By Joy Stilley
August 6, 1969
Idol of millions who watch him on the daily soap opera, LOVE OF LIFE, Gene Bua is himself a lover of life especially now that he is launching a new career as a recording artist.
"I love being 24," declares the strikingly handsome 6-foot-2 actor who plays the part of Bill Prentiss in the soap opera. "I'll love being 30 and I'll love being 50. Each age brings its own thing."
Mr. Bua (whose name rhymes with view-a) recently cut his first album on the MGM Heritage label. Also called "Love of Life," the record features a song by that title and others on the theme of life, performed in his low-key style that has been compared with Perry Como's.
Already a veteran of stock, off-Broadway theater, movies and television, Mr. Bua is hoping to branch out into concert tours. A brief singing spot on the serial brought such response from fans that the story line was changed to give him more frequent opportunities to sing.
His role now is of a married college student who strums a guitar and sings while waiting tables in a restaurant.
"I've always been interested in singing," he said, crossing his long legs and chewing earnestly on a stick of gum.
"I was a boy soprano soloist in St. Fidelis Catholic Church in Queens, N.Y. for five years. My voice didn't change till I was about 15 so I had a long tenure."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he is the son of an Italian father and Irish mother. He reluctantly studied piano as a boy, although he would have much preferred to play outdoors with his friends.
Before he was out of high school, he had organized his own group, "Gene Bua and the Cardinals," in which he played piano and sang. Later he worked at odd jobs to pay for lessons in acting, for which he has an enthusiastic regard.
"Acting is much like a self-analysis," explained Mr. Bua, casually dressed in white pants, white slipon canvas shoes and a shiny purple shirt. "It's a matter of relaxing and finding which side of yourself fits this particular character.
"When someone says a person is a natural actor, what is meant is that he can relax better than the next guy. Even if it's a scene that calls for me to be nervous, first I relax, then the actor has to take on the nerves. Physical tension is one of the worst things for an actor."
He feels the caliber of soap-opera acting is quite good, taking into consideration the short rehearsal time. The cast rehearses with script from 2 to 6 p.m., they study their lines at night and at 8 the next morning are back at work in the rehearsal hall.
At 9 they go on camera and run through the show until 12:20 to get camera angles and solve light problems. From 12:20 to 12:50 the show is taped.
"Then it starts all over again at 2 if I'm on the next day's show," he laughingly complained.
Running his fingers thoughtfully through his dark hair which he wears slightly long "not to prove anything, but because it just happens that I look terrible in short hair," Mr. Bua attempted to explain the popularity of the long-running serial which he joined in June 1967.
"What we try to do is present very human problems that people at home have also and can empathize with," the brown-eyed actor ventured.
"People like to see sadness because then the joy is greater when it comes. They like to muddle through your problems so they can be happy when the good things happen.
"There are no small problems on our show. They are monumental," he continued, snapping his fingers rapidly to emphasize the point. "Fans usually have a solution, though."
Subject matter of his fan mail ranges from giving advice to seeking it, such as one letter which said: "I'm engaged to be married but I don't know what to do because I'm in love with you. Do you think it's okay to go through with it?"
"I copped out on that one, didn't answer her question," he admitted. "I didn't know if she was putting me on, but I just sent her a picture and said thanks for writing."
Mr. Bua, who is divorced, isn't averse to trying marriage again but right now he's busy getting on with his career. "I'd like to do a really great play some day," he said. "I know I have a Hamlet in me if I can find him."
Would he appear in a show with nudity such as "Hair?" "I'm not going to put anyone down for doing it," he conceded, "but it's not for me at this point in my life."
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch a clip of Gene Bua and Toni Bull from LOVE OF LIFE (Steve and Tess) below where she joins him in singing "Kingston Town":
- Gene Bua Has Passed Away (Obituary)
- 50 Greatest Soap Couples: #48 Bill & Tess From LOVE OF LIFE
- FLASHBACK: Bill and Tess Sing on LOVE OF LIFE