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ATWT Stars Recall Assassination of JFK And How It Interrupted Them Live On The Air!



All this past week, America had been remembering the horrific events, and how the country changed because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy 50 years ago on November 22nd, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

But it was the beloved and iconic soap opera, As the World Turns that has a very special place in history!  It was ATWT that was the only live network show going when Kennedy was shot.  The episode was only ten minutes into it, when the voice of Walter Cronkite broke in with his CBS News bulletin on the shooting.

In this fascinating piece from the New York Times over the weekend they relate, “ATWT was the only regular program being broadcast nationally by a major network — specifically, throughout the Eastern and Central time zones. In Washington, the NBC and ABC affiliates were scheduled to present TV Beauty School and Divorce Court. In Dallas, a discussion of winter coats with hidden zippers was the focus of The Julie Benell Show, a local effort by the ABC affiliate WFAA. ”

Don Hastings, who played Bob Hughes related to NY Times on what went down that fatal day: “Phil Polansky, our cameraman, said, ‘Don’t tell the actors what? The president’s been shot?’ He had headphones on, and he was talking to the control room. We got our cue and we just kept going, because no one else knew what to do.”  But the Times added that, “Mr. Hastings was unaware that the news was already blacking out the first half of his scene.”

Eileen Fulton, who played Lisa Hughes related her story in which she had no idea what was going on while she was performing her scene with her on-screen mom Elma (Ethel Remey): “I had a very emotional scene.“When we finished, my cameraman, Joe Hallahan, had tears running down his face. I said, ‘I’m good, but I didn’t know I was that good.’ ”

Later, when the cast got together on the Monday, to try to time and rehearse Tuesday’s live show, Don Hastings kept ducking into the control room to watch the funeral cortege.  He said about rehearsals, “They kept coming to get me, because I was just destroyed at that point.”

But it was Rosemary Prinz, who played Penny that gave the most insightful news of all to NY Times! Prinz had hoped for some mention of the assassination of JFK on the next episode.  But ATWT creator Irna Phillips, wanted nothing of the sort to happen to disrupt her fictional town of Oakdale and its citizens.  Prinz stated, “She was the meanest bitch on the planet, and you can quote me!”

However, Prinz recalled how she got an opportunity to work it in on her own in a scene with Grandpa Hughes (Santos Ortega):  “I was supposed to go on about Tom and his father,” she recalled, “and I said instead: ‘Oh, Grandpa, here we are talking about little Tom. My God, after what the country has gone through, it seems so out of proportion. But, of course, we have to go on.’  An infuriated production team promptly descended on Ms. Prinz.  Prinz added.  “I said, ‘I just went blank and said the first think I could think of, and then I got back to the script.’ Everyone knew I was full of it. But I made the point.”

So, what did you think about Prinz’ statement on Irna Phillips? The recollections of Don Hastings, Eileen Fulton and Prinz?  We thought it was pretty terrific that the N.Y. Times remembered how historic ATWT was, and how it played into American history on that fateful day of November 22nd, 1963.

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That horrible tragic moment in history i still remember but its a little fuzzy: i was 3 years old at the time…my mother and i were at a local department store…many customers were near the tv sets including me and my mother when JFKs assasination was announced…i didnt clearly understand what really happened but i remember moms sad look on her face and gasping, ‘Oh, dear God, no!’ It would be a few years later when Robert Kennedy was killed when she told me what happened that day and where we were at when President Kennedy was shot…imo it seems are country slowly went downhill after that: before there were plenty of jobs and factories, and i lived on a treelined street that was a mix of middle class and poor but most neighbors were friendly and kept their yards clean, and you could keep your doors unlocked…there were some problems in and outside our house but things were still better then than now. By the 1970s to the present factories closed or moved to China, my old neighborhood is rundown with drugs and troublemakers, and people are more rude, violent and vulgar than ever before…we’ve become trashier and more anti family(its hard to sit down and find something the whole family can watch together…there is very few choices but not much plus kids and adults have too many distractions that seperate them…its hard to get everyone together. After the loss of Kennedy things were and never wil be the same again…meanwhile, anyone who hadnt seen the moment when ATWTs was interupted for JFKs assasination report can find it on youtube.

