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Paul Raven

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Ann Marcus wrote that while out in Hollywood Mary Stuart was there for some junket and accosted her verbally about not writing storylines for Joanne, but for her 'stepdaughter' - I'm assuming Marcus meant daughter. It made Mary sound less than gracious about sharing the storyline wealth. In Mary's defense she never got to counter the Marcus version of events. Mary had often decried the loss of the baby boy Joanne gave birth to - Duncan Eric - who could have been a character in the show for years to come. I always wondered if Bruce Carson was supposed to fill that void, but the show never went there.

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Just two thoughts about the early 70s SFT. When I was a guest of Ann Williams, on April 30, 1974, I could tell how close Peter Simon and Courtney Sherman (later Courtney Sherman Simon) were off camera. They were both married to other people at the time, but I could tell that they were an 'off-screen' couple as well as an on-screen couple.

Next Sunday, I will have the pleasure of listening to the pianist Jess Beller while he accompanies the 1927 silent movie comedy classic 'The Kid Brother,' starring Harold Lloyd. Jess' daughter, Kathy, payed Liza on SFT from 1971 - 74. The event will be at a nearby library. I don't get out very much due to my medical problems, but i do hope to see him. It will be the first time since his wife (Kathy's mother) died, so, I want to offer my condolences.

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I remember one of the soap magazines called Sherman's estranged husband for comment and he wasn't too friendly...

What was Ann Williams like? Did you get to read the book her kids wrote? They have their own Youtube channel with some videos of her. Have you seen it?

I'm sorry to hear about Kathy's mother.

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Yes, I HAVE read Ann Williams' children's book. As a matter of fact, an old family friend of ours (who is 95 years old and is more active than you and me put together) was a friend of Ann's housekeper and knew Ann's family quite well. When I went to Ann's wake (Dec. 1985), I was surprised to see Margaret there, and she filled me in then. Small world.

I read the Welch children's book on the train, from cover to cover, en route to the final GL Fan Club gathering in Oct. 2009.

To my great surprise, my friend actress Dagne Crane is mentioned in the book. Apparently, when Ann was very sick, Dagne took the youngest daughter out for a day trip.

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Has Matt Ashford ever talked about his time on SFT during the last 20 years? He acts as if this show never existed. (Unfortunately, he is not alone: most soap stars who become famous for just one soap role usually pretend that they've only spent time on that soap.)

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From his interview with WeLoveSoaps earlier this year. I do think they do a wonderful job covering the entire body of the subject's work, and I don't think I praise them enough.

We Love Soaps: What can you tell me about your time on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW?

Matthew Ashford: That’s when I figured a lot of things out. Cagney was the youngest [McCleary] brother to Jeffrey Meek (Quinn) and David Forsyth (Hogan). My character was the youngest and married a girl named Suzi played by Terri Eoff. We were the only ones married on the show, and thought, “Wait a minute, we’re the ones who are supposed to be having the troubles.” Yet we were stuck being sweet and loving and kind and good.

I knew then we were dead. We were stuck. We were married, that was it. I had to start digging deeper. My character went from being a construction worker to being a cop. And that’s when I started digging deeper. I thought, “Okay, you want me to good, you want to be right? I’m going to be so right that you won’t be able to stand me.”

I began to do character work. A lot of things I didn’t figure out in school started to come to me. My imagination started loosening up. I created this righteous, right-leaning, conservative cop who believed women should be doing this, and men should be doing this, and good is over here, and evil is over there. I suddenly found a way to do the story as written, but to find myself in conflict with all the characters I was opposite, which was really, really fun. I finally was coming into my own. And working with Jeffrey and David was wonderful. And Peter Haskell, who played Lloyd, always had a joy of acting. He had been acting for so many years! That’s when I started to figure it out. When SEARCH FOR TOMORROW went off the air, we were on an upswing, we are on our way to creating a whole new exciting show. But NBC was checking out.

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who is in commercial art, is dark and handsome, with deep brown eyes, and wavy brown hair. Together, they make an attractive couple. Together, they have two TV receivers, six radios, two toasters, two vacuum cleaners, two rotisseries, two phonographs - and even two identical 400-day, glass-enclosed clocks.

"Until we married," Melba points out, "we both had our own apartments, independent households. As we later discovered, we had been living just a block apart in the Village, though we didn't meet for years - but that's not unusual in New York."

"I had a letter from a friend of mine, Ed Ross," Gil remembers. "He's a correspondent for Time in their Los Angeles bureau. Ed told me all about Melba. That she lived near by. That she was beautiful. That she was an actress. and intelligent. He suggested that I give her a ring. Then he added, in a footnote, that he didn't know Melba! Actually, she was a friend of a friend."

