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September 3, 2015

TV Squad Soap Report: Two of daytime's all-time best

by Allison Waldman, posted May 8th 2008 11:06AM
TV squad soap report logoThere are many, many good actors and actresses in daytime. Some shine brighter than others simply because they are so supremely talented that they raise the level of the drama they are creating. There are two women I'm writing about now. They are both daytime actresses of the highest order. One celebrated her birthday yesterday, May 7th. She's One Life to Live's inimitable Dorian Cramer, actress Robin Strasser. The other, I'm sad to report, passed away last weekend. The incomparable Beverlee McKinsey was famous for two characters: Iris Carrington on Another World and Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light. Ms. McKinsey, who'd retired from daytime -- and acting overall -- in 1992 (except for a brief cameo on General Hospital) died on Friday evening from kidney failure after undergoing a transplant.

I remember vividly watching Another World when Beverlee McKinsey was front and center. She was a dynamic actress, a real scene stealer. She commanded your attention as the spoiled, grown daughter of millionaire scion MacKenzie Cory, Iris, on Another World. Her voice saying, "Daddy," is embedded in my memory.

Later on, as socialite Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light, she was equally arresting. I remember once interviewing Michelle Forbes when she smiled and told me what an amazing actress Beverlee was; a real dream to play scenes with. At the time, Michelle was just starting out, and she appreciated what Ms. McKinsey brought to every scene they shared.

As both Iris and Alex, Beverlee was marvelous. She had a way of playing evil that was subtle and strong, but never hysterical or outrageous. Her stellar work on Another World prompted NBC to create a spin-off called Texas. She was the reason for the show -- the first 60-minute soap ever -- and the received star billing. She played the same character on Texas, but she was missing the antagonists like Rachel and Mac that made Iris sizzle. Despite what you might have read elsewhere, Texas had nothing to do with Dallas. It was inspired by the stories on AW; not in reaction to the Ewings on CBS.

Eventually, Beverlee moved on the Guiding Light where she made magic once again. McKinsey was like the Meryl Streep of daytime, she was that good. When I read that she was gone, I felt a great sadness. I'm not alone in my high regard for this lady. Others have shared their feelings, too.

Robin Strasser, I'm happy to report, is vibrant and bright and still tearing it up in daytime. She was the original bitch on Another World, Rachel Davis, a character that was the original model for Erica Kane on All My Children. Agnes Nixon created Erica after writing Rachel on AW. Strasser was radiant as the scheming seductress on AW, but after five years, she moved on to try Broadway.

After a stint on AMC, she found a new, permanent home at One Life to Live where she assumed the role of Dorian. To this day, she is the greatest Dorian of them all. She's the centerpiece of the Cramer women -- Blair, Addie, Starr and her foster daughter Langston -- the one who makes all the mischief and stirs the pot.

To appreciate Robin Strasser, I would tell you just tune in to One Life one afternoon and see her in action. On a recent episode, she was a virago on display. Furious and ferocious to learn that 16-year-old Langston was pregnant (she was lying) after letting her boyfriend make love to her (he didn't), Dorian let loose. She was outraged that they would have unprotected sex (they were lying to protect Cole and Starr who really did have unprotected sex) and that Langston would be so foolish to allow Markko to make love to her. The power and brio of Strasser's performance was a thing to behold. Her Dorian is a force with which you don't mess!

The soaps have had its share of mumbling, bumbling bimbos and hot boys who couldn't act their way out of a paper bag. However, in Beverlee McKinsey and Robin Stasser, the medium has also had a touch of splendid brilliance. Ms. McKinsey is gone and will never be forgotten. Ms. Strasser is here and now and someone to be appreciated and admired.

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Thank you for your much-deserved tribute to both of these actresses.

I am still shocked and saddened to learn about Beverlee McKinsey's death. Although I came to realize as the years passed that the chance was very slim, I kept hoping that one day she would change her mind and reappear on one of the soaps or in some other acting venue. Now I know that that will not happen, so I am grateful I had so many hours to watch her practice her craft those many years ago on Guiding Light.

The unfairness of the "awards" system is certainly exemplified in Ms. McKinsey's case. No wonder she gave up on the soap world. Everyone appreciates being appreciated.

Rest in peace, Beverlee, and sincerest sympathy to her family.

June 06 2008 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Magda's comment

If I remember the reason she left, she was overworked. She told GL to lighten her load and she walked out (without saying anything to anyone), not returning to the show ever again because they didn't. It was her frustration with GL rather than appreciation is to why she left. Bev wanted more time with her son is more to remember. I am sure there are articles if you wish to look them up as I might have written things incorrectly.

March 26 2011 at 10:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is the first I have heard of her passing. She was so awesome to watch on AW as Iris Carrington. The love story with her and Alex Wheeler on Texas was one of my favorites. She will be missed.

May 08 2008 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you so much for recognizing Beverlee McKinsey -- her death was not as publicized as I think it should be, for lack of a better way of saying it. She was a great actress and hard to believe that she never won an emmy -- heard she was nominated 4 years in a row for AW but lost. Again, thanks. She deserved this mention.

May 08 2008 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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