Ed, Port Charles
When Port Charles executives were casting the role of Ed, Rafe's tough but loveable angel boss, they thought of soap veteran Jed Allan, best known for his run as patriarch C.C. Capwell on the now-defunct Santa Barbara. Allan's also remembered by Days of Our Lives fans as attorney Don Craig, Marlena Evans's first husband. The invitation to join PC came at an emotional time for Allan; last year, Toby, his beloved wife of 33 years and mother of their three sons, passed away suddenly.
Hired for "Tainted Love" and "Miracles Happen," Allan's heavenly role has been extended into the current PC book "Secrets." In addition to his daytime credits, which include Love of Life and The Secret Storm, Allan has a slew of prime-time roles on his resume. He played Steve Sanders's controlling dad Rush on Beverly Hills 90210 and anchorman Rod Porter, who almost cost Ted Baxter his job, on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Allan spoke candidly with TV Guide Online about returning to daytime, past soap roles and which Hollywood "leading lady" he rolled around with a dog to impress. Read on for some thoughtful comments from this well-respected and gentlemanly actor. — Michael Maloney
How have you seen the soap medium change since you first appeared on Love of Life?
To be honest with you, it really hasn't. What's changed is the speed in which storylines are told. They move faster. Shows are basically shot the same way. The openings are sharper. I'd like to see things done differently in terms of direction. It'd be great to shoot the actors as they're moving along [like they do in prime-time shows]. But there are time limits and other constraints. Still, people won't know what they can change until they try. The core thesis of daytime drama in terms of characters and storylines has remained the same. One thing that I've noticed that's different on some shows is that there's not one core family like there used to be. There needs to be a center to the wheel. A show needs to revolve around one family.
Like the Capwells?
Yes, and like the Hortons [on Days], too. Or like any of the other families on soaps. I think there are ways to make shows sophisticated. I think the audience has become more sophisticated.
How was the role of Ed, who is Rafe's boss, described to you? How do you approach playing the part of an angel?
They basically said to me, "You're playing an angel." I said, "For real? Or a fantasy?" They said it was a combination, but that mostly, I'd be playing it for real. I asked more questions. I've tried to bring humor to the part. I think that can add longevity to a role. I think that's what extended my time on Days. C.C. Capwell had his moments of humor too.
Does being on PC reunite you with anyone whom you'd worked with on other shows?
Jon [Lindstrom (Kevin)] and I worked on Santa Barbara [where he played Mark]. I know Lynn [Herring (Lucy)] too. I got to work with her on the holiday show when Ed drove her to the wedding. She's great. She's got a knack for comedy. I love her a lot. I know her through her husband Wayne [Northrop, who played Roman on Days]. I have to add that Brian [Gaskill (Rafe)] is very solid. He works hard and cares a lot.
Your non-soap roles include a guest spot on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as Rod, the anchorman who almost put Ted Baxter out of a job.
Good memory. That was a funny show. Interestingly, [PC] wanted Edward Asner to play the part on PC that I'm doing now. Originally, they wanted a character actor. I called Julie [Hanan Carruthers, PC's executive producer] around this time. I knew Julie when she worked as an associate director on Santa Barbara. I left a message for her to call me, and she did, the very next day.
Which, let's face it, people don't always do in this business.
Exactly. She's so wonderful. Nice doesn't begin to describe her. She said that she'd do whatever she could for me. They were considering some other names, including Jerry Adler, who was on Mad About You and The Sopranos. He'd been the stage manager on Santa Barbara. He's a great actor, too.
Santa Barbara had been under a cloud of cancellation for quite some time before it happened.
It never should have happened. It should be on the air until this day. It wasn't just [the low ratings] that contributed to the cancellation. There was inside fighting and lawsuits. A lot of people lost their jobs and stability. We should have stayed on for at least another ten years.
On Days, people associated you with Deidre Hall (Marlena) for so long, but you had other leading ladies on the show as well.
Yes. I worked with Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie) first. Then, I worked with Deidre when she came on. Later, I worked with Suzanne Rogers [who played Maggie when Stefano made everyone think that Mickey was dead]. Susan's husband Bill Hayes and I were up for the role of Doug Williams. We were the two finalists. I'd done the Lassie show and I wasn't ready for another contract. Bill was hired for that part. Then, I was cast as Don, the man who handled Julie's divorce. Thirteen years later, I was still there. I believe that you have to bring something palatable for the audience to digest on a long-term basis. You don't cheat it, but you find a way to add more layers. C.C. Capwell, which I think was probably the best part that I ever played, had a lot of layers, too.
How did it come about that you left Days and played C.C. Capwell on Santa Barbara?
I wanted to be on Santa Barbara before the show was even on the air. I asked to have a shot at it. They asked me to audition even though I'd been on NBC daytime for 13 years at the time. They looked at a lot of people and then they asked me to audition. I tested with Judith McConnell [who played Sophia, C.C.'s wife]. She was terrific. Five weeks later, they still hadn't decided if I had the part. I went to Europe for a while. They called me back and asked me to test again. I came back [and got the part]. I had freedom on Santa Barbara. I wouldn't say that I had power, but I had input into the character. I would never impose my will, but I would certainly suggest things and suggestions were listened to. I remember when Don slept with Liz on Days while he was still with Marlena. The fans were very angry with Don over that. They turned on him. I knew it would happen.
Santa Barbara ran out of time before C.C. and Sophia could remarry.
Yes. But they were together as a couple at the end. I think the audience knew that they'd be together.
Was there any talk of a Santa Barbara reunion movie ever happening?
No. But the show does continue to air internationally. I still go to Russia and some of the other countries where the show still airs.
Was anyone expecting the show's international success?
No. It was mind-boggling when that happened. It was incredible. We'd have to have bodyguards when we traveled to some countries. We couldn't walk the streets. (Chuckles) Your ego would be kicked up quite a bit when you'd go abroad. It was like night and day. You'd come home and everything would go back to normal. Over the years, I was able to see a lot of the world including Hong Kong, Australia, Poland, Sweden, Norway and many other countries.
What was it like working on the Lassie television series?
Lassie was the star of the show, that was for sure. I met with the producers to take over for Robert Bray [who played a lead on Lassie and was leaving at the end of the 1968 season]. Then I had more meetings with other people. Later, I got a call saying that I had to have one more meeting. I asked, "Who else do I have to meet?" They said, "The dog." I thought they had to be kidding, but they said, "If Lassie doesn't like you, how can you work with him?" So I thought, how can I get this dog to like me? My wife Toby remembered that an actor friend of ours, George Robertson, had a dog in heat. I went over, took my jacket off and rolled around in the dirt with his dog before my meeting with Lassie. When I met Lassie, she jumped up to me and started licking my face.
And that sealed the deal?
(Laughs) It sure helped.