I love reading about what Ms Prinz said live on the air that acknowledged the grief the country was going thru. Good for her. Too bad Irna Phillips did not want to acknowledge what happened. Glad that Rosemary Prinz ignored her wishes to keep reality out of Oakdale!

Love it!!

Good for Rosemary Prinz! I know nothing about Irna Phillips, but i’d say from what i read above, Ms. Prinz is probably right. I think bringing in what the country was feeling could only have helped the viewers feel better about their soap. I agree this was a terrific that the NYT included ATWT in their coverage of that horrible time in our history.

I was a 16 year old HS student in November 1963 and my HS Social Studies teacher had the same reaction as Irna Phillips. As soon as we took our seats for our first class after the assassination he announced we were not going to discuss it. How sad!
This assassination was a terrible turning point in our country’s history. Rosemary Prinz did the right thing!

Irna was so “into” her shows that she apparently insisted on referring to the actors by their character names, rather than their own names, when she spoke to them.

She must have been a creative genius, to have been largely responsible, single-handedly, for creating and evolving the soap genre, but from everything I’ve seen, she was pretty much certifiable.

I know that Rosemary Prinz had serious ongoing issues with Phillips and the other PTB practically the whole time she was playing Penny. This is a particularly telling anecdote in regard to what Phillips was like to work for–and that quote is just priceless!

I think Lisa’s (long-suffering, with a daughter like that) mother was “Alma,” not “Elma.”

What a great article, and it’s so nice to hear news about the ATWT vets. I miss them and ATWT (even as dreadful as it was for the last five years or so of its run).

Back in 1986, I attended the 30th anniversary party for ATWT at the Palladium in NYC as the guest of Joe Rothenberger, a former ATWT executive producer. While chatting with Helen Wagner (Nancy Hughes), I recalled my mother telling me that she was watching ATWT when the show was interrupted with news of President Kennedy’s shooting. I asked Ms. Wagner about this and she recounted that she was in the middle of a live scene with Santos Ortega (Grandpa Hughes) when the announcement was aired. The actors continued on, finding out a few minutes later that the President had been shot. Ms. Wagner was a gracious lady and will always remain an icon of daytime television.

I also got to meet Helen Wagner, but much later. I met her in June 2009 after she returned to the show after her husband died in real life. She was the most gracious woman I had ever met. I was on the set as part of an undergraduate school project that the National Braodcasting Museum and my school set up. She was by far my favorite interview. I also got to ask her about that fateful day in 1963 and her incredible scenes a decade earlier with Mac suffering from Alzheimer’s. Her actual scenes that day with actors Billy and Marnie were spot on!

I think it’s terrific that the NYT called upon the ATWT stars for their piece. It was a significant part of the nation’s context for that terrible tragedy; more so than we can realize today with a million channels to watch.

I loved Ms. Prinz’s comments about Irna Phillips. It reflects the strong color of the early days of television. What fascinating stories these stars must have to tell!

I adore Rosemary Prinz! She’s always been so starkly honest about everything — this, and her calling out Agnes Nixon for taking credit for All My Children’s Amy Tyler being a peace activist (the actress herself insisted on this when she agreed to sign a short-term contract to help launch AMC). Ms Prinz doesn’t go along to get along — I love that about her!

A.T.W.T. one of the best soaps ever.
Real stories, about real life, without the need
for Dracula’s, people coming back from the dead, etc.
Just great story lines performed by wonderfully talented actors.

As The World Turns

‘As the World Turns’ Alum Martha Byrne Speaks Out On Conviction Against Her Husband, Michael McMahon: “We are Fighting Till the End”

If you have been following two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress, Martha Byrne’s (ex-Lily, As the World Turns) social media accounts or have been following news reports, Byrne is adamantly speaking out about charges and a conviction levied against her husband, former decorated NYPD sergeant-turned-licensed private investigator, Michael McMahon.

