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amybrickwallace

Elizabeth Hubbard: Althea or Lucinda?

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I was never really a CBS soap viewer (I primarily watched the NBC and ABC shows), unless I changed the channels during commercials or through the scenes of characters I didn't care for. Even though I never watched much of ATWT, I was always struck by the character of Lucinda Walsh, her relationship with her daughter Lily, and just by the way she commanded a scene. Also, my sister and I subscribed to both SOD and the now-defunct SOM starting in the mid-90s and I would read every issue cover to cover. So I knew what was happening on every show (and this is when there were 10 or more still on the air), and I would also read about all the actors. I became familiar with Elizabeth Hubbard and knew that she was a force to be reckoned with, both on- and off-screen.

From reading the magazines and from reading books by people like Gerry Waggett (and the older, long out of print soap books), I knew that Ms. Hubbard had acted in several soaps starting in the early 60s before hitting big on a long-defunct show called The Doctors. I couldn't even picture this lady who played a cutthroat, self-made businesswoman playing a refined and cultured lady doctor. I checked out a few episodes on YT from the last year of the show and it just seemed like she just blended in with the wallpaper - TIIC didn't do much with her.

Flash-forward a few years later - ATWT was cancelled in 2010, and four years after that comes the announcement that a channel called Retro TV will be airing reruns of The Doctors. Long since disillusioned by how shabbily the networks treated the soaps and the remaining viewers, added to the fact that the stories they aired were so youth-oriented and not what I was interested in, I decided to give the reruns a try. From the first episode, I was hooked.

Liz Hubbard was the big surprise for me. Dr. Althea Davis was the polar opposite of Lucinda Walsh but every bit a force to be reckoned with. For one thing, she's a female physician with a huge responsibility - Althea is in charge of Hope Memorial Hospital's Outpatient Clinic. She's fiercely loyal to her friends, colleagues and patients, and has one of the best friendships I have ever seen on either daytime or primetime TV with fellow doctor Maggie Powers. She's a good mother to her exasperating 13-year-old daughter by her first marriage, Penny Davis (played at this point by Jami Fields, one of the most underrated juvenile actresses of the genre). Last but definitely not least is her romance and subsequent marriage to the grumpy, brash, bombastic and yet loving, dedicated and passionate neurosurgeon and Head of the Research Lab, Dr. Nick Bellini (Gerald Gordon).

I wasn't even born yet when these episodes aired and still, Althea and Nick are one of my all-time favorite TV couples. The sexual tension and pure heat Liz Hubbard and Gerald Gordon put into their characters still crackles over 46 years later. Whether they are having a loud argument or making up afterwards, they never hit a false note. Happily, the two actors stayed friends for many years, and long after the show was over.

Anyway, Ms. Hubbard commands every single scene she is in as good girl Althea, just as she would later do on ATWT as bad girl Lucinda. The main things the two characters had in common was their fierce love for their daughters (one of the best aspects of Liz's acting is how well she performs with her screen children, from Jami Fields on TD to Martha Byrne on ATWT, to then playing grandma to Lily and Sierra's kids) and their love for certain male doctors (Dr. Nick Bellini for Althea and Dr. John Dixon for Lucinda).

As good as she was as Lucinda (and I went and watched a bunch of ATWT Lucinda clips to be fair) - I have to give the edge to Althea. The current storyline Althea is in right now in the Retro reruns has really shown off La Liz's range, as Althea is stripped of her physical strength and is emotionally tortured, becoming very meek in the process.

It's a shame that Ms. Hubbard and Mr. Gordon never acted together again after TD (to my knowledge). They were/are extremely gifted performers separately, but together they took both each other and the material to a higher level. They were pure magic together.

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Unfortunately I don't think that many here are watching The Doctors reruns, so you may not get much of a response.

Sadly, both characters are saddled with daughters I cannot abide, but Liz does wonderful work in both roles, and she does give very different performances. Her work as Althea is much more subtle and introspective than her work as Lucinda. We only really got that side of Lucinda in small moments, like when she lost her company.

With that said, I grew up with Lucinda and she meant a lot to me, so I will always choose her.

We're just lucky that Liz had a 45-year career in daytime and was still doing great work to the last day of ATWT.

BTW, I'm not sure if you'd be interested, but she also had a brief run on a Dutch soap.

Edited by DRW50

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Well Lucinda was a much showier role and I think as time went on LH became more 'broader' in her performances as the writing was more inconsistent.

Whereas The Doctors (at least in the late 60's reruns we are seeing now) demanded more controlled performances.

The fact that she could make two very different characters so authentic is a tribute to her talents.

I wonder how she was on EON and GL?

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I'm one of the few here who saw her as Althea first and that portrayal will always be my favorite. Althea is just a more human character than Lucinda and more relatable to me. I was already watching ATWT when she joined and it was startling to see her playing such a larger than life character. Of course, LH was wonderful in that role too and I enjoyed her.

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I'm not sure how much fierce love Lucinda had in the beginning for her daughter Sierra, who she lied to constantly and schemed to keep Sierra and Craig apart, because she wanted Craig for herself.

I am thinking that Hubbard probably relished the role of Lucinda Walsh, especially in Lucinda's heyday as Lucinda was a mercurial personality but a (mostly) steady businesswoman-- her one grave business mistake was to mix business and pleasure with the likes of James Stenbeck, which she would eventually deeply regret.

Edited by DramatistDreamer

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There are plenty of daytime actors who have had more than one memorable role, but Liz brought two extremely bright and independent yet completely different female characters to life. Except for maybe her voice, you don't think Lucinda when you see her as Althea or Althea when you see her as Lucinda.

I also find it fascinating that her run on ATWT (25+ years) lasted longer than the entire run of TD (just shy of 20 years)!!!

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Another thing she brought to both characters was an amazing zeal for life. That's one of the few things Althea and Lucinda had in common. Lucinda would think Althea was way too uptight. "Loosen up, dahhhhhhhhhhhling!!!" LOL

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Her character of Estelle the society matron seemed like a hybrid of Althea and Lucinda. I don't know why she only stayed at OLTL for a short time, but had they kept her on, she never would have been free to originate Lucinda in early 1984.

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Estelle reminded me of Enid Willoughby Nelson (AMC). A character whose job it was to look down on the townspeople. If Robin Strasser had not been on, I think OLTL would have tried a little more with her character. She did have a cool daughter, Faith Ford as Muffy Critchlowe...

Edited by slick jones

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OLTL probably figured they had two big female names already in Slezak and Strasser, and thus probably why La Liz didn't last long there. Does anyone know exactly when in 1984 she first began on ATWT? Which characters did she first interact with?

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