Throwback Thursday

#TBT Tracey E. Bregman

Credit: CBS

There’s one word that doesn’t describe Tracey Bregman. Shy. Words that might fit the bill are pert, vibrant and vivacious, because smoldering underneath that deceptive size (petite) and age (younger than you’d think — 20) is a dynamo, just waiting for the right time to explode. But when you’re holding all that energy in, you’re bound to let off some steam occasionally, if just to ease the pressure. Recently, Tracey and I let off some steam over a luncheon at The Cafe Figaro, a slightly bohemian watering hole for actresses which straddles the far edge of Beverly Hills. Much to my delight, Tracey talked openly about her return to daytime, her switch from mischievous teenager Donna Craig, on “Days” to malicious Lauren Fenmore on “The Young and the Restless,” and the current love-of-her-life.

“Wes Kenney was the man who gave me my break on “Days,’ ” remembers Tracey, “and strangely enough, he’s also been responsible for my return to daytime in Y&R. Several months ago, Wes dropped by my parents’ house to give a script to my dad (“dad” is producer Buddy Bregman) and he told me if I was ever interested in doing a soap again, to give him a call. At the time I was doing nighttime television and an occasional movie, but the work wasn’t challenging. Sometimes I had the feeling that the reason I’d gotten the role was because I looked good next to the Trans Am or my hair matched the wallpaper. Now, that’s okay because that’s the way it is most of the time,” Tracey observes. “However, that’s not the way it had to be for me so I decided to take Wes up on his offer. I wanted to come back. But it’s not as if I’m ‘going back to daytime.’ As far as I’m concerned, I’m going forward into another show.”

Immediately, the question, “Has she made the right decision?” comes to mind. It’s no secret that most actors prefer nighttime to daytime television and prefer feature films to television, period. There’s more prestige, more exposure, more money in those arenas than daytime. The question posed, Tracey doesn’t even bat an eye before answering:

“I get up every morning — and this is no baloney — and I’m ready to go! The writers on this show give me scenes I can sink my teeth into. That is such a change from the other stuff I was doing where I was always cast as some pretty little victim. I don’t mind playing victims, but three years of crying ‘help’ was enough. I was ready to play Lauren and, oh Lord, is she bad!” she laughs. Tracey pauses over her salad and unleashes an uncharacteristically evil growl. “It’s a wonderful release to spend your day walking over everyone and still get a good night’s sleep. Patty Weaver (Gina) and I played best friends on ‘Days’ and now, on Y&R, we’re arch-rivals. In between takes after we’ve been really mean to one another, we throw our arms around each other and ask, ‘How can we be so mean to each other?’ ”

The mention of “Days” raises the question of whether viewers resent the fact that she’s moved from the innocent Donna on “Days” to the unscrupulous Lauren on Y&R. Interestingly, Tracey claims that just the opposite is true.

“When I was on ‘Days,’ the big soap opera happening happened, which meant that the audience came to know you as an actor, not just a character. The fan mail I’m getting isn’t to Donna from ‘Days’ and isn’t to Lauren from Y&R — it’s to Tracey Bregman — and the response is unbelievable. It’s amazing to me that people actually write in and can list my credits; they’ve followed my career and they want me on this show. What’s just as nice (and just as big a surprise) is how supportive the cast is. I didn’t expect that. Usually there’s a lot of envy directed towards the new girl on the block but there hasn’t been any.” She smiles slightly. “Well … maybe a little, but nothing to worry about. And I’ve made some great friends. Beth Maitland (Traci) is a pal — and Michael Damian (Danny) — we all went to see ‘Flashdance’ together and loved it!”

In addition to the above-mentioned cronies, Tracey has nurtured a much more special, intimate friendship as well. The object of her affection is Randy Holland, who plays Rick Daros on Y&R, and amazingly enough, also serves as one of the show’s writers. How did these two lovebirds meet? Bregman regresses before my eyes from a self-assured young career woman to a giddy teenager, but who can blame her? When you’re in love everyone in the world is sixteen and every night is Saturday night.

“Actually, this whole thing started four years ago. I was at a party that Wesley Eure (ex-Mike, DOOL) gave and a trio of show business mothers spotted me and decided that I’d be a nice girl for Randy to meet but nothing ever came of it.

“Flashing forward four years, I’m working on Y&R, but the thing is we have two separate stages. It seemed that I was always working on one while Randy was working on the other, so we never really met. One day, I was waiting on our stage for my scene and looked at the monitor and saw Randy on the other stage and I took a deep breath and thought, ‘Who is that?!’ Remember the old line about, ‘You will meet a man who is tall, dark and handsome?’ That’s Randy. He’s 6’3”, beautifully built, Italian, with dark curly hair and these gorgeous dark eyes.

