Saturday, January 16, 2010

FLASHBACK: Deidre Hall 1986

Soap star Deidre Hall moving to nighttime TV

By Jerry Buckap
Baton Rouge Advocate
August 31, 1986

Soap opera queen Deidre Hall, who once aspired to be a psychologist, is breaking into nighttime television. But not to worry, soap fans, she will still be seen in the daytime, too.

This fall Hall will co-star with Wilford Brimley in the new NBC drama series OUR HOUSE, in which she plays a widow with three children who is forced to move in with her husband's father.

She will also continue her role on NBC's DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

"I'm doing two shows with great delight," she says. "We have a schedule that permits me to work on OUR HOUSE five days a week and to tape DAYS OF OUR LIVES on Saturdays. So it works out well."

Hall, one of the most popular of all daytime soap opera stars, is a four-time winner of the Soapie Award as best actress for her role as Dr. Marlena Evans Brady on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.

She's the organizer and hostess of "Deidre Hall's Lunchbreak," an affair staged for her fans, usually every year. The 1984 bash, which attracted 2,500 people from around the world, was put on videocassette, as was "Deidre Hall: A Video Biography."

She's appeared in numerous television specials and in such movies as A Reason to Live.

Hall appears on DAYS OF OUR LIVES about three times a week.

"My stories center around my relationships," she says. "So it's just my leading man and myself. Drake Hogestyn plays Roman Brady. Wayne Northrop played Roman for three years and then left. Roman was off the show for about a year, then we brought the character back."

Hall has been on the daytime serial for 10 years and a sequence in 1979 got many of her fans upset. Thinking she was going to be killed off, some fans picketed NBC. It was a false alarm.

"I had a twin sister named Samantha," she says. "Somebody was trying to kill me and Roman was hired to protect me and catch the man. In a strange twist, the strangler got my twin instead of me."

The den of Hall's home in the San Fernando Valley is decorated with antiques, including a pedal-powered sewing machine. A number of original magazine illustrations by H. Weston Taylor hang on the wall. One picture was for the Saturday Evening Post in 1926.

"I got a letter from a man in Chester, Pa.," she says. "It was a very special letter and we became fast friends. I flew back for his 97th birthday. It was H. Weston Taylor. He was a fan of the show and he was an artist. I had a face he found interesting and he did a picture of me. I don't have it hanging, but I have it. He died a few days before his 98th birthday."

Her casting in DAYS OF OUR LIVES was Hall's first major role. She'd previously been in THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and had been a guest star on various episodic shows. She'd also been a semi-regular on EMERGENCY.

Hall grew up in Lake Worth., Fla., and was studying to be a psychologist when she got sidetracked into acting.

"I came to Los Angeles for the summer," she says. "I did some modeling and my agent sent me for a commercial. I did a few jobs. I liked the work of acting, studying people, repeating emotions. I kept thinking I would act until I had a serious career in psychology. I woke up one day and found I had a serious career, but it was in acting. And now I play a psychiatrist."

She was married for more than seven years, but is divorced.

"I love being married," she says. "I love having a person to share my life with, someone to come home to, to share secrets with, to take care of. I have wonderful friends, but no one person in my life."

Hall had been wanting for some time to get into nighttime television.

"I had learned a tremendous amount about the craft of television. Daytime has the least amount of time for rehearsals, for lighting, for preparation. You work under a handicap. I wanted to have the experience of trying what I do on a bigger canvas."

Her agent sent her a script of OUR HOUSE, which was then called 14 NAPOLEAN STREET.

"I called my agent and said I wanted to do this show," she says. "They asked if I'd audition and I said, "In a second.' I auditioned twice. They wanted me to come back looking unglamorous. The first time I'd come from an interview with makeup and a hairdo.

"They wanted to see if I could play a woman who was not glamorous."

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