Transcript of the interview with actor
better known as Dr. Bob Hughes on
AS THE WORLD TURNS
The interview was aired live at 8pm eastern
on Monday, May 9, 1994
It was conducted by Peter Anthony Holder
the evening talk show host on
CJAD 800 AM, Montreal
CJAD: This hour, we have a very special guest on with us. I was talking earlier with Robert Vairo when we did the crossover at 6:15, and we got off onto a little tangent. The question came up, "where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot?" And I remember this distinctly, albeit at the the tender age of five, going to half day kindergarten. School in the daytime, or in the morning and home with Mom in the afternoon, and watching AS THE WORLD TURNS. As long as I can remember, I have been watching AS THE WORLD TURNS, and thank heavens, folks, for VCRs now. And for as long as I can remember, one of the actors on that program has been a fellow by the name of Don Hastings, who has played Dr. Bob Hughes. And Don Hastings is with us on the program. Hello Don.
DON: Hi Peter, how are ya?
CJAD: Fine and you sir?
DON: Good thank you.
CJAD: This is truly a pleasure to have you on the program.
DON: Well, it's a pleasure for me too.
CJAD: You have been on that show how long now sir?
DON: Well, let's see. I started in 1960 on this one. And they haven't wised up to me yet, so it will be, what 34 years in October.
CJAD: That's amazing. I should tell the audience the number to call is 790-0991 if they would like to speak to Don Hastings. That's 790-0991. And if you're in your car you can dial *Talk. *8255, which is a service of Bell Mobility. Now some people of course.....a lot of people know you from AS THE WORLD TURNS, but there are those who might know you from Captain Video.
DON: But that's a long time ago. That's before you were born. Yea, that was from 1949 to 1955 on what was then the Dumont Television Network. That no longer exists.
CJAD: What was that like in the early days of television, being on a show like. Being one of the early teen heart throbs, I guess?
DON: (Laughing) Well, I don't know about that, but it was great. Well, I was 15 when it went on, and 21 when I went off, and I think it was probably the reason I'm still in the business. That's kind of an awkward age. I had been a kid actor and done some plays and stuff on Broadway and whatever, but growing up from 15 to 21 is usually when kid actors drop out. And it kept me employed and I had really one of the best times in my life, working with an awful lot of good actors who are all over the place now. It was just great. It was like my college education.
CJAD: Your brother is also an actor, is he not?
DON: Yeah, Bob Hastings. He was on....well for people who watch soaps, he was on GENERAL HOSPITAL for seven years. He played Captain Ramsey. He was a police officer on that. And he was on McHALE'S NAVY for however many years that was on. And he's in a lot of movies that were made out in Universal with Don Knotts and stuff like that. He's still kickin' out there.
CJAD: When you first got on AS THE WORLD TURNS back in 1960 did you think this ride would still be going on until this point today.
DON: Never, you know, most of the time when you sign to do these shows, they're anywhere from a year to three year terms, so you just kind of re-up, you know. Things....you look around and say, "gee this is pretty good. I think I'll just stay, maybe three more years, and here I am 34 years later. But it's ah....I work with a lot of good people and I like the job and it also affords us to travel a lot and have weekends off and live like normal people.
CJAD: Was there ever a time in those years, I mean, the show has gone through....has had its ups and downs. Has gone through various cast changes. Various personel changes in the background. It's been up in the ratings, down in the ratings....its ebb and flow over the years. Was there ever a period when you said, "Oh, this is enough?"
DON: Yeah, a couple of times. More maybe because of administrations that took over ths show. Not necessarily the client. The show is owned by Proctor & Gamble. But you get a group of producers or writers who weren't terribly interested in you, or what, and there were a couple of serious times that I really did think of leaving and got talked out of it. And situations just got better and there I am.
CJAD: On a daytime soap, it covers a lot of provocative topics. It covers just about everything long before anyone else does. Certainly it's ahead of nighttime, or it has been in the past. Was there ever a time when you opened up your script and said, "I can't believe this!"
DON: (laughter) I just said that a few minutes ago...(laughter). Yeah, there have been times and I must say that the one that sticks in my mind was really a religious thing that bothered me. A writer had written a thing for a Good Friday show that I just took exception to, and I guess made a statement such...and in those days when the show was live we would do a read through the day before the show and then go in at seven o'clock the next morning or 7:30 and then go on the air in New York at 1:30. And I had said, you know, this has gotta be changed. This is...it's sacreligious. And we all kind of looked and when the producer said, "well let's see what we can do," and I got a call from the writer that night. And I thought, "well that's the end of Dr. Bob. He's gonna get strung up." And she actually was sympathetic. She hadn't written it. One of the other writers had written it. And she didn't see anything wrong with it. So then she made some changes and it made it acceptable to me and I didn't lose my job. And so it worked out okay. The other stuff, I mean, I remember when we went on the air and you had a bedroom scene, and usually it had to be with your wife. Somebody had to have one foot on the floor, because no two people could be in the same bed, you know. Now it's a little different now, Peter.