The couple share three children together and have been married for over 30 years.  Last week, McMahon was preparing to go back to work. However, Michael was blindsided when a Brooklyn federal court convicted him and two others accused of stalking a New Jersey couple on behalf of China.

McMahon told the New York Post, that he felt betrayed by the Department of Justice (DOJ).  Clarifying further, Michael felt he and his family with Martha Byrne where being made scapegoats in the DOJ’s first case against Operation Fox Hunt, which is the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption campaign that targets Chinese nationals abroad.  It also targets former government officials and others suspected of economic crimes against China.

In the case against McMahon, he was hired in fall of 2016 by what he believed was a translation company from New Jersey to do surveillance on a luxury New Jersey home occupied by a relative of Xu Jin and Liu Fang, and to use public records to find companies and other assets registered to the couple.  He was then informed that Xu and Liu had had stolen money from a construction company, and the people who hired him wanted to find where the cash had gone. However, McMahon says what he was not told was that Xu was a former official in Wuhan, who had fled China amid allegations of corruption.

McMahon said that when he conducted surveillance as he had done on numerous other cases.  However, what he did not know was that his work was used in a civil suit in New Jersey in 2018 against Xu and others by a Chinese construction group that alleged that they had embezzled millions from that company.

Things took a bad turn in October of 2020 when 12 federal agents surrounded McMahon and Byrne’s home.  Michael was arrested, but it wasn’t your normal arrest, he detailed.  McMahon didn’t think he needed a lawyer so he spoke to the FBI agents. He had wanted to help the government.

Photo: MBryneFacebook

Byrne shared, “He was being as transparent as he possibly could. Instead, they turned everything against him and made him look like the devil in court. I’ve never seen such dark forces trying to portray him as an unlawful person.”

McMahon was charged with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act by working for the Chinese government without telling the State Department, and with conspiracy to commit interstate stalking.

Byrne answered one soap fan’s inquiry to clarify what exactly happened to her husband in a Facebook post. She expressed: “He was hired to find assets on a civil matter. never asked to do ANYTHING illegal. The FBI let the Chinese agents flee, who were operating some scheme separately and unbeknownst to my husband, so the FBI turned their attention to an innocent man to save face. They took legal work as a PI and deemed it criminal for their own purposes. This is VERY VERY scary for every US citizen.”

In the NY Post account, it details that the DOJ shifted its focus to Operation Fox Hunt, targeting private investigators across the country, including McMahon.

Currently Michael is not allowed to be a private detective until this case is overturned.  He shared: “I didn’t harass or stalk anyone, and if I had been asked to do so, or if I had suspected that my clients worked for the Chinese Communist Party, I would have contacted the FBI right away and not proceeded with the job.”

Byrne expressed: “The DOJ knew this problem existed, that private investigators were being used, they knew the patterns well, but they communicated none of this until after Mike’s arrest … We are fighting to the end.”

McMahon’s lawyer will file a post-trial motion next month to overturn the conviction.

Photo: NATAS

On her Twitter account, Martha shared their lawyer’s, Lawrence Lustberg’s statement: “We are obviously very disappointed with today’s verdict and feel strongly that it is not consistent with the evidence in the case but more importantly, is not consistent with the truth.  That truth is that Michael McMahon never had any idea that he was working for the Chinese Government.  If he had, he would not have taken the job or done the work he did.  His work in this case was the normal every day work of a private investigator and Mike’s conviction on the stalking counts, as a practical matter, criminalizes the work of private investigators in every case.  We will file post-trial motions and, if necessary appeal, until all possible appeals and lawful avenues to challenge this verdict have been exhausted.  And I believe that we will ultimately prevail because this conviction is a terrible injustice, one that I do not believe our legal system will allow to stand.”

What do you think about the conviction of Martha Bryne’s husband, Michael McMahon and by all accounts how he has been wrongly convicted? Comment below.

