Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Whispering Bill Anderson Recalls His 'One Life to Live' Days

Country music legend Whispering Bill Anderson played a fictional character named Bill Anderson on ONE LIFE TO LIVE in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He wrote an blog entry about this time on the soap early last year. It's an interesting read so I thought I would share it here.

Many of you probably never knew, and most who did know have probably forgotten, that I once spent a large portion of three years playing the role of Bill Anderson, country singer, on the daytime soap opera, ONE LIFE TO LIVE.

“Don’t call it a ‘soap opera’,” one of the executives at ABC television told me early in my days on the set. “It’s a ‘daytime drama’.”

OK, so I was once on the daytime drama, ONE LIFE TO LIVE.

I have been mentally revisiting those days from the late seventies and early eighties recently upon hearing the sad news of the passing of two of the actors I worked with. One was Philip Carey, a great character actor for many years, who died at his New York home this week at the age of 83. The other was Clint Ritchie, who passed away at age 70 a few days ago in California.

I was a fish out of water when I was first hired to be on the show. But Phil and Clint and Bobby Woods and Erika Slezak and Judith Light and others went out of their way to be extremely nice to me. Yes, the same Judith Light who was in her last days of doing daytime drama when I joined the cast, and who later went on to sitcom and movie success in California. She could cuss like a parrot on steroids, but never has anybody been more gently encouraging to someone than Judith was to me.

I’ve laughed all over again this week over the time the entire cast and crew of the show flew into Knoxville, Tennessee, to spend a weekend at the local Dogwood Festival. Somehow the Festival was woven into the storyline of the show, and we rode in parades, visited with local dignitaries, and were collectively give the key to the city. It was a marvelous time.

The night before filming was to begin, I met the plane at the airport and took the entire cast out for a good ole southern dinner at a local eatery. As the actors and actresses were deplaning, Philip Carey spotted me in the distance. Making sure I could hear him, he turned to the group and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have landed in Tennessee. Everybody set your watches back ten years!” They all laughed, but I laughed louder than anyone.

Someday, when I have more time and space, I’ll tell you what Phil did when he found out he was in a dry county and couldn’t order an adult beverage to go along with his fried chicken, sweet potatoes, and cornbread.

I’m frequently asked in interviews, “Weren’t you once on a soap opera?” My answer is usually, “Yes, but then my whole life has been a soap opera.”

But the days I spent on the real one were some of the best of my life.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't watch OLTL back then, but I love Bill Anderson... thanks for posting this!