In the good old days of Hollywood, it was a sure bet you'd run into stars at Chasen's...Spago...the bar at Barney's. But more often that not, you're more likely to meet them at the gym. Health club memberships over the years have brought me friendships (and interviews!) with a diverse roster...Neil Patrick Harris, Sherry Stringfield, Ashley Judd, Craig Bierko, Helen Hunt, Carol Kane, Pia Zadora, Duane Johnson, Djimon Honsou, Barbara Eden, Alfre Woodard and James Denton. And in a throwback to the Men's Clubs of yesteryear, you might even spot a celebrity whilst clad only in a towel (or less!) in the locker room. That's where I met Todd Curtis (CAPITOL, THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS) and, over this past weekend, John Aprea (Lucas, ANOTHER WORLD).
As soon as I made sure my towel was secure, I introduced myself to the still-dashing actor, recognizable not only from his stint in Bay City but from prominent roles in everything from sitcoms (FULL HOUSE & SAVED BY THE BELL) to nighttime soaps (KNOTS LANDING & FALCON CREST) and the big screen (The Godfather II & The Stepford Wives). Knowing so many people in common from ANOTHER WORLD, I dropped a few names of mutual friends I'd know would want me to say hello.
"You must have been a baby," he kindly remarked when I explained that I'd already come and gone from AW when he was cast as Lucas. That of course led us into a conversation about his love-interest, Felicia Gallant, played by the warm and wonderful Linda Dano...whom he'd told me was the big champion behind encouraging him to give Daytime a try. And when I told him I've been working for nearly a decade on Australia's #1 morning program, SUNRISE, that led to mention of the Aussie actress Carmen Duncan...who played fan-favorite Iris Wheeler. John told me something I hadn't known: that when he joined the show, it was Iris who was to be his original love interest. As friendly as the two were off-screen (and still are), the Powers That Be didn't quite see the chemistry ON screen and so "Lucas" and "Felicia" found their way to each other and a Soap Super Couple was born. Interesting!
I also made mention of the fact that when the character of Iris was first being discussed for resurrection (rather controversially, since Beverlee McKinsey, who originated the role was always so closely identified with it), big "names" were put forward for casting and I'd suggested my pal, Carol Lynley. "She would have been great!" John acknowledged. Of course, Carmen came in and dazzled everyone...myself included. Iris' cat-fights with Rachel and Paulina are some of the best-remembered from that time period.
So keep your eyes open and your towel firmly secure when you go into the locker room...you never know who you're going to meet!
PS-Incidentally, Carol Lynley did visit ANOTHER WORLD in the late 1980s, playing a stern judge for a couple episodes involving Anne Heche's character. And Joan Van Ark, famous as Val Ewing on KNOTS LANDING, revealed to me that Larry Hagman originally wanted the role to go to Carol who was unavailable at the time (Malibu neighbors, she co-starred with him in the low budget, camp horror classic BEWARE: THE BLOB!). And now Larry returns to soaps in the DALLAS reboot. It's nice to see the community of stars who love soaps continues on! To read interviews with Sherry Stringfield, Carol Lynley, James Denton and some other big names from Daytime, Primetime and Film, check out "DINNER AT NELSON's," available on amazon.com.
International entertainment journalist NELSON ASPEN got his start in Daytime TV and still keeps tabs on all things soaps! The author of several books, including DINNER AT NELSON'S and HOLLYWOOD INSIDER: EXPOSED!, he broadcasts the latest showbiz news and celebrity interviews around the world daily. You may visit him at www.nelsonaspen.com