Saturday, February 6, 2010

50 Greatest Soap Actresses: #4 Beverlee McKinsey

NAME: Beverlee McKinsey
SOAP ROLES: Myrna Slaughter, GENERAL HOSPITAL (1994) Alexandra Spaulding (1984-1992); Iris Cory, TEXAS (1980-1981) Iris Cory, ANOTHER WORLD (1972-1980); Emma Frame Ordway, ANOTHER WORLD (1972); Julie Richards, LOVE IS A SMANY SPLENDORED THING (1970-1971)

1993 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress
1992 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress: Daytime
1991 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress: Daytime
1986 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Supporting Role on a Daytime Serial
1980 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1979 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1978 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1978 Soapy Award win for Favorite Villainess
1977 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
1977 Soapy Award win for Favorite Villainess

Mimi Torchin: Beverlee wasn't only a ballsy actress with a phenomenal range, she was a mercurial star who was famously press shy and didn't care much for all the fuss and bother. But when she did speak, we hung on her every word. And she was very funny. I loved that about her. My favorite memory of Beverlee was a conversation I had with her about the all the new "criticism" that was suddenly a part of soap journalism and the new opportunity for fans to voice opinions on the Internet, which had just begun to show its power. She sighed and said wistfully, "It was so much nicer when everyone just liked us.

Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix): Chills, thrills, guts and tears. As the ultimate show stopper, there is no other! May she rest in peace.

Jonathan Reiner: Quite simply, the gold standard for acting, soap and otherwise. You were one of a kind, Bev!

Alan Carter: How many actresses still have fans debating which role she was best in...decades after she stopped playing both of them?

Roger Newcomb: An incredible actress. I was so sad the day she passed losing such a tremendous talent and because, even though she had been off daytime for many years, I always held out hope she would make a triumphant return to soaps someday. I'm thankful to have been blessed with so many wonderful memories of her oustanding performances.

Harding Lemay: (wrote for McKinsey on AW) I could write anything for Beverlee McKinsey, she could use language any way you wanted her to. I think [spinning her off onto TEXAS] was a big mistake because it didn’t use her correctly. I mean Bevey was a wonderful actress, and she had an edge. That edge was used best in a somewhat unsympathetic part. They made her very sympathetic in TEXAS, and it didn’t work. And she knew it. She told me once that she made a big mistake, but she made a lot of money [laughs]. She was a delight to work with.

Robert Newman: (worked with McKinsey on GL) Beverlee was a funny, classy, beautiful woman. Her humor off-camera was smart and sassy. He work on-camera was smart and full and passionate. She was an early mentor for me in the art of approaching daytime with dignity. I miss her. They don't make 'em like that anymore.


  1. To me, she's the clear choice for #1. But I can't exactly quibble with your top three, if they are indeed SF, KZ and ES.

  2. @eplin

    SF = Susan Flannery
    KZ = Kim Zimmer
    ES = Erika Slezak

    Did I guess right?

    I love this list. I hope WLS will also consider putting up a list of the others who got at least one nomination, but not enough to make the list. The list can be anonymized, alphabetical, and without all the beautiful embellishments of this top 50 (i.e., the painstaking work it took to get these historical articles, quotes, and video roundups).

    But I'd love to see the others who didn't quite make it. Because I'm thinking of LOTS of women who I kind of think should have been on this list, and I'm surprised they're not. So in my head I'm wondering if any of the judges even mentioned these other women.

    It would be fun to see.

    But Roger, Damon and their contributors have truly produced a loving soap piece for the ages! I cannot imagine how much work went into this. Truly a gift!

  3. Hi Mark,
    We are putting out an honorable mention list on Wednesday and that list is quite impressive as well. Those are people who received votes but didn't quite make the Top 50. For us, it's all about recognizing and remembering these actresses.

  4. Beverlee and Judith Light were the two actresses at the top of my list - with SF, KZ and ES immediately following. I watched Beverlee on AW and GL - she was an unbelievable powerhouse of an actress. It was impossible to take your eyes off of her.

    I've made my own Honorable Mention list so I am eager to compare it with yours.

  5. Can't wait for the honorable mention list.

    For example, I'm missing Eileen Fulton. While Lisa has been marginalized forever (and thus I understand why she might not have made the list), she went a long way toward CREATING the daytime bad girl. I'd hope she'd make somebody's honorable mention list.

