Actress starred in 2 long-running soaps

Times Staff Writer

Beverlee McKinsey, an actress best known for her roles on the daytime soap operas "Another World" in the 1970s and "Guiding Light" in the 1980s and early '90s, has died. She was 72.

McKinsey died May 2 at Olympic Medical Center in Los Angeles. The cause of death was complications after a kidney transplant, said her son, Scott McKinsey.

In an acting career of more than 30 years, McKinsey began in New York theater. She was an understudy for the Neil Simon play "Barefoot in The Park," performing the female lead a number of times in the 1960s. Robert Redford played the love interest.

She also performed the role of Honey in the London production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" by Edward Albee in 1964. Uta Hagen played Martha and Arthur Hill played George in the production.

McKinsey moved to Hollywood in the late 1960s and had guest roles on prime-time television series including "Mannix," "The Virginian" and "Hawaii Five-O."

For some years, she was cast in small roles in feature films, including "Bronco Billy," starring Clint Eastwood, in 1980.

Her first major role on daytime television was Iris Carrington, a meddling villainess she created for the daytime "Another World." Carrington was obsessed with her father and "she had deep, dark daddy issues," Michael Logan, who writes the "Soap News" column for TV Guide, told The Times this week.

"Beverly came to soap opera with an extraordinary background as an actress," Logan said. "She was known for playing connivers, but always with soul. She never created a cartoon villain."

In some ways, McKinsey recalled the screen divas Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, Logan said. Like them, "Beverlee always played a real woman, a great dame, a strong and vulnerable type."

McKinsey played the Carrington part for nine years starting in 1970 and was nominated four times for a Daytime Emmy award but never won.

She re-created the role of Iris Carrington for "Texas," a daytime soap opera that launched in 1980 and aired for about a year. McKinsey's name appeared below the title of the show -- an extremely rare billing for soap opera stars.

Her next major role was Alexandra Spaulding, or "Alex," on "Guiding Light," which she played from 1984 to 1992. McKinsey's Alex was a matriarch and a force in the family business, Spaulding Enterprises.

"Beverly played Alex as a regal, self-assured woman who dominated people with her power," said actor Rick Hearst, who played Alex's nephew, Alan-Michael. He is now a regular on "General Hospital."

As an actress, McKinsey was "a professional who always knew her lines," said Scott McKinsey, who was a director on "Guiding Light" for six years and worked with his mother. "You could count on her, like clockwork."

Her sudden departure from the show in 1992 stunned the rest of the cast -- and viewers. McKinsey announced that she was quitting as she was about to go on vacation, saying only that the hours were too long and that she wanted a more normal life. She had an "out clause" in her contract that made it legal. After leaving the show, she cut back on acting work.

Born Beverlee Magruder on Aug. 9, 1935, in McAlester, Okla., she graduated from the University of Oklahoma, where she majored in theater arts.

She married Mark McKinsey in 1956. They divorced three years later.

McKinsey was married three times. Her last husband, actor Berkeley Harris, died in 1984.

Along with her son, McKinsey is survived by her grandson, Marley.


For The Record Los Angeles Times Friday, May 09, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 29 words Type of Material: Correction McKinsey obituary: The obituary of daytime television actress Beverlee McKinsey in Wednesday's California section said she died at Olympic Medical Center in Los Angeles. It is Olympia Medical Center.
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