CJAD: You mentioned the live aspect of it so many years ago. I started off by mentioning the day that President Kennedy was shot. Were you on set that day?
DON: I remember it very well.
CJAD: What was that like that day. Were you on set that day?
DON: I was on set. In fact....I don't know exactly, you know. They use a clip of Helen Wagner and Santos Ortega from the show. Helen plays Nancy and Santos played Grandpa Hughes. But they interupted the show with a bulletin, and then they came back. And Henderson Forsythe and I had a scene. And right before they cued us, one of the cameramen, over his headsets heard something and he said, "what?...don't tell the actors what?....that the President's been shot?" And they cued us, and Hank and I did the scene. Now, I don't know that any of that ever went on the air. It may not have gone on the air, but I know that there was a bulletin and then a confirmation that Kennedy actually had been shot. It was a very strange...ah...a very strange time. Here we were in a television studio, in a communications center and we had...everything went dark. Our monitors went dark. We had no audio or anything. Once it had been confirmed that he was shot, the only way we got any news was one of the guards had a portible radio. I guess that's a national emergency situation, and everything went to black in our studio.
CJAD: Do you miss the days of live television.
DON: Well, the nice thing about it was you were through at two o'clock. I mean, now we'll go....you know we've got big party scenes in something, we'll go in at seven o'clock in the morning and sometimes have not gotten out until three or four the next morning. When you've got a big Roxy as we call them....when you've a...oh, I don't know, a wedding or a costume ball, or something like that. And then, you know, you're back in at seven the next....if it happens to be on a weeknight that you do it, there are some of us that have to be back in at seven to do the next show. So it's very trying tiring schedule when it comes to that. A normal day is 13 hours to do an episode. We go in at seven and hopefully we get out by eight o'clock that same night.
CJAD: That's a very long day.
DON: It is a long day. We have a good schedule in the sense that we have two studios and they're set up separately. And you can be in the AM studio, which is seven until about 1:45 or you can be in the PM studio, which is 1:45 until completion. Like tomorrow I'll be in at seven, but I could really be out of there by noon. I think I'm in the first three or four scenes.
CJAD: I was reading an article, I guess about a year and a half ago....forgive me, the actress who at the time was playing Royce...Terry Lester's sister,
DON: Oh, Mary Kay Adams.
CJAD: Mary Kay Adams, that's right....and she was mentioning that when she joined the show, the one thing she found very interesting about it was that unlike other shows she had been on, I guess most importantly GUIDING LIGHT, was that there were a lot of scenes where a lot of the cast members would interact with each other. She, in the other shows, sometimes never saw some of the other characters or never interacted with some of the other characters, but there are a lot of group scenes, as you mentioned, a lot of parties, a lot of...
DON: Yeah, crossover scenes, kind of.
DON: Yeah, they throw us all....like the Mona Lisa, which is a nightclub restaurant. And we kid a lot about the solarium at the hospital. You never see any patients, but you see a lot of contract players going by, you know. They say, in order to get anywhere, you've got to go through the solarium.
CJAD: We have some people standing by who want to talk to you on the line....Dina in Lachine, hello.
CJAD: Hi there.
CALLER: How are you?
DON: Fine, how are you?
CALLER: I'm okay. I just wanted to say, I'm 16 and I've been watching AS THE WORLD TURNS for like, ten years now.
CALLER: And I jut wanted to say that you guys...you all act like...interact like you like a family. Do you like just work with each other or do you do things after work?
DON: Well, I just came in a few minutes ago from upstate. Both Dr. John, that's Larry Bryggman....Dr. John has a farm up there. So do I. And he just gave me a lift down from the city and we stopped and had dinner with his son in Rye, New York. And we didn't hit each other or yell at each other or anything (laughter)....No he's one of my best friends and we are...you know we see a lot of each other because of, not only working together, but having places about seven miles apart up in Duchess County, New York. But a lot of the people...we're very close. Kathy Hayes, who plays Kim and all of us. We see a lot of each other at work, which doesn't necessarily mean we socialize a lot.
CJAD: Although, you are going to a play tomorrow night, are you not?
DON: Yes, oh that's with Scott Holmes, who's opening on...actually we're not going, Peter, that got changed.
CJAD: Oh you're not.
DON: No, we were supposed to go to his opening night tomorrow. Scott Holmes, who plays my son Tom, is opening in a show called BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE GOES PUBLIC. And I hear he's just wonderful. And Larry Bryggman is in a revival of PICNIC. The William Hinge play. So we're going to see both of those next week. That got changed, yeah.
CJAD: Do you have another question, Dina>?
CALLER: Can I ask one more thing?
CJAD: Go ahead.
CALLER: Is Jon Hensley a nice guy?
DON: Yeah he is.
CALLER: Because like , oh I love him....