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All My Children

Pride Month Celebrating LGBTQ+ Soap Supercouples: Nuke, Kish, Otalia & WilSon … Which Stands the Test of Time?

June is Pride Month, the time when across the U.S and the world there are celebrations and commemorations to recognize all who identify as LGBTQ and their allies.

Daytime soap operas have had a rocky road when it comes to the representation of same-sex couples.  The soaps have been at one time leaders in portraying key social issues of our time, as well as treading lightly on other subjects, as to its concerns to ‘turn-off’ its core audiences.

When you look back at the groundbreaking first same-sex weddings, and the first gay kiss, the soaps have come far in some ways in their representations of gay characters, but there is always work to be done to serve and to shed light on the under-represented.

As we reflect back to the then and the now, which LGBTQ soap supercouple remains your favorite and had made a lasting impact? Let’s take a look at four duos who captivated many viewers.

Nuke  – Luke Snyder and Noah Mayer – As the World Turns

Van Hansis (Luke) and Jake Silbermann (Noah) were a key part of the evolution of, and representation of LGBTQ character on the soaps.  ‘Nuke’, as they were known as, became the first gay male soap couple to share an on-screen kiss back in 2007.  ATWT also became known as the first soap to depict a fully realized romantic male couple as an integral part of the show.  There was plenty of backlash along the way for the long-awaited kiss to happen, but when it did, the show moved forward to tell their love story.

Otalia – Olivia Spencer and Natalia Rivera Aitoro – Guiding Light

When Crystal Chappell (Olivia) and Jessica Leccia (Natalia) began to play the love story of Otalia, they had to show their affection by a kiss on the head, or holding hands.  It took quite some time for GL to move forward to have two women, two moms, no less, share a lip lock. The complicated love story featured Natalia being conflicted to face her true romantic feelings for Olivia, because of her value system and religions upbringing, and that made this all the more riveting and frustrating at the same time.  In the end, the rabid fan base for this duo was so great that Chappell wound up creating her own series, Venice, to honor and serve them, remaining one of the LGBTQ communities greatest allies.

Kish – Kyle Lewis and Oliver Fish – One Life to Live

In 2009, One Life to Live’s Kyle Lewis (Brett Claywell) was an out lab tech in Llanview, who back in college had a relationship with Officer Oliver Fish (Scott Evans).  It imploded when Oliver denied he was gay.  For years, Oliver remained in the closet, before finally coming out to himself and Kyle.

Kish had been a big success with the media and One Life’s gay audience. LGBTQ-advocacy groups honored the couple and the story.  However, Kish was cut short when the network felt that the data showed that the storyline was not resonating with the show’s core audience.

WilSon – Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis – Days of our Lives

Days of our Lives delivered daytime’s first-ever gay male wedding in 2014, between Will (then played by Guy Wilson) and Sonny (then played by Freddie Smith).

In an interview with EW, Days of our Lives executive producer, Ken Corday shared on the union, “Will and Sonny have been together for a while and it was the natural progression of their love story. We didn’t feel like there was anything we could or couldn’t do, we treated them like any other couple on the canvas and continued to grow their romance as such.”

In addition, the coming out story of Will Horton was critically praised and noteworthy for the performances of Chandler Massey, who won three Daytime Emmys for his work in the Outstanding Younger Actor category 2012, 2013 and 2014.  Freddie Smith also won in the same category in 2015.  Will has been played over the years by Chandler Massey and Guy Wilson, while Sonny has been portrayed by Freddie Smith and Zach Tinker.

There have been several other key LGBTQ couples throughout the course of daytime history including All My Children’s Bianca (Eden Riegel) and Reese (Tamara Braun). These two characters were involved in the first same-sex lesbian wedding on daytime. Problem was … Reese kissed Zach (Thorsten Kaye) before the wedding, making this infuriating for viewers at home.

Other notable LGBTQ couples through the years have included: Bianca and Maggie on All My Children, Mariah and Tessa of The Young and the Restless played bv Camryn Grimes and Cait Fairbanks, Maya and Rick on The Bold and the Beautiful, Lucas and Brad on General Hospital and others.

