Acting police II: soaps’ best actors

By Nelson Branco
You’ve heard who thought couldn’t act; now find out which actors prove soap operas are a worthy stage for thespians

Anthony Geary shines on 'General Hospital'
“Acting is standing up naked and turning around very slowly,” said the divine Rosalind Russell — and is in complete agreement. Hair models and sloppy actors take note: acting is in the details, and the following daytime stars are inspirations to their craft thanks to their visceral talent, taut and theatrical prowess, and soulful honesty.
Miraculously, these chameleons manage to soar every time they command this compromised yet glorious stage, almost seemingly in spite of the genre’s limitations, boundaries and prejudice. And if we’re lucky, when great writing and acting collide, something of a religious experience occurs on soaps that can be rarely matched in film, theatre and prime-time TV. In other words, magic!
Acting coach Alice Saltzman brilliantly alluded to this once by suggesting that acting and living are ironically more closely related than we think. She said, “To act brilliantly, to live fully, requires nothing less than the complete investment of your entire soul! What we do is holy!”
At its best, in the words of Oscar Wilde, “[Acting] is so much more real than life” — especially when you play the same character day in and day out, year after year, decade upon decade.
And anyone who ever saw the greatest performance ever aired on daytime TV — Judith Light’s tour-de-force Emmy-winning showdown on One Life to Live as Karen Wolek, when she testified on the witness stand and confessed she was a “common” hooker — knows that this medium is more than capable of achieving greatness exponentially.
Below, took on the Herculean task of naming the 30 best actors on soaps right now — and we believe these inductees are worthy of keeping this transformative tradition alive. Simply put, these artistic icons have yielded moments of truth, understanding and healing through fiction on more than one occasion, even if some of these underrated performers are slighted at Emmy time or are too “real” to be given their due credit by their shows or the industry at large.
As most of us know, there’s no such thing as a small part — just small actors. These thespians are “full of fire and ice,” in my opinion, and represent soap aristocracy perfectly— and when they’re onscreen, they make any visit to Soap Town, U.S.A. not just a destination, but a home.
And, as an aside, yes, the timing of this list and the industry deciding which actors will enter the 2008 Daytime Entertainment Awards race (and yeah, I know the pre-nomination system has been eliminated, but soaps still have to chose to root for as a whole) is no coincidence.

1. —TIE — ANTHONY GEARY (Luke Spencer, GH)
SUSAN FLANNERY (Stephanie Forrester, B&B)
3. ERIKA SLEZAK (Victoria Lord Davidson, OLTL)
4. KIM ZIMMER (Reva Shayne, GL)
5. MICHAEL E. KNIGHT (Tad Martin, AMC)
6. MICHELLE STAFFORD (Phyllis Summers Newman, Y&R)
7. DAVID CANARY (Adam/Stuart Chandler, AMC)
8. HEATHER TOM (Katie Logan, B&B)
9. MAURA WEST (Carly Snyder, ATWT)
10. JANE ELLIOT (Tracy Quartermaine Spencer, GH)
11. STEVE BURTON (Jason Morgan, GH)
12. JACK WAGNER (Nick Marone, B&B)
13. LESLI KAY (Felicia Forrester, B&B)
14. CATHERINE HICKLAND (Lindsay Rapapport, OLTL)
15. PETER BERGMAN (Jack Abbott, Y&R)
16. ROBIN STRASSER (Dorian Lord, OLTL)
17. JUSTIN DEAS (Buzz Cooper, GL)
18. CRYSTAL CHAPPELL (Olivia Spencer, GL)
20. GINA TOGNONI (Dinah Marler Mallet, GL)

21. JAMES MITCHELL (Palmer Cortlandt, AMC)

22. EILEEN DAVIDSON (Ashley Abbott Carlton, B&B)
23. GREG RIKAART (Kevin Fisher, Y&R)
24. SUZANNE ROGERS (Maggie Horton, Days)
25. TREVOR ST. JOHN (Todd Manning, OLTL)
26. CADY MCCLAIN (Rosanna Cabot Ryan, ATWT)
27. BEN MASTERS (Julian Crane, Passions)
28. NANCY LEE GRAHN (Alexis Cassadine, GH)
29. HUNT BLOCK (Lee Ramsey, OLTL)
30. RICK HEARST (Ric Lansing, GH)

Published: Thursday, November 22, 2007