DON: The one thing I don't like about him is that he can hit a golf ball about twice as far as I can....(laughter)...no he's a very nice young man.
CALLER: Because, you know he's very personal. I never get very many interviews in magazines and everything.
DON: He's very private about his private life, and I don't blame him. You know, he's a good guy
CJAD: Thank you for the call.
CALLER: Thank you very much.
CJAD: The last caller just mentioned one of the younger characters on the show. You see a lot of the magazines talk about the younger characters all the time on the show. How does that make you feel?
DON: It makes me feel old, Peter.
CJAD: Because one of the things that's very interesting about AS THE WORLD TURNS is it doesn't cast aside generations. I mean, it hasn't in the past. I think that's one of the things that makes it different from the other shows.
DON: I think so. There was an article recently in one of the magazines about the different layers that the show has that other shows have given up on. There was a move at one time, with some people who were running the show, to youthify it. And they got rid of an awful lot of good people, but they stopped short of myself and Larry Bryggman and Eileen Fulton who plays Lisa, Kathy Hayes. And they brought some people back. They brought Helen Wagner back, who plays Nancy. And I think it has helped the show. In fact, in this article, somebody said, "you know, you turn it on and there's Dr. Bob. He's still there hanging on." But, I mean, the show has, I guess, something for everybody. We have a lot of good young performers on the show now. ABC ran away with the young people probably about 15 years ago and our demographics kept getting older and older. And some of the other shows, the P&G shows and CBS shows, they made some changes too quickly, I think. We still have the nucleus of family there that people, I think, are comfortable with, you know.
CJAD: Going from live to tape was a change. How about going from 30 minutes to 60.
DON: Well that's when we went to tape. We were the last live dramatic show on television. And we had the hour just precluding doing it live....it would be foolish. And also we had a cast of probably about, I would say maybe 12 contract players in those days, maybe 15. Now we have like 38. We do, you know, big Roxy kind of shows. We never did those. Once in awhile there would be a party scene, but it would be controlled. You wouldn't have 30 principles and 25 extras in it, you know. And shots from the ceiling. We have these pencil cams now that they put up on a boom and they put it 30 feet in the air and shoot down on things. It's Busby Berkley, or whatever the heck...(laughter)...there's so much technically we can do now. But when you get involved like that, it takes time. And there's no way to do it live.
CJAD: Let's go back to the phones. Audrey hello.
CALLER: Hi Bob!
CALLER: I never expected to talk to somebody from Oakdale.
DON: (laughter)....Oakdale's all over the place.
CALLER: Yeah, I go back to when you were engaged to Lisa.
DON: Oh, that's a long time ago.
DON: That's when I first came on the show.
DON: Yeah, 1960.
DON: In fact, actually, I came on and we were already married. They decided to age Bob. And I had been on another show called EDGE OF NIGHT. I had been on that for about four years and was about to leave that. And they hired me to move over to WORLD TURNS and I think the other young fella, Ronny Welch, had just about gotten into college and bam, in two months I was out of medical school. So my education is a little sketchy.
CALLER: Oh, I see...what about your sister Penny and your brother Don.
DON: Rosemary Prinz is a very good actress and does a lot of regional theatre. And I don't know whether you saw a movie called STEEL MAGNOLIAS. Quite a popular movie. Well Rosie did that on the Broadway stage and was excellent at it. She does a lot of theatre in New York. Not too much television. And the last gentleman to play Donald Hughes is an actor by the name of Conard Folks (?not sure on spelling?). He's around working. He hasn't been back with us for awhile. But he's still gainfully employed here and there.
CALLER: Do you have a close relationship with Lisa
DON: Yes, we've known each other for a long time. 34 years, and she's a screwball and a nice one. We have a good time together when we work together. She's a lot of fun, she really is.
CALLER: And I remember when Nancy used to be such a witch.
DON: I'll tell her you said that. (laughter)
CALLER: But she's nice now.
DON: Yeah, we've all mellowed. That character has mellowed a great deal.
CALLER: Even to John Dixon. I never used to like him......
DON: Nah, he's a good guy.
CALLER: But nowadays I do.
CJAD: Thank you for the call Audrey....On the phone line with us is Don Hastings, one of the stars of AS THE WORLD TURNS.....Don, you play a character named Bob. You have a brother named Bob.
DON: Very confusing.
CJAD: Do you find a lot of people confuse the issue and don't even call you Don?
DON: Yeah, I mean, people I've worked with for a long time...a lot of the crew. They'll say, "morning Don, I mean Bob, or Don." Really having two short names like that is a little confusing.
CJAD: Let's go back to the phones...Laura in NDG, hello.
CALLER: Hi, how are you?
DON: Hi, fine, how are you?
CALLER: Oh, not too bad. I watch AS THE WORLD TURNS all the time, and I taped it today because I didn't get to see it. I wasn't home.
CJAD: So did I Laura....(laughter)
CALLER: What I wanted to say was, I find that I don't like the parts that they're giving for Kim.
