This article was written by Ed Gross of Closer Weekly. To view the original article, click here.
No doubt when you think of actress Deidre Hall, you can’t help but remember her days of donning spandex and saving the world as the lead role in Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, the Saturday morning kid’s show produced by Sid and Marty Krofft (The Brady Bunch Variety Hour) that aired some 43 years ago. Of course, if that’s not the show that comes to mind (and we didn’t really think it would be), then maybe it’s Days of Our Lives, the daytime soap opera that she also began starring in back in 1976 as Dr. Marlena Evans.
“First of all, the honor of being invited back year after year,” says Deidre, in an exclusive interview, when asked about what draws her back to the series after so many years. “I joke with cast mates because when we come into the security area, we have a key card and I pull up to the gate, pull out the key card and hold my breath for a moment. ‘Oh, there. It opened. Okay, I guess I get to come in today!’”
In truth, she explains, one of the draws of the show has been the opportunity to do a wide variety of storylines, ranging from the deeply moving and tender to outrageous possessions (“Which will be on my tombstone, I’m convinced”) to love stories, humanitarian stories and multi-generational stories. She’s also gotten some variety by working on primetime shows, including being a series regular on Our House and guest starring in a multi-episode story arc on Wiseguy. In the end, though, she’s realized that daytime is a better fit for her.
Says Deidre, “With Our House, I had not done that sort of nighttime series for a long time, and I had forgotten the length of time you sit and wait. I just thought, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ I am used to a job where I go in with 40 pages of dialogue, I look back at it the night before, I lock it down in the makeup chair and I go onstage. They now will often say, because of timing, ‘Can we tape the rehearsal?’ So we might get one rehearsal or none. If it’s a two-page scene, can we just go right to tape? ‘Sure, fine.’ So when we talk about flying by the seat of your pants and having your heart in your throat, and just all of your creative juices right at your fingertip, that’s what daytime is for me. My former leading man used to say, ‘When I see NBC in the rearview mirror, I know that show is in the can.’ If the plane goes down — whatever happens — that show is going to the audience. I don’t have to wait to see how nighttime works. I know that daytime is a poor stepchild to the amazing nighttime shows, but given everything, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I love this medium.”
The Road to Daytime
Born October 31, 1947 (along with twin sister Andrea) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Deidre actually began studying psychology before she found herself going down the path of acting. While attending Palm Beach Junior College, she ended up securing modeling jobs and commercials, followed by guest starring appearances on different TV shows, believing that acting was just something she would do on her road to a career in psychology. TV shows she appeared on include San Francisco International Airport, Night Gallery, Adventures of Nick Carter, Adam-12, The Streets of San Francisco, Emergency! (where she had a recurring role over the course of six episodes), Columbo and Kung Fu. She also scored the role of Barbara Anderson from 1973-75 on the soap opera The Young and the Restless. Next up was the previously mentioned Electra Woman and Dyna Girl and Days of Our Lives.
“Oddly,” Deidre muses, “I didn’t have a moment of, ‘Ooh, I want to be an actress.’ I grew up in a very small town in Florida. That was not on the list. For a period of my life, I wanted to be a hairdresser, because my mother’s best friend was her hairdresser and they would get together on Sunday afternoons and smoke their Paul Malls and play cards. And that looked like heaven to me! I’d go, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do when I grow up.’ And she was single and drove a red Tr3, which was the sexiest car on the road. That spoke to me on a certain level when I was in my early teens. I wanted to be a therapist at one point. When I was in college, I ended up taking classes to become a therapist and then played a therapist on television. How did that come full circle? Oddly charming. My family was very very close and we believe in God, we believe in each other, we believe in community and my older brother had Down [Syndrome] and we spent a large amount of our time seeing to him, comforting him, making sure he had what he needed; protected him. I think everybody in my family had decency and fairness and rightness and were fairly obnoxious about it – I must say, seeing things that are not right or fair are just like fire under all of us.”