By Dan Lewis
August 8, 1976
George Reinholt's mission in life is "to fight emasculation of the male image in daytime television."
Reinholt is quite possibly daytime television's first Male Lib advocate. To him, the soap opera is a woman's chauvinistic paradise where men are treated like children or "addlepated psychological cripples."
Pretty strong bitterness from one who has endured these pains of artistic stripping, as he claims, for an agonizing--but frankly lucrative--nine years as a male sex symbol of the matinee set.
For eight of those outspoken years, Reinholt starred in NBC's ANOTHER WORLD. As Steven Frame, he was considered one of daytime TV drama's top stars. Housewives drooled over him.
But suddenly, that world collapsed around Reinholt and his fans. He was fired.
"Management, after eight years of my being there, decided they didn't want to put up with my complaints," Reinholt said. "I had improved it, and was making it a success. But they decided to get rid of me."
His fans were indignant. The network was bombarded with irate mail. Pickets were threatened. The Reinholt following began boycotting the network.
Their ire was soon soothed. Reinholt, within months, was back in daytime television. In an unprecedented move, Reinholt was added to the cast of another soap opera on a rival network, ONE LIFE TO LIVE on ABC.
His new character is very much similar to Steven Frame. He remains somewhat sinister as Tony Harris, a one-time black marketeer in Vietnam, now a supper-club owner.
This gives him a chance to exercise another of his talents. He sings, which actually is his strong suit in a career that started out on Broadway in "Cabaret." He also composes and recently scored a ballet.
When he was fired by ANOTHER WORLD, it temporarily split one of the more appealing love affairs on television. His romantic interest in that series was Jacquie Courtney. But in less than six months, they were together on ONE LIFE TO LIVE.
When her contract expired last winter at the NBC show, it was not renewed. Her role had lost its luster without Reinholt.
"We were professionally tied together," Reinholt observed. "They felt it was difficult for her to continue her role."
In December, Miss Courtney and Reinholt were reunited as TV lovers. The reestablishment of the pair on the ABC series had had a fortuitous impact on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. The ratings in the seven-year-old soap have improved. And Monday, July 26, the daily series became a 45-minute show instead of 30 minutes daily. It's new time period is 2:30 to 3:15 p.m.
Despite his own success and the expanding popularity of soap operas on television, Reinholt talks bitterly and forthrightly about the attitudes within the entertainment industry toward soaps and its stars.
"The emasculation of the male is supportive of all the old Irna Phillips (one of the most successful soap opera writers-creators) syndrome. The medium doesn't want to recognize that male castration is passe...that the women at home want to see stronger males on daytime TV. They don't want their heroes caught up in the macho image of mistreatments of woman."
"In this business," Reinholt said, "those of us who are soap actors considered the real hacks. If we get a reputation for being good, we're still not considered usable for theater. And I understand that Hollywood television people resent the use of soap opera actors as guests in prime time.
"Not because we're not talented, but rather it's dealing with a kind of snobbery," he complained.
It is ironic, Reinholt says, that this attitude should prevail. The daytime dramas, he claimed, are more meaningful and representative of life's realities, especially in the middle class.
"The soap operas talk more to the average folk," he contended. "The middle-class people relate more to us in soaps than they do to the Hollywood stars. The real irony is that the actors find it (working in a soap opera) more demanding, more difficult than theater or films. His skills have to be greater.
"Doing a soap opera means working with three cameras, without stop-and-go in films. They don't like to stop in soaps, unless there's a dreadful mistake.
"The soap opera is a great art form. What is marvelous is that it is intrinsically American. Whey they try to distort American sociology, as they did in BEACON HILL--there were no Irish on Beacon Hill in the 1920s--it fails.
Recently there has been a new rage in the soap operas--MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN. Reinholt's opinion about that show is as mixed as the general reaction to it.
"To say the most, it is spasmodic," he said. "Sometimes it is extremely relevant, it becomes surreal. Other times, I think, it's extremely trivial. I can't invest care in those things. I think the characters are cardboard and that it goes far beyond relevance.
"Like most pros in the business, Norman Lear (MARY HARTMAN, MARY HARTMAN producer) can't understand the soaps' impact. They don't understand its effect in helping the audience release otherwise inhibited emotional blocks they can't release in real life. Lear is missing the therapeutic points, which do not exist in prime time and most forms of entertainment.