DON: You don't
CALLER: No, because that's like Janice...I think they should have somebody find her out, even if they can't prove it right away. At least let somebody be aware. I mean, Kim's too nice. I mean, they don't need to do that to her, you know. She's sharp and she has a character that's smart and she shouldn't be led by Janice like that.
DON: Well, you see, we're a couple of weeks ahead, so I'm not quite sure what you saw today. Was this when Kim became ill because of something Janice gave her.
CALLER: Yeah, that was the last one, then she was out drinking champagne and nobody notices that?
CJAD: I think today, if I'm not mistaken, Kim finally saw the television tape.
CALLER: Oh, so she must be like on the chandelier.
DON: (Laughter)...Oh yeah, that's kind of interesting what happens.
CALLER: Well, the last caller said that Nancy is nice now. The one who's terrible is Helen.
CJAD: You mean Ellen.
CALLER: Yes, Ellen. She doesn't have any compassion...(laughter)....She's terrible when it comes to....I mean you're perfect, we don't have to talk about you. I mean you always give everybody the benefit of the doubt. And you always give them good advice and everything.
DON: But nobody ever takes it, so that's like in my real life.
CALLER: Well, Larry seems to be taking it this week, you now. He's trying to reconcile, but Ellen is the one that I find...she's bitter. I don't know if it's because....
DON: Well it's the writing too. There's a reason for having the Janice character, which is kind of an ALL ABOUT EVE story, you know, the protege becoming...taking over for the main character.
CALLER: Like when they had that housekeeper that was trying to take you over.
CJAD: How long have you been watching the show Laura?
CALLER: A long time, maybe 20 years, I don't know.
CJAD: Do you watch other soaps or just AS THE WORLD TURNS.
CALLER: I watch most of them that are on channel 3.
CJAD: So CBS. You watch the CBS soaps.
CALLER: Yes, I watch from YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS right down. And the only one I've sort have been cutting off is GUIDING LIGHT. I can't stand Roger anymore
DON: I'll tell him when I see him.....Now where do you pick it up. Are we on CBC or not?
CJAD: No, you're on the CBS affiliate which is channel 3 from Burlington, Vermont
DON: There was a time, I think when we were on CBC, and they cut out some of the shows. Are there any of the soaps that are still on CBC? I mean the American soaps.
CALLER: There's ALL MY CHILDREN and I think that's it.
CJAD: Well thank you Laura.
CALLER: Thanks, bye-bye.
CJAD: We do get all the affiliates here from the networks, with the exception of FOX, so we have the three major networks in the United States in addition to our own.
DON: But don't you think that eventually you will get FOX?
CJAD: Oh we will, eventually, it's just a matter of time.
DON: Do you get that on cable, Peter?
CJAD: We can get the affiliates on cable or over the air.
DON: I see, because you know, they're going to have the NFL this year.
CJAD: Well that might make it come here a lot sooner, because without that, a lot of people who are big NFL fans will not be able to see it.......790-0991 is the number to call. We have Don Hastings on the line from AS THE WORLD TURNS.
(break for news)
CJAD: Back with Don Hastings from AS THE WORLD TURNS, and Don, I went into CompuServe, which is a computer information service. There are various forums in there for soap operas. I mentioned the fact that you were going to be on this program and asked people to write in and give their comments about the characters or their favorite actors on the television program. First of all, I don't STAR TREK has anything when it comes to cult fans as far as the various soap operas are concerned.
DON: Probably not.
CJAD: Fans are rabid about their favorite actors and actress or characters and are very passionate about when things happen to them as we heard Laura just a few minutes ago taking about. One of the messages I received was from Maura in Hawaii and she wants to know how do you think AS THE WORLD TURNS will change now that Douglas Marland is gone. I'm sure that was a big loss.
DON: Yes, that was a tremendous loss. It's just about 13 months ago that Douglas passed away. We've got a lot...you know, right now, I would say we have about 12 writers. About seven of which were trained by Douglas and some....I think of the 12, I think we have maybe four or five who were previously head writers on other shows. So there's a good mix of talent there. I think the show is still kind of feeling it's way in a sense. I think that the writers, when they immediately took over for Douglas, of course had some of his material left to play out. were trying to write the way he would have written. And I think now that they've been in the saddle now for 13 months or so, I think you may see a loosening up. I think there's more humour on the show now then there used to be. They let me be a little sillier than I used to be.
CJAD: Well I was about to say, you have been a lot more humourous then you were in the past, and I'm wondering, because I got another e-mail from someone else who saw you on a cable show and said quote, "you were very funny" and I wanted to know how much of Bob is Don and how much of Don is Bob.
