To mark the end of Guiding Light, I’ve been putting the spotlight on specific characters and performers as an appreciation of their work.
These folks are some of the most popular, successful characters on the show.
I thought it would be a change of pace (and a lot of fun) to remember some of the GL characters that were unusual, unique….or just plain ODD.
Here’s a few that come to mind…..
Susan Piper / Carrie Carruthers (Carrie Nye): Nye, who died in 2006, has the distinction of playing not one but TWO of GL’s most unusual characters. Her first role was as demonic real estate agent Susan Piper. Like the Sonni/Solita story, the intimate twist-and-turn details are a little fuzzy for me, but Mrs. Piper was a campy character who had something to do with Tony and Annabelle, and a doll that Annabelle had that eventually, somehow, led to the revelation that Alexandra and Alan’s father, Brandon, was still alive and in Barbados. Mrs. Piper met an unusual end when she fell into a pit of quicksand and died.
Nye came back to GL in the central role of an enormously unpopular storyline – the Maryanne Carruthers story. I hated that story immensely – when a show has decades of history to draw from, it’s beyond the height of folly to revise history, as this story did. But I have to admit, I loved Carrie Carruthers’ initial scenes. She had a quirkiness and was staunchly old fashioned. She dismissed the impoliteness of cell phones and insulted Michelle for her suburban, boring taste (oh snap!) and it all reminded me a bit of All My Children‘s Phoebe. Soaps need more of those kind of quirky characters.
Jonathan Brooks: Before Jonathan Randall, there was Jonathan Brooks, a teenaged computer wizard who preceded both Harry Potter and General Hospital’s Spinelli. Jonathan was part of the Quinton and Nola story. Jon stayed with them for a while, and they tried to help Jonathan find his biological parents.
Marion Crane (Frank Beaty): Marion is certainly one of the most unusual characters to ever grace Springfield. She was the alter ego of rapist and serial killer Brent Lawrence, and she lurked around Springfield for several months before being caught – but not before killing beloved characters like Nadine Cooper and Patrick Cutter.
The character, and the storyline, was the big featured storyline during the year or so that Megan McTavish was head writer. Rumor has it that Marion’s appearance and persona was based on the previous GL producer, the controversial Jill Farren Phelps.
Sandy Foster (Scott Bailey): Y’all remember this mess, don’t you? This also came from the pen of Ellen Weston, who wrote the Maryanne Carruthers mess as well. Sandy was….a bad socialized guy who talked to a sock puppet? No, wait, he’s Reva’s son Jonathan! No, wait, he lied about that. So he’s creepy AND he tried to bang Marah when she thought he was her brother. Wow, classy.
I actually liked Scott Bailey – he’s an amazingly handsome guy. But he never seemed to click as Sandy, and the show never seemed to know what to do with him. Bailey had such chemistry in his scenes with Robert Newman (Josh) that I wish they’d brought him on as Josh’s newly-found son (perhaps Sonni was his mother) and explored that dynamic with Reva.
May Merisi (Elizabeth Hobgood): A character that was briefly on during the Claire Labine era. Forgive me for being fuzzy on the facts, because I hated this character and always FF’d every time she was on screen. She was initially a spoiler in the Manny romance. She was, supposedly, a ditzy naive “broad” a la Born Yesterday.
After bouncing from Danny to Frank to Rick, it was revealed that her name was actually Mary Murto, and she was an FBI agent trying to take Danny down.
May’s naievete backfired with fans, and it looks like the Labines revised the story and made the change to “Mary,” which made even LESS sense. (So….an FBI agent would sleep with someone she was trying to bring down? What do you think this is, General Hospital?)
Wanda Hyatt (Carey Cromelin) : GL has had a host of interesting, quirky supporting characters (from Louie Darnell, to Ginger the maid), but perhaps the most memorable is Wanda, the dependable Lewis Oil secretary.
Wanda had a big job – herding the Lewis men and their muse Reva Shayne through a day at the office – and she did it with energy, flair and very, VERY big hair.
Cain Harris (Jerry Lanning): Another example of a character who was quite different from what was originally conceived. Cain was originally supposed to be “Beast” to Reva Shayne’s beauty. He was the one who saved her when she attempted suicide.
As one of my readers (Ant) recently reminded me, this was a time where Reva was actually back burner for a while. She was in transition, as was the show; Larkin Malloy was leaving his role as Kyle, while Robert Newman was returning as Josh.
Cain ended up being bad guy Harry Kane, who had a thing for throwing women into rivers – first Claire, then Reva. Kyle shot and killed him before leaving town.
Who do you remember as an unusual, quirky Springfield resident?
3 thoughts on “Springfield’s outstanding citizens”
Hi Patrick! I’ve only been watching GL on and off since 2005, so I can’t think of any characters to add to your list. But I did want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You have some of the most insightful posts in the soap blogosphere – plase keep them coming!
Patrick, I’m not sure if these characters were odd or strange, but they stand out to me as being unique. I remember…
Katie Parker- Hillary’s best friend who struggled with weight (Katie was always on a diet) and crushes on many doctors and Tony Reardon.
Gracie- Nola’s best friend who was always good for some comic relief!
Dr. Louie Darnell- Short with a huge mustache, he was always fawning over tall nurse Katie Parker. He even befriended Maeve Stoddard and helped her hide the fact that she had given birth to Kyle’s son Ben instead of miscarrying.
Nadine Cooper- At first selfish and somewhat cruel to Harley and Frank, Nadine developed into one of GL’s most memorable quirky characters. Characters never arrive these days with such backstory and a must meet her/him anticipation from the audience.
Hi Kenneth – I knew and sort of remembered the first 3 characters you mentioned, but didn’t remember them clearly enough to confidently discuss them. Thanks for reminding us who they were! Of course, Nadine was a big part of GL.
In the late 1980s/early 1990s there was a really goofy character named Rae Rooney. She was Chelsea Reardon’s friend.
I can’t remember if she was stalking Frank, but I think she was stalking Chelsea (who had a singing career and sang a duet with Johnny Bauer about being homeless over and over and over again)…
Frank had a weird girlfriend at the time, named Dana Jones. Everyone thought Dana was the stalker. It was later revealed that Rae (who was a stand up comedienne and may’ve used a puppet) was the true stalker.
In the end Dana died, and Rae blamed Chelsea for the death of her brother Bobby Rooney.
Totally weird story and two weird characters (Dana and Rae)