Our conversation eventually turned to the September 29, 1979 episode (included on the "Secrets and Scandals" DVD) of AS THE WORLD TURNS, which takes place when Lisa is still married to Grant Colman. However, their relationship is on the rocks, and she is being romanced by a mysterious man named Bennett Hadley. As the rest of the town deals with the fallout of Ian's collapse at the Joffrey Ballet, Lisa is called to Grant's office. She wants to leave him, and braces for trouble.
Eileen was herself coping with her own marital challenges at the same time. In an uncanny, and very personal, anecdote, Eileen recalled how, in the autumn of '79, character and actress somehow, briefly, seemed to start living eerily parallel lives.
"I remember the Bennett Hadley story, and [Lisa] wanting to marry him," Eileen confided, "Doug Marland was writing the script [later on] and it was very strange."
And how! She continued:
"I did not know Doug Marland at that time. He came on when I was supposed to go away with my real-husband, Fortunato--Husband 2. But I had decided I was going to leave him. So I changed my name to 'Ruth Stern.' My brother Jimmy went as my brother, 'Hilary Stern.' We had to go to a hotel in New York City because I had to meet with March of Dimes and UNICEF. I talked to the manager of the Hilton Hotel and said, 'I'm really Margaret Forunato, this is my card, but I don't want to talk to anyone here, so put me on the registry as Ruth and Hilary Stern.' Because I was hiding from my husband.
"So after we got through with the meeting, my brother and I got in his car and went up to Lake Minneawska. We got lost in a terrible storm, with rain and fog, and we finally got up to the hotel, and it was not as we remembered. I had taken him there as a little boy. It was old and dilapidated and a shutter was banging. For two weeks we were around there, then we went up to Lake Mohawk. I hid out as Ruth Stern. Danny could not find us, no one could. When I came back we were staying at a hotel here in town, still as Ruth and Hillary, and I got my script that I had to go on location to Ringwood, New Jersey."
As she told the tale, it became clear from her enthusiasm that Eileen still marvels at what awaited her back on the set. It was a clear case of art imitating life.
"When I got to Ringwood, and my brother went with me, Lisa had changed her name. Lisa was running away from Grant Colman. Lisa got stuck in a terrible storm with fog and lightning and rain that was blinding. She finally comes upon this old mansion and when she gets there the shutter was banging. My brother said, 'If you had told me I would have never believed it. It was too spooky for words!' And then I met Doug Marland. No one knew this about me because I told no one. I think that's one of the strangest things that ever happened to me."
Speaking of marriage, as Eileen was reminiscing with us about the "Great Weddings" DVD, we asked if she recalled Bob and Kim's, from 1985.
"Yes. The one with all the gardenias," she remembered, making us wonder, why did the gardenias stand out?
"I just remember thinking, 'Dammit, why didn't I get married with all these gardenias?' It was my favorite flower."
We were interested to hear that, though beautiful, Bob & Kim's nuptials were not shot on location. "No, it was in the studio," she revealed. "These weddings were shot mostly in the studio, and it took forever to film them!"
According to Eileen, another episode, from the "Villains & Vixens" disc, also took a particularly long time to shoot. "The dress we got for me did not fit," she recalled. "I was literally sewed up in that dress." It's the episode in which John humiliates Lisa at their engagement party. "I had a hard time trying to sit, trying to eat or going to the bathroom. I was sewn into it. But it was pretty. And more people wanted to buy those earrings..."
But Eileen, we wondered, what did you think of the story line? As always, she gave it to us straight.
"It was good, but kind of silly. One of my favorite storylines was Eduardo, Poor Dead Ed, then suing John and being so wrong. And that's why he did that to me."
In the coming days, we'll share more of our chat with Eileen, who was awarded the Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004. You can watch clips featuring Ms. Fulton from the new DVD collection, and purchase your copy, at SoapClassics.com.
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