Monday, December 14, 2009

Rosemary Prinz On Early Days Of AS THE WORLD TURNS

The New York Post published a wonderful story from longtime AS THE WORLD TURNS actress Rosemary Prinz on Sunday. As one of the original cast members, Prinz has recollections of Irna Phillips, the Penny/Jeff romance and much more.

We Started on April 2, 1956. Nobody knew whether the actors and crew were capable of a half-hour show a day, live. It was all live, which is quite different from now. I used to call it “summer stock in an iron lung.”

My character, Penny Hughes, was America’s sweetheart at the time. It was the ’50s, and back then women were good or they were bad — there was no in-between.

The women were long-suffering. You suffered if your character fooled around and wasn’t married. Something terrible would happen: Your child would die or whatever it was. Always, the women paid, for any mistake.

You couldn’t get divorced. Any man that was interested in Penny, when he got cast, could not sign a long contract. Because the only way you could get rid of him was to kill him! There was such a succession — my name turned out to be Penny Baker Hughes Baker Wade Maguire, and then one other name I can’t remember.

One of the favorites of the day was Penny and Jeff — that was everyone’s favorite couple. Mark Rydell was Jeff — he’s a famous director now; he did On Golden Pond — he and I were Penny and Jeff.

I don’t know about anybody else, but Mark and I had a romantic relationship. Which I suppose was the reason it was appreciated by the audience.

There would be these page-and-a-half monologues, and they’d be all emotion — you’d be crying all day. And there were no hairdressers or makeup — we were responsible for that. We had one wardrobe person for the show. I had six outfits, and I just kept wearing them.

I used to get my hair done at the Larry Matthews Salon on 57th, where all the hookers went. It was a 24-hour salon and I would have to go at 5 in the morning because I’d have to be on set by 7. So there’d be all these hookers there getting freshened up. It was certainly interesting.

We would go to rehearsal at 7 in the morning, and we were on the air at 1:30, and at 2 we would be through with that show. And at 2:30 we would have the next day’s script and we would sit at a table and read it and cut it to time. Because we had to come out on time. You had to learn the cuts, word for word, because they would cut on a certain word. If you didn’t say it exactly right, the boom man might not be in the right position and you could get a concussion standing up!

Irna Phillips, the head writer, used to get mad at me, because in my time off I would go do plays, and not be Penny, and I was supposed to be Penny all the time.

Penny would never drink or smoke, and of course I did both. It was in the contract — we weren’t supposed to do anything. If there was a publicity shot, they’d take the glass and the cigarette away, and the next day I would get this fl ack [saying], “You ungrateful wretch! You’re Penny, you’re supposed to be the grieving widow.” And I said, “No, no, you don’t understand. I’m not Penny.”

Irna would have a fit. She’d write something for the show, she’d have me say to my thenhusband, “You know, Gloria and I are very much alike.” And he’d say, “Now Penny, Gloria is beautiful and talented.” Things like that.

I broke all the rules, and then I would say, “Just fire me! Go ahead! I don’t want to be on this show anyway!” Every time they’d come up with something, I’d [refer to my contract’s end and just] say, “’68!”

And they would know exactly what that meant. I was looking seriously forward to that.

Read the full article here.


  1. I'm still LMAOing about the hair salon with the hookers!! Great article, though... good to hear from another soap vet.

  2. Roger Or Damon Did ATWT sign Rosemary to a 12 Year Contract wghen she started in 1956

    That seems iunheard of

    Loved her Candor

  3. I loved watching Rosemary Prinz as M'Lynn (the mother of the bride) in the original Off-Broadway stage production of Steel Magnolias in NYC in 1986. She was marvelous!