World AIDS Day Tribute: Bill Beyers (1955-1992) & Leslie Graves (1959-1995) -- CAPITOL

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.

11 comments:

  1. See you learn something new everyday. I didn't know LG had passed and not from complications of AIDS. She was my favorite Brenda and the last Brenda was more like Leslie's Brenda. When Leslie played her from the beginning she was scheming and panting trying to trap Wally. She was so much like Myrna. I was such a fan of CAPITOL, that's why I never warmed up to B&B. I was shocked how it ended because I didn't know until the following Monday it was B&B. Damn CBS anyway. Capitol had such a strong cast from the clip I remember the wedding and Kall Girl Kelly having Trey's son. Sigh.

    ReplyDelete
  2. RIP, Billy & Leslie. I loved watching you both on Capitol.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I knew Bill back in the day when he was first beginning...I always knew he had promise.
    Tragedy took him from us way too soon. God Bless & R.I.P.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I knew Bill back in the day when he was first beginning...I always knew he had promise.
    Tragedy took him from us way too soon. God Bless & R.I.P.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Jayski1 how was it that you knew my uncle. My name is Matthew Beyers. My family and I would like to thank all the people who have wrote such heart warming things about Billy's life. Other than being part of so many's life during there day he touched countless others thru his vigilant efforts to stop child abuse not due to him being abused by any means but knowing it was something that was rampant and needed attention. To be able to use his known face and following for good other than monetarily was his greatest attribute, that is where he found joy the most. The feeling of making a difference that mattered completed his happiness.
    As Bill is not with us any more his efforts and his amazing skill to light up any room. To put a smile on any face at a drop of a hat is how I will always remember him and still feel him very close every day.
    Thank you for your words and clips keeping my uncle alive in the hearts of many even after all these years he has been gone.
    If you have any questions you may email me at beyersmatt@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Jayski1 how was it that you knew my uncle. My name is Matthew Beyers. My family and I would like to thank all the people who have wrote such heart warming things about Billy's life. Other than being part of so many's life during there day he touched countless others thru his vigilant efforts to stop child abuse not due to him being abused by any means but knowing it was something that was rampant and needed attention. To be able to use his known face and following for good other than monetarily was his greatest attribute, that is where he found joy the most. The feeling of making a difference that mattered completed his happiness.
    As Bill is not with us any more his efforts and his amazing skill to light up any room. To put a smile on any face at a drop of a hat is how I will always remember him and still feel him very close every day.
    Thank you for your words and clips keeping my uncle alive in the hearts of many even after all these years he has been gone.
    If you have any questions you may email me at beyersmatt@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Matthew,
      My name is David Boschettino. My older sister Cindy was very close friends with Billy. He was over our house quite often and they would practice, for they were the leads in our H.S. plays. I remember him very well. He was fun loving and lit up the room with his presence. Although I was very young, I got to see all their plays. My mom loved him dearly. His bright spirit is with me as well.
      All my best Matthew.
      Sincerely,
      David Boschettino

      Delete
  7. Billy was my boyfriend for almost 2 years. '81 into '83. I just googled his name and saw this. Really stopped me in my tracks. I recently moved and going through old stuff, I found a really beautiful ring that he gave me. It was still in the little box it came in....he wrote "For my knuckles" on the box. He thought I was a knuckle head.....and he often called me knuckles. lol He took me along with him a few times to the set of a TV movie he was making with Helen Hunt and Sharon Gless. Wow....such great memories. Billy was handsome, funny, talented and compassionate. I remember him well and love him still. So sorry for your family's loss. It certainly was a big loss. Hope you don't mind me writing this down. Scott Reader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Scott,
      Why in heavens would anybody mind such beautiful heartfelt words from someone whom knew Billy as close as you.
      I'm not sure but did you come to the house with Bill one time on the Island in NY
      I for some reason remember your name and it brings a warm almost memory feeling.
      I'm sorry to hear your going thru a ruff patch, as am I as most anybody if you ask them!
      Moved also, where to? Actually where from?
      If need an ear you can find me face book is a wonderful thing
      Hope all is well and hear from you soon

      Delete