Wanted: GL's Beverlee McKinseyBy Mark McGarry Posted: Jan 22, 2004
ALL KNOWN ALIASES (A.K.A.):
Myrna Slaughter, GENERAL HOSPITAL;
Alexandra Spaulding, GUIDING LIGHT;
Iris Carrington, TEXAS/ANOTHER WORLD;
Emma Frame Ordway, AW;
Martha Donnelly/Julie Richards, LOVE IS A MANY SPLENDORED THING
LAST SEEN: Port Charles
CHARGED WITH: GUIDING LIGHT suffered one of its biggest blows ever in August 1992 when Beverlee McKinsey, on the last day before her scheduled annual eight-week vacation, announced she was quitting the show after almost a decade. Not many people knew it — not even the show's executive producer at the time, Jill Farren Phelps, according to McKinsey — but daytime's grande dame had an out in her contract: Every six months she had the option to quit. And she did. McKinsey rarely grants interviews — "Like, never," she cracks, her voice raspy and twangy as ever — so one would expect her to be cagey. Instead, she's incredibly candid, her tongue and wit as sharp as Alexandra's.
WHILE ON THE LOOSE: Enjoying retirement
IF CAPTURED BY DAYTIME: Not likelySoap Opera Weekly: What have you been up to?
Beverlee McKinsey: I'm not up to much. I live in California now. I was sick for a while. Two years ago I received a kidney transplant, so I'm good as new now. I could work, but I don't want to. I'll tell you a secret: I didn't like it all that much when I did it.Weekly: It looked like you were having fun?
McKinsey: Well, it probably was during the time I was performing, and everything else was a real drag (laughs). The hours just made me crazy. They were too long. I loved it when we were a half-hour show, but once we went to the hour, it was a nightmare. You worked all the time, and then you studied all weekend, and I just found it too much. That's why I quit, eventually. You'd find yourself sitting there at 10 or 11 o'clock on a Friday night. It's like, "I don't know what else there is to do out there but there must be something better than this." The only thing I miss are the people. The laughter. I miss that a lot. But I'm in touch with quite a few of them, so that helps.Weekly: Do you miss New York?
McKinsey: Not really. I haven't been back even once since I left. I had a magnificent view from my apartment, and I miss that. When I see it on The David Letterman Show or something, and the snow is falling and all that, I miss that. I say 'Oh, yeah, that's really fabulous.' The weather is pretty boring out there. We have rain and they make a big deal.Weekly: When you took that out in your contract, were you worried about leaving them high and dry, or hurt feelings?
McKinsey: No, I wasn't. I gave them eight weeks' notice. I had warned Jill (Farren Phelps) — although I don't think she paid attention to me — that I was not happy. I was not happy with the storyline. I don't believe she'd read my contract, and she was not aware that I could quit every six months. I said to her at the time that I discussed that I was unhappy, "I may just have to quit." And she said, "You have a contract." And I said, "You better read it." I don't think she ever did. So she was really stunned when it happened. I didn't tell anybody in advance because I didn't want a big fuss made. I didn't want a party and all that stuff. So I just did my last scene and left. Plus, I was leaving for this long eight-week vacation, and the last scenes were difficult scenes, and I wanted to be able to concentrate on that and not have to worry about anything else.
Oh, I told the head of wardrobe (David Loveless), because he was already planning what he was going to buy for me for fall. He and I were good friends, and one night at dinner I said,"Don't buy anything, because this is what's happening." So everybody was expecting me to leave that day — they just weren't expecting me to never come back (laughs).Weekly: What made you do GH?
McKinsey: Just for my medical insurance.Weekly: Was it fun?
McKinsey: It was great fun. They're nice people. I didn't like what I did with the character. I thought I had this great idea, and then when I saw it on the screen, I said, "That was not such a great idea." (laughs)