. And here, from 1987, is another tribute to Charita, on the occasion of Guiding Light's 50th year in broadcasting.

To end, some dialogue from one of Charita's most memorable performances, her talk with Josh Lewis:

Bert: Josh! Josh! It takes time! Josh, we're at the beginning. You're at the beginning. So am I. Look at how far we've come already. Don't look at the distance that's left to go.

Josh: Don't expect miracles. Is that what you're saying?

Bert: No, I'm not telling you that. Because life itself is a miracle. And don't you ever forget it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

72 Outstanding Moments in Guiding Light History, Part 2

The countdown continues...

37. An insecure Blake Marler and a lonely Rick Bauer end up having a one-night-stand. The next morning, Blake’s husband Ross comes home and the couple do the nasty. Before long, Blake is preggers but this isn’t your usual baby daddy drama. You see, Blake is pregnant with twins by two men!

38. Vanessa’s beloved father Henry Chamberlain passes away and Springfield mourns. A devastated Vanessa is unable to let her emotions flow. But then she reads Henry’s final letter to her and the tears pour forth. Vanessa references the letter during the show’s final episodes. Touching and heartbreaking.

39. Annie Dutton Lewis turns to alcohol and drugs to help her cope with all of life's troubles. Friends and family help her overcome her demons. But soon, Annie gives into her dark primal urges as she wages war against her rival Reva Shayne.

40. Reva’s mother Sarah Shayne makes a stunning deathbed confession: she had an illegitimate son. Reva sets off on a quest to find her brother only to get another surprise: Sarah’s illegitimate child was actually a girl.

41. Meta Bauer, who hadn’t been seen since the early 1970s, returns to Springfield in November 1986. She is portrayed by Mary Stuart who had starred for 35 years as Joanne on Search for Tomorrow. Meta provides Guiding Light and the Bauer family with a much-needed matriarch.

42. In January 1997, all of Springfield gathers to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Cedars Hospital, in conjunction with Guiding Light’s 60th anniversary. Familiar faces return for the celebration, including Mike Bauer and Harley Cooper.

43. With a boat in trouble out on the water and Springfield’s lighthouse not working, friends and enemies alike gather to get the light working.

44. In February 1997, the truth about the paternity of Blake’s twins comes out, and the relationships of Blake & Ross and Rick & Abby are left tattered.

45. Desperate to hold onto Josh, Annie embarks on a number of schemes. She is artificially inseminated and passes her unborn child off as Josh’s. Knowing that Reva is loyal to family, Annie pretends to be Reva’s long-lost half-sister, leading Reva to call out to her late mother and question her for producing such a terrible person.

46. Annie’s fetus dies and Annie hatches a diabolical scheme to frame Reva for killing the child. At the top of the staircase in the Spaulding manse, Annie places Reva’s hand on her own chest, screams “Reva! No!” and then falls backward down the stairs.

47. Annie’s schemes are unraveled on the witness stand as the truth is revealed. Afterward, Annie collapses in pain in the courtroom. She is rushed to Cedars Hospital and has a hysterectomy. Turns out that carrying the dead fetus caused an infection, leaving her barren.

48. Abby is nearly raped by thug Roy. The case goes to trial but Roy gets off on a technicality. When he threatens Abby in court, Abby snaps, grabs a guard’s gun, and shoots Roy dead.

49. Lewis patriarch HB passes and family members return for his funeral. His granddaughter Marah, Reva and Josh’s daughter, gives an unforgettable speech about her granddad.

50. Spoiled, rich Drew Jacob becomes friends with Michelle Bauer and copes with the death of her father. She’s stunned when she learns that she’s actually the daughter of hooker Selena Davis and Ben Warren, Ross’ half-brother.

51. Josh and Reva remarry in June 1999 in a beautiful ceremony overseen by the spirit of Reva’s late mother Sarah. But their happiness is fleeting. Before long, Reva begins to piece together the years she was presumed dead: she had lived on an island and had given birth to Prince Richard Winslow’s son, Jonathan. Josh and Reva would divorce, only to remarry in 2002 at the Beacon Hotel.

52. Meta talks with Michelle about the enduring power of the Bauer family. The Bauers have been around since the late 1940s.

