Sunday, December 27, 2015

In Memoriam: Remembering Those We Lost in 2015

We said goodbye to a number of entertainment icons and legends in 2015 along with many other familiar faces in front of and behind the camera, including from the world of daytime and primetime soap operas. We Love Soaps remembers their contributions fondly.

H. Wesley Kenney
H. Wesley Kenney passed away on January 13. He was 85. In 1968, Kenney left a directing job at The Doctors when he landed on the series that he may well be most known for, Days of our Lives, for which he directed and produced for seven years. After leaving to pursue other directorial projects, Kenney returned to Days of our Lives as an Executive Producer to help transition the show from half-hour episodes to hour-long episodes. Kenney went on to work on many of the most prominent daytime serials, directing and serving as executive producer on The Young and Restless from 1982-87 and for General Hospital from 1987-89.

Anne Kirkbride
Longtime Coronation Street star Anne Kirkbride passed away on January 19. She was 60. Kirkbride first showed up on Coronation Street, the world's longest-running active television soap opera, in 1972 as Deirdre Barlow, a teenager with a handful of lines. Within a few years, she had entered into a short-lived marriage with one character and then a romance and marriage with another, Ken Barlow.

Lorena Rojas
Lorena Rojas, the Mexican actress and singer who appeared in telenovelas for close to 25 years, died February 16 in Miami after a battle with cancer. She was 44.  Her soap opera credits included Alcanzar una estrella,  Bajo un mismo rostroComo en el cine, Ladrón de Corazones, El Cuerpo del Deseo, Pecados AjenosEntre el amor y el deseo, Rosario and Demente Criminal.

Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy died on February 27 in Los Angeles. He was 83. Before he famously played Mr. Spock, he appeared on ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital in 1963 as Bernie, a pill pusher who showed up at Peggy Mercer's house with a delivery for Roy Lansing.

Former daytime soap opera producer Patricia Wenig died on March 27 at Point Lookout Nursing & Rehab in Hollister, Missouri. She was 79. After working as a secretary for Benton and Bowles Advertising agency, she became a production secretary on the CBS daytime serial, The Edge of Night, a position she held for one year. Next came a six-year stint as a production assistant on As the World Turns, and later as the assistant to the producer on As the World Turns primetime spinoff Our Private World. She then worked for Ted Corday as a production secretary on NBC's Days of our Lives and the short-lived Morning Star series.  She served as a production assistant on Love Is a Many Splendored ThingBright Promise and Return to Peyton Place before joining The Young and the Restless production team in January 1973. Wenig was an associate producer during the early years of The Young and the Restless, promoted to producer in January 1976. She went on to serve as producer and supervising producer for 14 months at Days of our Lives (1981-1982). She moved to Capitol as supervising producer from 1982-1986.

Don Crabtree died on April 19 at age 86. He played roles in daytime soap operas Dark Shadows (Sheriff), The Edge of Night (Lloyd Hubbard) and Texas (Burton Canfield).

Dark Shadows stuntman Alex Stevens died on April 14. He was 79. Despite appearing in just 23 episodes of the series, Stevens managed to create one of the show's most iconic characters. (actually, two of its most iconic characters, since he played the werewolf incarnations of both Chris Jennings and Quentin Collins.) It was a popular enough gig to earn him a spot — in full werewolf drag — on the television game show What's My Line in 1970.

German-born baroness turned actress, writer and philanthropist Betsy von Furstenberg died April 21 at home in Manhattan. She was 83. She appeared in multiple daytime soap operas, including The Secret Storm (as Niele Neeves) and Another World (as the Duchess of Essex). In 1983, she famously replaced the legendary Eileen Fulton in the role of Lisa on As the World Turns, and stayed with the series for more than a year.

Jayne Meadows, a longtime television actress who was the widow of TV legend Steve Allen and the elder sister of actress Audrey Meadows, died on April 26. She was 95. Meadows guest-starred on The Bold and the Beautiful in 1993.

John Colenback
Actor John Colenback died on May 12 in West Hollywood of complications from the pulmonary disease COPD. He was 79. Colenback starred as Dr. Dan Stewart on the CBS soap opera As the World Turns from 1966-73 and again from 1976-79. Colenback also played roles on daytime dramas From These Roots and Capitol, and guest-starred on such TV shows as Hart to Hart, The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, Berrenger's and Falcon Crest.

Anne Meara died on May 23 at age 85. Meara and her husband, Jerry Stiller, were married for 61 years and worked together almost as long, the family said in a statement. In 1954 she joined the cast of short-lived NBC soap opera The Greatest Gift as Harriet. Meara recurred as Peggy Moody on ABC soap opera All My Children from 1993 to 1998.

