In October, 1991, I got a call at The Daily News from a publicist named Rodi at One Life To Live. She asked me if I would like to be an extra on the episode celebrating James DePaiva’s return as Max Holden for a feature called “A Day in the Life of a Soap Opera” in the newspaper.
That day changed my career. Not just because Digest Editor Lynn Leahey saw my story and invited me to interview for a job at Soap Opera Digest, but because that is the day I met “The Buchanan Men.”
Frank Valentini was OLTL’s stage manager back then (!), charged with corralling all the actors and behind-the-scenes people to insure filming went smoothly. My job at the “Max is back!” party was to play the photographer assigned to “cover” it – and my first scene was with Phil Carey’s Asa Buchanan.
Phil wanted no part of some silly girl writing a feature on “A Day in the Life of a Soap Opera,” but as the day went on, he started to grudgingly respect that I had a job to do, too. After about 12 hours, someone at OLTL gave me lines and suddenly I was an under-five (an actor with under five lines).
Phil thought it was the funniest thing that the “girl reporter” suddenly had lines, and he roped Clint Ritchie (Clint) and Bob Woods (Bo) into giving me line readings. As I recall, one of my lines was, “Hold still, Mr. Buchanan!” which amused those three rascals greatly.
When the party finally finished taping at about 2 am, I had put in 17 hours on the OLTL set, and made some friends for life. One of them was Phil Carey, who allowed me to interview him for Digest when I joined the magazine six months later. And then there was our infamous “Buchanan Men” interview in 1993, which resulted in the head of ABC Daytime calling my new boss Lynn before it was even published… but that’s another story.
I tell you this because last Saturday I attended the wedding of Phil Carey’s daughter Shannon to a wonderful guy named Chris Fazzolari. I sat with Phil’s widow, Colleen, and her close friends Bob and Loyita Woods. Woods did a reading during the service, and later danced the “father/daughter” dance with a radiant Shannon at the reception. It was a beautiful night full of laughter and good wishes.
All that was missing was one big-hearted cowboy.
I couldn’t help thinking how much it would have meant to Phil that his “son” Woodsy was able to stand in for him with Shannon on her special day. Or how lucky we all are that that crazy Llanview studio on West 67th Street spawned so many great friendships.
It really was one big crazy family – and it still is today.