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October 9, 2015

TV Squad Ten: Primetime stars who started in soaps

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 2nd 2009 2:04PM
MKDid you know that double Oscar winners Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro acted in soap operas? It's true. Many of today's biggest stars honed their craft by doing New York soaps like As the World Turns and Another World. Before she was Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Gellar was Susan Lucci's daughter on All My Children.

Hollywood soaps like Days of Our Lives, General Hospital, and The Young and the Restless also produced stars. Tom Selleck, for instance, was a Y&R hunk before becoming Magnum, P.I. There are a lot of current stars right now on hit shows who were daytime characters just a few years ago. After the jump, we count down the top ten primetime stars who started in soaps.

TV Squad: Primetime Stars Who Started in Soaps

    10. Justin Bruening, 'Knight Rider' ('All My Children')

    As recently as 2007, Justin Bruening was still showing up on All My Children as Dr. Jamie Martin, part of the soap's all-important Martin family, son of Joe and brother of Tad. Justin was a stand-out on AMC. You could tell he was destined for bigger things. He was close to landing the role of Superman on the big screen in Superman Returns. That didn't happen, but the Michael Knight role did, and when NBC presented the new, updated Knight Rider in 2008, Justin was behind the wheel.

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    9. Hayden Panettiere, 'Heroes' ('Guiding Light')

    Before she was a cheerleader with super powers, Hayden Panettiere was the youthful Lizzie Spaulding on Guiding Light. As little Lizzie, Hayden went through it all, including battling leukemia. And just like Claire, Lizzie was a princess in her father's eyes, which often lead to complications. Hayden made a big impact on GL even though she was pre-pubescent. It was just a sample of what star power she had and would go on to display on Heroes.

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    Matt Sayles, AP

    8. Mark Valley, 'Fringe' ('Days of Our Lives')

    Before he was a primetime star as John Scott on Fringe – not to mention his time as Brad on Boston Legal and the star of Keen Eddie – Mark Valley was playing Jack Deveraux on Days of Our Lives. From 1994-97, Mark took on the role that was most closely associated with Matthew Ashford, and proved to be his best replacement. His Jack was less comic and more prone to trouble, including bedding his mother-in-law, vying with the Dimeras, and winding up in prison.

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    7. Melina Kanakaredes, 'CSI: NY' ('Guiding Light')

    In 1991, Guiding Light introduced a new love interest for Frank Cooper, Eleni Andros. His Uncle Stavros had arranged for Eleni to come all the way from Greece just to marry him. Choosing Melina Kanakaredes for the role turned out to be perfect casting and she was quickly the hottest thing in soaps, a two-time Emmy nominee. A few years later, she was doing NYPD Blue, before getting her own show, Providence, which ran on NBC for five years. And now more success, as Det. Stella Bonasera on CSI: NY.

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    Michael Bezjian, WireImage

    6. Michael Weatherly, 'NCIS' ('Loving'/'The City')

    Imagine Michael Weatherly with rimless glasses and the whole preppie look, and you'll have a good idea of what he was like as the heir to the Alden fortune on Loving in 1992. Michael stayed with Loving when it turned into The City, but really found his breakout role when he played Logan Cale on Dark Angel. Now, of course, he's Senior Field Agent Anthony DiNozzo, the smart alecky, devilishly handsome, and doggedly determined investigator on NCIS.

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    Jean-Paul Aussenard, WireImage

    5. Eva Longoria, 'Desperate Housewives' ('The Young and the Restless')

    For some stars, daytime is really just a stop along the way to the big time. That's how it was for Eva Longoria. She appeared briefly on General Hospital before nabbing a juicy role on The Young and the Restless as Isabella Brana, a psycho whom Michael Baldwin wrangled to break up Paul and Christine. It was a showy role and one that Eva used as a stepping stone to primetime and Wisteria Lane. Aside from the stay in the psych ward, Isabella was not unlike Gabrielle Solis.

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    4. Shemar Moore, 'Criminal Minds' ('The Young and the Restless')

    For nearly a decade, Shemar Moore played the pivotal role of Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless. He was Neil's dark knight younger brother, a troublemaker who came to Genoa City and inadvertently shattered Neil's perceived perfect life. Shemar toyed with primetime success with roles on Moesha, The Nanny, Arliss and Chicago Hope, but it was his role as Derek Morgan on CBS's drama Criminal Minds that cemented his primetime stardom.

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    3. Amber Tamblyn, 'The Unusuals' ('General Hospital')

    When she was only 12 years old, Amber was cast on General Hospital as Emily Bowen, a young girl who was adopted by the Quartermaines when her mother died of breast cancer. As the character grew, she became more and more important to the storylines because GH realized what a dynamic young actress they had with Amber. She thrived in her tenure on the soap, and went onto her first primetime hit with Joan of Arcadia. This spring, she's back with ABC's new dramedy, The Unusuals.

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    1999 ABC, INC.

    2. Nathan Fillion, 'Castle' ('One Life to Live')

    There have been a lot of Joey Buchanans on One Life to Live. The character was born and raised during the show's four-decade run. But the one Joey that truly made his mark was Nathan Fillion. He has been no less stellar in primetime; on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Desperate Housewives, and now the new ABC series The Castle. He also has Wonder Woman coming up, in which he'll be voicing the role of Colonel Steve Trevor, for an animated big screen version of the comic book classic.

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    ABC / Retna

    1. Judith Light, 'Ugly Betty' ('One Life to Live')

    There has never been a more amazing performance than the one Judith Light gave on One Life to Live as Karen Wolek. She burned up the screen, setting a standard for daytime that remains unmatched. Then she turned to comedy and played Angela Bower for eight years on ABC's primetime hit Who's The Boss?, opposite Tony Danza. Light is a prodigious talent, a fact underscored now as she appears on both Ugly Betty and Law and Order: SVU, playing two diametrically opposed characters.

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    Kevin Mazur, WireImage

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eric f

annie wersching who is on 24...

March 03 2009 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Julianne Moore was Frannie/Sabrina on As the World Turns and Meg Ryan was Betsy in the 80's.

March 02 2009 at 10:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

List list list.......


March 02 2009 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Amen about the AOL tease. Just give us a list!

March 02 2009 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Morjana Coffman

What about Richard Dean Anderson who was on General Hospital in the late 70's. Then went on to: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (tv series), Emerald Point N.A.S., MacGyver (7 seasons), Legend, and Stargate SG-1 (eight seasons plus guest starring in two more SG1 seasons) and in three seasons of SGA, and various made-for-tv and dvd movies?

March 02 2009 at 5:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Morjana Coffman's comment

Absolutely! Richard Dean Anderson was the first person I thought of.

March 02 2009 at 11:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Marcia Cross (Desperate Housewives) also was on "One Life to Live" in the '80s.

And Justin's TV father (not brother), Tad, is played by Michael Knight, which has nothing directly to do with the topic at hand, but seemed worth noting.

March 02 2009 at 4:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You overlooked Marg Helgenberger, who played Siobahn Ryan in the early 80's on Ryan's Hope.

March 02 2009 at 4:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm disappointed that you didn't put Jensen Ackles (Days of Our Lives) on this list.

March 02 2009 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Stewart

I'm glad to see Nathan Fillion on this list. =D

March 02 2009 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Come on TV Squad, just give us the list without the silly AOL slide show... talk about a tease..

March 02 2009 at 2:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Diane's comment


March 02 2009 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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