Which couple do you think has had the most lasting impact on the history of LGBTQ representation on daytime soap operas? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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As The World Turns

As the World Turns Castmates Mourn the Loss of Elizabeth Hubbard

UPDATED: Monday, the soap world was saddened by the loss of one of the most respected actress ever in the genre, when the news broke of the death of Daytime Emmy-winner, Elizabeth Hubbard.

This powerhouse performer who was best known for her work as Dr. Althea Davis on The Doctors, and as Lucinda Walsh on As the World Turns, died this past Saturday at her home in Connecticut from cancer.

Throughout this afternoon, several of Hubbard’s former As the World Turns castmates took to social media to share their reactions on the passing of this beloved daytime icon.  In addition, Retro TV, which has been airing vintage episodes of The Doctors, also paid tribute to Hubbard.

Photo: CBS

Martha Byrne (ex-Lily, ATWT) shared on her Instagram: As many of you are finding out this morning, Elizabeth Hubbard passed away. First and foremost I want everyone to know I made sure she was aware of how much everyone loved her. I would share your comments from social media, videos and your fond memories of her as Lucinda, Althea, every time I saw her. She loved the audience and fought like HELL to bring truth and honesty to her performances. On a personal level there aren’t words to describe how much she meant to me. Only feelings, which override words in so many cases when it comes to love. I will be sharing more so we can all grieve together but here are our last words together only just a few days ago. I said, “Liz, do you know how much you have done for me?” She said, “You can do more.” Because of what she has done for me over the last 38 years, the strength and fearless nature in how she lived her life, she is right, I can AND WILL do more. I look forward to sharing more about her life, which encompasses so much more than her INCREDIBLE career on daytime television. She also said to me when I told her how much the fans loved her…”I tried.” She more than tried. She left it all on the screen. I’ll miss her every day but grateful the universe gifted me with such a force of nature, of which the world will not see the likes of again. ❤️”

Michael Park (ex-Jack) shared via Twitter: “If Liz was involved in a scene I was lucky enough to be in, I could always count on learning a little something and laughing a whole lot. She was a ferocious talent in love with her craft. One of the greats that will certainly be missed.”

Photo: NBC

Mary Beth Evans (ex-Sierra, ATWT and now Kayla, DAYS) expressed: “I was so lucky to have had the opportunity to work with Elizabeth Hubbard for six years on As the World Turns, where she played my mother. What an amazing powerhouse this woman was … always striving for spontaneity and keeping it real. My favorite times with her were riding in the car from Manhattan to Brooklyn — the stories she would tell were so much fun. Rest in peace, sweet lady. #RIPLIZ #ATWT

Photo: CBS

Peter Boynton (ex-Tonio, ATWT) added: “Rest in peace, Boss! Working with/for you at ‘Walsh Enterprises’ was a highlight of my NYC years! Your encouragement and respect meant the world to me. I’m raising a glass to you and feel so lucky to have worked with you in that great ‘ATWT’ community. On angels wings. – Peter ‘Tonio Reyes’ Boynton.”

Scott Bryce (ex-Craig, ATWT) said, “She was astonishing. Liz RIP. Love you woman.”

Retro TV expressed: “We are saddened to hear of soap-opera legend Elizabeth Hubbard’s passing at age 89. A force to be reckoned with, Hubbard stole our hearts with her portrayal of Althea Davis on The Doctors. Please share your favorite memories with us as we remember the beloved Elizabeth Hubbard.”

In addition, Alec Baldwin who played Billy Aldrich on The Doctors wrote: “I worked on The Doctors with the great Liz Hubbard. An amazing woman and remarkable actress.”

Michael Fairman TV will continue to update this post as reactions continue from Liz’s colleagues.

What do you think about the remembrances shared thus far from Martha Byrne, Michael Park, Mary Beth Evans and Peter Boynton on working with the great Elizabeth Hubbard? Share your thoughts in the comment section.


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