The late David Canary (Adam on "All My Children") was larger than life and sweeter than sugar. I first met him when he played Steven Frame on "Another World." He had been there two years. He loved the fact that he had an acting gig that would go on forever. It didn't.
Two months later, the character was killed off. It was his lucky career break. Canary's "All My Children" roles garnered him multiple Emmys for his work as terrible titan Adam and his gentle twin brother, Stuart.
Stuart was created to be sinister. Michael E. Knight (Tad on "All My Children") recalls Canary's first week on the show: "Instead of making Stuart evil, he wanted him to be caring. It was not in the script. David got a cookie and asked someone in the scene if he wanted a cookie. That made the writers put Stuart in the Good Guy column."
Stuart always tried to make Adam a better person — but that didn't work. His first wife, Cindy, died from AIDS, which she got from her son's father. He raised that child. He later married the town harpy, Marion. His attempt at making her a better person worked.
Canary got Stuart's sense of wonderment from watching the innocence of his then-toddler son Christopher.
Everyone on the show was thrilled to get to share a scene with him. He was kind, knew his lines and even the other actors' lines. But suddenly, that stopped. He would forget his lines, not hit his marks, fly into a rage. To lighten Canary's load, they killed off Stuart.
Just playing Adam seemed too much for him. Everyone, including his family, assumed he had Alzheimer's. Last week, his daughter Kate said she's not so sure. In an op-ed, she recalls all the things he dealt with the last few years of his life: rage, hallucinations, forgetfulness.
She wondered if he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a syndrome often seen in football players. Canary played football in high school and college in Ohio. Kate wishes she'd known about CTE in the last years of her father's life. He suffered more than one concussion while playing football. It a question she says she will always have. She wonders if it would have made a difference if she'd known. She does know that playing football has serious ramifications.
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.