DRW50

Love Is a Many Splendored Thing

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I didn't see a thread for this on its own.

This was the soap which was said to have changed daytime drama forever, with the emphasis on "youth." Of course it started out as something which would, sadly, not change daytime, a tale of a mixed-race woman and her interracial relationships. Then moving towards making daytime superstars out of David Birney, Leslie Charleson, and Donna Mills, this show also helped launch the careers of Paul Michael Glaser, Michael Zaslow, Beverlee McKinsey, Andrea Marcovicci, and Bibi Besch, among others.

It's too bad the show didn't go on longer. At least, unlike some other soaps of that era, we have some episodes available.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZQ1uxKl6NY

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From the June 1972 Afternoon TV (Roband Publications Inc).

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Edited by CarlD2

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Next winter I hope to get to Aspen and Vale; it's supposed to be beautiful.

Son Michael, who is gaining a reputation as a fine actor, has a special lady friend: Brenda Vacarro, the gifted actress. "No, she's not a skier. But she's a sweetie. She's not too athletic and, I think, sometimes we're a bit overpowering because we are such an athletic family. One time Michael and Brenda came up to Westport for a visit, and she walked in with two black eyes and a scratch on her nose. I said, 'My God, what happened?' 'Well,' she said, 'Michael decided that I oughta be more athletic and we should go bike riding.' So she fell off the bike in Central Park and blackened her eyes. Then the next day she announced, 'I'm going to learn how to play tennis. Michael thinks it's a good idea.' She came out to the court in this black cloak and was running around like Batman - bless her heart." A warm laugh. "She's a marvelous gal."

Diana was looking forward to parking in her Lily Donnelly wig on its head stand for two weeks. ("When I come out from under that thing I look like Harp Marx. I wear my hair pretty short and it's straight up and all over the place.")

"Bill and I are going to Vienna for four days - black swans and sleigh rides and the opera and 'Tales of the Vienna Woods' and all that. Then we're off to a hotel in the Tyrol to meet my sister and brother-in-law, who's a British Army officer stationed in Germany. It'll be good skiing weather. And we can ski off all the weight we've gained from eating those Viennese pastries."

"Skiing, it's the greatest," says Diana Douglas with ladylike gusto. "Everybody oughta try it."

- DAVID JOHNSON

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I was reading that David Birney left the show because of a salary cut. I always thought he left for fame and fortune. I wonder how much the producers were kicking themselves.

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The company's vice president introduced me to the eight hundred ladies there and said you've seen her in such-and-such a movie and on Broadway and now you can see her on Love is a Many Splendored Thing. Well, up until then there'd been a small reaction. But when he mentioned the soap, some of the ladies threw their plates into the air. I have never heard such an enthusiastic response. I could do no wrong. I felt I didn't even have to sing." A glowing smile. "But I did. Afterwards, the ladies - practically all eight hundred of them - came backstage to talk to me and ask me what Marian Hiller was going to do next. I was overwhelmed."

In complete contrast to the cold and calculating Marian, the singing actress is currently moonlighting as Maria, in The Sound of Music, at Guy Lombardo's huge outdoor theater at Jones Beach, Long Island. "We broke all existing records last summer," she said. "That's the kind of business we did. Which says something about what the public wants. I think they're sick and tired of four-letter words and nudity. But I think we had to go to that 'life in the raw' extreme to get us back to a happier medium with Sound of Music and No, No, Nanette and Follies - and to an area, where we can experiment freely - when the material calls for it."

This summer Connie's nine-year-old daughter, Maureen MacGrath, is playing one of the Von Trapp children in the Lombardo production. Her ten-year-old son, Michael, is enjoying the outdoor life, continental style, at a Mediterranean villa, as the guest of the family's Manhattan neighbors. (The children's godfather is the renowned director John Ford, for whom Connie worked in The Horse Soldiers and Sergeant Rutledge.)

An outdoor type herself, the actress was born in Whitefish, Montana, and looks back fondly on her early days of riding, fishing, swimming and ice-skating. "Life there was very much outdoors and sports-minded and really a wonderful introduction to living."

