In the next installment of our series highlighting the many special performances preserved in the new AS THE WORLD TURNS DVD collection, We Love Soaps and the legendary Eileen Fulton continue reminiscing about the character of Lisa and her own real-life experiences.
Our conversation turned to the 30th Anniversary episode which is included on the "Oakdale Through The Years" disc. Lisa was romantically involved with Earl Mitchell (Farley Granger) at the time. It was Don MacLaughlin's final appearance as Chris Hughes after 30 years and he died not long after.
"Don [Hastings, who played Bob from 1960-2010] made a lovely speech to him," Eileen recalled. "He actually choked up and I thought that was so moving. I don't think MacLaughlin really knew where he was."
It was a beautiful episode with fan favorites returning, and concluded with guests at Chris and Nancy's (Helen Wagner) 50th wedding anniversary party singing "Always" to the happy couple.
"I was very moved by Don by his lovely speech to him. When they wrote in the script, 'Bob tears up,' he would say, 'I will not tear up.' In this script they didn't say that but he did."
A lot had changed on AS THE WORLD TURNS in the following 10 years with the passing of head writer Douglas Marland and new executive producers in place. When we first mentioned the 40th anniversary episode included on the same disc Fulton had a funny reply.
"Is that the one with the hot, steamy love scene?" she asked. "We were appalled when we read the script. Not the kids, but us old-timers. You don't do our anniversary with clips and things like that and then show this hot scene!"
"We were all shooed off the set so I went in the control room to watch," she said, "and it was all steamed up."
Stephen Black and Henry Stern were the head writers of AS THE WORLD TURNS during this time. Their tenure is widely regarded by fans as subpar at best.
"I called them Black and Decker," Fulton laughed. "Or Frick and Frack."
Allyson Rice-Taylor, who played Connor, was one half of that steamy 40th anniversary love scene (with Alexander Walters' Mark Kasnoff). Her character was recast less than a year later with ONE LIFE TO LIVE favorite Susan Batten, one of the least popular casting decisions in ATWT history.
"I couldn't believe they would recast an actress in the middle of a kiss in the tree house. We went to Friday or something, and came back on Monday and he was still kissing her but it was a new actress. They said, 'Oh, the audience will go with it.' And I said, 'No they won't.' And they didn't!"
Eileen said the 50th Anniversary episode, "Seven Divas on a Bus," on that same disc "was fun."
"We got awfully tired and worked a long time," she said. "I was amazed at how they made the woods look so real at our Brooklyn studio. The set designers were wonderful. They used that set for a lot of other murders and stuff later on because it was too good to waste."
"But when they brought the bear on," she laughed, "we were all told to stay out of the studio. The bear was to come on when Barbara was eating a piece of candy she didn't want to share with anybody. She heard something over her should and it was a huge black bear."
"How did they get the bear into the studio?" we jokingly asked. Did it walk in the front door? Come in a freight entrance?
"Honey, that bear came with its manager, with its assistant, with its special little treats, and in its own trailer!" she recalled. "Don Hastings said he wanted his own trailer."
"That was the funniest story," Eileen continued. "And the bear had bad breath. They had a shot of the bear munching the carrots its manager brought it. Then it went over to the fender of the bus and took a fancy to that and started eating the fender. It was huge! But she was sweet. Colleen went up and said, 'I have to pet the bear.' And they said, 'Oh, you cant do that.' But she said, 'I have to." And she did. And she and the bear got along just fine.
Eileen makes another appearance on the "Great Weddings" disc during the Lily and Holden wedding of January 1998. Lisa was trying to keep Molly from getting to the church so Holden could marry his true love Lily instead of Molly, who was all ready dressed in her wedding gown.
"We had a fight in Lisa's shop," Eileen remembered. "And the grabbing. Lesli and I laughed hysterically over that. I had a hard time holding her back. She was a big person, and strong and muscular. It was so silly, but I loved that a lot. I still have a picture of that."
Coming up 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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