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Paul Raven

Lovers and Friends/For Richer For Poorer Discussion Thread

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Oh I don't think so I just wanted to share a more recent pic of her. I randomly stumbled upon that pic while Googling something else and always rememered it. They were at an event for American RADA alumni. Too bad Erika wasn't there though if you click on the link you'll see that Peter Francis James from GL is there.

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Thanks, Carl. I was surprised to learn Ramsay was married to Robin Mary Parris. She was one of the substitutes for Kate Mulgrew on "Ryan's Hope."

Curious about his three week stint on "Love of Life." I wonder if he was one of the young men involved in the prison storyline, however this is complete speculation without any basis in fact.

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I think she was on RH around the time of this article. I didn't notice her name until you mentioned it.

I wonder why he didn't make the transition to the new show. He was very handsome (few can make those silky shirts not look like bowling attire). Who was he replaced with? Was it Rod Arrants?

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Tom Happer replaced him. Arrants played alcoholic Austin opposite Christine Jones' Amy. Jones and Arrants played their roles on both series AND on 'Another World.'

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An April 1979 Dawn to Dusk/Daytime Stars talked to Robert Skip Burton and Bruce Gray about the cancellation of their soaps. I will type out Robert's part here.

Robert Skip Burton (the reformed villain Lee Ferguson on For Richer, For Poorer), who made such a big splash during his short plunge into the soap opera limelight, says his show was cancelled because, '"we started with both hands tied behind our backs. There was no one time slot throughout the country (for example, New York aired the soap from 1:00 to 1:30 while Miami showed it late afternoon) so consistent ratings were hard to determine."

Skip goes on to explain that only 160 out of over 200 NBC affiliates (local stations) aired the serial at all, so FRFP never got a full share of the markets - another large factor in its losing battle for ratings supremacy.

Skip feels FRFP "didn't get a chance to find its way" because a soap usually takes over a year to pull together cohesively, and his show was axed after only ten months. "When you're slapping 20 new character s at people, it takes them at least six months to get everyone straight."

The actor says earnestly, "I'm sorry the show's not on the air. We were never at bat, only in the on-deck circle."

However, since Lee Ferguson was "brought up to the focus of attention three separate times, (something plaudit-loving Skip craves) I loved all of it."

To this fledgling daytime TV performer (FREP was his first soap), the network bears essential responsibility for the show's dismal outcome. "Paul Rauch (the soap's executive producer) and the whole company really tried to make it work, but no matter how hard we worked, we were hog-tied." Well then, what would have made a difference?

If Skip was Fred Silverman, NBC's messenger from the gods, he'd have insisted on a full share of markets and scheduled the show at the same hour everywhere. Doing this wouldn't have been easy because, "you're bucking a big, big, deeply entrenched system. NBC couldn't whip its affiliates into line because, overall, they're running second or third (behind ABC and CBS), and since the soap was running late afternoon in most places, local markets didn't want it."

Another tool Skip feels would have helped pull in ratings are "on-air promos (like ABC's 'Love in the Afternoon' soap themes) because promotion is where it's at."

Where FRFP wasn't at for most its short run was under Fred Silverman's domain. The network president usually "directs story lines, but since he was responsible for the whole network (having taken charge after the 1978 fall line-up was set), he didn't even get around to daytime until the end of August when the soap was cancelled anyway."

Since everyone at NBC had been waiting for Silverman's golden touch, "there was a lot of coasting going on" which certainly didn't help FRFP's chances.

Despite the soap's ultimate fate, Skip is grateful to it for enabling him to "have the dignity of steady employment, and be taken seriously as an actor in New York for the first time."

Still, no matter what the benefits gained through the work experience, there is anguish in being fired. Skip says, "You've been effectively snubbed, rejected." There's more than a bit of gall to be overcome in that reality, especially when one is an idolized soap opera star.

But, there seems to be a happy ending in Skip's case. At press time, he was appearing in a non-contractual role on The Doctors. He also has plans for an eventual primetime series. Who'd watch? The legion of devoted soap opera fans he'd have attracted by then, of course.

- Sherry Amatenstein/Dorothy Vine

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Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe Burton's role on 'The Doctors' was as the man who raped Carolee during her kidnapping.

Burton's role on 'For Richer, For Poorer' surprised me as Lee Ferguson's relationship with Tessa dominates most of the serial's run. From the SOD synopses, I didn't find the relationship particularly interesting. It seemed like a pre-cursor to Luke and Laura with the mob man falling for the sweet innocent young girl. Also, when Lester whined about the relationship between his daughter and Lee, all I could think of was Johnny complaining about Joe and Siobhan on 'Ryan's Hope.' Lee had a myraid of connections to the canvas outside of Tessa, which never seemed to be particularly well played. I think it would have been better if the conflict came out more between Lee and the Saxton boys. Bill had gotten Lee's sister in trouble, while Jason seemed to manipulate Connie in order to achieve whatever goals he had in mind. In turn, Lee had influence over the youngest brother, Bentley, through his work at the shop. I could see where Lemay would might take this sort of story, but King instead focused on the mob melodrama (which may have been at the insistence of the network, who knows).

