It is a sad day for soap fans. Peggy McCay (Caroline), whose soap opera career spans over five decades, has died at 90. Her soap career began on "Love of Life," playing Vanessa, an iconic soap character. A few years later, McCay went over to "Days of Our Lives." Her last appearance on the show was two years ago. The character has been mentioned by other characters talking about having phone conversations with the matriarch. Unlike the saintly Alice Horton on the show, Caroline was feisty and had a murky past. Bo, who was thought to be the son of Shawn Brady, was actually was Victor's kid. He was conceived while Caroline was married to Shawn.
The show's executive producer, Ken Corday, praised McCay's spirit. Stephan Nichols (Steve) made a Facebook post about his sorrow and surprise at her death, mentioning that when he talked to her recently she was hoping to return to the show. Even though she had some issues memorizing lines, everyone believed the never-to-be-denied McCay might return.
Although gracious, McCay knew how to get what she wanted. She lobbied for and got better on-set issues for actors when she worked on prime time. McCay won a Primetime Emmy. She literally had hundreds of prime time credits. She knew things on TV set were not always great. More than once she put her career on the line, fighting for what she thought was right for herself and others.
She caused quite a stir when she was nominated for a Daytime Emmy. She had three nominations and no Daytime wins. McCay knew that not many people in the industry were unaware of daytime work. She made tapes of her work and sent them to committee members. Several of the voters where horrified and suggested it was crass. Guess what? After she blazed the trail, everyone (studios included) started doing the same.
I had the pleasure of working on a project with her, producing plays featuring actors who worked on soaps. It never came to fruition. McCay was no name on a letterhead for the project; she worked harder than anybody. I often got calls from her saying "I have an idea." She always did, and they were usually great.
In a sad twist of fate, Frank Parker, who played her "Days" husband for almost 20 years, died a week before. She played Charlie Humes' wife on "Lou Grant," the mother in "Make Room for More" and dozens of other shows.
When asked why she never married in real life, she had a snappy reply: "I have been married on TV. That's enough for me."
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.