DON: Well, he's a lot brighter than I am. And better educated. And I'm a lot sillier. No, we do kid around a lot and a lot of times it's just inappropriate for this guy that I play to be funny but I'll try something and they'll say, "hey do that, keep it in." And then some of the writers will throw in a couple of jokes for me to do or something silly. And it's fun. It kind of lightens up my load on the show. Because I am kind of a straight arrow, you know. But I think as far as the idea of the show, or the kind of combination we have of the young people plus the family, trying to get some family values out there, without preaching to people, I think it's a pretty good one. And the show's doing pretty well, and we've been around a long time and we've had a lot of stiff competition, but it still keeps popping up there.
CJAD: Getting back to that straight arrow image, Chris & Barb Todd wrote on CompuServe to us asking how you felt about having to loose your image as the good father and loving husband to play that cheating husband you did for a little while there with Dr. Susan Stewart.
DON: Yeah, that was great...(laughter)...Because Marie Masters is a great actress to work with. She was a lot of fun. And we had a good time and that story really got kind of aborted. I think there was a lot of reaction to it that I guess was negative, and yet there was a lot of mail. People said, you know, go ahead, go for it. You're married to this perfect woman and nobody can stand being perfect all the time. I think it was kind of a shock. But, I guess the way it was resolved, as long as Bob and wound up back together, I think that was what most of the people wanted.
CJAD: Now, what was that like when you saw that script for the first time.
DON: Well, I knew about it. It was explained to me. And a lot of people thought that it was a...that I was taking a chance, because they did talk to me about it. Douglas was great about something like that. If you had something major that he was going to do, he would say, "how do you feel about it," you know. Because it could affect my longevity there. You know, they would say, "this guy's a creep, get rid of him!" And if the story really had been fleshed out, I think it would have been more understandable why he slipped, but it kind of got a little muddled there for awhile. I don't know, it was kind of a disappointment to me that it didn't play out the way it had been described to me.
CJAD: Let's go back to the lines, Elizabeth in DDO, hello.
CALLER: Hello, Peter and hello Mr. Hastings.
DON: Hello, how are you?
CALLER: Very good. I've been away for quite a few years in Africa, and unfortunately was unable to keep up with your soap, but I've been back for about a year and a half.....
DON: Where in Africa?
CALLER: I was in Kenya
DON: Oh, really....my wife and I and my little girl are going to go and spend Christmas in Tanzania.
CALLER: Tanzania is a beautiful country.
CALLER: Yes, we got some British soaps, but not very many American. But I love....the show has changed, but I haven't seen it for about ten years. But Lucinda Walsh is quite and addition. I'm not sure how long she's been there. She adds a lot of fire, I think.
DON: Yes, she's a very good actress. Very talented. Elizabeth Hubbard is her name.
CALLER: Yes, has she had any involvement with the Hughes'.
DON: Not much, she's kind of....we play like we kind of tolerate her. My charcter...she's on the board of the hospital that Dr. Bob works at and we get kind of fun together, because we kid each other and....
CALLER: You haven't been married to her yet.
DON: Not yet, but she may have taken a number, I'm not sure.
CALLER: I did have two questions if I could. You did mention Douglas Marland. That was very sad. The AIDS story that was covered was brilliantly covered.
DON: Well that's nice to hear. He was very in for forefront of doing stories like that.,
CALLER: He was. What happened to the actress, Ellen Dolan, and are they going to bring back a Margo because that actress, besides Hillary Bailey, was a very good at that role. She made that role her own.
DON: I don't know that if.....
CJAD: It's already out.
DON: Is it?
DON: She's coming back. Ellen Dolan.
CALLER: Oh Ellen Dolan is coming back.
DON: I was about to say that, Peter, but I wasn't sure whether even if they finished negotiating.
CJAD: The latest issue of SOAP OPERA WEEKLY has it on, and if you go into the computers and the various BBSs everyone's talking about it.
DON: Ah, that's great.
CALLER: Oh, I'm so glad.
DON: She's a really good actress.
CALLER: And the Jessica Griffin story. Married to Duncan. That's also a ground breaker, that kind of story. I just had maybe a trivia type question. How are Kim and Barbara related.
DON: I was married to Kim's sister Jennifer. And Jennifer's daughter, Barbara, was by a previous marriage to a doctor by the name of Chuck Ryan who I went through training with. And we did our internship together and residency. And then he left Oakdale and married Jennifer. And when he died, I wound up marrying his widow after being asked by him to take care of his family. And then Kim came to town and Jennifer was then killed. Oh....I'm getting depressed telling you this...(laughter).
CALLER: It seems very inter-twined. If you haven't seen that story for some time, sometimes you watch and you know, they look very comfortable together, but you're not actually sure how their relationship is. And is Frannie gone?
DON: Well, the actress, Mary Ellen Stewart was the last girl to play Frannie, and she went to the West Coast. And she's back. I wouldn't be surprised if she comes back.
CALLER: This is one of the things I like about your soap. Characters don't change as often and you keep that continuity, which is important.
DON: I think it is too, but you know, the young people, they want to take a crack at Hollywood and they want to go out there for pilot season and make a lot of money and be big stars.
