Catching Up With...GH's Secret AgentsBy Posted: Jul 3, 2003
WSB Chief Ted Ballantine
Once the WSB was created, Scorpio and O'Reilly needed a boss Enter William Wintersole, who proved timing is truly everything: Wintersole missed GH's first two attempts to hire him because he was down at the beach ("This was before cell phones"). When he finally checked his messages, the last one was an angry tirade by his agent. "He said, 'Why don't you leave the business AND the country.' Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day trying to drown myself," Wintersole jokes. Two weeks later, then-GH casting directorMarvin Paige called Wintersole directly and summoned him to the studio, where he read for then-executive producer Gloria Monty, who greenlighted him. "My first day at work I'm onstage and I run into a friend of mine. I asked him, 'What are you doing here?' And he said, 'I'm playing the part of a congressman.' I said, 'Oh, really? I hope we'll have some scenes together.' He said, 'Oh, I don't think so. This is my last day.' I said, 'Oh, sorry to hear that. How did you get the role? What happened?' He said, 'Some dumb S.O.B. was out at the beach and he never returned their calls, so they called me in instead.' He was on for three days; I was on for six years!
"To be involved in what was at the time the hottest thing happening in television was phenomenally exciting," Wintersole continues. "I fondly remember when Ballantine was trying to coordinate things at GH when the Cassadines were freezing Port Charles. For days we'd have to walk around on-set with heavy overcoats, mufflers and gloves. I was always flicking beads of perspiration off my forehead before my close-ups, because we were supposed to be freezing our asses off."
Whenever he wasn't needed, he'd play tennis with John Beradino (ex-Steve Hardy) and Peter Hansen (ex-Lee Baldwin). "When we weren't playing tennis we were playing gin with Frank Maxwell (ex-Dan Rooney), with Peter raking in the pot quite often!" he recalls.
Wintersole recurred on and off during the 1980s, , whenever a spy caper called for Ballantine's leadership -- or interference -- until his character was killed by a car bomb planted by rogue DVX agent Elena Cosgrove in 1987. "My mother called me up one day and said, 'Did you see the show today? All my friends saw it. They said that Mr. Ballantine got blown up!' To this day, nobody from GH has ever called to tell me I was killed off!"
Wintersole then returned to his old stomping grounds, The Young and the Restless, where he did a second stint as Mitchell, Katherine's and Victor's attorney/confidant. He has since taken a hiatus from acting to tend to his mother, but does an occasional voice-over gig. "Secretly, I've always wanted to come back to the show, sewn back together after being completely dismembered by the car bombing. But no one ever called. I suppose freezing the world is OK, but bringing back ol' Ballantine is too fantastical," he says with a laugh.