INTERVIEW

Marla Adams Says Good-Bye To Y&R

Last week, Dina Mergeron took her last breath, which means portrayer Marla Adams is done at the show she first joined in 1983. “It has been a privilege,” smiles the soap veteran. “I’ve been on Broadway, in movies and major television shows, but nothing has been more humbling for me than this Alzheimer’s story. I don’t know how to say thank you enough about all the graciousness that I’ve been awarded and afforded by everyone at Y&R and the fans.”

Adams has reprised the role of Dina sporadically through the years, and reports that she enjoyed every appearance. “Dina was a remarkable woman and I always enjoyed playing her,” she declares. “She was a dynamic businesswoman but she really wasn’t a decent mother, although she loved her kids very much. Dina had a knack of telling the truth and not necessarily with polite words. I tend to be like that as well but she doesn’t get in trouble for it [laughs]. Dina was such a bitch but she had a heart of gold, and I think we saw more of that this last time.”

Adams admits to being caught off-guard when Sally Sussman Morina, who at the time was serving as Y&R’s co-executive producer and head writer, contacted her in 2017 about a return. “Sally said, ‘Marla, I’m bringing you on to play a woman with Alzheimer’s and she’ll die,’ ” Adams recalls. “I was a little upset by that and I said, ‘What the hell are you bringing Dina on just to kill her off?!’ She said, ‘You’ll be back for at least a year,’ and I said, ‘Oh, well, that’s nice. I’ll do it.’ And [Dina’s death] didn’t happen until three years later! It turned out to be the most important role I have ever done in my entire life and it blows me away.”

Still, when the date was finally set for Dina’s swan song, Adams was surprised. “I knew her demise was coming but I didn’t find out for sure until a few days before I would be in the studio that Dina would be dying,” she reveals. “I told them that I wouldn’t come into the studio to shoot my last scene unless they sent me a car, which they graciously did.”

After filming her finale, Adams was stunned to be fêted with a farewell party on the set, well-attended by guests wearing masks while social distancing. “I can’t believe the send-off they gave me,” she marvels. “I wasn’t told anything about it, so it was a total surprise. It was really amazing and I’ve been crying ever since. I don’t know how long they planned this salute to me and people said such wonderful things. They waxed poetically about being thrilled with me and my service on the show. After all these years, it’s about time they acknowledged me [laughs]. And I’m not going to read you the lovely messages everybody wrote about me because my head would swell so much that I wouldn’t be able to stand myself.”

Adams says that her more intimate moments were also meaningful. “I had beautiful conversations with Peter [Bergman, Jack] and Beth [Maitland, Traci] and Eileen [Davidson, Ashley] that were extremely personal and revealing,” she shares. “I love them like my own children. We have great respect for one another and they are wonderful actors.

Peter Bergman has high praise for his TV mom. “We all learned one valuable lesson from Marla and that is to be grateful,” he notes. “Be grateful for your job, be grateful for your storyline, be grateful for your entrance and your exit, and most of all be grateful for this genre, because where else can you tap in to such history to tell these stories? From the day she got here until the day she left, Marla was so grateful to be at Y&R. Saying good-bye to Marla was a chance to thank her for that and to tell her that not too many people leave that kind of mark behind. Dina will be remembered for a long time.”

Count Eileen Davidson as an admirer, as well. “It was so wonderful to have Marla come back and do such an amazing job with this Alzheimer’s story,” she applauds. “It was so great for Ashley to finally be able to forgive her mother and have some fantastic growth for both characters. Personally, I loved working with Marla, she’s such a hoot, such a great woman and has such a great career!”

Beth Maitland adds, “Marla has always been such a fun loving and saucy co-star, and we have been so close all these years. Like real family. We have nicknames for each other and spend time together off camera, as well. She’s a consummate actress and professional and the most important lesson I’ve learned from her is working in deep gratitude. For the job, for the process and for the relationships. She is a study in gratitude.”

As for future plans, Adams already has a destination in mind when it’s safe to travel again. “My great grandson, Remi, was born on July 15 and I can’t wait to meet him,” she raves. “I’m so madly in love with him that I cannot stand it! I’m 82 years old and the most blessed old broad on this planet.”

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