CALLER: The family, the Synders, now they're very new. Well I hadn't seen them before, like before I left, they weren't around. But the younger group with them, it's very interesting to watch with the problems that they have......There seems to be quite a lot of cast members. Do you all get a chance to see each other on the set or....
DON: Pretty much. I mean, I don't work with the Snyders very much unless one of them gets hurt and comes to the hospital, but yea, we've got some good people there. Kathleen Widdoes is a fine actress.
CJAD: She's been nominated this year, has she not?
CJAD: Well, I hope Elizabeth Hubbard wins the Emmy because she always gets nominated apparently.
DON: I don't think she was nominated this year. I think Kathleen was. Somebody said that I guess Susan Lucci wasn't even nominated.
CJAD: First time in a long time.
DON: She's gonna do the show though, I read that somewhere.
CALLER: Thank you very much, and I hope they catch that Janice character. I have a feeling, however, that there might be some relation to Kim there. I know you can't discuss it, but I.....
DON: Well, no that's something I haven't even heard so, my lips are sealed.
CJAD: Okay, we mentioned Jennifer, we mentioned Lisa, the one I had crush on when I was growing up was Sandy. And now Kim. So You've been married four times on the show.
CJAD: Five, who did I miss.
DON: I married a gangster there for awhile, Miranda.
CJAD: Oh yes! I forgot about Miranda.
DON: That was to have this midwestern doctor marry this international crook. That to me was like a dream, you know. That was one of my unhappy times on the show. Not the actress. A wonderful actress by the name of Elaine Prinzi. She has since done one of the other soaps for about three or four years, but she was a lot of fun, but it was a time that the show, I thought, was heading right down the drain.
CJAD: Let's go back to the lines, June in Brossard, hello.
DON: Hi, how are you?
CALLER: Oh not to bad. Dr. Hughes, you're the greatest. I've been looking at you for so many years. Your soap is one that has so much meaning. It so pleasant to look at it every day.
DON: Well that's great!
CALLER: I wish it was longer.
DON: We don't!
CALLER: Is Kim as beautiful as she looks on the show?
DON: Yes, she is.
CALLER: Oh, she's a lovely person.
DON: Yes, she is.
CALLER: You know, this is an honor that I'm speaking to you. I can't believe it's true.
DON: Well it's true.
CALLER: Come in person, come to Montreal and see us.
DON: Well, maybe Peter will bring me up there sometime.
CJAD: Have you ever been here?
DON: It's been, gosh, 25 years, something like that, since I've been in Montreal. You know, one of my favorite stories about Montreal, is I was in Toronto and I took the train, I can't remember the name of it, on Canadian National I guess, and we got out and got into a cab and I said, "Bonaventure Hotel please," and we went right across the street...(laughter)...that was it. The shortest cab ride in the history of Canada.
CJAD: You mentioned that a lot of the younger stars, that they like to try and go away, off to L.A. and try and get involved in the pilot season.
DON: Well Meg Ryan did it, and has been very successful. Ming-Na Wen, the young Chinese actress that was with us was in JOY LUCK CLUB and both of them, it's interesting, both of them have been picked by PEOPLE MAGAZINE as part of 50 of the most beautiful people in the world and both those girls are in it.
CJAD: I'm just curious, over the years you always seem to hear stories about the soaps. It seems to be the poor cousin of actors. People look down on it to a certain degree.
DON: Oh they always have. They always have and I think it's not as much now as it used to be. To do a soap was considered not the greatest thing to do. In New York it was considered okay, but to do one out in L.A. was the end of your career because if you did soaps you couldn't work anywhere else. And I think an awful lot of people now who want to get things done professionally, and use people who are quick and somewhat talented...an awful lot of people that I work with now do films. We've always done theatre, a lot of people, but a the movie industry has always looked down on daytime, and yet daytime has supported all the mistakes that the networks make at night.
CJAD: It's the big money maker.
DON: Oh yeah. It's not as big....they moan and groan now, because they're not making the money they used to because the numbers are way down, but you hear people say they watch it on VCRs. And of course the sponsors arent crazy about that, because if you watch in on your VCR you zap the commercials. So they don't care about, I mean, not that they don't care, but their interest is to sell you Blue Cheer and all those nice products that P&G makes. They couldn't care too much about Dr. Bob.
CJAD: Do you get a chance yourself to do other things besides playing Dr. Bob as an actor?
DON: Well, yeah, but I don't do a lot, Peter, I tend to when I have a vacation, I like it to be a vacation. I like to spend a lot of time with my family. And I have my first grandchild out in L.A. now. My oldest girl, Jennifer, just had a baby last October, a little girl.
DON: We travel, Leslie my wife is an actress and she and I like to travel a lot. And we have an 11-year-old who is graduating from the sixth grade in a school here in Manhattan,
CJAD: For those who watch the show on a regular basis, your wife played Carolyn Crawford.
