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Longevity of Soap Actors on Each Daytime Serial

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  • Robert Bruce
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    Curious about the consistency and longevity of performers currently on daytime, I compiled a list of contract actors, sorted by the decade in which the actor first aired on each soap. I am interested in this topic as soaps are often anchored by long-running characters played continuously by a particular actor.

    I was surprised to find that the majority of actors on all four soaps started in 2010 or later. I also calculated the number of actors who started on their soaps in the 20th century. This is how it stacks up:

    Young & the Restless 44%
    Days of our Lives 35%
    General Hospital 20%
    Bold & the Beautiful 11%

    If you take it back to the 80s, GH sharply drops off, as Finola Hughes is the only remaining contract player from the 80s. The percentage of actors that date back to the 80s (or earlier):

    Days of our Lives 29%
    Young & the Restless 24%
    Bold & the Beautiful 11%
    General Hospital 4%

    If you take it back to the 70s, only Days & Y&R have contract players from that era; B&B, of course, had not yet started, and GH dismissed Genie Francis, the last remaining contract actor from the 70s.

    Note: I used Wikipedia for my list of contract actors and did not include recurring characters. Thaao Phenglis is listed as on contract with Days, but I did not include him in my calculations as he is presumably no longer with the show — am I wrong? I never read any notice of his departure, but his character was murdered and he has not appeared recently.

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    EmmyLoser
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    Very interesting, robbalto! I like thinking about what some of these numbers suggest about time periods when lots of people came to or left certain shows, or eras that had greater or smaller impacts. For example, if the majority of actors at all four soaps started in 2010 or later, and 44% of the actors on Y&R started in the 20th century, it suggests that almost no actors who joined the show between 2000 and 2009 stuck. I think it’s also a good indication of what soaps seem to consider their own heyday or important enough to retain large swaths of cast from. Like GH having almost no one from the 80s, and only 20% of contract cast being from before 2000, seems to value its more recent history, where DAYS and Y&R have much stronger connections to the 80s and 90s, DAYS retaining few 90s cast members who were not also 80s cast members, and Y&R having a significant chunk in the 90s, all of which makes sense when you think about the performers who are still on the show and prominent now.

    Also, I think that as of last month, Thaao Penghlis is no longer on contract with DAYS. It’s strange how the character was killed months ago but continued to be on contract and made appearances until he just disappeared altogether with no announcement or anything.

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    FreemanGriffin
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    Suzanne Rogers has been on Days almost continuously since 1974. Doug Davidson and Melody Thomas Scott both started on Y&R in 1978. Eric Braeden in 1980. James Reynolds in 1982. Deidre Hall has been on and off Days numerous times beginning in 1977. Jaclyn Zeman has been mostly on GH since 1977 (as has Kin Shriner, but he has been off the show more than on it). Leslie Charleson began in 1977. Susan Seaforth Hayes has been on and off since 1968, and Bill Hayes began in 1970 (but they both have had long long breaks from the show over the years). Who have I forgotten?

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    EmmyLoser
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    Yeah, I think this list proves another point about GH — it’s not that they don’t have vets from the 70s available, they just don’t have them on contract (which brings up the point of how people are valued).

    Is Peggy McKay still listed as on contract with DAYS? I don’t think she counts either way, since she hasn’t been on in quite a while and sadly doesn’t seem like to return anytime soon. Also, to what degree does Josh Taylor count? He started on DAYS decades ago (in 1981, according to IMDB), but then took a 10-year hiatus before returning as a Roman recast in 1997.

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    Robert Bruce
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    This is the complete list.

    The Bold & the Beautiful
    1980s 11%
    1990s 0%
    2000s 26%
    2010s 63%

    Days of our Lives
    1970s 10%
    1980s 19%
    1990s 6%
    2000s 6%
    2010s 58%

    General Hospital
    1970s 0%
    1980s 4%
    1990s 16%
    2000s 20%
    2010s 60%

    The Young & the Restless
    1970s 8%
    1980s 16%
    1990s 20%
    2000s 16%
    2010s 40%

    I have felt for years that it’s very hard to stay on Y&R unless you are a member of the Newman, Abbott, or Winters family. Characters who are not a member of one of these families tend not to last long.

    EmmyLoser, Peggy McKay is no longer listed as a contract actor. I hope she is well.

    If an actor is on the same soap, I counted the original start date, regardless of character changes. So, for example, I counted Josh Taylor as staring in the 70s and Camryn Grimes as starting in the 90s. I did not consider lapses in employment, because there are so many that it would be difficult to calculate, and often would be muddied by guest appearances in between.

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