Daytime Drama history has been peppered with famous faces perhaps better known for their work outside of the genre (i.e. stage or film). Some of them were such daytime fans that they sought out work in their favorite soaps. For example, Dame Elizabeth Taylor not only played Helena Cassadine on General Hospital, but also portrayed a unnamed board member at the Chateau (1983) as well as a maid at the Goal Post Restaurant (1984) on All My Children. The ever-popular Betty White played an unaccredited Waitress as well as a lady in the theatre on the series Santa Barbara (1988) before she portrayed Ann Douglas on The Bold and the Beautiful (2006 – 2009). Others include June Lockhart, Tippi Hedren, Michael Learned, etc. We will be occasionally highlighting many of these remarkably talented individuals, and who better to begin with than the brilliant, Carol Burnett.
When we reached out to Ms. Burnett at her home North of Los Angeles, she told us “I first got hooked on AMC back when Mary was married to Jeff. I’m not sure, but it might even have been before Erica married the first of her hundred husbands. At any rate, I watched every episode, with the exception of four weeks spent in Europe, until its cancellation … which I’m still very upset about! I used to talk about AMC to the audience during a taping of my television show. I was thrilled when the brilliant Agnes Nixon wrote a part for me. Her name was Verla Grubbs and she was the child of a circus carney and snake charmer. Verla was trashy, but had a heart of gold. She came to Pine Valley in search of her father, the carney, who had changed his name to Langley Wallingford, and was married to Pine Valley’s wealthy and eccentric – Phoebe Tyler. According to the story line, I was to appear over a two-week schedule. I flew to New York, excited as all get-out, not only over my being cast, but also because I was going to meet and act with some of my favorite characters! Wow Erica, Myrtle, Phoebe, Langley, Tad, Opal, Brooke, etc. etc. They were as terrific and nice and supportive as I had hoped. I was in Pine Valley Heaven,” cooed Ms. Burnett. She continued, “I have to say, however, that acting in a daily Soap Opera is no walk in the park. On any given day, an actor might have as many as 20 pages of dialogue to memorize! Not only memorize, but give a true and believable performance. There were times when AMC actors could have won Oscars, had they been on the big silver screen. I was in awe of their talents. I admired Agnes Nixon’s take on prominent issues of the day, A.I.D.S, Gay characters, among others. She is a true pioneer. I miss AMC. I am happy that I was able to be a tiny part of such an amazing show.”