DON: Yes, the little girl in the wheelchair. Yes, and then she was on GUIDING LIGHT for three years. She played a character by the name of Maeve Stoddard.
CJAD: Until that helicopter crash.
DON: Yeah, she's been knocked off all over the place. She was killed on WORLD TURNS. She's running out of shows.
CJAD: Let's go back to the lines, Amy in NDG, hello!
DON: Hi, how are ya!
CALLER: Very good, I've been an addict of AS THE WORLD TURNS for so, so many years. It's a pleasure speaking with you.
DON: Well, nice talking to you.
CALLER: Thank you, I've been sortof hearing all my questions getting answered as I've been waiting on the line. I have a couple. I can think of a hundred, but will Courtney be returning and will Connor be leaving?
DON: Let's see now, Courtney has left the show right now to pursue other things. I think she wants to do theatre. She's, I think, a very...Hayley is her name, and she's really a good little actress.
CALLER: Extremely, yes.
DON: I think it's something she has to do and I wouldn't be surprised if she hit something really big. I think she's really talented. The girl who plays Connor is actually having a baby. That's the real thing. But I don't think she'll be leaving. Not that I know of. I haven't heard her say anything.
CALLER: I was also wondering what the sense of the other actors where when someone like a Meg Ryan or a Marisa Tomei.
DON: Oh yeah, there's another kid who's done very well, yeah.
CALLER: How's the feeling? Is there still some kind of communication with you guys?
DON: Well, once in awhile you see them. I think that both...all those....those three, I think all of them really, learned a lot while they were with us. Especially Meg. I mean, she was really raw talent when she first came on the show. And she used to say that that was where she kind of learned to listen and get a little better at her craft. She certainly very popular. Marisa too, was just a kid when she was with us.
CALLER: She played a friend of Frannie's, didn't she?
DON: Yeah, who was kind of fixated on Dr. Bob and fantasies and all of that.
CJAD: Well everyone is Don....(laughter)
CALLER: And what happens during the flashback scenes when actress change?
DON: Well, because now it's video tape now, so they'll as always, dolly in on your eyes and then they superimpose a tape. And then they'll dolly out and you'll see the actors eyes again. But that's inserted after we've done the actual scene, so when you're on the set, you're just sitting there, they dolly in and say, "okay we're in black," and they count down and they come right back again and they put the dream or whatever it is in separately.
CALLER: But we came to the conclusion that the originally Lily was returning when we saw the original Lily's picture on Lucinda's desk....
DON: Oh really.
CALLER: So we knew that she was coming back, so we knew that it wasn't the actress who replaced her....and just one last question, when will the daytime Emmys be taking place?
DON: May.....it's like the 25th or the 24th or May. Sometime this month.
CALLER: Well, more power to you, it's a fine, fine show. It's the only one we've ever watched.
CJAD: Do you get an opportunity, some of the veteran actors of the show. Are you like mentors to young cast members when they first join the show.
DON: Oh, I don't know, I think sometimes we, not by any preaching or anything, they see our work habits and how we do it. And how we have our laughs and have our fun, but when it's time to tape it, it's a serious business and we do the best we can. And I think there's a work ethic there that a lot of young performers have never had. We've got to do it. We've got to do a show a day. There's no time for temperment, or people that are unprepared. They get called up on it, and say "do your homework and come in and know what you're doing."
CJAD: I'm getting lonely here, being one of the only guys to talk about watching soap operas. I believe we have another gentleman on the line, Jim.
CALLER: Hi, Don. Hi Peter. Well, I'm afraid to tell you Peter, you still are one of the only guys.
CJAD: Oh well, okay.
CALLER: I'm calling for the wife...(laughter)...She'd like to know, Bob or Don, excuse me, how Barbara and Frannie are sisters. If in fact they're full sisters.
DON: They're not full sisters.
CALLER: They are not sisters at all.
DON: No. They're ah.....Frannie is a...wait a minute now, they have the same mother, but two different fathers. Step sisters.
CALLER: Can you give me some names or.....
DON: Yeah, Jennifer and Chuck Ryan had Barbara. Jennifer and Bob Hughes had Frannie.
CALLER: Okay, she'll get more of that than I will. I do watch your show from time to time, when I come home from work or late at night after the news we have the VCR on. I'd like to know something. This is my own question. What would the average salary be of a soap opera actor.
DON: Oh, I can't tell you that, you'd laugh, It's all union, so there is a base figure that we all negotiate from. In other words you don't start at zero. There's a scale figure for a half hour show, or an hour show, and then you negotiate from that, but I really don't think I should get into that.
CALLER: I guess it would also go on a popularity of course.
DON: Yeah, of course, if you've got...if they want you they'll pay you a little more. And I'm there so long they've forgot what they were paying me. So as long as I keep fooling them, the cheques won't bounce.
CALLER: My wife says to say goodbye, and she thinks your show is fantastic.
DON: Well thank you.
