Thursday, May 13, 2010

50 Greatest Soap Actors: #4 Michael Zaslow

NAME: Michael Zaslow
SOAP ROLES: David Renaldi, ONE LIFE TO LIVE (1983-1986, 1998); Roger Thorpe, GUIDING LIGHT (1971-1980, 1989-1997); Jonathan Hadary, KINGS CROSSING (1982); Michael West, FALCON CREST (1982); Dick Hart, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW (1970-1971); Pete Chernak, LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING (1970)

1999 Soap Opera Digest Award win - Editor's Choice
1995 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1994 Daytime Emmy win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1994 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Villain/Villainess
1993 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1994 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor
1992 Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
1992 Soap Opera Digest Award win for Outstanding Villain: Daytime
1991 Soap Opera Digest Award nomination for Outstanding Villain: Daytime

Roger Newcomb: There are certain soap opera scenes I watched as a kid that stuck with me and are still fresh in my mind today. Roger Thorpe was a big part of those. Roger and Rita in the Hall of Mirrors and Roger's "death" in 1980 were riveting. Zaslow made Roger one of the most layered and complex characters in the history of television.

Nelson Aspen: Of course Roger Thorpe may be the most memorable villain in soap history, but that's only because of the skills of his portrayer. No one else could have infused such a despicable rotten character with so much delicious humanity. Almost as compelling on OLTL, his bravery in bringing his own battle with Lou Gehrig's disease to the viewing audience shows what an enormous force he continued to be after GL so foolishly kicked him to the curb.

Alan Carter: I didn't know Michael well, but I remember when a daytime exec referred to Roger as a "wizened old man" what a punch in the gut I felt...that's when I realized what an impact he had had on me as an actor....not only didn't I think he was EVER a wizened old man, but remembering all his history, those scenes with Holly, the many "deaths" and the pathos...Michael remains very much alive to me even though he is long gone. I truly believe when he left GL it was the beginning of the end for that show.

Patrick Erwin: Michael Zaslow brought intensity to all of his roles, and a sense of mystery to David Renaldi. But his crowning achievement remains Roger Thorpe. I’ve never seen a better portrait of a man struggling with his inner Jekyll and Hyde than Zaslow’s masterful take on Roger.

Connie Passalacqua Hayman (Marlena De Lacroix): He played the ultimate villain Roger Thorpe on GUIDING LIGHT with layers and layers and layers. A beautiful portrait of a very troubled man. If you want to see him in something weird, check him out in a movie called You Light Up My Life. Yes, the story behind that schmaltzy 70s song. His romantic lead was Didi Conn (Grease).

Lynn Liccardo: My list was in alphabetical order, so Michael Zaslow was at the bottom. But I told Roger that for ranking purposes to feel free to reverse the order. Enough said.

Fiona Hutchison: (worked with Zaslow on GUIDING LIGHT) Michael Zaslow was one of my dearest friends and one of the funniest pranksters to work with. He would do jokes on me to me, not necessarily that everybody else would notice. He was tremendously charming and tremendously fun to work with. He could be such a powerhouse and aggressive and he was really scary when the character was written in a rage. He would always challenge me to meet his heights in whatever argument scene we might have coming down the road, and they wrote quite a few of them. We always had such a blast absolutely hating one another. We truly needed a cool down period after we stopped the aggressive fight scenes. We sort of looked at each other when we walked off the stage. It took us a few minutes [laughs]. I loved Michael and his wife and children, and he loved my family. There was a great friendship there. We knew each other long before we worked together.

Michael O'Leary: (worked with Zaslow on GUIDING LIGHT) Michael was the quintessential villain. The reason he was so good because he made you love him and hate him at the same time.

Tina Sloan: (worked with Zaslow on GUIDING LIGHT) I loved him as a person and the tragedy of losing him so young was awful.


  1. I actually had Zaslow higher up on my list. Great actor - such a loss when he died so tragically. His Roger was truly one of the all-time best soap characters ever.

  2. He should at least be #3. Even if he were #1 on this list, he'd still be underrated as an actor--he was that good. His talent was far superior to almost all those in the soap opera genre. He very well could've left daytime and had a fantastic career on primetime or in movies, but thank god he didn't.

  3. Definitely in my top five, also. Great choice, WLS.
    As Columbus said, his Roger was truly one of the best soap characters ever.

  4. I agree with all three comments here - Michael Zaslow was once of the biggest assets to "Guiding Light" and soap operas, in general. I actually thought he might be #1...

  5. Sure is great memories, MZ was great. He was in the original Star Trek Series Titled; The Man Trap, he was the first to die in Star Trek; I sure hope Susan Lucci isn't number one Helen Wagner ought to be number one. Helen has been with one soap playing the same character since the show began.

  6. Had hoped he might be number 1...but so thankful here's near the top. He had such humanity with a sinister edge. Even watching clips of him today from back hasn't dated whatsoever. Great choice again WLS!!!

  7. He is probably one or two on my personal list.

    Alan Carter mentioned the "wizened old man" comment which was made by Barbara Bloom. I was furious with her and for him! I couldn't imagine someone being that nasty and to so great an actor who had given so much to GL.

  8. Thanks for the recognizing Zaslow. He was a gem. So many of his scenes are etched in my memory including when Roger raped Holly. Scary and powerful. What a talent.

  9. I wish that I could grab ahold of a Barbara Bloom voodoo doll & stick pins in her after reading about that wizened old man description of Mr. Zaslow that was long ago attributed to her--GGRRRRRR!

  10. I believe Mickey Dwyer-Dobbin from P&G is the one who made that comment, not Barbara Bloom. I can't remember all her history, but wasn't Bloom working for ABC when that happened?

  11. For me, soap doesn't get better than Zaslow. Brilliant actor - he had so much heart, and brought so much depth to what could easily have been a throw-away role. I miss him, still.

  12. I was reading quite a bit of the book from Zaslow and his wife that was released a few years ago. It's hard to believe how badly he was treated by P&G/GL.