Gil phoned Melba and asked for a date, but she turned him down. That was in spring of 1954, and Melba wa sbusy. She's always had many friends and little time. Then, as now, her work on Search for Tomorrow required her to rise at 6:30 A.M. for an eight o'clock rehearsal - and that means early to bed. Also, she doesn't like blind dates. So it was easy for her to turn Gil down. On the other hand, Gil - a major in the Air Force Reserve - has flown and fought in two wars, so he was prepared to lay a lengthy siege. HE kept calling back at two-or-three-week intervals.

"We got to know each other fairly well over the phone," Melba explains. "And it developed that we'd both been in Europe and the Orient and we were both particularly fascinated by Japanese customs and art. So one evening - it was late August by then - he phoned early and I told him I was busy, but why didn't he drop over for a half-hour before I went out?" He did - and I was still no more impressed than I had been by his phone calls. It's so odd, because I fell head over heels in love on our actual first date"

That came within a week, when Gil phoned again and asked her to a dinner party at his apartment. Melba said that she had a tentative date but would phone back. "He asked me to bring along a Japanese game he'd seen in my apartment," she recalls. "I misunderstood and thought he said that he was giving a Japanese dinner party and that intrigued me, so I accepted his invitation."

There were several couples there and, as it turned out, only one extra man - Gil himself. There was no Japanese food, only American steak and salad. After dinner, there was no talk of the Orient. Instead, Gil pulled out a projector and showed pictures of damage to his cottage at East Hampton.

"It was shortly after the hurricane 'Carol," Melba relates. "And I learned from the conversation that Gil was very much interested in boats and fishing and just living on the shore. This, too, left me cold, for I'd never cared much for the sea. But Gil did all the cooking and serving that night and pulled a real switch in refusing to let his female guests 'help' with the dishes. That was a sign of real character."

It turned out to be a long evening. After the party, Gil and Melba, alone, took a long walk and talked. They stopped at one of the caffe espresso places in the Village and sipped coffee and talked. They walked back to Melba's apartment building and sat at the foot of the stairwell and talked some more.

Gil learned that Melba had several Broadway plays and many TV productions to her credit. That she was a graduate of Stanford University, where she made Phi Beta Kappa. That she was born and raised in Willard, Utah, at the mouth of Red Rock Canyon. That her forbears were Mormon pioneers who had trekked over the mountains in covered wagons. That - like Melba toast and peach Melba - she was named after the famous opera singer, Nellie Melba. Melba, in turn, learned that Gil was a New Yorker. That he had studied art and designing at the Art Students' League and New York University. That he had earned many medals (including the Purple Heart, Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal) and that he had been shot down over Belgium and lived in the underground for six months. They talked of his interest in fishing and boating, cooking and photography. Melba learned that he was unattached to any other woman. Melba says, "I'd met men who were intelligent - and, certainly, lots of personality boys," says Melba. "But Gil, in addition to the other things, struck me as a person with heart."

It was on a Thursday that they got together. Gil tried to make a date for the next evening, but Melba wsas busy. On Saturday, she had a yachting date for the weekend, and Gil took her to to the train station. He wanted to ride along with her out to Long Island, where she was to meet friends, but she wouldn't let him.

"That was 'The Long Weekend,'" says Gil. "Melba told me she would be home as early as possible Sunday, so I began phoning early Sunday morning. Her answering service kept reporting that she was still out of town. I called every half-hour, and it was sometime in late afternoon they told me that she was back. Well, I didn't even call Melba. I was with some friends, but I just said, 'Goodbye,' and began running! I ran all the way to her building and up four flights of stairs to her apartment."

"He came in wet and breathless," Melba recalls. "It was love, and so quick. It had been the same for me. I had spent most of the weekend explaining to my hosts that I had to be back in Manhattan early, and I got them to drop me near a railroad stop so I could get home."

From that Sunday on, Melba and Gil were going as steady as Niagara Falls. Gil says, "It meant a different kind of life for me. Most of my dates were the kind who steered me into El Morocco or Sardi's or other popular Manhattan places. But Melba prefers picnics. She likes to fix up a basket and get into the car and drive into the country. Melba's got a built-in 'diving rod' for locating picnic spots. We can be driving along a busy highway and she'll say, 'Let's turn off here.' We do, and it may look like nothing, but we keep going a few more minutes and - sure enough - there's a glade and brook."

Melba likes picnics the year around. From March through November, she keeps going, making a fire to keep warm when necessary. If the weather is biting cold, she'll settle for eating in the car.

Evenings in the city were usually spent at the theater. "That's about the time my office began to catch on," Gil says. "I'd order theater tickets, and they'd always ask whether it was a personal or business expense. It was almost always personal, and they began to get that knowing look. Of course, we were always late for the theater. We'd get started at dinner early enough, but get to talking and forget the time."

The picnics and theater were a matter of catering to Melba's interests. Melba returned the favor by sharpening pencils for Gil when he worked evenings. And she posed for a portrait, on which Gil did over the lips fourteen times. "I just couldn't catch her mouth," he says.

"Maybe that's because we were talking so much," Melba notes. "We talked continuously for two years. The day we married, I lost my voice."