Betsy Palmer died on May 29. The actress' manager, Brad Lemack, confirmed in a statement that she passed away due to natural causes at a hospice facility near her Danbury, Connecticut. She was 88. From January 1989 to November 1990, she played Valene's aunt, Virginia "Ginny" Bullock, in 29 episodes of CBS primetime soap opera Knots Landing (Seasons 10, 11 and 12).

Character actor Tony Longo passed away on June 21 at age 53. Longo appeared in 8 episodes as Carmine on Days of our Lives, and 46 episodes as Ray on The Young and the Restless.

Diana Douglas (nee Diana Dill), actress and mother of Michael Douglas, died on July 3 after a battle with cancer.  She was 92. She played Martha Evans in the NBC daytime soap opera Days of our Lives, recurring on the show from November 1977 to February 1979. She appeared again in May 1982 when it looked like Marlena had been murdered by the Salem Strangler, although it turned out it was Sam who was killed. Douglas' numerous other television credits included CBS daytime drama Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (as Lily Chernak Donnelly), and primetime series such as Dynasty (as Mother Blaisdel), The Paper Chase (as Professor Tyler), Knots Landing (as Dr. Charlotte Kramer), Dallas (as Dr. Suzanne Lacey) and The Cowboys (as Annie Anderson).

Amanda Peterson, a TV and film actress best remembered for playing the love interest of Patrick Dempsey in 1987’s Can’t Buy Me Love, died on July 3 at age 43. Peterson’s most notable television work was as on NBC’s A Year in the Life, which started as a 1986 miniseries before being turned into a drama series the following year.

Emmy-winning character actor Alex Rocco, best known for his role as mobster Moe Greene in The Godfather, died July 18 at age 79. In March 2004, Rocco guest-starred on ABC daytime soap opera One Life to Live as FBI Chief Christopher Scaletta.

Oscar-nominated actor George Coe died July 18 after a long illness. He was 86. In 1971-72, he played Leo Kurtz on NBC soap opera Somerset. He also appeared as Scott Conrad on daytime drama The Doctors.

Leon B. Stevens died on July 30 at age 89.  He played Buck Lange/Dr. John Carpenter/Carlton DeWitt on The Edge of Night, Dr. Bill Stanton on One Life to Live; and Judge Patterson/Judge Leonard Morris on Ryan's Hope

Professional wrestling legend "Rowdy" Roddy Piper died July 31 at his Hollywood home. He was 61. Piper, whose real name was Roderick George Toombs, joined World Wrestling Entertainment in 1984; before that he wrestled in the NWA.

Actress Coleen Gray died on August 3 of natural causes at her home in Bel Air. She was 92. Gray played Diane Hunter on NBC soap opera Days of our Lives (1966-1967) and Ann Boyd Jones on Bright Promise (1969-1970).

Lela Swift
Director Lela Swift died on August 4 at her Santa Monica home of natural causes. She was 96. In 1966, Swift joined producer Dan Curtis on the ABC gothic serial Dark Shadows. After a slow start, the show became a big hit; it ran five seasons and 1,225 episodes, and Swift directed nearly 600 of them and was a producer for the final seasons. In 1975, she helmed the first episode of ABC's daytime drama Ryan’s Hope. It would run for 14 years, and Swift directed many of its episodes, more than 825 in all.

Actor, television writer, playwright and voiceover artist John P. Connell died on September 10. He was 91. Best known for his role in NBC daytime soap opera Young Doctor Malone, Connell starred as David Malone, a doctor who worked with his doctor father, Jerry (William Prince), at Valley Hospital. The show, which mixed medical crises with lighthearted humor, ran for five years. He also appeared on daytime dramas The Edge Of Night, Love of Life, The Secret Storm and Dark Shadows.

Lorimar co-founder and TV mogul Merv Adelson dies on September 8 at age 85.  Among the many hit shows to stem from Lorimar were Eight is Enough, Alf, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, Full House and Dallas.

Veteran stage and screen actress Sloane Shelton passed away on September 17 at age 81. The talented character actress played several memorable characters including Harriet Corbman on As the World Turns, Loretta Delahanty in Another World, Mildred Quinn on Lovers and Friends/For Richer, For Poorer, Elaine Robbins in Search for Tomorrow, and Dr. Thompson on Ryan's Hope.

New York Yankees icon, and Hall of Fame catcher, Yogi Berra died on September 22 at the age of 90. In the fall of 1963, he guest-starred on new ABC soap opera General Hospital, which starred former Major League Baseball player turned actor John Beradino. Berra made $155 for his bit part.

