INTERVIEW

Wally Kurth 30th Anniversary Interview

On September 9, 1991, Wally Kurth — who had wrapped his original run in his other long-running soap role, DAYS’s Justin, earlier in the year — made his GH debut as Quartermaine scion Ned. In honor of his 30th anniversary, he reflects on 30 people that have helped shape his Port Charles journey.

Former Executive Producer Gloria Monty: “Gloria hired me. I came in with a hunger and a point of view and all my charm intact, and Ned had to have that. I think she saw that in me, and she was immediately very encouraging and kind to me. I think she liked me! I felt like she was in my corner.”

Jane Elliot (Tracy): “She and [Casting Director] Mark Teschner helped me get the part — well, I’ll give myself a little credit, because I was ready to play a role that I could bring more fun to. Justin was just so damn serious and I felt, in my opinion, overwrought. I went in with a hunger to make this role my own and Jane was there, right outside Gloria’s door at the audition, and I immediately relaxed. She said, ‘Wally, whatever you do, do not tell her that we worked together on DAYS OF OUR LIVES [where Elliot played Anjelica]. Gloria likes discovering actors.’ Jane and I were dear friends and we’ve remained friends all these years. She was a mentor. She was someone who knew more than I did and I was wise enough to trust her and just watch and listen.”

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Cheryl Richardson (ex-Jenny): “I did my screen test with her. Love her. She was part of the whole Eckert storyline and I did get the feeling when I was walking in that it hadn’t really been received well. So I just remember really working with Cheryl, really trying to make it work.”

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Leslie Charleson (Monica): “Leslie is the same smiling, open- hearted, lovely, beautiful actress that I’ve been hanging out with for the last 30 years. She’s just a good soul. Every time I pop in to the Quartermaine mansion and see her, I’m so happy.”

Stuart Damon (ex-Alan): “I remember watching him on the show in maybe 1979 or so, before I moved to L.A., and thinking, ‘That’s Prince Charming [from the 1965 television production of CINDERELLA]! How cool, what a catch for GENERAL HOSPITAL!’ Then I met him, and he was just this big teddy bear. So warm, welcoming, no attitude. Both Stuart and Leslie were just so professional and such good people.”

Anna Lee (ex-Lila): “An angel in a wheelchair! Just this bright light who could have been quite dim, but chose not to be. She had an amazing life and such a great spirit and so much energy. She loved the work, and I could tell she loved me — and I loved her back.”

David Lewis (ex-Edward): “I remember visiting him in the hospital right before he passed, and he was delighted that I came. He was a pro, he was that veteran from classic television and movies that I wanted to be around and be a sponge and just watch. He had such a calming presence. I feel so lucky that I was able to spend some time with him.”

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Anthony Geary (ex-Luke/Bill): “When I first came on, Tony played Bill, and I remember battling with him for ELQ, and it was a little daunting because, you know, the legend! He couldn’t have been nicer. When I came back [in 2012], we picked up right where we left off. I think he respected me; I obviously respected him. We liked working together and running lines. I went out with him a couple of times and always had a really good time, and I regret that I didn’t fraternize with Mr. Geary more than I did.”

Steve Burton (Jason): “Steve — Mr. Sweater! Before GH, I knew him just briefly on DAYS [as Harris in 1988]. At first, he was little Steve Burton playing geeky Jason — we’d joke because at Christmastime, he’d have to wear this cheesy red sweater. We just had a good time together and also with Gerald Hopkins, who was A.J. at the time. He was a good guy and still is. The accident, Jason losing his memory and deciding that the only clothes he could wear were black — I did not see that coming!”

Sean Kanan (ex-A.J.): “He and I had the same acting teacher, and I remember meeting him at lunch with our acting teacher and getting to know him before he took the stage. I think I sometimes let the impatience with A.J. that Ned had spill over [into our off-screen dynamic], but we get along great now.”

Vanessa Marcil (ex-Brenda): “Her very first scene was with me. I felt protective of her, which Ned was with Brenda, as well. Vanessa was pretty self-aware of her talent and her charm and her beauty and she just knew how to do her thing in front of a camera. It wasn’t long before I realized, ‘She doesn’t need my help! She’s doing just fine on her own!’ She is so beautiful. I had a crush on her. I think everybody did!”

Maurice Benard (Sonny): “Back in the day, I was like, ‘Who is this dark-haired actor with the smoldering looks coming on?! He better not steal my storyline!’ Not only was he smoldering, and a good actor, but he had dimples! It’s just been in the last two or three weeks that I’ve been able to forgive him [laughs].”

John Ingle (ex-Edward): “My girlfriend back in college went to Beverly Hills High School and she talked about John Ingle all the time because he was the theater teacher there for years. When I met him, I was completely unprepared for what a teddy bear he was, even more than Stuart! He was very encouraging to everybody. You’d do a big monologue and he’d applaud: ‘Bravo, Wally, bravo!’ A few of the actors would kind of roll their eyes, like, ‘Isn’t that a little much?’ but I was like, ‘Thank you, John!’ I totally appreciated that enthusiasm.”

Rena Sofer (ex-Lois, his real-life ex-wife): “I auditioned with a lot of people for that role and I think she was the last one. I remember thinking, ‘This is the one.’ She had the accent, a great look, that porcelain skin and those striking eyes. I went to the booth and said, ‘You’ve got to hire this one!’ They were like, ‘Well, we don’t really care what you think, but good to know!’ The writing for us was just so great, it was easy to fall in love with the character — and the person.”