CALLER: And I know have a claim to fame.
DON: Do you hear from fans who are males.
CALLER: Yes, occasionally you do. There are an awful lot of men who watch the show. A lot of them don't like to admit it, Peter, but they do. And I think that through the VCR, I think our male audience has grown a great deal. But there are an awful lot of guys who take their lunch and go home and watch with their wives or watch...turn it on in the stores, you know, if they have a business of some kind. But it's interesting. You get a lot of shift workers, people who are in hotels at different times like airline personel. You get a lot of pilots. I've been stopped on a lot of airplanes. They try to throw me off, but I don't let them. A lot of flight crews watch the show.
CJAD: Okay, let's go back to the lines. Pat, you're on the air.
CALLER: Hello, Hi, Dr. Bob!
CALLER: I had to phone to say hello. I've been watching you for years and years and years,
DON: Ah, that's great!
CALLER: We go camping, we take our TV with us. From the east coast to the west coast we're watching you at two o'clock every day during the week. I really enjoy you, and I want to know is Lily going to get back together with Holden.
DON: You know, that's something I really don't know.
CALLER: I think she'll get pregnant with Holden and stay with the new husband.
DON: They're all nice kids. The young Italian fellow, Paolo is a great kid, he really is. We have a lot of fun and Martha Byrne who plays Lily is terrific with him, because he gets a little....you know he really is Italian and sometimes the english language elludes him and she straigtens him out and they're very funny together. I with they'd write more of that into the show, because she's great with him.
CALLER: What abaout Duncan, is he going to go back with Shannon.
DON: You see, you're asking the wrong guy. I just put the white coat on and wonder around.
CALLER: Oh, but you know, you spoil us. You go to all the doctors and hospitals around here, it's not the same thing.
DON: But I'll tell you what, you're a lot safer to talk to them then to talk to me.
CALLER: Okay Dr. Bob, have a good day. It's been nice talking to you.
DON: Thank you, bye-bye.
CJAD: Do you find it strange sometimes that actors can go and actor can return. I mean, your own wife has been in the show on two separate occasions. You have other actors who have come back playing different parts. Is that strange?
DON: Sometimes it is, but as you say a lot of people have come on and done like a non-contract part and then they'll come back in a different role as a contract player. But that's what acting is about. We've had several people who have repeated through the years. Nick Coster is on the show right now and he played one of Lisa's husbands on a nighttime version of the show that was on one summer back in the 60s.
CJAD: John Eldridge.
DON: Yeah, exactly, gee you do know the show.
CJAD: Oh, I've been watching...(laughter)....let's go back to the lines, Roz in St. Laurent, hello.
CALLER: Hi, Bob it's very nice to talk to you.
DON: It's very nice to talk to you.
CALLER: I commend you for being gainfully employed for the last 30 years.
DON: It ain't bad, I'll tell ya!
CALLER: I haven't watched recently, but I watched from about 62 to 74 steadily. I'd take the line off the hook and no one was allowed to come in. And if I couldn't get home I'd have my mother write word for word what was being said.
DON: Oh boy.
CALLER: And you were my family. And I cried along and sang along and it was very joyful.
DON: Oh, that's great.
CALLER: And I've tuned in recently just the odd time, I really don't have time, but I really commend you and I commend the show.
DON: Well thank you very much. That's very nice.
CALLER: And it's very nice talking to you.
DON: Nice talking to you.
CJAD: Tara in Pierrefonds, hello
CALLER: You said before that soap fans are fanatics and stuff. Did you ever have a situation where a fan went too far? Like does it bother you when they call you Dr. Bob.
DON: No, not at all. That doesn't bother me at all. I've had a couple, but you know it's very rare because most of the people that recognize me from what I do for a living, feel they know me, and they're usually kind and they're usually gentle. And I've had a couple of times through the years where people have kind of been a little rude, or I didn't respond the way they wanted me to respond and they took exception. But, I had a woman shake my hand one time when I was sitting on the back of a car, like a convertable in a parade and she wouldn't let me go and she almost pulled me out of the back of the car. But you know, stuff like that is just silly. Most of the time people are nice, just like you.
CALLER: Ah thanks!
CJAD: Do you get the opportunity to do a lot of public appearances?
DON: Not too much. There again, I think that falls upon the younger people, Peter. Really we're now heading into summer, so I think you'll see a lot more of the younger stories being fleshed out and played out and we kind of just sink a little bit into the background and then we'll pick up something in the fall. Bu then that's all done to capture those kids when they're out back from school. And I think the kids would much rather go to a appearance and see Martha Byrne or Paolo or Jon Hensley. I play in some charity golf tournaments and you know, it's kind of fun. And the reaction is usually positive. But you know, the torch has been passed, I think for that kind of stuff.
CJAD: Well it's been kind of fun talking you Don, and I really appreciate you spending an hour with us this evening and chatting with some of our listeners.
DON: Well, I enjoyed it Peter.