53. Rick Bauer would suffer from heart failure in 2002 and his father Ed would return to Springfield after a long absence to be with his son. Meanwhile, Richard Winslow, who had married Reva’s half-sister Cassie, was involved in a car accident. He begged Reva to help him die and Reva shut off his life support machines. After his death, Rick received his heart.

54. Alexandra Spaulding returns to Springfield after a long absence with the role now being played by Dynasty actress Joan Collins. Her stint is brief. She quits after only two months and actress Marj Dusay returns to the role.

55. Sandy Foster shows up in Springfield and claims to be Reva and Richard’s son Jonathan. But Sandy is a fraud. The real Jonathan shows up in 2004 and he’s a real bad ass. Not only does he viciously confront the man who assumed his identity, he sets off on a quest to destroy his mother and her family. How so? He seduces Cassie’s young daughter, and thus his own cousin, Tammy.

56. Jonathan proves he is his mother’s son. Just like Reva did back in 1984 when she baptized herself the “Slut of Springfield,” Jonathan hops in the country club’s fountain and makes quite a spectacle. The scene continues here as tensions escalate. But it's not quite over as Reva reminisces. The scene wraps here.

57. Jonathan’s revenge continues. Just as Cassie is about to marry Edmund Winslow, she wakes up in bed with none other than Jonathan.

58. In 2007, tragedy hits Jonathan and Tammy, who have fallen in love. Alan Spaulding tries to have Jonathan killed but it is Tammy who is hit by a speeding car. She dies in the hospital with a grieving Jonathan by her side.

59. Guiding Light celebrates its 70th anniversary with a special episode that pays homage to its incredible history. Beth Ehlers, who played Harley Cooper, portrays Irna Phillips, who created Guiding Light. The serial’s days on radio are recalled.

60. Jonathan, with his and Lizzie Spaulding’s daughter Sarah in the car, madly pursues Alan’s limo in a desperate quest for revenge, only to drive off a cliff. But father and daughter aren’t dead. Jonathan faked his death so he and Sarah could escape Alan’s diabolical clutches.

61. Olivia Spencer falls in love with Alan’s son Gus, who has left his wife Harley to marry his old love Natalia. Dying from heart failure, Olivia is the recipient of a heart transplant. In an ironic twist, she receives Gus’ heart after he is killed in a motorcycle accident.

62. After a rocky beginning, Olivia and Natalia become friends. Olivia and her young daughter Emma move into Natalia’s farmhouse. When Emma makes a school presentation about her two mommies, school officials assume the women are lesbians. In time, Olivia and Natalia fall in love. Here, Natalia admits her love for Olivia.

63. Buzz Cooper’s son Henry Bradshaw Cooper begins a steamy affair with Beth Raines who is by now married to Alan Spaulding. Coop, as Henry is called, is involved in a car accident. He dies in the hospital as the Coopers grieve.

64. Phillip Spaulding returns to town and begins to repair his numerous tattered relationships. But Phillip is harboring a secret: he is dying.

65. Old memories and good times are revisited as Phillip, Beth, Rick, and Mindy attend their 25th year high school reunion.

66. Ed Bauer returns to aid a dying Phillip. Michelle Bauer and her husband Danny Santos return for the final Bauer barbeque. Longtime friends speak of Springfield as Rick talks about his beloved grandmother Bert.

67. Lizzie Spaulding and Bill Lewis, the son of Billy and Vanessa, are married in a beautiful outdoor wedding.

68. Phillip’s teenage son James is found to be a match for a bone marrow transplant that could save his dad’s life. But Phillip doesn’t want to put his son at risk. In a surprise twist, it is revealed that Alan, Phillip’s adoptive father, is a match. After seeking advice from his friend/enemy Buzz, Alan offers to be a donor for Phillip.

69. Jonathan decides to stop running and returns to Springfield with his and Lizzie’s daughter Sarah. Lizzie is speechless as she is reunited with her daughter.

70. Billy and Vanessa prepare to remarry in a beautiful ceremony at the country club. Buzz, who has been dating Beth’s mother Lillian for a few years, gets down on one knee and proposes to Lillian. In Lillian’s 26 years on Guiding Light, she has been mainly known as a nurse at Cedars, as Beth’s mother, and as Lizzie’s grandmother. Billy and Vanessa convince Buzz and Lillian to get married with them. The two couples exchange vows with faces present and past watching.