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Mary Beth Evans (ex-Katherine): “I think, maybe, that I was a little bit of a fan [going into our storyline] because she was [DAYS’s] Kayla! In my mind, she was Kayla. We worked together and we were buddies, kidding each other and hanging out, and at the time, I was also getting very close to Rena. So, doing that story, I just remember a lot of laughing and always telling Mary Beth, ‘We gotta get serious.’ We’d be giggling in bed and I’d be like, ‘I think we’re supposed to be hot and heavy here, so Mary Beth, just pull it together!’ To this day, I love working with her [on DAYS].”

Rosalind Cash (ex-Mary Mae): “Dear, dear Rosalind. Rena and I both really adored her and we named [daughter] Rosabel Rosalind Kurth after her. We just felt a real connection and it was so sad when she passed away. She was so beautiful, so gracious, so classy. Rosalind had a self-respect that was earned and I admired her so much.”

Amber Tamblyn (ex-Emily): “What a talent. You can’t teach it; she was just born with it. She always looked a little deeper at life than most people. I could tell she was doing amazing work and I so respected her. Kind of like Ned with Emily, I always wanted to put my arm around her and say, ‘Don’t worry, you’re going to be fine.’ I wasn’t always that way with younger actors, but for some reason, I felt very close to her and wanted to make sure she was protected.”

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Ingo Rademacher (Jax): “I have to be honest. When he first came on, I was like, ‘Now I’ve got to deal with this guy? I thought the show was just about me! I thought it was just about Ned, five days a week, and here comes this swashbuckling Australian with a beautiful accent and beautiful blue eyes!’ But I became good friends with Ingo. Still am. He came to our wedding 20 years ago [to wife Debra] and took videos, thank God, because we didn’t have a videographer. He carried the camera around, interviewing everybody at the reception.”

Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis): “I watched her on SANTA BARBARA [as Julia] and I thought she and Lane [Davies, ex-Mason, SB] were amazing. I was totally up for Nancy coming in with [the attitude of], ‘How can we make this better, funnier, wittier, more adult and not cheesy?’ At the time [Ned and Alexis were paired], I was depressed. Claire [Labine, ex-head writer] had left, Francesca [James, ex-supervising producer] had left, Rena had just left. They were the triumvirate behind the best years of my acting life. I felt like, ‘What do I do now?’ Nancy was a lifeline. She really brought me back to life and in a way, brought Ned back to life. She helped me move beyond the Ned/Lois legacy and start a new one.”

Billy Warlock (ex-A.J.): “He is really one of my favorite people. Billy and I formed a friendship and I still reach out and text with him. I directed him in a play and I loved working with him; he’s just such a good actor. He is one of those friends who knows me and likes me and he’s just easy to be around. He is also one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met — he just makes me laugh, the way he says things, his tone of voice. He’s an original and I miss him.”

Robin Christopher (ex-Skye): “I love her, just love her. They were going to try to put our characters together and I was like, ‘I’m all for it!’ They never really did, but what a lovely person. I was sorry that she moved back East. Robin was just awesome.”

Cynthia Preston (ex-Faith): “I’ll say it right now: I think they really missed something there! I thought that could have been a whole thing that could have taken Ned to a whole other side, where she leads Ned down this path that he willingly but unwillingly goes — it could have been such a fun story. I really enjoyed hanging out with her. Good actress, great character, and I regret that they didn’t pursue that.”

Chad Duell (Michael): “The man! I think he’s really talented and really funny and he’s a great guy. Love Chad.”

Lisa LoCicero (Olivia): “I remember Lisa from when she tested for the recast of Lois, which went to Lesli [Kay], and thinking, ‘She’s good!’ I thought she was beautiful and adorable, and of course, now, we’re really good friends, we talk, we have real conversations. It’s really nice to work with a scene partner, a TV wife, and really like that person. She knows stuff about my life, I know stuff about her life and we trust each other with it. It’s sometimes therapy, you know what I mean? That’s my relationship with Lisa and I’m grateful.”

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Genie Francis (Laura): “I went to Greece with her when she was Diana over on DAYS [in 1987]! We really get along, we really love and respect one another. I just love her, and love working with her. She’s always prepared. I look up to her just because she’s Genie Francis — there’s always just a special aura around her.”

Dominic Zamprogna (Dante): “Love Dom. When Ned married Olivia, we had some really nice scenes, and you get to know an actor when you have scenes that connect you in a way that’s more than just, ‘Hey, how are ya!’ when you’re walking down the hall. I’ve got the warm and fuzzies for Dom; he’s a good man.”

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Tristan Rogers (Robert): “Tristan was just leaving when I was arriving, and sometimes, when an actor leaves, their soul leaves them before they actually leave [laughs] — I remember trying to connect with him and he’d already left the building! But this time around, he’s happy to be back and everyone enjoys having him around and I’ve had a good time working with him. The more Tristan, the better!”

Amanda Setton (Brook Lynn): “Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve met actors, male and female, who’ve made my life better, made my work better. Amanda is one of those people. I see her first as my friend, and then we do the work. I’m sure everyone feels the same way about her: ‘She’s a fabulous actor, but my God, she’s just such a good person!’ I love her. I’m lucky.”

James Patrick Stuart (Valentin): “I am so pleased to have become his friend. He does a great job portraying Valentin, and as an added bonus, he’s just a great guy to hang out with. He’s a really great addition to the cast.”

Executive Producer Frank Valentini: “What a blessing Frank’s been. He brought me back to the show and he’s a friend and a really good producer who sees the vision of the show and is committed to the show, first and foremost. He does an amazing job. We’re lucky to have him.”

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