Doug Davidson has starred on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTELSS as Paul Williams since 1978. We Love Soaps recently spoke to Davidson about his long tenure on Y&R, his stint as host on the primetime THE PRICE IS RIGHT, the future of daytime and much more.
In Part One, Davidson discusses his background and early years on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS.
We Love Soaps: Can you tell me a little about your background? You grew up in Southern California?
Doug Davidson: I was born in Glendale, and raised in a little hamlet between Glendale and Pasadena called La Canada Flintridge. I graduated from La Canada High School and then went to Occidental College, which is a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles. I think [President] Obama went there for a couple of years. I did a semester at Cal State Northridge, and then waited tables, bartended and taxi-cabbed until I got my breaks.
We Love Soaps: Your IMDB page says your majored in marine biology.
Doug Davidson: That's true. I had a dual major actually.
We Love Soaps: [Laughs] You were probably the only person with that particular combination.
Doug Davidson: [Laughs] Well, I was raised when THE UNDERSEA WORLD OF JACQUES COUSTEAU was popular, and I was a scuba diver, and I really loved everything about the ocean. Still do, actually. I got into it because my dad suggested that I should have a backup [plan] for my theatrical pursuits. So that's how that came to be.
We Love Soaps: Is anyone else in your family in the business?
Doug Davidson: My sister was in a movie called The Horse in a Gray Flannel Suit, and then she got a modeling agent, Eileen Ford and Nina Blanchard, and she suggested I take drama in high school versus as opposed to metal shop and wood shop. It really suited my personality. Later, she dropped out but I continued.
We Love Soaps: You got cast on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS in 1978. Did you ever think the show might still be on the air 31 years later or that you would still be starring on it?
Doug Davidson: No. I assumed the show would be on the air, but I never thought for a moment that I would on it for as long as I have been. In those days soaps were usually a stepping stone for other work. I don't know if it was fear, or the love of the people I worked with and the environment in which I worked, that convinced me to stay. When I was younger, Bill [Bell] was a lot harder to figure out because I didn't understand what it took to come up with a concept, sell it to a network, get it on the air and run a TV show. When I came on in 1978, the foundation was built and the only thing I saw was the transition from a half hour to an hour. He had done all the hard work. By the time I knew him he was writing out of Chicago and running a pretty successful soap opera.
We Love Soaps: Tell me about Paul's introduction and the first couple of years.
Doug Davidson: The first two years were summer storylines. They used to bring young people in for the summer. The first summer I worked with Nikki, who was [played by] Erica Hope. They were trying to set her up with a doctor, Dr. Adams or something like that, but they ended up liking us better together. I think she ended up giving me venereal disease. I guess they had some issues and recast with Melody [Thomas] the next summer. There were times we were good buddies and times I was trying to bring her to the dark side. I am thinking she was being abused by her father?
We Love Soaps: Right. And Nikki's father, Nick Reed, was played by Quinn Redeker, who later played Rex Sterling on the show.
Doug Davidson: Right. And he wrote The Deer Hunter. I think he won an Academy Award for that. EDITOR'S NOTE: Redeker was nominated for an Oscar in 1979, the same year he appeared on Y&R the first time.
We Love Soaps: Y&R recently show a flashback of your early days with Nikki and I loved the hair.
Doug Davidson: I didn't see it so you'll have to tell me what it was.
We Love Soaps: Nikki was remembering the past with Paul and Victor and deciding if she would marry Paul. This was an early scene, probably from 1979.
Doug Davidson: We were on the cutting edge with the big hair I guess.
We Love Soaps: Did you ever imagine in those early years that someday old clips would pop up or there would be an internet and websites like YouTube full of classic moments?
Doug Davidson: That's one of the great things of the show and this genre. You can go back 30 years and you've got the same characters interacting and you can see it all over again. I thought it was interesting they could bring those characters' relationship from 30 years ago to the present and run it through her memory banks for all to see. There's no other genre that can do that. If it were a feature they would throw on a funny mustache and color your hair. But here we have the actual footage. I don't even know where they keep it. Maybe it's in some salt mine in Montana! [Laughs]
We Love Soaps: My favorite memories from Paul's first decade on the show are with Lauren. Paul and Lauren are one of my favorite soap couples. I may be stuck in the '80s but I still want them together to this day!
Doug Davidson: She was my first non-drama fling, if you go past Nikki. The next romance was with April and an unwanted pregnancy. Bill brought in my family and the show went to an hour and that was a huge transition for my character. Bill told me at a party that he [put Paul and Lauren together] at the spur of the moment and wanted to see what happened. That was the great thing about Bill, aspects of him were so spontaneous. He would come in with little scraps of paper. I don't think YOUNG AND THE RESLTESS was really far from his mind. It was a 24/7 occupation for him. I had visions of him watching the kids unwrap presents on Christmas morning and writing notes with his red flair pen.
We Love Soaps: And years later you would be paried with one of those kids.
Doug Davidson: Yeah! And it seemed unbelievable at that time.
We Love Soaps: Who would you like to see Paul paired with, past or present, at this point?
Doug Davidson: I don't know. The great thing about our cast is there are so many wonderful actresses. It was great fun working with Melody again. Lauralee and I probably had close to a ten year run, which is pretty long, and there was not so much drama swirling around our relationship until she got married and pregnant and was in and out of the show for a while. That was a great relationship. We enjoyed our days together and then we had scenes to do. We knew each other so well the working part was easy. And then there are plenty of newer actors like Amelia or Sharon.
In Part Two of our interview coming soon, Davidson discusses the controversial "was it rape?" storyline with Christine, and the recent twist in Paul's storyline with Nikki.