71. Before Lillian marries Buzz, she has one stop to make. She heads to the cemetery and goes directly to Maureen’s grave. She reflects on their friendship and how her mistake cost Maureen her life. Lillian tells Maureen that she has found someone special and that he’s asked her to marry him. It’s a touching, beautiful moment. Tina Sloan, who has played Lillian since May 1983, rocks the scene. Like Charita Bauer (Bert) and Ellen Parker (Maureen), Tina Sloan has become the heart of Guiding Light.

72. Since his introduction in 1977, Alan Spaulding has been a most complicated and tragic villain. Over the summer of 2009, Guiding Light focused on the redemption of the character, culminating in a selfless act that saved Phillip’s life. Alan is finally a changed man. He is happy that Olivia has found Natalia and that they are together raising his granddaughter Emma. He is proud of his grandson Rafe, who is enlisting in the military. Alan shows up at the double wedding and shares special moments with family, friends, and enemies. For one of the few times in his life, Alan is actually considered a hero. He shares a special moment with Phillip and encourages his son to make the most of his life. Genuinely happy, Alan sits by the lake while he reflects on his life. When Phillip returns to his father’s side, he discovers Alan dead. It’s a touching, beautiful, poignant, heartbreaking moment and incredibly reflective of the amazing institution that was Guiding Light.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

72 Outstanding Moments in Guiding Light History, Part 1

Over 15,000 episodes on television. And probably 5,000 on radio. Touching stories. Unforgettable dialogue. Breathtaking performances. Countless memories. In honor of Guiding Light's 72 years in broadcasting, I highlight 72 outstanding moments that resonate with me since I started watching the show back in 1982. Here, in random order, are the first 36 moments.

1. Nola Reardon and her soon-to-be sister-in-law Vanessa Chamberlain show up for Nola's engagement party wearing the same exact dress, leading to a down-and-dirty cat fight between the two headstrong women. (The fight starts at the 6:15 mark.)

2. After a tumultuous courtship, Quinton McCord Chamberlain and Nola Reardon are married in June 1983. The Reardon family forget the bride at the Reardon's boarding house so Nola hitches a ride on a fire truck. The newlyweds fly off in a hot air balloon.

3. The arrival of Annabelle Sims in 1983 kicks off a murder mystery that reveals long-hidden secrets about Springfield's finest families and finally reveals the truth behind the disappearance of Reardon patriarch Hugh Tom Reardon.

4. Phillip Spaulding and Freddie Bauer (renamed Rick) are aged in late 1982. In 1983, the boys become quick friends with Billy Lewis' spoiled daughter Melinda Sue (Mindy) and sweet, innocent Beth Raines. Both Phillip and Rick fall in love with Beth, who has a very abusive stepfather.

5. In 1984, Bauer matriarch Bert develops a blood clot and her leg has to be amputated. Bert refuses to give in to a pity party and encourages paralyzed Josh Lewis when Josh becomes frustrated with his rehabilitation. She also talks with him about the wonders of life.

6. Reva Shayne, ex-wife of Billy Lewis, arrives in town in late 1983. She rekindles her affair with Billy's brother Josh and then weds the Lewis boys' dad, HB. Josh and Reva's passion simmers beneath the surface all summer, leading to a most memorable moment when Reva strips, jumps in the country's club fountain, and baptizes herself the slut of Springfield.

7. In March 1986, the Bauers get word that their beloved matriarch Bert has passed away. Springfield mourns as do Guiding Light's viewers. Charita Bauer, the actress who portrayed Bert for 35 years, had passed away in February 1985.

8. Party girl Reva and her buddy Phillip Spaulding take center stage at the Blue Orchid as Reva sings "Proud Mary" and Phillip struts his stuff.

9. Feisty Darcy Dekker, a gang member, raises hell in 1984 as she and her fellow gang members lay siege to Cedars Hospital.

