Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Human Interest Essay

I Lost a Dear Friend on September 23, 2011

This friend was with me during high school drill team practices in the late 1970's; gathered with me and my sorority sisters in the Chi Omega Suite at ASU during the early 1980's; moved with me to Dallas in 1984 as my friends and I began our careers; followed me back to Arkansas when I married Stewart on October 18, 1986; stayed by my side as the 1990's became a blur once we had our two daughters; and was my constant companion as I fought cancer in 2000 and 2001.

Michael E. Knight, Tad Martin on AMC,
autographed this Dec 1989 copy of
Soap Opera Digest magazine
Who is this friend? The soap opera - All My Children. And when I first heard the news on my car radio last April that AMC was being cancelled by the ABC Network, I cried.  Well, I was also returning home from the dentist after having dental work done, and there might have been some pain medication involved, but I still cried.

Memories of popular AMC characters and story lines came flooding back to me:  Cliff and Nina dating despite the objections from her strict father Palmer Cortlandt; the very popular teen couples Greg & Jenny and Jesse & Angie in the 1980’s; former bad boy Tad and sweet Dixie; Janet pushing her twin sister Natalie into a well so she could have Trevor to herself; good-looking DA Jackson Montgomery, and of course, Erica Kane.

In the era before the Internet, watching soap operas was a community affair. I also loved when actors from these soap operas would come to Little Rock as part of KATV Channel 7 events. I met Michael E. Knight, who played Tad Martin, at Wild River Country in North Little Rock.  I saw John Callahan, who played Edmund Grey, at Burns Park. And I met James Kiberd, who portrayed popular police detective Trevor Dillon, at the “Food 4 Less Store” in Jacksonville!

I also remember watching several actors who got their start on All My Children, including: Sarah Michelle Gellar; Kelly Ripa; Amanda Seyfried; Kelli Giddish, and Josh Duhamel, who first stumbled onto AMC as Leo in 1999.

To add insult to injury, sister soap opera One Life To Live also aired its last episode on January 13, 2012. One of the main reasons I wasn’t nervous when I first had chemotherapy for Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in November 2000 because I remembered when Viki from OLTL went through chemotherapy for breast cancer in the late 1990’s.

As I was writing this essay, it dawned on me that the TV show Glee is my modern day All My Children, just with the added advantage of modern technology and the Internet.  Just like soap operas, I can still discuss current story lines and cast members, but instead of talking to just my friends or co-workers, I can discuss Glee with other Glee fans from all over the world, thanks to twitter, Facebook, and Internet message boards.

All My Children was like a real friend. I could go weeks and sometimes months without any contact, and when I did watch again, it was like I never left. And like a good friend, I will always have them in my memories.

For the 10th Anniversary issue of Soap Opera Weekly magazine,
November 23, 1999, I submitted a letter to the Editor
telling how I won $100 in a "Who Killed Will"
contest and it was published in the magazine!

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