James Franco to Joan Crawford: Stars who GO to Soaps
James Franco has not only decided to make a brief return to the small screen, 10 years after starring on “Freaks and Geeks,” he’s decided to endure the grueling grind of a soap opera when he joins the cast of “General Hospital” in the recurring role of the mysterious “Franco.”
While we are familiar with the stories of the Meg Ryans and Demi Moores who got their start on soaps before moving on to primetime and movie careers, sometimes it actually does work the other way around as well ...
Kim Alexis spent the better part of the 80s posing for Sports Illustrated and modeling for Revlon ads. Commercials for Preparation H and Monistat followed in the 90s along with roles in “Body Bags” and “Perry Mason.” In 1999 the model-turned-actress landed a small arc as a hotel maid on “Sunset Beach.”
Despite a minorly successful music career, with some influence from Will Smith, Ali will always be best known as the mostly wholesome Ashley Banks on “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” She brought a bit of that wholesome to her character Roxanne, who walked in on her boyfriend Devon having relations with another woman. She broke it off, but later took Devon back after he made amends.
Cavett started out as a comedian, writing for “The Tonight Show” under Jack Paar and continuing when Johnny Carson took over. He’s also intermittently had his own talk show from 1968 to as recently as 2007. On “Another World,” Cavett made a cameo as hypnotist Oliver Twist in 1988.
By the time Joan Crawford took her daughter Christina’s place on “The Secret Storm,” she had already survived the silent film to talkie era, won a best actress Oscar (“Mildred Pierce”) and been nominated for two more. In 1968, Christina was hospitalized and Crawford, 63, volunteered to fill in for the 29-year-old as “Storm’s” Joan Borman Kane. The plan backfired when Crawford reportedly couldn’t keep it together on set and Christina lost her job.
Duffy made his name on a prime-time soap, playing Bobby Ewing on “Dallas” for all but one of the show’s 13 seasons (the infamous “it was just a dream” year). He joined “B&B” in 2006 to play Stephen Logan, the patriarch of the Logan family.
Fairchild has has worked steadily for over 30 years, but such primetime dramas as “Flamingo Road,” “Falcon Crest” and “Paper Dolls” -- not to mention MyNetworkTV’s attempt at an American telenovela “Fashion House” -- has made her a daytime soap actress waiting to happen. She now gets to be in and out on “B&B” as fashion show organizer and showdown instigator Dorothy Bright, but says that she would not mind a more recurring role.
Best known for his roles in both iterations of the space opera “Battlestar Galactica,” Hatch also dropped by the NBC soap opera in early 1990. He played Stephen Slade, one of four orphans who arrived in the upscale California community. A movie producer, Slade convinced matriarch Sophia Capwell to agree to appear in a movie based on her family history.
The man who would be Bond, James Bond, only once (in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”) played Reginald Durban for six months in 1982. Somehow we don’t see Daniel Craig taking this career path. Timothy Dalton, on the other hand ... .
She’s been in the country spotlight since she was just a teenager, touring with Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash and since then has become a mega-star with hits like “If Loving You is Wrong.” Aside from her program “Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters,” she enjoyed guest roles on shows like “Empty Nest” and “Baywatch” before signing on to play Alex Mitchum on Aaron Spelling’s “Sunset Beach.”
The former model’s biggest claim to fame is her failed marriage to billionaire Donald Trump. Living the high life perhaps gave her pointers for her role as Barbara Birch on “Sunset Beach,” a socialite who gives sharp-tongued advice to a soon-to-be divorcee.
A NASCAR driver and “Passions” don’t seem like the most natural fit, and Jamie was plenty nervous about his appearance, but it all turned out for the best in his quick guest star on the soap. The eight-year race veteran has been in many high-pressure situations, but playing himself on a soap was apparently a tough task.
The daughter of Oscar-winning British actor John Mills, and sister of “Parent Trap” star Hayley Mills, Juliet Mills had a career on stage, in movies and on television (“Nanny and the Professor,” 1970) before arriving on the NBC supernatural soap in 1999. She played Tabitha Lenox, a quirky 300-year-old witch.
When has Mackenzie Phillips not been famous? Even though recent revelations have revealed her personal life to have been even more of a soap opera than was even previously known, she actually didn’t do a soap until 1996, long after her “One Day at a Time” days.
After spending a period of time out of the spotlight, the “Perfect Strangers” star -- who was nominated for an Emmy back in 1987 -- stepped back into the TV scene by way of soaps. In March of 2008, Pinchot played a publicist named Patrick on “The Y and the R” and stuck around for six episodes.
Schlereth played 11 years in the NFL, going to two Pro Bowls and winning three Super Bowls. He retired in 2000 and began working as an analyst for ESPN. In 2007, Schlereth announced he had been cast Detective Roc Hoover on “Guiding Light.” He has appeared in 12 episodes over the past two years.
The talk-show host and former Cincinnati mayor has made a couple of cameos on soaps. He played a talk-show host not unlike himself on “Sunset Beach” in the late ‘90s, and in 2007 he guested on “Days of Our Lives” as a gambler who helped Nick Fallon (Blake Berris) win big in Vegas.
La Liz was a big fan of the show, and in 1981 she asked the producers if she could do a cameo. “GH” created the role of Helena Cassadine -- the widow of series villain Mikkos Cassadine -- and Taylor was present at the wedding of Luke and Laura (still the most-watched episode of a daytime soap ever), cursing them for their role in her husband’s death.
Best known for playing psychiatrist Dr. Jason Seaver for seven years on “Growing Pains” (and more recently for playing himself on “How I Met Your Mother”), Alan Thicke has been appearing sporadically as talk show host Rich Ginger on “The Bold and the Beautiful.”
Though the beloved actress and comedienne --best known for playing Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls"-- has six Emmy wins and 18 nominations under her belt, she happily joined “The Bold and the Beautiful” as Ann Douglas (the mother of the show’s matriarch Stephanie Forrester) in December 2006. White recurred on the show for a couple years, having made almost 20 guest appearances so far.