10. After years of spotty storylines, nurse Hillary Bauer finds herself with not one but two love interests: journalist Fletcher Reade and Dr. Jim Reardon. Hillary (nicknamed "Nightingale" by Fletcher) is unexpectedly killed off when a bomb blows up in her face. In this scene, her friends and family remember her.

11. The Spauldings are rocked to their core when they discover their patriarch Brandon faked his death and moved to Barbados to spend his days with his black mistress Sharina and their daughter Victoria.

12. Ross Marler's wife Carrie is revealed to have three very different personalities. She seduces teen neighbor Ron Kennedy, then bad boy Josh Lewis, and spreads ugly lies about her brother-in-law Justin, leading Justin's wife Jackie to leave him. Jackie dies in a plane crash and Carrie heads off to England for psychiatric treatment. Thus, within days, both Marler brothers lose their wives.

13. The truth about Phillip Spaulding's paternity is finally revealed in 1983 when he learns that Justin Marler and the late Jackie Scott Marler are his parents, not Alan and Elizabeth Spaulding. Grant Aleksander turns in a spellbinding performance as Phillip.

14. In 1987, secrets about Josh Lewis begin to come to the surface and it's revealed he was married to Dr. Sonni Carrera during his two-year absence from Springfield. Sonni proves to be a formidable foe for Reva and it turns out, like Carrie Marler before her, Sonni has multiple personalities.

15. After many years of turmoil, returned-from-the-dead spouses, heartaches, and miseries, Josh Lewis and Reva Shayne finally tie the knot in July 1989.

16. Wacky Nadine Cooper arrives in town in early 1989 as her daughter Harley Davidson Cooper is set to marry Alan-Michael Spaulding. A gold-digging social climber, Nadine provides plenty of comic relief.

17. The past resurfaces in 1988-1989 when newcomer Blake Lindsey is revealed to be Christina Thorpe, the daughter of Holly Norris Bauer Thorpe and the late Roger Thorpe. Before long, Holly is back in town and causing heartache for her ex-husband Dr. Ed Bauer and his wife Maureen.

18. Reva's heroic brother Rusty finds love with ex-junkie Rose MacLaren. But their happiness is cut short when Josh's best friend Dr. Will Jeffries murders Rose.

19. Alexandra Spaulding and Fletcher Reade are in a plane crash and end up on an island. A mysterious man named Adam Malik cares for Alex. Turns out that Adam is actually bad boy Roger Thorpe. Before long, all of Springfield learn that Roger is quite alive and ready to stir up trouble anew.

20. While on vacation in the Florida Keys with her family, Reva, suffering from post-partum depression and quite delusional, drives off a bridge to her watery death. But, is Reva really dead?

21. Widower Josh Lewis and his children's nanny Harley Cooper fall in a love and begin a steamy affair. Alas, Josh soon leaves Springfield to search for Reva.

22. Much to Springfield's shock, Alex marries Roger Thorpe. Before long, Roger is embroiled in a torrid affair with the much younger Mindy Lewis.

23. Lillian Raines discovers a lump in her breast. She turns to her friend and colleague Dr. Ed Bauer and the two have a one-night-stand. Ed's wife Maureen learns of their affair and major confrontations ensue. And heartache: Maureen dies after a horrific car accident.

24. Over a number of episodes, Springfield learns of Maureen's death. The repercussions are innumerable and long-lasting. Everyone is touched by her death: her husband, her friends, her niece Bridget. Even villain Roger Thorpe is devastated since Maureen accepted him, blemishes and all.

25. In a desperate attempt to hold onto her husband Billy, Nadine hatches onto a plan to fake a pregnancy. She convinces young, pregnant Bridget Reardon to allow her to raise her child, the offspring of Roger's illegitimate son Hart. Bridget is quite a delight and very reminiscent of her Aunt Nola.

26. Alexandra Spaulding publicly humiliates her philandering husband Roger at the country club, revealing her husband's tawdry secrets.

27. Bridget Reardon's hair dryer causes a major blackout in Springfield, stranding characters together. During the blackout, Blake seduces her mother Holly's boyfriend Ross.

28. In the summer of 1993, history is revisited when Ed Bauer falls off a deck at a house on a cliff. His arch-nemesis Roger grabs onto Ed's hand and saves his life. Thirteen years earlier, Roger had tumbled off a cliff. Ed had grasped onto Roger's hand in an attempt to save his life, only for Roger to fall to his presumed death.