Actress Catherine Coulson, best known for playing the Log Lady on David Lynch's Twin Peaks, died on September 22. She was 71. Coulson the Log Lady on both seasons of Twin Peaks and in the prequel film, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

Frank Albanese, who played Tony Soprano’s uncle, retired mobster Pat Blundetto, in three episodes of The Sopranos, died October 5 in a Staten Island, N.Y. hospice. He was 84.

Peter Baldwin
Former Coronation Street actor Peter Baldwin died on October 23 at age 82 following a short illness. The father-of-two was best known for his 21-year-stint playing Derek Wilton in the popular British soap opera.

Colombian soap star Adriana Campos died in a car crash on November 3, alongside her husband, Carlos Rincón. The couple was driving southwest of Colombia's Department of Antioquia when Rincón lost control of the automobile, causing the car to fall in río Cauca in jurisdicción de Bolombolo. Both bodies were taken to Salgar, Antioquia. Campos, 36, was nominated for two Premios TV y Novela awards (the Latin equivalent of the Daytime Emmys) during the course of her 15-year career, which saw her star in telenovelas like Vecinos and Bella Calamidades. The couple left behind a 1-year-old son.

Veteran television and movie actor Fred J. Scollay died November 3 in Hobe Sound, FL. He was 92. On daytime TV, Scollay was an original cast member of NBC's The Doctors, playing hospital chaplain Rev. Sam Shafer (1963-1964). On Another World (1977-1980), he played Charley Hobson, the last husband of Ada Hobson (Constance Ford). He also had roles on several other soap operas including Somerset (as Harry Wilson aka Ike Harding), Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (Police Chief Rame), The Edge of Night (Dr. John Carpenter and Lobo Haines) and Search for Tomorrow (Arthur Kendricks).

Nathaniel Marston
Nathaniel Marston passed away on November 11 at age 40. The actor had been hospitalized since being critically injured in a car crash on October 31. Martson starred as Eddie Silva on As the World Turns from 1998 to 2000, and earned a Soap Opera Digest Award nomination as Outstanding Male Newcomer. He then played Al Holden and, later, Michael McBain on One Life to Live from 2001 to 2007, earning a second nomination.

Indian actor and Bollywood veteran Saeed Jaffrey died on November 14 at age 86. His best known roles included the Nawab of Mirat in the landmark 1980s series The Jewel In The Crown and Ravi Desai in UK soap opera Coronation Street.

British soap opera pioneer Hazel Adair, who helped create Crossroads, Compact and the UK's first daily soap Sixpenny Corner, died on November 22 at age 95. She created Crossroads with Peter Ling, based in a motel in the fictional village of King's Oak near Birmingham, in 1964 for ITV company ATV. It was watched by 18 million viewers in the 1970s, but was axed in the 1980s after 24 years on the air.

David Canary
Legendary actor David Canary passed away of natural causes on November 16, at The Greens at Cannondale in Wilton, Connecticut. His television career included playing Mia Farrow's physical therapist in primetime soap opera Peyton Place. He later joined the cast of Bonanza as Candy Canaday, ranch foreman of the Ponderosa. He remained there until the show’s finale in 1972. In October 1981 he joined the cast of NBC daytime drama Another World as Steven Frame. He played the role until February 1983. Just 10 days after the birth of their first child, he began a 26-year stint on the classic ABC soap opera All My Children, creating the dual roles of Adam and Stuart Chandler, which garnered him five Outstanding Actor Awards and 16 nominations between 1983 and 2001. Canary retired from full-time acting in 2010.

Al Markim, a pioneering TV actor, award-winning producer, visionary video executive, died on November 24. He was 88. He was an early cast member of the CBS daytime soap opera Love of Life. He is best known as Astro, in the classic 1950s TV serial Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.

Oscar-nominated actor Robert Loggia died on December 4 at age 85. He was well known for his roles in gangster movies, playing a Miami drug lord in Scarface, and a Sicilian mobster in Prizzi's Honor. On daytime soap operas, he played Frank Carver on CBS' The Secret Storm, and Dr. Tony Vincente on Search for Tomorrow. In 2003 Loggia appeared in four episodes of HBO's The Sopranos, as gangster Feech La Manna.

Patricia Elliott
Tony Award-winning actress Patricia Elliott died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan after a battle with cancer. She was 77. Elliott was on the CBS Radio Mystery Theater series from 1974 through 1982, and played Renee Divine Buchanan on One Life to Live from 1988 to 2011. She received two Soap Opera Digest Awards nominations as Outstanding Supporting Actress.


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  2. RIP to all of those fine actors and actresses, who gave us some of their best years alive.