We Love Soaps: When you learned in 1984 that Kimberly was going to be a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, what was that like for you?
Patsy Pease: I was glad I wasn’t playing one of these Suzy Cream Cheese characters. I never felt comfortable playing that. What had gone against me all my life is that I looked like a cheerleader. But then I’d open my mouth and start talking and people would go [makes a shocked sound], and then, “Oh God, don’t cast her as a cheerleader, don’t cast her representing conservative right wing church people.” So I was glad! I thought, "Have her abused, have her be something that makes her a torn soul." Torn souls are much more interesting to play than someone who just had their Barbie taken when they were 8-years-old and still has resentment over it.
We Love Soaps: At the time, did you connect this with your own past?
Patsy Pease: No. I had received such strict training never to do that. I was told, “Oh please, any one of us could go up there and emotionally masturbate.” They were making fun of method acting and said, “Let’s recall that time when Uncle Joe poked your eye out and you’re playing a nearly blind person. Let’s ask everyone to sit down and watch you whack off emotionally and expect you to think it’s acting.” [Laughs] That’s not acting, that’s just remembering. There is a difference between acting and remembering.
We Love Soaps: How do you feel about how your first pregnancy was handled by the show in 1987?
Patsy Pease: They say, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” I was just telling my son today, "If I’m being wishy-washy about something and leave the responsibility to everyone else, then I don’t get to turn around and say, 'You made me do that.'" The truth is, no one was holding a gun to my head. At the time I had never been pregnant before, and I had never been on a show like that before, and I didn’t put the two together. It’s one of these things where you’re trying to keep your job, you’re trying to please everybody else, but you’re not being true to yourself. If I had slowed down enough to ask what was really right for me, I would have said the same thing that I did say during my second pregnancy, which was, “I won’t do it.”
We Love Soaps: So to recap for the readers of the column - You were pregnant in real life, your pregnancy was written into the story, but late into your pregnancy Kimberly was the victim of a violent assault and lost her baby. She was thrown across a room, and that level of violence was pretty unusual for the show at that time.
Patsy Pease: And that was with a great actor who had to hit me. He was so sweet, he was a father himself, he barely could touch me. It was all choreographed, every one knew where every one was going to be, I was controlling most of it. But it was the emotional [trauma] that I don’t think an unborn child should have.
We Love Soaps: Kimberly then miscarried while Patsy was still pregnant.
Patsy Pease: Right, and I’m not here to argue it. Some people say the baby is affected, some people the baby is not affected. My point is, if I had slowed down and really asked myself, “Patsy what is right for you and your child?” I’m not here to preach or to say what’s right for anybody else. But I’m saying for me, in my truth, I would have said, “I do not feel this is right for me.” Which is what I said during my second pregnancy.
We Love Soaps: So you came back and stayed front burner for a couple more years. Then, in early 1990, when you announced to the producers that you were pregnant again, what happened?
Patsy Pease: They wanted to do the same thing again. And I had become a little wiser and a little more honest with myself. And I had had two years of raising a child, and feeling what it was like to be a mother. I had had no idea [before] what it felt like to be a mother. My mother had been in a psychiatric ward my whole life and then committed suicide when I was fifteen. So I had no idea what mothering was about until I became one. And then it was very clear to me I had no problem knowing what was true for me...which was that I would not expose my unborn child to all this trauma and turmoil.
We Love Soaps: Was the proposed story that Kimberly would miscarry or give birth to a stillborn?
Patsy Pease: Give birth, as they put it, “to a dead baby.”
We Love Soaps: While you were actually pregnant they wanted Kimberly to give birth to a dead baby, and you said “no.” What was their reaction?
Patsy Pease: Well let me tell you something. When you are really settled, and coming from a place of love...it wasn’t a demand, it wasn’t a loud “no”, it wasn’t a dig-you-heels-in-the-ground kind of “no.” It was very quiet. And it was very simple. I think I had come to a point where there weren’t a whole lot of things I was sure about, but the one thing I knew 100% in my heart was that I loved being a mother. I never knew such love my entire life. And I wasn’t about to jeopardize it. So it was really easy at that point to say, “No, thank you.”
We Love Soaps: And when they fired you for that, were you surprised?
Patsy Pease: At first they said, “Well we’re going to give you time to think about it. We’ve got to go back to the writers, and we need to go back and forth to discuss this and give you some time to think about it. Because if it turns out the writers will not alter the story line then you will have to be fired.” And I decided it would be whatever is best for my baby. It wasn’t about what was best for me, it wasn’t about what was best for the show. It wasn’t about what was best for my career anymore. The only thing in my heart was that I would do whatever it takes to do what’s best for my baby. And if that means being fired, then that must mean that’s what’s best for my baby.
We Love Soaps: Had you seen actors set limits and say no to a story line before without being fired?
Patsy Pease: I hadn’t really been paying attention. Let me put it to you this way — the only time I had seen actors fired was because a story line wasn’t working, and the audience didn’t quite click with them. I had never seen an actor fired for refusing to do something.
We Love Soaps: After you gave birth, they asked you to come back.
Patsy Pease: Yes, and I thought, “Well, I have a special needs child, I have real life to attend to.” I was responsible for two children, and the man I was married to at the time wasn’t working. So this is where I see my part, and I put so many “shoulds” on myself. Like, “I should support my family,” instead of insisting that this guy I was married to get a job! Don’t put me through this!” In my heart I wanted to be home with my children. But I “shoulded” myself by saying, “I shouldn’t put too much pressure on him, I shouldn’t put too much pressure on the marriage. He’s a great dad, so maybe I should be the one to go back to work, and I should be the one to make sure the insurance is paid, and the medical bills are paid, and I should be able to do all this, and work 14 hours a day, and come home and be a mom. I should be able to do all that!”
Coming up in Part 4, Patsy discusses her return to DAYS as a single mother, her struggle with mental illness and clarifies the “rumors” that are out there about her.