29. Alexandra Spaulding returns to Springfield in the fall of 1993 after departing the summer before. She makes amends with her son Nick, who is engaged to her ex-husband Roger's ex-mistress Mindy. Before long, Roger and Alexandra are sparring anew and Roger is shot, kicking of a fascinating whodunit.

30. Vanessa Chamberlain Lewis flees Springfield for a bit to rediscover herself. She meets and begins an affair with a mystery man, who turns out to be her deceased best friend Maureen's nephew Matt. They continue their affair when Matt comes to Springfield.

31. A fire breaks out on Springfield's Fifth Street, putting lives at risk. All of Springfield learns of Matt and Vanessa's affair during the fire. Buzz Cooper asks for help as the fire rages.

32. Lucy Cooper is raped by Spaulding Enterprises employee Brent Lawrence. After Brent is presumed dead, he resurfaces in drag as Marion Crane and befriends his rape victim. He even goes as far as to change the results of Lucy's HIV so that the heroine thinks she's HIV positive. The plot is over-the-top but incredibly delicious and pays homage to the classic film Psycho. (Brent's profile starts at 1:40 mark in the video.)

33. In the town of Goshen, wealthy Alan Spaulding comes across none other than the presumed dead Reva Shayne Lewis. Reva is suffering from amnesia and going by the name of Rebecca. She's living with the Blumes, an Amish family. Her best friend is the Blume's deaf daughter, Abigail.

34. Nurse Annie Dutton and Josh Lewis fall in love, unaware that Josh's wife Reva is very much alive. Annie is forced to break her ex-husband Rick Bauer's heart when she admits she loves Josh, not Rick.

35. Daffy Nadine Cooper develops psychic powers and is soon dreaming of a blonde woman in danger. Viewers are led to believe that she's thinking of the recently returned Reva. But Nadine's visions are about herself. She soon discover Marion's true identity and is murdered. Her body surfaces a few months later.

36. Just as Annie and Josh marry, they discover that Reva is very much alive. Josh decides he will remain committed to his new wife as Josh and Reva's young children Marah and Shayne deal with the news that their mother is alive.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Guiding Light's Most Memorable Actresses, Part 5: Lisa Brown

Today's episode of Guiding Light marked the return of one of the show's most beloved actresses and characters: Lisa Brown as Nola Reardon.

Brown joined the serial in early 1980 as the young daughter of boardinghouse owner Bea Reardon. For Brown's first year-and-a-half on the show, Nola was quite a devious schemer. She fell for handsome Dr. Kelly Nelson, though Kelly only had eyes for sweet, innocent Morgan Richards. Well, that didn't stop Nola. She schemed to seduce Kelly but her efforts failed. So she went and seduced Floyd Parker and got pregnant. She then tried to pass her unborn child off as Kelly's. Eventually Nola's lies were exposed. In time, she began to undergo a stunning metamorphosis. She went to work for the mysterious Quint McCord and slowly began shedding her scheming ways as she became a caring mother to her newborn daughter Kelly Louise (later renamed Anastasia) and as she fell in love with her new boss.

The Nola/Quint pairing was wildly popular with fans and the couple tied the knot in June 1983. Before long, Nola was preggers with Quint's child, a son they named Anthony James in honor of two of Nola's brothers. Unfortunately, after the couple married, Guiding Light de-emphasized the pair and instead focused on new characters and stories. Then, in spring 1985, Nola and Quint were written out of the show.

Nola would return to Springfield in 1995, albeit she and Quint had separated. She was soon joined by her son, now calling himself J. In 1996, it appeared that the show was paving the way for a romance between Nola and her late sister Maureen's husband Ed, but the plot was dropped when Peter Simon, who played Ed, departed the show. Quint soon returned but the show's writers failed to craft a compelling storyline for the couple. Quint was written out in early 1997. Nola, meanwhile, was thrust into an unpopular storyline where she fell in love with restaurant owner Buzz Cooper and schemed to steal him away from his paramour Jenna. The story ended abruptly and Nola simply faded from sight, an unfortunate end to an amazing character.