    Obviously, I am with many others in LOVING this list. I don't mean to offer any quibbles with your top 50 (they are all deserving, and a list like this is always a little arbitrary)...just to say that the final three offers quite an interesting mystery and possibility for fun debate.

    Now, with all this free time on your hands, you'll have to do the TOP 100 actors, hunks, dogs, children, families, etc, LOL

  6. This has been a WONDERFUL treat & I have to thank Roger, Damon & their contributors as well -- it has brought back lots of wonderful memories.

    I do have to agree though that Beverlee McKinsey would have been my #1 choice but as eplin said, I can't quibble & loved reliving some of her moments on all of daytime. She was an incredible talent with a range than ran the gamut. The world of daytime is truly missing one of their brightest stars.

    I look forward to the "honorable mentions" as well -- that roster should be equally impressive.


  7. Eplin - she would have been my #1 too. I was a bit disappointed at first.

    But the thing that made me feel this was really fair was this: We have to remember that (GH stint not included) Beverlee has been away from our screens for almost 18 years. There are people who have not watched her in action or heard The Voice.

    The other potential top 3 candidates listed have all been on our screens in the last year.

    So actually, for Beverlee to have THAT high a ranking after being away for almost 20 years? Says a WHOLE lot to me - and about her.

  8. I loved Beverly on GL I still remember the Lujack SL, with Vincent Irizarry, like it was yesterday and it is over 20 years ago.

  9. This is a great tribute indeed. I was hoping Ms. Mckinsey would've been no #1 but like others have posted, it's a great honor that she is this high up given she's not been on any shows in nearly 20 years. Also in light of who we're all hoping the top 3 will be it is appropriate.

    One question I have is about a clip that I've been searching for forever on Guiding Light where Alexandria told Billy Lewis about Mindy and Roger's on-going affair in the bar scene. Does anyone have that clip and would you be willing to share? It was definitely one of my all-time favourites with Alex.

  10. So glad Beverlee was high up on this list. It's well deserved. One of the all-time greats and on my personal top 5. I grew up watching her on GL.

    This is so much fun and I;m so glad you guys did this.

  11. So Robin Mattson is not on you 50 greatest actress that's sad.

  12. WOW, PLEASE READ AN ACTING BOOK AND TAKE SOME CLASSES!! KZ, really?? Why, because she can cry on cue??? I would LOVE to see her TRY to do a character other than Reva! (Remember Amish, tan, bleached blonde, trailer park lookin- reva, yeah THAT was good acting! HAHAHA!!)
    NO ONE, will EVER be better than Bev! I don't know why I bothered typing this; this list was obviously put together by acting illeterates, and telling them so will make no difference. BUT this is yet another example of why soaps and the emmy's have become such a joke. To all you who will respond with more BS.... get an acting MFA and THEN tell me which soap actors you think are the best, oh, yaeh, I already have one, so as Chelsea Lately would say, "Shut your face" and I will add, once again, get educated (book learnin's good!)!!!

  13. As far as Kim Zimmer goes, she has done many characters other than Reva. I remember her as Nola on The Doctors and she was terrific as Echo on One Life to Live (I wouldn't mind a return engagement, so what if the character died), both roles she had before Reva came along. She was also on Santa Barbara and I've seen her make appearences on many other tv shows, including a great spot as a reporter on Babylon 5.

    The last 3 have to be the 3 who other posters have named, since they are the 3 with the most Daytime Emmy Wons (Slezak has won 6, While Zimmer and Flannery have won 4).

    I am very surprised that Eileen Fulton didn't make the top 50. Also somewhat surprised at Robin Mattson's absence, too. I'll also note the absences of Martha Byrne and Dorothy Lyman, the only actresses not in the top 50 with two legit (=non-youth categories) daytime acting emmy victories before 2005 (in recent years, with many fewer shows, its become a lot easier to win emmys, so I wouldn't put Susan Haskell and Gina Tognini in the same category)

    But I'm most disappointed not to see Judith Chapman on the list; to me, she's a no-brainer, just based on Charlotte(Ryan's Hope), Ginny (General Hospital and Anjelica (DOOL). I can't think of another actress in soap history who has successfully played such a wide range of characters, and that was before she tacked her current role of wacky Gloria.

    One more person I hope I see on the honorable mention list: Lois Kibbee. She was never really a lead, which I think everybody in the top 50 was, but she had the presence of one.

