Deidre Hall days marlena gallery bl
Credit: Brian Lowe/JPI

“It was all uphill from there,” the actress joked.

By now, Deidre Hall has been doing Days of Our Lives for so long that if there’s an “Oops!” on the set, it’s not the end of the world. She has more than four decades of brilliance behind her to prove that it’s an exception, not the rule. But in 1976, she was the new kid on the block. Sure, she’d already appeared on The Young and the Restless as Barbara Anderson; she just wasn’t yet the daytime legend that she would become.

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So on her first day as Dr. Marlena Evans on the NBC soap, she recalled on the December 11 episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, “I was so scared, and I had to do a scene with Macdonald Carey (Tom), the star of the show, and Frances Reid (Alice), his counterpart, and I was standing in the wings, watching everybody and just thinking, ‘Oh, they’re so talented!… And that Amanda character… boy, she’s gorgeous!’”

NEWHART, Mary Frann, 1982-90, © CBS / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Amanda’s portrayer made the kind of first impression that tended to last.

Credit: CBS/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

That, she was; Amanda Howard, at the time married to Dr. Greg Peters, was played by Mary Frann, better known as Bob Newhart’s wife on the CBS sitcom Newhart. We’d say that this was just us digressing again, but as the story continues, you’ll see why it was so important to understand that Amanda really made an impression. Now then, back to Hall…

“So I came onto the set, and Dr. Horton introduced me as Dr. Evans,” she picked up, “and I said, ‘Oh please, call me Amanda.’”

Everyone froze, “and I thought, ‘Why are they being so strange?’ [Eventually,] Macdonald Carey leaned over and said, ‘Darling, you’re Marlena, she’s Amanda.’ And it was all uphill from there.”

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Later in the interview (which you can watch in full below), Clarkson tasked Hall with picking her three favorite Marlena twists over the years. No. 1, of course, will surprise no one. “It’s gotta be possession,” said Hall. No. 2 was her chance to play sister Andrea’s former role of Hattie. Marlena’s “very understanding and compassionate and patient, so playing [out-there] Hattie was the most fun, oh my gosh!”

And No. 3? Proving that even the stars who play out the stories sometimes get them a little remixed in their heads over the years, Hall picked Marlena’s stint as the Salem Strangler… even though that was Jake Kositchek; her character was actually the Salem Stalker. Mind you, she knew what she was talking about, right down to the black cape, she just slightly confused Salem’s supervillains. (And who could blame her? By the time the ball drops on 2020, the show will probably have introduced a Salem Slice-’n’-Dicer.)

While you’re here, check out the below photo gallery of Days of Our Lives’ all-time greatest characters. We suspect you’ll be pleased with the spot in which Hall’s doc landed.