On World AIDS Day we pay tribute to some of the actors from the soap opera community who lost their lives to the disease.
Bill Beyers was born on Long Island on March 17, 1955. He died of complications due to AIDS on May 29, 1992 in Los Angeles at age 37.
Beyers burst onto the soap scene in 1982 on brand new CBS soap CAPITOL. He played Wally McCandless, who had an an affinity for gambling. His addiction often got him into trouble: either the physical kind (from grumpy loan sharks) or the emotional kind (from grumpy girlfriends).
Wally's life was further complicated by the attentions of Brenda Clegg (originally played by actress Leslie Graves), who spent three years trying to snare him, only to jilt him for another guy.
Later in the series, he pursued a singing career, first at Corky's Bar, and eventually as a recording artist. The singing thing ended up being as problematic as his gambling addiction, particularly after he got mixed up with D.J. Phillips (played by Grant Aleksander), a sleazy record promoter.
In the final weeks of CAPITOL, Wally reunited with Brenda and looked forward to a successful career.
In 1984, he became the national ambassador for the National Committee for the prevention of Child Abuse. He traveled to 32 states speaking to people about child abuse and how to prevent it.
His last credit was an episode of MURDER, SHE WROTE in 1987, the same year CBS canceled CAPITOL to make room for THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL.
Beyers' former CAPITOL co-star, Leslie Graves (the original Brenda Clegg) was born on September 29, 1959 in Silver City, New Mexico. She died on August 23, 1995 in Los Angeles from an AIDS-related illness.
Leslie Graves's father, Michael Graves, was a theatre actor (who also played Prof. Pinkham on ALL MY CHILDREN in 1988) and introduced her very early in entertainment industry, when she was approximately at age of 10. She started her career with a small role in a Broadway play "A Cry of Players" (1968–1969) written by William Gibson, and then moved to acting for TV series: SESAME STREET (1969, first 13 episodes), THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW (1971, in the episode titled "Baby Sit-Com") and HERE WE GO AGAIN (1973).
In late '70s, she left Hollywood, allegedly to move with a boyfriend to Texas, where she worked on a shrimp boat for three years.
Returning to Hollywood, Graves had small roles in two slasher movies: Piranha II: the Spawning (1981) and Death Wish II (1982). In Piranha, she played opposite Ricky Paull Goldin, who was known as Ricky G. Paull at the time.
This helped her to grow artistically, so she apparently found her way to success when CBS in 1982 cast her, at 23, in CAPITOL.
On the set she found in Carolyn Jones a sort of second, supportive mother. When Carolyn died, Leslie was devastated, entering depression. In late summer 1984, Leslie left the CBS show reportedly due to a drug problem and heroin overdose.
Her last public appearance was a nude photo shoot by Jean Rougeron published in the October 1984 issue of OUI Magazine.
Married to Jerry Schoenkopf, they had two children: a girl (Amanda) and a boy (Jimmy, born in 1994).
You can see both Beyers and Graves in the clip below but it has been dubbed. If anyone has a better clip, please post it in the Comments section.