  14. Lois Kibbee and Judith Chapman are definitely worthy of inclusion in such a list (imma skip the part where I say who I think shouldn't be on it, except to say a. Kim Zimmer in the top ten makes my teeth hurt, and b. I found Rachel on AW to be an incredibly boring character).

    Also missing? The incredible Leslie Charleson. When she strides into a room, you know something powerful is about to happen.

  15. I love this list and I, too, cannot begin to take issue with all of the thought and hard work that went into compiling it.

    I'm not Kim Zimmer's biggest fan, and she might not be on my top 50 list, but what's really cool about this whole undertaking is that it's not just one person's list. KZ obviously has respect in the industry and has made an indelible mark, and it seems hard to believe that a panel like this could come together to make a list like this without her being on it. Assuming she does end up being # 1 or 2, I won't criticize. Truthfully, the fact that Susan Lucci did not come out to be # 1 - but was not omitted altogether in some holier-than-thou attempt to be highbrow - speaks volumes in my mind about how balanced this list is.

    I will admit I'm a little bit disappointed that Slezak and McKinsey are only # 3 and # 4, respectively. BM would have been my # 1 as well (or maybe # 2 behind Helen Gallagher), but point well taken about the impact of not being on-screen for so long; but ES is still the heart and soul of OLTL after all these years. And even in this era of diminishing rehearsal time and increasingly ludicrous stories that even the most seasoned veterans often have a hard time selling, she still makes every scene count - whether she's holding the hand of some random ingenue with at best a tenuous connection to Viki, or burying her tenth dead son-in-law. The closest she has ever come to a false note in my book were a few of the more unfortunate over-the-top moments from the most recent Nikki Smith story. And, sorry to say, those few "low points" were kind of in the same ballpark as the kinds of material I expect from KZ a good deal of the time (I can't think of a way to make that sound less catty - so I'll just say that my point is they weren't really all that "low").

    I do agree about virtually all of the missing names that have been mentioned, particularly Leslie Charleson (who, like one of my other faves Maureen Garrett, spent decades authentically playing the antithesis of a KZ/Reva character: a guarded, caustic woman who actually goes out of her way not to wear her heart on her sleeve, and on the rare occasion when she lost it, her pain was all the more heartbreaking). But then again, I'm hard-pressed to think of enough people to knock off the current list to make room for more. I'd probably have gone with Eileen Fulton instead of Vanessa Marcil (I've both loved and hated VM's role on GH at times since I first saw her as a pre-teen, and I get that she's the soap actress who has probably come the closest to generating the kind of viewer fervor than EF did in her day in this post-internet era, but come on...EF wrote the book). But other then that, there are very few easy cuts, even just based on my own tastes. The fact that such a distinguished but disparate panel came up with a list that I can take very few exceptions with is commendable.

    Just to add a few names that have not been mentioned... I have to say I was hoping for Beth Ehlers - much maligned as she has been in recent years, for much of her GL run, Harley was my standard of what a soap heroine should be, and her performance as Irna Phillips in the 70th anniversary show was simply a revelation. Even up until a few days ago, I was actually still hoping that Hilary B Smith would make the top 10...oh well. And while the Ryan's Hope love has been more than I could have ever imagined and I won't look a gift horse in the mouth, Louise Shaffer would definitely be on my own top 50 (if not top 10) list. I guess, suffice it to say, the best thing about this list is that it has made us all think about how many incredible actresses we've been lucky to see in this genre who have made such unique contributions. A list of 50 doesn't allow nearly enough room to not have to make a lot of tough choices.

  16. John - Definitely agree with you about Louis Schaffer.

    One more name to mention. This actress didn't have a long soap career, so there's no way she would make this list - I'm sure many of the people on the panel never saw her act. But during her brief soap career, she created one of the most vibrant and complex soap characters ever. I'm talking about Carla Borelli. Of course, I'm sure the person she was paired with - first on soaps, and then for life (and I assume that pairing is the primary reason she didn't have a longer career) would have to be fairly close to the top of any similar list devoted to actors, though he too hasn't appeared on a soap for more than two decades.

    Given that ES is no. 3, I assume that KZ will be one. As good as SF is, I don't see her as no.1. Though her 13 episodes on Dallas were all it took to convince me of her brilliance; she was the best "match" Dallas ever had for Larry Hagman.

