Sunday, April 12, 2009

Guiding Light: 1937-2009, Part Five!!!

I went rummaging through my small collection of Soap Opera Digest and decided to take a picture of this back-issue. This issue hit the stands in December 1977. The magazine was published monthly at the time...so the soap sections were crammed with information. On the cover, and the main reason I took a picture of it with my web-camera, is Beverly McKinsey who had a successful run as Iris Carrington on "Another World" and it's spin-off, "Texas". GL fans are more familiar with her as Alexandra Spaulding, a role McKinsey played for eight years, 1984-1992. She passed away not too long ago. Beverly appeared on the cover due to her winning an award as "Best Villainess" during the 1977 SOAPY awards, it's first year in existence. She would repeat the win in 1978.

The SOAPY award would be a low-key affair throughout it's life span...1977 through 1983. Afterwords the award was re-named The Soap Opera Digest Awards. Incidentally, GL never won a SOAPY award...the biggest recipients of this award were the stars and writers of "General Hospital" because the late 1970's through the early 1980's that particular soap opera was universally popular.

Bill Hayes and his wife, Susan, are featured throughout the magazine...in a lot of my collection the two of them seemed to appear the most out of all the players in soap opera's at that point in time.

I have several issues of the magazine...the one you see with Beverly on the cover is the "oldest" issue, from December 1977. I have some from 1980 and 1981...and I believe 1982 and 1983...I pick and chose at random which issues I wanted. The magazine offers back issue's for sale...even the most recent issue there's an ad promoting this offer, page 59. So, what I did in the mid 1990's was buy a lot of older issues that had GL people on the cover or issue's that featured specific storyline re-caps on GL...being a nostalgia nut it was a match made in heaven. I stopped buying older issues after awhile, though. I doubt they still have an inventory of 1980's issue's still available, but you can check and see. Their web-site tells you how to contact them...they even offer a phone number.

Photobucket Click the thumbnail image for a bigger picture. Appearing on the cover are Vincent Irizarry and Judi Evans, known to GL fans as Lujack and Beth. The bizarre story of Lujack was his parentage. His mother was none other than Alexandra Spaulding...his father Eric Luvonaczech. Alexandra never called her son by the name he chose, she'd call him his birth name, Brandon. Beth was Phillip's on-again/off-again girlfriend and she found her way into Lujack's arms and genuinely fell in love with him while Phillip had to endure Mindy Lewis and then the schemes of India von Halkein, Alexandra's former step-daughter.

It's an issue of the magazine from December 4, 1984...a few days after I turned 8 years old and I can recall these storylines as if they happened last week. The bulk of the show centered around the mystery of the Spaulding family in Barbados. Jim Reardon and company were caught up in the mystery which involved a whole lot of intrigue and a skeleton...plus a mysterious doll baby...quicksand...and Carrie Nye. This was the story that involved Mrs Piper {Carrie Nye} haunting and tormenting everyone investigating the goings-on in Barbados, in the meantime, a cottage that Tony and Annabelle were living in that Annabelle felt was haunted became a critical piece of the story as it was revealed to have connections to the Spauldings.

A conflict arose when her husband, Tony, didn't believe in all of that supernatural stuff she'd been telling him but his brother, Jim, was interested...which sent Tony into a jealous streak seeing the two so close. Fletcher, being a reporter, was naturally interested since he smelled a story. The story was controversial, though.

Let me think...off the top of my head I believe these characters were all caught up in the mystery: Jim Reardon, Hillary Bauer, Fletcher Reade, Claire Ramsey, Tony Reardon, Annabelle Sims, Alexandra Spaulding...did I forget anyone else? Quint and Nola provided news and information from the home-front to the characters abroad, like learning that Brandon Spaulding once had a shipping business in Barbados 40 years earlier.

The main reason the story was controversial is because it featured intrigue and high drama...something GL typically shied away from, with a majority of the viewers preferring everyday situations between average people without all of the thrills and spills a story like this provided. Another reason for it's controversy came about when the character of Hillary Bauer was killed, without much warning...in the story she was figuring out the riddle that had been circulating around and she came to the conclusion that the solution to the riddle was tied to the Spaulding's when a music box blew up and she died instantly. Mrs Piper had been the one who sent the music box, by the way.

Another reason that story was controversial to some was how they brought Brandon Spaulding back to life...and not only that, wrote him having a double life with an African-American family. Alexandra came face to face with her long believed dead father and he confessed faking his death after his argument with Lucille Wexler and slipping out of the country to be with Sharina, his wife. The two had a daughter together, Victoria. Brandon's back-story was revealed in this story as well...it seems that Brandon and Sharina had been having an affair and it was discovered by Brandon's wife, Penelope, who was pregnant with Alan at the time. She attempted to murder Sharina but Conrad, Sharina's brother, jumped into the line of fire...and it was his skeleton that was clinging to the mysterious doll. Penelope died giving birth to Alan. Inside the doll were the papers granting Victoria a part of Spaulding's empire...and Victoria signed her shares of the company over to Alexandra, wanting no part in any of it...insisting on remaining in Barbados.

Why exactly was Mrs. Piper so awful and ruthless in her quest for the cottage? Well, Mrs. Piper was in real estate...and being ruthless and amoral as she was, she knew the cottage had connections to Spaulding secrets and she was hoping to sell it to the Spaulding's for millions given what she knew about the cottage.

In the image below, which you should click for a bigger look, you'll see Annabelle and Jim at their wit's end at a Spaulding crypt.

Photobucket The storyline came to a somewhat happy ending...Mrs Piper met her doom in the sand pits while Alexandra became even more powerful with Victoria's share of the family's company. Alan, remember, was presumed dead...so he was not a factor in any of the proceedings.

In 1983, prior to the Barbados storyline, several of the GL characters appeared in a made-for-TV movie called The Cradle Will Fall based upon a book of the same name by Mary Higgins Clark...in the pictures below I pretend to be in horror...the movie was basically a soap opera with an ending. There was another movie based upon the book...that movie, called the same thing, was released in 2004. The 1983 version is what I recommend simply for it's use of GL character's.

A lot of the action in the second half of the movie took place at Cedars Hospital, the working place of Ed Bauer as well as his mother, Bert, who had become a patient advocate. Lesley Ann, the token wife of Warren Andrews in 1984, appeared in the film as did Hope Bauer, for a few cameo shots. Detective Larry Wyatt and Ross Marler had more screen time by comparison. The video that I have was released in 1986 by Karl-Lorimar Home Video. P&G produced the movie. It isn't rated but I'd give it an R rating...or a G...it isn't scary, but it does have those soap opera elements during intense scenes. The stars of the movie were Lauren Hutton as Kathy DeMaio, which sounds like the name of a soap heroine doesn't it? Ben Murphy also starred as Dr. Carroll. James Farentino also starred as the villainous Dr. Highley. The plot of the movie centered around a woman who witnessed a murder from a distance during a thunderstorm...unable to really identify the killer.

Photobucket Beware of several typo's on the 1986 VHS release if anyone should ever come across a copy at a flea market or on eBay. There is a typo on the back of the VHS box spelling the author of the book's name as Mary Higgens Clark instead of Mary Higgins Clark. Jerry verDorn's character, Ross Marler, is written wrong...it's written as Marker instead. Amazingly, though, they were able to spell the actor who played Larry Wyatt correctly...Joe Ponazecki...how about that!

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