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Yes,Burton played Mel,who worked for Doreen and kidnapped/raped Carolee.He went on to OLTL as Peter but was replaced by Denny Albee.Then he was on Texas and ATWT as the first Brian beforebeing replaced by Frank Telfer (Luke TD).

He never landed a long running soap role.

He was married to Karen Black,thus making him brother in law to Gail Brown (Clarice AW)

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Yes,Burton played Mel,who worked for Doreen and kidnapped/raped Carolee.He went on to OLTL as Peter but was replaced by Denny Albee.

Burton appeared on The Doctors and One Life to Live concurrently. Before he played Peter in 1980, Burton appeared as Bob Faulkner, assistant to Paul Martin during Viki's trial for the murder of Marco Dane, January - March 1979.

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"Not supposed to happen that way, is it?" he asks somewhat guiltily. "You know, you do whatever you can and if you're lucky enough to meet the right people and be in the right place at the right time to fill a need they have, then you work; and if you're good, someone sees you and puts you in another thing. You gotta look at it this way, too," he adds, "the older you get, the more people drop out, so there are fewer of us left."

In the life of an actor, even an actor who works as constantly as Albert, there is a lot of free time. The majority of soap actors don't have five day a week schedules. Most work two or three days a week, leaving plenty of time for other pursuits, other interests.

"When I'm not working," says Albert, "I write a little bit...plays. I'm working on a movie script now. The one thing that can kill you is when you don't know how to utilize spare time. You become self-destructive." Albert's doctorate is in playwriting and his work has been produced in colleges. But, he claims, there are "no aspirations in it. Especially not now. I ran out of things to talk about. I think you go through phases. When you first discover a facility to write, you can't get it on paper fast enough. It just pours out and pretty soon there's nothing quite, really, that you have to say.

"There are many kinds of writing; I think the hardest kind is the best kind - where you have a discipline. You write five hours a day, every day. You kind of polish your craft and the only way to do that is through constant writing. The kind of writing I did was just there and all I had to do was just put it on paper. For example, I was trying to write a play for a year and I just got disgusted with it and left it alone for about three weeks. Then I sat down, wrote in 'Act I, Scene I,' and wrote the whole thing in about three days; it was all there."

No one ever sat him down and told him how to structure his writing. "I had one course - it was the kind of thing where you'd go home, write something, then give copies of it to everybody the next day and there's be a general rehash of what you'd done, why it worked, why it wouldn't. There was an agent here in New York who was interested in the way I wrote and gave me lots of help. That's very important. A lot of writers work in a solitary way. They don't want anybody to see what they did until after they've polished it. Other writers - and I think I'm one of them - have to bounce ideas around with others. I have to be in a climate of light excitement with other people who enjoy writing and can get excited about your work as much as you can.

"It's like acting. If you're working in a company that's full of enthusiasm and ideas. If everybody trusts one another and is willing to go out on a limb and say things in a way that wouldn't be called 'safe,' that's exciting!"

I wondered if "For Richer, For Poorer" were that kind of company. "I'm having a heck of a good time; a real good time. I like the character I'm playing very much. He's an interesting man because he's an alcoholic; bright; a family man; but he's somebody who isn't locked into a certain kind of image. He doesn't serve any particular need - he's not the rock, the resident good guy, the man-next-door who is used as Father-Confessor and all this. He has a life of his own, a very active life - he's multi-faceted."

Albert Stratton has a life of his own, too. Though he may not be jetting to and from Acapulco, Malibu, or ski jaunts in Aspen, his life is active in its own special way. Active in his pursuit to make each moment of every day interesting, exciting to be lived. Whether he spends his time writing or acting, teaching a class or sitting by the fire, socializing with friends or at home alone, Albert refuses to let boredom overwhelm his existence. "There are a few things a human being can't be if he's active, and one of them is boring. You don't set out each morning saying, 'I am going to be interesting or I'm going to meet interesting people today.' It evolves. Your friends are interesting, your home life is interesting. The work you hope will be interesting.

"Intelligence and a sense of humor are two things I like most in people. I like to go places I haven't been before. I like to meet new people who have something to say, people who really know how to have a good time, people who get an idea and don't let go of it until they've exhausted all the possibilities!"

- KEVIN MULLIGAN

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I'm just catching up on this thread, but fascinating stuff--especially about FRFP airing at different times and not in all markets. Also about how much control Silverman apparently had (I know he did a lot with soaps, but I still always think of him as the head of, I believe, ABC Daytime in the late 60s, or maybe it was CBS, who brought Scooby Doo largely into fruition lol)

"Where FRFP wasn't at for most its short run was under Fred Silverman's domain. The network president usually "directs story lines, but since he was responsible for the whole network (having taken charge after the 1978 fall line-up was set), he didn't even get around to daytime until the end of August when the soap was cancelled anyway.""

So even back then network heads often had story say?

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