  17. Greg, I loved Carla on TEXAS. Reena's bet with Justin and the fallout still sticks in my mind. And I was 12 (always look back and wonder what the heck I was thinking about some of these things at the time). Loved Reena and Grant.

    Our goal was to bring some attention to these fabulous actresses of soaps. We had a large panel to try to capture as many eras and actresses as possible so it wasn't just a list of people who were big today. Many just missed the cut but were included on multiple lists and we'll countdown those honorable mentions this week. But even then there will be others who aren't included. We'll be doing a fan's list as well so maybe with all this we can honor even more.

    It has been fun revisiting all these careers and looking forward to doing the same with the actors coming soon.

    Thanks for all your insightful comment. We appreciate the positive thoughts of those who value these actresses as much as we do.

  18. It is, frankly, a huge stinking insult to the divine Beverlee McKinsey, in not making her the Number One of this list.

    She never won an Emmy and it is only fair that, in death, she is given the kudos she deserved by being crowned as Hera, Queen of Olympus - greatest of the goddesses.

    Someone has been a very naughty Paris, and given the apple to the wrong actress.

    Beverlee IS number 1. It's not subjective, it's not up for debate. For your abysmal failure in recognising this, I'm going to get tyrannical dictator on your ass and tell you exactly how to rectify this. Swap her placement and make her number 1. Now. Do it.

    She. Is. THE. Greatest.

  19. I have watched soaps for over 40 years. The only soap I never watched was Secret Storm. In my opinion Beverlee McKinsey was the greatest soap actess of all time. Your list is quite flawed. No Eileen Fulton, that makes no sence. Crystal Chappel in the top 10, come on now she is a decent actress but you guys gave in to recent hype on that one. Kate Mulgrew and Sarah Felder and not Anna Stuart!
    Did your panel ever see an actress named Ann Williams? She played 4 varied and different roles and played them to the hilt. The strong Maggie Fielding, long suffering Eunice,heartbreaking June Slater, and bitchy but vulnerable Margo Dorn.

  20. Beverlee was absolutely wonderful, that's for sure! :)

  21. Whoa, any list like this is going to be "flawed," inasmuch as everyone's going to disagree with some of the choices. And we're not even talking about a list of film stars, where (most) influential performances are preserved, in some way. A lot of soaps performances are lost to us forever, and some of the best - including those from names I've likely never even heard of - probably predate professional soap reporting. I think given the relatively short length of time that it's been anyone's job to keep tabs on the talent at all of these shows, the panel is a pretty broad cross-section.

    As far as the results, I stated my piece about some names that I was surprised have not, apparently, made the list. And every time I've thought about it since then, I've vacillated between feeling terribly for giving any impression whatsoever that I was criticizing this initiative in any way and thinking of a bunch of other names have occurred to me since then (Maeve Kinkead! Lynn Herring! Ruth Warrick! Fiona Hutchison!). But the bottom line is that this list is more comprehensive than I could have ever imagined - especially since we're talking about something that, essentially, comes down to a matter of opinion. It's a hell of a lot more spot-on from my perspective than those wretched polls in the current soap rags, that repeatedly tell us the same 3-5 ingenues are putting nearly all of the actresses from this list (or at least the ones who are still working in soaps, which I suppose is one of the criteria) to shame, week after week.

    Thanks again, to the entire panel, for giving so many worthy actresses this recognition and for giving us the chance to relive some of the wonderful memories that they've given us over the years.

  22. Roger - I actually have the revelation of that bet somewhere on tape. As I recall, it was in the hospital, where everybody had been after a racing car had fallen on Gregory, and Justin was yelling at Ashley and TJ about TJ's having just pulled out of his wedding to Paige because he was supposedly having an affair with Ashley (when in reality TJ had pulled out because he had just been hit with the news that he was Gregory's birth father). Allison came in and screamed "You have no right, Justin, to which Justin responded "I have every right", to which Allison responded "You forget, I saw you in bed with Reena Decker last night." Neither Reena nor Grant were there, but Grant found out and, as a result of that and the fact that Grant's estranged wife had saved Grant by taking a bullet shot by George St. John (played by Chris Goutman, of course), the couple stayed apart until the last scene of the show.

