The ten episode set focuses on James Stenbeck's first decade in Oakdale from his arrival in 1980 to his daring helicopter escape in 1989, with many memorable moments in between. Of course he died several times along the way. James (Anthony Herrera), Barbara (Colleen Zenk), Gunnar (Hugo Napier) and John (Larry Bryggman) are just some of the many fan favorites featured in this collection.
Below is a summary of the ten episodes on the new "James Stenbeck" set:
Episode 1. Last Bus to Nowhere. February 28, 1980
James Stenbeck tracks down Barbara Ryan in Oakdale.
Barbara Ryan had a scandal in her past. Before coming back to Oakdale, she had given birth to a secret love child, the result of a torrid affair with a mysterious man named James Stenbeck. Barbara had given the baby to friends to raise as their own, without ever telling her lover she had a child..
Settling in Oakdale in 1978, Barbara began to pick up the pieces of her life. She became engaged to a local lawyer, Tom Hughes, and was eventually reunited with her infant son, Paul. She seemed destined for a quiet, happy life until James Stenbeck caught up with her.
In this episode, Barbara boards a bus in an attempt to elude Stenbeck. But he corners her, and forces her to confront the fact that she will never be truly free of her past. (NOTE: Herrera and Zenk traveled to Santo Domingo in 1980 to shoot flashback scenes which aired in this and other episodes. This is the same trip the Roger/Holly GUIDING LIGHT scenes were shot--both were overseen by GL producer Allen M. Potter.)
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Eileen Fulton, Patricia Bruder, Conrad Fowkes, Barbara Rodell, Rita Walter, Julie Ridley and Peter Brouwer.
Episode 2. The Bride Decides. May 2, 1980
Log: Barbara Ryan Chooses James Stenbeck Over Tom Hughes
Barbara Ryan was torn between her present and her past. She had agreed to marry the conventional and dependable Tom Hughes, but had fallen back in love with the passionate and seductive James Stenbeck. Forced to make a decision, she ultimately left Tom at the altar, and agreed instead to marry James.
In this episode, James and Barbara try to start a new life together, but tension quickly arises between the couple and the Hughes family. (NOTE: This is DAYS OF OUR LIVES star Peter Reckell's first episode.)
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Don MacLaughlin, Helen Wagner, Eileen Fulton, Peter Brouwer, Don Hastings, Kathryn Hays, Julie Ridley and Peter Reckell.
Episode 3. Best of Enemies July 15, 1981
Log: James Stenbeck begins his blood feud with John Dixon.
Despite objections from his wealthy family, James Stenbeck eventually married Barbara Ryan. At first, all seemed well. But James quickly developed a roving eye, and began an affair with the young and innocent Margo Montgomery. This enraged Margo’s protective father, John Dixon, who threatened James with dire consequences if he didn’t back off. In this episode, the evil side of Stenbeck begins to emerge, as he decides to silence John Dixon by murdering him. But Stenbeck soon realizes that he may have made a mistake by making an enemy of the equally villainous Dixon.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Larry Bryggman, Colleen Zenk, Margaret Colin, Justin Deas, Don Hastings, Peter Reckell, Peter Brouwer and Anne Sward.
Episode 4. Another Time, Another Life. March 10, 1982
Log: A Stenbeck Fantasy.
Although their marriage had by now been severely tested, James and Barbara Stenbeck were still trying to hold their family together for the sake of their young son, Paul. But the stress was getting to Barbara, and she began to have strange dreams about life in another time and place. In her dreams, a romantic figure named “Geoffrey” seemed to take on an increasingly special significance. In this episode, which is presented as a richly realized 18th century fantasy, the mystery of “Geoffrey” continues to deepen.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Hugo Napier, Henderson Forsythe, Eileen Fulton, Larry Bryggman, Robert Lipton, Jacqueline Schultz and Julie Ridley.
Episode 5. The Man of Her Dreams. October 15, 1982
Log: James risks losing his wife and his fortune.
Barbara’s life took a dramatic turn when her dreams literally came true. The mysterious figure of “Geoffrey” had, in fact, foreshadowed the arrival of an important new figure in Barbara’s life: Gunnar St. Clair. Gunnar was a cousin of James Stenbeck, and he turned out to be everything James was not: heroic, kind, and caring. Barbara fell deeply in love with Gunnar, much to the chagrin of the increasingly bitter James.
