Frances Reid: The First 90 YearsBy Janet Di Lauro Posted: Jan 4, 2005
On Dec. 7, the cast of DAYS OF OUR LIVES joined in a celebration of a monumental occasion — Frances Reid's (Alice) 90th birthday. The night was full of laughter, tears and memories as the cast and crew reflected on their time with the legendary actress — and only remaining original cast member of DAYS.
Executive producer Ken Corday began the celebratory party, "On Dec. 9, Frances turns 90. When we said goodbye to Alice (when she was "killed off" the show last year), Frances said she was 86. Seven months later she aged four years." And with that, the party ignited with a roar of laughter.
Exactly what do you get a daytime legend celebrating her 90th birthday? Diamonds and roses, of course! On behalf of DAYS, Corday presented Reid with 90 (yup, 90!) gorgeous roses, in white, red, pink and yellow. But the best gift came in a little blue box — a diamond-encrusted watch from Tiffany & Co.
After the presentation of gifts and words from Corday, actors took turns speaking about the daytime legend. Many members of the DAYS family were there, former and present, including John Clarke (ex-Mickey) who drove two hours — each way! — to be there and share in the celebration. Missy Reeves (Jennifer), despite not being able to attend, was sure Reid knew just how much she meant to her by leaving a recorded message. "Your life has been such an inspiration," Reeves proclaimed, and went on to reminisce about past dressing room chats, "where you taught me everything I didn't need to know." Matthew Ashford (Jack) chuckled that he had planned to read Reeves' message, "but then I decided I couldn't cry in the appropriate places."
The actors each reflected on how much Reid has meant to them, and then Deidre Hall (Marlena) presented Reid with a gift of her own — a plate of doughnuts, which caused much laughter from the crowd. She went on to describe how awful she felt when she found out Marlena was going to kill Alice, "Then I saw your ring. That made me feel not so awful," she quipped, making note of the previous diamond Reid received from Corday after Alice was "killed off."
"She's inspirational every day, her quick wit, her professionalism and her amazing ability to add it all together. She does better at 90 than I ever did at any age!" Judi Evans (Bonnie) said with a smile, and shared one of her own favorite memories with Reid, "When I came back to the show, I ran into the hallway and she said the funniest thing. She said, 'I remember you. My how you've aged.' I thought it was hilarious! It was said with such love and such honesty."
"I've known Frances since February 1970, when I did my first show," Bill Hayes (Doug) revealed. "She is a brilliant actress and a tower of a person. She is so much more than just a woman who comes in and does her acting. She's has a strength, an intelligence, a warmth. She has made the show, just the way she treats people, makes them her family. She's put us all in our place when we needed it. Yet, always with love."
The party wouldn't be complete without the guest of honor saying a few words. "Old people are generally pushed aside. They even make young people look old to play old people. I may not be the greatest actress, but I'm at least sufficient!" Reid remarked, causing an eruption of laughter from the entire crowd.
"Thank you for being my hero and someone I look up to," Peter Reckell (Bo) marveled and embraced his on-screen Gram. "Oh, I'm going to cry if you don't stop," Reid exclaimed.
Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie) ended the reflections from the cast with words that summed it all up, "Ken gave her diamonds and it's appropriate. The backbone of DAYS OF OUR LIVES is Frances, and her backbone is made of diamonds." With that the beautiful (and yummy!) cake was cut and the cast partied the night away.