    One scene between May and Borelli from the last week of the show stands out in my mind. It was probably their last scene together with sound. Reena unexpectedly ran into Grant and talked about what was and what could have been. Reena pressed Grant on whether he loved Judith, and Grant could only say that he loved taking care of Judith. Reena then asked Grant what he would've done if Judith hadn't been shot; Grant refused to speculate, saying "It's moot" since it did happen and so he had to take care of her. Reena quickly declared that Grant wouldn't be the man she was in love with if he didn't take care of Judith. Believing that they could never be because of the very qualities she loved him for, Reena rushed out of the office, believing that she would never see Grant again, and when she was far enough away to be sure that Grant wasn't going to see her, she stopped and desperately tried to regain her composure. Both actors played that scene extraordinarily well. I don't think I've ever watched a better scene of two people longing for each other while knowing that it can never be.
    The pain of their longing was extraordinarily palpable.

    Now, if only I could remember anything in the last month like I remember those scenes.

  23. Thanks for the memories, Greg. It's so interesting to me how we can remember some soap plots from our childhoods and the past more than some of the events in our own lives.

  24. MAC: I've been helping you for YEARS, what's it done? It's made you into an IMPOSSIBLE WOMAN.

    IRIS (trembling): Wh-wh-what are you saying?!

    MAC: I've finally REALISED, my dear, that you are never, never, never, NEVER... gonna CHANGE for the BETTER, whilst you still have me to fall back on!

    IRIS (sobbing): Oh, I knew it would come to this!

    MAC: YES, you KNEW it would! That's why you're crying! I've been too indulgent with you-


    MAC: You've twisted me around your finger for as long as I can remember. Well - NO MORE!

    IRIS: OH, so THAT'S why you sent me all the way off to SWITZERLAND, to a BOARDING SCHOOL when my MOTHER DIED!!!!




    IRIS: It's Rachel. Rachel. Rachel!!! RACHEL, RACHEL!!!! SHE'S TURNED YOU AGAINST ME, DADDY, SHE----

    MAC: I R I S !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Don't EVER set foot in this house again.

    IRIS: Oh, no, Daddy, PLEASE just LEAVE her, like yer left ALL THE OTHERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. Roger - If course, I probably have been thinking more about the end of Texas recently because of the end of Guiding Light. Gail Kobe and Pam Long borrowed quite a large number of Texas plots (plus a number of actors) when they went over and re-invented Guiding Light. And it was really the end of the Kobe/Long Guiding Light that the final episodes served as. Aside from the too brief Ed/Holly scene, I don't think there was a single scene in the last few episodes that acknowledged pre-83 GL. A couple of other characters on the finales were around before 1983, but nothing they did before 1983 mattered. (On the other hand, the events of 1983-1985 were the points of origin for much of what the last week tackled) That was my main complaint about the finale - the show really should have found a way to tip its heart to Bert Bauer and her family tree.

    And I'll stop digressing here, though there could hardly be a more appropriate place to discuss the relationship between Texas and GL than after a Beverlee McKinsey post.

  26. I grew up watching and admiring Beverlee McKinsy and Maeve Kinkead on GL. They made me want to act on soaps. Brilliant, gracious, beautiful. Soap opera icons for the ages.

  27. Beverlee McKinsey was my number one as well. I'm heartened to see others agree. She could do it all -"the bitch," the sympathetic mother, the alienated daughter, the lover. And her comic timing was unmatched.

    I was thinking that after she left AW, Texas and GL, none of the shows were ever the same dramatically. Texas was canceled shortly after her exit. Funny, how one actress can give a soap an identity.

    Flannery and Slezak were my 2 and
    3. Cannot quibble with Flannery being No. 1, though. She has a phenomental range.

    I can quibble with KZ as No. 2 on your list. There's a reason why she's one of the few living actresses on this list who is unemployed. Soaps are on tight budgets these day, and they can't afford to have scenery chewed!

  28. She might be deemed too "to-the-manor-born", but I didn't see nor hear mention of Maeve McGuire, the original Nicole on THE EDGE OF NIGHT. Sure, she plaid Elena on ANOTHER WORLD, and less popular roles on SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, ONE LIFE TO LIVE. But that woman had a range and charisma.

  29. I never thought Kim Zimmer was that great of an actress and I always thought GL would have been higher in the ratings had Alexandra been the central character of the show rather than Reva.


    Beverlee McKinsey is the Best Actor in the History of Daytime Television.

  30. Beverlee McKinsey did not need to " act " she was a natural,, she had the ability to use her voice in any way and when she rolled her eyes her actions and movements said it all. She will always be number # 1 ..