The decision to marry was brought on by circumstances similar to the day they had realized they were in love. In late August of last year, Melba accepted a weekend invitation to a friend's home in Connecticut. 'We had thought and talked about marriage," Gil recalls, "but never got to the point of actually making the crucial commitment. But, when Melba went out of town, I began to feel desperate. And when Sunday morning came I began to phone frequently to find out if she had returned." It was raining and he was in his apartment a block away. When Melba returned, he came running over and up the steps, arriving winded and soaked again. "I said something like, 'That's enough of this. Let's get right out of here and get married this minute.'" Melba shared his sentiments, but they allowed a few days for preparation.

"We decided to elope," Melba says, "and by that, I mean elope from the big ceremony and customs. I've never held with the expense and big show of weddings. It is our philosophy that marriage should be for just two people. Gil himself said, when we talked about the wedding, 'I feel that I could just hold your hand and say, "I marry you," and that would be it.' Well, we didn't get that off-beat. I sat down and wrote Mother in California, and Gil wrote his mother in Rome. And, the following weekend, we rode off quietly, telling none of our friends, and got married."

Melba came out of her building that Saturday morning wearing a beige chiffon wool dress and carrying a bouquet of flowers. Gil wore a brown suit. They drove out of Manhattan and into Long Island, stopping long enough in one of the suburbs to say, "I do." They went on to East Hampton to spend a two-day honeymoon at Gil's cottage.

Halfway to the cottage, Melba suddenly stopped talking. She had lost her voice. Gil was running between the cottage and drug store most of that evening, hoping to find a medicine that would help Melba's throat. Nothing helped until the following afternoon, when Gil proposed a picnic - and her voice, miraculously, came back. "Talk about looking glamorous on your honeymoon!" Melba laughs. "We took Gil's boat to a tiny island for our picnic. Well, I was huddled up, worrying about a sunburn and getting a chill. So I was wearing a floppy straw hat and I was wrapped in blankets. But it was worth it. Gil's little island was intriguing. It was about a half-mile long and only a couple hundred yards wife. Nothing but sand and shells and birds. That's where we had our picnic, and it was like being on the moon."

Monday evening, they returned to Manhattan, for Melba had a telecast on Tuesday. "We couldn't quite decide how to announce our marriage to friends," Gil reminisces. "I tried reverse technique. I'd phone them and, when they said, 'What you doing, Gil?' - I'd answer, 'Oh, I'm just sitting here talking to my wife,' and then wait for the double-take. Melba was direct. To the first person she called, she announced, 'I've got some shocking news.' I suggested that 'shocking' was a little strong."

Gil moved into Melba's apartment in person - and that's about all. He had been sharing his apartment with an airline pilot, and he continued to pay his share of rent just for the sake of having a place to store his possessions. Melba had a two-room apartment with very little closet and drawer space. "I couldn't bring more than a couple of suits with me,' says Gil. "When a handkerchief went to the laundry, that was okay. But, when it came back, there was no place to put it! Besides, he adds, "I brought a 'trousseau' to the marriage, which makes me an exceptional husband. During my second war, the Korean, I was a little more judicious about the souvenirs I brought home. In Tokyo, I had bought a ninety-nine-piece set of Noritake china, the best made in Japan - a set of lead crystal, linen and other good things."

Gil and Melba have just recently begun to use these precious items. It wasn't until late last February that they moved into a new Riverside Drive apartment with room to "housekeep."

Melba and Gil like to entertain with dinner parties. Usually, Melba does the cooking, although occasionally Gil dons the chef's hat. Gil makes Oriental dishes which he learned about in Korea and Japan. He has a cooking advantage, too, in that his former roommate is a pilot on an international airline and bring in fresh foods from abroad. It might be fresh dill or a batch of snails from France or a loaf of bread hot out of an Irish oven. Gil's keen interest in food has led him to join the exclusive Wine and Food Society of New York. As a club member he is in invited to a special tasting affair six or seven times a year. Melba goes along, although she really prefers simple cooking.

But, when it comes to Japanese culture, she fully shares Gil's enthusiasm. "I began collecting Japanese carvings and screens and so forth when I visited Tokyo with a USO unit," she explains. "Once in a while, Gil and I have tea with a real Japanese tea set, and, very often, we wear our Happi coats."

Happi coats are loose, silk Japanese robes. Gil brought back several and he shares them with Melba. Although they look exotic, the inscription on one is that of the chief of a fire-fighting unit. During Gil's service abroad, he once volunteered to help Japanese fire-fighters put out a blaze, and the robe was their gift to him.

In their Happi coats, surrounded by the possessions both have collected during their travels, Melba and Gil look forward to a larger home in the future, as their family grows. It seemed that their own "search for tomorrow" had reached fulfillment when they found each other, just a block away. But, for Melba and Gil, the search has only begun. There's a whole lifetime ahead for being close to each other - always.

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