To further complicate matters, it then emerged that there was a possibility that James and Gunnar had been switched at birth. If true, this meant that Gunnar would inherit the Stenbeck family fortune instead of James. When John Dixon heard this news, he decided to ensure the ruin of his arch enemy by finding irrefutable proof of the baby switch. In this episode, Dixon has flown to Sweden to find the evidence he needs. But, unbeknownst to him, James is right behind him. (NOTE: Bob and Miranda are married on this episode as well.)
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Larry Bryggman, Scott Bryce, Meg Ryan, Frank Runyeon, Judith Blazer, Mary Linda Rapelye, Justin Deas, Elaine Princi and Don Hastings.
Episode 6. Into the Ring. March 22, 1983
Log: James sets a trap for Barbara.
In 1983, things got downright nasty between Barbara Ryan, Gunnar St Clair, and James Stenbeck. Barbara and Gunnar fought desperately for custody of Paul, but James fought just as hard to keep him. After a year of being spurned and humiliated by Barbara, Stenbeck’s villainous side was in full flower. In this episode, shot on location in Spain, James lures Barbara into a life-threatening situation.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Hugo Napier, Margaret Colin, Larry Bryggman, Justin Deas, Anne Sward, Meg Ryan, Scott Bryce and Eileen Fulton.
Episode 7. Come Fly With Me. October 28, 1983
Log: Stenbeck plans a deadly plane flight.
By now, James Stenbeck had accumulated enough enemies in Oakdale to require large scale villainy. His opportunity arose when several of Oakdale’s leading citizens chartered a private jet for trip a back from the Caribbean. Unbeknownst to anyone, Stenbeck was an accomplished pilot and parachutist. In this famous episode, he uses his unique skills to arrange for a shocking mid-air surprise.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Hugo Napier, Larry Bryggman, Kate McNeil, Danny Pintauro, Hillary B. Smith, Justin Deas and Brian Bloom.
Episode 8. The Comeback. November 11, 1986
Log: After a long absence, Stenbeck returns to Oakdale.
After October 1983, James Stenbeck mysteriously disappeared from As the World Turns. When he didn’t return for several years, the audience, and the citizens of Oakdale, assumed that he was dead. In fact, the actor Anthony Herrera had retired from the show, and the character James Stenbeck had left with him. In 1986, however, Herrera was rehired to resurrect Stenbeck. This allowed for some great drama, leading up to a spectacularly spooky scene in which Stenbeck revealed himself to his ex-wife with the now-legendary words “Hello Barbara” (NOTE: The “Hello Barbara” episode can be seen on 20 Classic Episodes from As the World Turns DVD.)
In this follow-up episode, with Barbara still reeling from shock, Stenbeck turns his attention to his old nemesis, John Dixon.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Larry Bryggman, Hillary B. Smith, Scott Bryce, Anne Sward, Margaret Reed and Eileen Fulton.
Episode 9. After Midnight. November 9, 1987
Log: Stenbeck gets a late night visit from some murderous neighbors.
After being back in Oakdale for only a year, James Stenbeck had already succeeded in making a whole new set of enemies. In this episode, a group of them pays him a menacing visit in the middle of the night.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Elizabeth Hubbard, Melanie Smith, Andrew Kavovit, Benjamin Hendrickson, Eileen Fulton, Jennifer Ashe, Farley Granger and Hillary B. Smith.
Episode 10. Last Chopper Out. March 20, 1989
Stenbeck makes an emergency exit from Oakdale.
By the end of the 1980s, James Stenbeck had gotten himself into so much trouble that he was a wanted man. Before fleeing Oakdale, he tried to convince his teenaged son Paul to come with him. In this episode, Paul arrives at the helipad where James is about to fly off to parts unknown. Paul’s close friend, Hank Elliot, shows up at the last moment with a frantic appeal.
Principal Cast: Anthony Herrera, Colleen Zenk, Andrew Kavovit, Benjamin Hendrickson, Richard Burgi, Larry Bryggman, Elizabeth Hubbard, Ming-Na, Scott DeFreitas and Brian Starcher.
To order "The James Stenbeck Story," visit SoapClassics.com. You can also watch a free episode which features the November 1987 episode just prior to the one on this disc (Ruxton Hills!).
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