Playing favorites

I loved meeting everyone at Guiding Light. Everyone was so kind and so generous with their time, it’s really hard to pick one favorite. I mean, it’s Kim Zimmer! Grant Aleksander! Ron Raines! Ellen Wheeler!

But the conversation that I truly enjoyed the most, personally, was the one I had with Marj Dusay. She was just a joy to be around.

She had a grand entrance at our luncheon and was simply enchanting the entire time I talked to her. She was open and engaging and I felt as if I was talking to a dear friend. 

I have only written to a handful of performers in my life, and I confess, Dusay is one of them. I will always love Beverlee McKinsey and her take on Alexandra, but I wrote Dusay after an amazing article appeared in Soap Opera Weekly some years back shortly after her arrival in NYC.

She won me over with her different, but fantastic take on Alexandra, and she spoke very movingly in the article about her son, who had passed away a few years earlier. 

Marj has done so many fantastic things in her career. In daytime, she’s been the queen of soap recasts. Nearly every role she’s played on daytime (save Vanessa on All My Children) has been assumed from another actor, and she’s made an indelible impression each time, from Myrna Clegg on Capitol to Pamela Capwell on Santa Barbara and, of course, Alexandra on GL.

She mentioned her training in improv, and her participation in an improv troupe (The Session) that included Rob Reiner and Richard Dreyfuss. I asked her if her training in improv had helped her take over those roles, and she agreed that it had, especially since in many cases, “the shows weren’t always sure what they wanted. So in an audition, I’d show them a range.”  We talked about the memorable Capwell dinner party scene from SB, written by Patrick Mulcahey and still discussed years later.

Marj has done great work at GL, but the scripts haven’t always supported her. For a time, the writers seemed to be at a loss as to what to write for her. There was the hideous Alex-stalks-Reva story, and making Alex a drug dealer wasn’t much better. More recently, I was encouraged that Alex was interacting with Cyrus, as it brought back some humor and some heart in her (and reminded me of her relationship with Simon years before). Unfortunately, Alex – and Marj – have been sidelined since that story ended. 

I hope Marj and Alexandra return to a role of prominence in Springfield, particularly with Phillip’s return. It would be fantastic to see Alexandra get a little jealous about the romance between ex Buzz and best friend Lillian. Alexandra Spaulding is a woman who could buy and sell people all before her nail polish was even dry; the show would be wise to tap into those assets of Alex, as well as Dusay’s formidable talent. 

Here’s a toast to a wonderful trip, my wonderful lunch with the Spauldings, and my hope that we see more of these people (particularly those pictured!) on our screens in the new year!

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3 thoughts on “Playing favorites

  1. I’ve always had a soft spot for Marj because of that initial interview where she talked about her son so lovingly. However, she is also an amazing actress, and I wish GL would realize the force she can be on that show.

    Michael, I agree – it was an amazing interview. Amazing enough I still remember it 15 years later!

  2. Isn’t Marj a real hoot! I love her and hope we get to see more of Alexandra. Ron is the best! I think the two of them make the best brother and sister duo on TV!

  3. Marj is a true force of nature. I cannot think of another actress in daytime who could have played Alexandra Spaulding after Beverlee McKinsey left the part — and yes, folks, I do remember CBS’ stunt casting of Joan Collins (which was interesting on many levels, but that’s another story for another time).

    Marj is also a Kansas girl, having served as the film commissioner for that state for a while, too. Definitely a talented woman in many areas! I can only hope that the powers that be at GL bring her back to full prominence now that Grant Aleksander is back. To do otherwise would be a continued waste of a formidable talent.

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