Lisa Brown's performances as the complex villainess/heroine were fascinating to watch as she was adept at both drama and comedy. Nola was a huge fan of classic movies and would often retreat into fantasies where she was the the lead in her own versions of films like Casablanca, The Wizard of Oz, Jane Eyre, and Rebecca, among many others. The fantasies were a delight to watch and provided interesting glimpses into Nola's complicated psyche.

So, let's take a peek at Nola, her machinations, fantasies, and fights. First, we get a glimpse of Nola as she fills the police in on some critical information about the nefarious Roger Thorpe (Nola appears at the 1:48 mark). Next, Kelly, played by John Wesley Shipp, confronts Nola with the truth behind her machinations. But the drama isn't over as it continues here. Then Nola finally cracks. Next, Nola and Morgan meet at the Bauer's home and discuss the past (and includes John Wesley Shipp in a Speedo). Nola fantasizes that she's in her own version of the classic Jane Eyre. Next, Nola and her soon-to-be sister-in-law Vanessa trade blows after they both show up for Nola's engagement party wearing the same exact dress. The memories start at the 4:05 mark, and the fur begins to fly at the 6:15 mark. Guiding Light paid homage to that classic scene on today's episode as Nola returned for Vanessa's wedding.

Lisa Brown and her portrayal of Nola are major parts of Guiding Light's rich history. It is truly a treat for fans and a fitting nod to the character and actress that both are back for Guiding Light's final episodes.

Finally, for Lisa Brown fans, here is a brand-new interview with the actress that appeared today on TV Guide's website.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Guiding Light's Most Memorable Actresses, Part 4: Beverlee McKinsey

Number 3 on my list of Guiding Light's most memorable actresses is Beverlee McKinsey, who played the pivotal role of Baroness Alexandra Spaulding Von Halkein from 1984 to 1992. Alexandra, the sister of the wealthy and villainous Alan Spaulding, was a most complicated creature: she was regal, dignified, devious, sexual, passionate. She loved her brother Alan but plotted against him at every move. She detested her step-daughter India and was eventually reunited with her son Lujack, who had disappeared years before with his father. She dated lawyer Mike Bauer, rekindled her old affair with dying rocker Locke Walls, dated oil magnate HB Lewis, was stranded on a desert island with journalist Fletcher Reade, married the devious Roger Thorpe, and was reunited with another long-lost son, Nick. Alexandra was a formidable force in Springfield and in McKinsey's more-than-capable hands, she was a delight to watch.

McKinsey had earlier wowed viewers as the bitchy Iris Cory Carrington on Another World and its spin-off Texas, even garnering star billing on Texas. Before that, she briefly played the poor Emma Frame Ordway on Another World and Julie Richards on Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Thus, her casting on Guiding Light was quite a coup.

As I mentioned, McKinsey's Alexandra was quite complicated. In this awesome fun scene, though focused on Kim Zimmer's Reva Shayne singing "Proud Mary," we see some interactions between Alexandra and her step-daughter India and see Alexandra partying. Next, Alexandra confronts devious Blake who, over a few years, seduced Alex's brother Alan and nephews Phillip and Alan-Michael. Next, Alexandra and India spar. In this brief scene, Alex informs Billy Lewis about a shocking secret involving her bad buy hubby Roger. Finally, some scenes from McKinsey's stunning performance as she reveals Roger's affair with Billy's daughter Mindy. First, Alex dumps Roger in front of the country club crowd. Delicious! Next, Alex reveals more about Roger. But the fireworks aren't over quite yet!

McKinsey's performances over her 8 1/2 years on Guiding Light were brilliant and mesmerizing. She departed the series in August 1992 as only she could: she left for vacation and quit, using an out in her contract. Alexandra was later recast with Marj Dusay (1993-1997, 1998-1999, and 2002-2009) and Joan Collins (2002). McKinsey would appear briefly on General Hospital as former showgirl Myrna Slaughter but her days on daytime were over. Sadly, McKinsey passed away in May 2008. Here is a tribute to her, accompanied by Guiding Light's 1983-1991 theme song. And here is another tribute to the legendary actress, featuring vintage stills and clips from Texas.

Thanks for the memories, Bev. You will not be forgotten.