“Finally, fate stepped in and we found ourselves working on the same set. We hit it off immediately and he asked me to go for a drink after work but I couldn’t because I had a meeting. That was a Friday. On Saturday I was invited to a party and I could bring a guest. I knew it would probably take Randy another week or so to ask me out again since I’d had to turn him down, so I got on the phone and asked him. I had never done this before in my life!” Tracey says adamantly. “When I asked him, he said that he’d go with me on Saturday night if I’d go out with him on Tuesday night. I said yes and we’ve been together ever since.”

The relationship is currently a few months old, and while Tracey still lives with her parents, she’s rented bachelorette digs in Santa Monica so she can be closer to Randy. “We spend a lot of time together; we go to plays and films, take long walks on the beach, and Randy’s teaching me to drive his truck.” A footnote on that truck: “A friend of mine who’s psychic told me that I would be meeting a man like Randy and that he would drive a red truck. The night we went to the party, I wasn’t sure what he drove ’cause I met him there, but the Tuesday night we went out he arrived in a red pick-up truck. He has an MG but it was in the repair shop and he felt a little self-conscious about picking me up in his red pick-up truck, but believe me, I was never so glad to see a truck in all my life!” Tracey pauses as the waiter takes away her almost untouched plate of food. “He’s the first man I’ve ever been in love with,” she confides. “I’ve had one other love in my life but in retrospect, I’m not sure, whether I was in love with him or not.”

“I think we could’ve had something” observed Josh Taylor (Chris, “Days of Our Lives”) recently during a break in taping. Although the subject of past relationships could be regarded as reopening an old wound, Josh confirms that, “I don’t have any trouble talking about this lady. Tracey and I became friends very quickly and we always had a crush on each other. As she was leaving the show, our friendship got a little more intense and we saw each other on several occasions. She’s incredibly mature for her age and very bright and she’s definitely the kind of woman you could get serious and stay serious with.” So what happened? “We’re both pretty ambitious people,” admits Josh. “When I’m busy she’s not and vice versa. It makes it kind of hard to connect. But she’s still a good friend and … I don’t know … maybe if someday she’s available and I’m available, we might get together again.”

“Tracey and I have been through thick and thin,” comments Wesley Eure, who I reached minutes prior to his departure for a personal appearance tour in Australia. “Granted, we don’t see each other as much as we did when we both worked on DOOL, but when we do get together, we pick up right where we left off. You have to understand,” explains Wesley, “that Tracey and I were ‘the kids’ on the show and we developed a pretty intense brother/sister relationship. We confided everything to each other and stuck by each other when things got rough.

“During her run on the show, Tracey had a storyline where she was supposed to be having an affair — she played older than she really was — and the script indicated that she should do this and do that. The only problem was that Tracey didn’t know what ‘this and that’ meant. It was a funny moment but very touching. I met her as a child and watched her become a woman. And a very talented woman at that,” he smiles. The fact that Bregman is so talented has, of course, helped her career. When you’re born into the world of show business, as Tracey was, it’s much easier to get jobs, but then the question arises as to whether one gets the role because she earned it, or if family connections opened the doors. But although Tracey’s dad is a well-known producer and her mother an actress, her parents were not eager to have her follow in their footsteps. When Tracey’s three-day stint on “Days” turned into a stay of two-and-a-half years, they had a change of heart.

The question of Bregman’s talent is one on which Josh Taylor concurs. “Did you see her on that ‘Fame’ episode?” asks Josh, referring to a recent episode in which Tracey played an introverted violinist. ”I was visiting my brother up in Colorado and when I heard she was going to be on, I made my brother stop into a bar so I could watch it. She was terrific, and the minute I got back to town I called her to tell her so.”

Tracey modestly concurs. “The ‘Fame’ episode was one of the best things I’ve done.” Not on her top ten list, however, is a little item she co-starred in entitled “The Concrete Jungle,” a women-in-prison opus in which she distinguished herself by keeping her clothes on. (“I told the producers, you can either hire someone who’ll take her top off or hire an actress who won’t.”) To protect herself from nonsense projects, Tracey is following the lead of her producer-father and is acquiring properties to develop for herself. This decision comes not so much out of ego but of pride. “I want to do things that I really care about,” she acknowledges.

That’s just what she’s doing, because for the time being, Tracey’s dance card is definitely full. In addition to the ever-complicated triangle of Lauren, Traci and Danny, Tracey Bregman is branching off from Y&R to perform as the daring young woman on the flying trapeze in the next CBS installment of “Circus of The Stars.” She’s also concentrating on her vocal training since her uncle, Broadway songsmith Jules Styne (“Funny Girl,” “Gypsy”), has offered her a shot at his next musical. ”I’m totally jazzed about Y&R. Winning the Emmy for Best Daytime Series was a thrill and last week we were Number 2 in the ratings, but this is not where I stop,” she warns. “I have to keep learning. I want to. I need to.”

Chances are, she will.