Connie's father was a successful executive with a drug company. So that meant the family had to pack up and move around the North West a great deal. "It was hard being uprooted so much," she admitted. "And yet it was good because we had to learn to adjust to new situations. Which is what has happened to my children. They started to grow up in California and were used to living in a big house. (She is now divorced from their father, Eugene MacGrath.) I brought them East because this is where the work is. At first we lived in a hotel until I found our present apartment. And I learned something from my children. Everything's an adventure to them. They came into that empty apartment, looked around - and were excited by it. It was great for me. Because it was a reminder that things aren't always as bad as they might seem."

And, indeed, things have been very good for Connie. She has managed to make a full and wonderful home for her children out of that once-empty apartment. And she has found work for herself that is a complete revelation and constant course of wonder and fulfillment to her.

Raving about her TV producer, Connie said: "John Conboy is a delight. He is a very special man. He's dedicated to Splendored Thing. He worries about everything and makes sure all the women are beautifully made up and dressed. And the sets - aren't they outstanding? They actually were nominated for an Emmy this year."

But that's not enough, says our crusading heroine. She was particularly angry with a writer for a weekly television magazine, who annually gives his own version of the Emmys. "When he got down to the soap-opera category," says Connie, "he wrote, 'Are You Kidding?' Now, that's making a statement with total disregard for the time, effort and talent that goes into these shows. And most important, it's a put-down of our tremendous audience." But the thing that really gets Connie argumentative about this attitude is that it stops some people, who might love the soaps, from watching them.

As Connie herself admits, that was one of the reasons she was not a great soap watcher before she began acting in them. "I used to watch once in a while, when I was at my mother's, and she'd have them on. She loves them. Particularly Splendored Thing. Because last year I was up for the part of Julie Richards (played by Beverlee McKinsey). So she was interested to see who would actually play it.

"Then they called me up this year about the role of Marian Hiller. And that's how I happen to be on it. I didn't know my sister was such an avid fan, too. When I told her I was going to be on the show, I asked her if she knew anything about it. 'Oh, yes!' And she went right down the line and told me everything that Sandord Hiller (played by Stephen Joyce) had been doing with Betsy (Andrea Marcovicci) and the whole thing. She's still an enthusiastic watcher, and I always ask her advice. I asked her if she felt my Marian was too cold. She said, 'Oh, no! You could be colder. You could be harder and it would be very good for the story."

And Constance Towers, who takes her soap role as seriously as any other acting job she's ever had, takes her sister's advice.

She's a real asset, a joy, a crusader to the daytime field. And we can't help but agree - talent and dedication like hers should not go unrewarded within the media itself. And it's just possible that we at AFTERNOON TV may be getting ready to do something about that in the very near future.

Edited by CarlD2

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John Conboy "the Ross Hunter of Daytime Television"- so true!

Going back to David Birney, I always assumed he was offered better money by ABC to move to A World Apart, perhaps with the added promise of primetime roles. That is the only reason I could see him moving to a lower rated show. It seems odd that he would be asked to take a pay cut.

Maybe someone else knows the true circumstances.

Keep the classic stuff coming Carl!

Edited by Paul Raven

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Thanks for the kind words. I don't have it right now but have some behind the scenes thing for the show somewhere.

That was a classic quote by Constance about Ross Hunter, true.

How long was she on this show?

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For the various reasons that I don't have to reiterate for you all :lol: how interesting that she was up for the part of Julie that Beverlee booked!

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I know! I wonder if they ever interacted on the show?

After Capitol ended I would have loved seeing them bring in Constance as some sort of rival for Alex, perhaps she could have been related to Jennifer and this could have brought Jennifer and Amanda Spaulding back to town.

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I haven't followed CT's career like CT_Helena_Fan, but of the roles I've seen her in, she's quite versatile and equally comfortable and convincing as the white hat, the dark hat, and I guess the gray hat (?) in between. Even though her Audrey on Y&R was annoying, she totally sold it. I remember a lot of message board comments comparing her Helena energy to Beverlee's Alex and Susan Flannery's Stephanie. Of course neither of those ladies are as cutthroat (literally!) as Helena, but the whole ice queen thing I totally get. I'm really going into a soap relations pretzel here lol but I wonder how she would have done in Beverlee and Marj's role as Alex where she would have been able to play the naughty and nice.

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And imagine if she and Beverlee had been reunited as Myrna and Clarissa like that SOD article re: Beverlee in the CAP thread.

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Marj Dusay, Miss Recast herself, once spoke of the many connections in the soap biz saying that it was like they'd all pricked fingers and became blood siblings once upon a time. There are these soap archetypes that can be filled by so many members of the big soap rep company.

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