This interview originally appeared in the October 1978 issue of Soap Opera Digest
Mark LaMura, the handsome, though slightly brash young Mark Dalton of ABC’s ALL MY CHILDREN, is a multi-faceted man enveloped by very many activities besides acting on the popular soap. He’s an athlete, a scholar, a family man and a humanitarian — and besides being all of those marvelous things, he’s sweet, personable and hospitable.
On a special invitation from him, Soap Opera Digest was invited to examine his diverse lifestyles, from his heavenly waterside home which nurtures Mark’s most enthusiastic new passion — sailing. And it was while he was onboard, that Mark revealed what his life is all about … what makes Mark tick … and the inseparable parts of an intricately woven pattern between his work and his play.
Being highly talented in the arts, is only one side to his multi-faceted personality. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mark began his college education with a career as an attorney in mind. A short but highly saturated four years at St. Joseph’s College in Indiana, resulted in the acquisition of two degrees — Political Science and Theater Arts, saying nothing for his involvement with six minor fields of study — communication, theology, philosophy — to name only a few! It seems he has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
But as Mark sees it, “I never planned for degrees in all these areas. In the beginning I took the required courses and then began adding whatever caught my attention. I worked, quite a bit, behind the scenes on drama productions, where I developed an inquisitiveness towards that field. I just kept right on cultivating all of my interests. I chose my courses for the semesters at random … and at the end, when I was ready to graduate, the Dean of Students at first refused to believe I actually completed all of those majors and minors; he didn’t think it feasible, but graduate with them all I did … ”
And not only did he graduate from St. Joseph’s, but did so with national scholastic honors. And though Mark puts little emphasis on his academic achievements — “I did not set out to do this purposely, I just hoped to broaden myself and enjoy myself at the same time … ” — Mark realizes he has much of which to be proud.
His involvement with the theater in college certainly has reaped its rewards today. Acting seems to come naturally, to this good-looking, dark curly-haired guy. And the story behind his landing a part on ALL MY CHILDREN has an unusual twist: “I was asked to audition for a minor role on the show, and though the producers liked me and asked me back several times, for several auditions, I was finally told I wasn’t ‘right’ for the part. I was disappointed, especially after all of the interviews I had gone through, but fairly soon after this incident, I heard from my agent and he had incredible news for me — the producers had decided to write a part in the show just for me — and Mark Dalton was born!
“My storyline has varied from being very emotional in nature, to at times, being somewhat stilted. The part I enjoyed and found most rewarding was when I found out I was illegitimate — being Erica’s half-brother. Various scenes since, have been more and less fulfilling, depending on the storyline at the time … but I’m enjoying my involvement with an ‘older woman’ (Ellen Shepherd) right now, very much.”
When I asked Mark of his dramatic aspirations, he response was definite, “I really do like doing daytime. People with very little experience are always asking me how they can get to perform on a soap and I try to explain that, for the most part, you don’t just get a part on one. Most daytime actors and actresses made their soap opera debuts only after they had worked extensively in repertory groups or had other acting jobs. Daytime is hard work, though I enjoy it very much. This is not to say I wouldn’t also like to do Broadway theater.”
Family ties, it seems, are a large part of Mark’s life. Born the eldest in his family, Mark tries to spend as much time as possible with them. They also enjoy living in an oceanside town not far from Mark’s home, and though, as Mark explained to me, no one in his family is involved at this time in sailing, I’m sure his unbounded enthusiasm will engulf them in the near future.
An important family member does live with Mark, in his unsullied four room water-front apartment. In a specially designed, glass enclosed home, situated between the kitchen and living room, Harvey — the cutest and one of the most unusual pets — a chinchilla — lives a highly indulged existence. As Harvey performed for me (Mark is not the only member of the family who is talented), Mark explained how he came to buy a chinchilla, “I knew I was in the market for a pet to keep in my apartment, and one day my superintendents sent me to this pet store, and there he was … so I bought him.”
An immediate, most loving rapport was evident when Mark began petting Harvey and feeding him his dinner of vegetable pellets … which is as close to cooking as Mark likes to come.
Luckily, a best friend in the restaurant business helps solve Mark’s lack of culinary luster. Mark’s eating habits tend to lean towards the two Ps — Pasta and Pizza — and at Danny Murphy’s Italian Restaurant, Mark is able to get his fill:
“I eat mainly pasta dishes — I don’t usually cook for myself, in fact, rarely do. For the most part, whenever I’m home for meals, I eat with Danny.” And, since it was one of those infrequent days Mark was home at meal time, we joined Danny for a late lunch at his rustic home-style eaterie, and were quickly enjoying a delicious meal.
His easy carefree attitude towards his home life mirrors the feelings he has towards his social life. At 29, Mark is in very little hurry to settle down with any one person. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be the case. His personal life, he impressed upon me, is in no way serious at any time. “I’m a single guy who enjoys and appreciates my singleness. There is no one special person in my life right now. I see many women and like and appreciate every one … ”
I can readily imagine how very easy Mark finds enamoring his women. I witnessed the effect of what just a smile from his deeply dimpled face could do to a couple of neighborhood girls, who stopped by to say goodbye on their way to summer camp…. And then to be able to handle a musical instrument, the way Mark does the piano; music fit to romance anyone — Mark surely has his wooing made easy!
Quite seriously, his melodious flair is boundless. His ready demonstration substantiated his aptness on the keyboard while other instruments he did not exhibit, but is acquainted with are: the tambourine; trombone and guitar. No small feat for anyone.
It became evident Mark LaMura is certainly the multifarious man. Mark LaMura is energetic, interesting, a man-about-town. Mark LaMura, fervently involved in the outdoors, people, life, himself. Mark LaMura is a man who knows who he is, where he’s going and makes things happen … and loves every minute of life.