Tattoos on the shoulders, arms or backs of daytime’s leading men — think GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Tyler Christopher (Nikolas) and ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Kamar de los Reyes (Antonio) — may be common today, but they weren’t when Peter Reckell (Bo) debuted on DAYS OF OUR LIVES back in 1983. But that didn’t stop him. Eager to make a statement about his antihero, the actor craftily engineered the infamous black dagger that Bo proudly sports on his shoulder.
“It was the first day I had to do some scenes without a shirt,” recounts Reckell. “Back then, we used to rehearse and dress-rehearse the whole show, get notes, then tape. I did my scenes, rehearsed them without a tattoo. Then, just before we went to tape, I had the makeup artist put on this tattoo. He drew this dagger on my shoulder freehand.”
By the time executive producer Al Rabin noticed the artwork, the scenes were already in the can. “Years later, I was talking to one of our producers and she told me that after those scenes, Al asked, ‘What is that?’ The director said, ‘Oh! He has a tattoo.’ Al said, ‘And we taped that?’ When the director said that they had, Al said, ‘Okay. Move on.'”
Exactly as the actor had planned. “We had to finish stuff quickly, and that is what I took advantage of,” notes Reckell. “We couldn’t stop, take off the tattoo and redo the scenes.”
Reckell also designed Bo’s tattoo. “I was down on Venice Beach the weekend before. I knew I was going be doing those scenes, so I was looking for a tattoo,” recounts Reckell. “At the time, I was quite into martial arts and this particular dagger. I found a temporary tattoo stand that had this dagger and had it put on. The makeup artist at DAYS actually had this little trace of that dagger left over from the weekend and went over it.”
While producers aren’t always keen on actors sporting tattoos, Reckell thinks they should be. “Bryan (R. Dattilo, Lucas) has tattoos that they cover up, and I’m like, Why? Lucas is an interesting character. He’s an alcoholic and has some shady past. Why wouldn’t he have a tattoo? Take advantage of it,” suggests Reckell. “Once again, I’m being an armchair producer. Obviously, they have their ideas of why they want to do stuff, and I don’t agree.”
Long after that dagger became part of Bo’s history, Rabin figured out that he’d been scammed. “Oh, he knew,” chuckles Reckell, noting that he and Rabin had “a love/hate relationship. But Al was fairly intuitive. Even though there were things that he, himself, would disagree with, if he knew that the audience liked it he would say, ‘Okay. Go [with it].’ Quite often with producers their own personality comes in, rather than letting the audience dictate what they want to see. That’s why I always had a lot of respect for Al Rabin.”