Long before his days as B&B’s Thorne, Winsor Harmon was working on the jump from college football star to model. Unfortunately, as he would soon learn, size does matter. After his first meeting with a major modeling agency, “[The agent] told me, ‘You’ll never be a model…you’re too big.’ I said, ‘Okay, what do I need to do to be a model?’ She said, ‘You need to be in a 40 regular jacket and have a 32-inch waist.’ I said, ‘Okay, not only am I going to do that, but I’m going to go and compete with the [best] competitor in town,’ and walked out,” recalls Harmon with a laugh. “Then I went on a vegetarian diet and started studying nutrition and everything…because I was weighing about 230 pounds. I was really big, muscular from playing ball — I was wearing a 46-inch jacket and a 35-inch waist. So I went on a vegetarian diet, and I ran 5 miles in the morning and 5 miles in the evening and I dropped down to a 31-inch waist and a 40 regular jacket and 174 pounds. And then I went to her competing agency in town and I got picked up, and [eventually] wound up with Ford.”
For a small-town boy like Harmon, getting paid to see the world was one of his modeling career’s biggest perks. “I loved that part of it. When my parents took me to the airport, I was 18 years old or 19 and I had $500 in my pocket. I was so excited to go and my mother was sitting there, almost in tears. She was like, ‘Oh, nothing bothers him…he’s just going to move to a foreign country and it doesn’t bother him.’ And I was like, ‘Why would it bother me? I’m going to get an education [by traveling the world] that Texas A&M couldn’t give me.’ It was a free education — a paid education. Although I remember the holidays being rough, because you wanted to be home with your family and stuff. And it was a challenge at times, because you couldn’t communicate with anybody unless they spoke English. I tried very hard to learn the languages, obviously.”
Successfully transitioning twice, from athlete to model and then from model to actor, it’s not surprising that Harmon has a great affinity for the young athlete-turned-model-turned-actor who took over his old ALL MY CHILDREN role of Del, Alec Musser. “I actually met him the other night for the first time. He’s a very nice guy. He said, ‘I really have some big shoes to fill.’ And I said, ‘Well, you’re filling them fine,'” recalls Harmon, who has fond memories of his Pine Valley days. “I try to stay in touch with Kelly (Ripa, ex-Hayley) and Mark (Consuelos, ex-Mateo). Mark lived with me for a while back in the day. He stayed on my couch.”
Harmon was not only a gracious host, but a discreet one, at that. “Unbeknownst to know them, I knew they were dating…I knew they ran off to Vegas and got married. I kept their secret,” laughs Harmon. “It was fun. I loved Kelly. She was one of the coolest…she was the first girl I met on ALL MY CHILDREN other than Sydney Penny (Julia). Kelly was like a little firecracker, just full of life. She used to go around the dressing rooms with a weight in each hand doing lunges down the hallways, always complaining about how fat she was. I was like, ‘You’re neurotic, Kelly!'”
For more with Winsor Harmon, check out our feature interview with him in the March 9 issue of Weekly.