Some say all roles on soap operas can be recast. In fact, Agnes Nixon had warned the original cast of All My Children that their contracts were interim until they had proven themselves in their role. Key characters like Anne Tyler and Kate Martin were recast multiple times in the first year. Nixon struck gold with long time cast members Judith Barcroft and Kay Campbell.
All My Children is revisiting this dangerous territory this spring when Jamie Lunar rolls on as Liza Colby, a role already with one failed recast under its belt. Marcy Walker defined the role of conniving, spoiled, rich girl Liza Colby in two stints that spanned just over two decades.
Lunar has the tough role of filling the shoes of one of Daytime's most popular actresses in a very popular role. Only time will tell whether Lunar can count herself amongst the program's finest, or forgettable. The following are just three recasts that left viewers scratching their heads:
Anne Tyler (from Judith Barcroft 1971-77, to Gwynn Gillis, 1979-81)
Though a recast herself, Judith Barcroft brought the character of Anne to the forefront. Barcroft was to the adult set of of Pine Valley citizens what Ruth Warrick (ex-Phoebe Tyler) was to its founders and what Susan Lucci (ex-Erica Kane) was to its younger set; the axis in which all the story lines revolved. After a memorable love triangle with Nick Davis and Paul Martin, Barcroft took Anne off the canvas with a dramatic fall into insanity after the death of the baby she had longed for, for so long. Co-star Bill Mooney (ex-Paul) said of Barcroft that, "She's an extremely skilled and inventive actor, and a gloriously beautiful woman. I think we have a very special chemistry together."
When Nixon decided to bring Anne back in 1979, the role was recast with Gwynn Gillis. Anne was now the spoiler in the blossoming relationship between Paul and Ellen Shepherd. After her reconciliation with Paul, it was clear that there was not any story left to be told for Anne. She was killed off in a car explosion meant for Paul. Frankly, Anne would have been better off left in Oak Haven.
Dr. Angie Baxter Hubbard (from Debbi Morgan 1982-90, 1993-97, 2008-present, to Saundra Quarterman 1990-91)
Debbi Morgan rocked the soap world when she announced she was leaving her flagship role of Angie Hubbard on #2 Soap Opera All My Children, for fledgling neophyte Generations. The character of Angie stood out for being a positive portrayal of an African American woman. She grew up in front of the audience's eyes from an virginal high school student into a successful doctor. It only made sense that Morgan wanted to explore the opportunities at Generations, a soap opera revolving around an intentionally racially diverse cast.
The decision to recast the role of Angie was even more surprising. By 1990, Angie was not involved in a major storyline or popular romantic pairing; her departure seemed rather imminent. Recast Saundra Quarterman failed to impress the audience. She was let go with very little fanfare less than a year into her run. Morgan would reclaim the role in 1993, and continues to portray the character to this day.
Del Hunkle Henry (Winsor Harmon 1994-95 to Alec Musser 2005-08)
Winsor Harmon did not have much time to make the role of town saint Dixie Cooney's never mentioned half-brother Del Henry his own. The Texan new-comer spent less than a year on the show before departing with on-screen love interest, Sarah Michell Gellar (ex-Kendall Hart). Harmon landed on his feet when he was cast as The Bold and the Beautiful's black sheep,Thorne Forrester.
In 2005, I Want to Be a Soap Star winner Alec Musser came on in the role of a very de-aged Del. What seemed like an idea opportunity to delve into the character's past relationships with the Cortlandt family or ex-fiance Kendall (then recast with Alicia Minshew), instead had viewers seeing Del as an all new character. By the end of 2005, Musser served to solely fill the "hunk factor" in Pine Valley, being dragged out for large ensemble scenes. After three years as a glorified under-five, Musser and Del disappeared into the land of "recurring players;" a move probably left unnoticed by most.
Let's not even get started about Ruth Martin...