Remembering One of Days of Our Lives’ (and Daytime’s) Most Beloved Leading Ladies 12 Years After Her Passing — Plus, Photos From Frances Reid’s Legendary Run as Alice Horton
When we lost Frances Reid, we all lost a mother, a grandmother and a dear friend.
When Frances Reid passed away on February 3, 2010, it truly was the end of an era. Neither the Horton family nor Days of Our Lives would have been the same without having from the very start Alice and her beloved Tom at their beating heart.
From Stage to Screen
Soaps, unsurprisingly, weren’t on Reid’s radar when she graduated from the Pasadena Community Playhouse. Broadway, though, most definitely was. The young actress from Wichita Falls, Texas, made her debut in 1939, and spent the next couple of decades on stage. Her early TV roles were mostly in theatrical anthology series, so as she began the move to soap operas, the journey was a bit… rocky.
Reid took her first stab at daytime in 1954 with the title role in Portia Faces Life. As she recalled in a 2003 interview with the Archive of American Television, “I found it very stressful.”
In fact, she found it so stressful, she quit after only a few months! Next came the role of As the World Turns’ Grace Baker, who was, in Reid’s own words, “unpleasant.” And of The Edge of Night’s Rose Pollock, the actress just laughed. “[The soap roles] came and went so fast, I don’t remember them.”
Days of Our Lives, she assumed, would be the same.
“I took the role thinking it would be all right for a year,” said Reid in the soap’s 30th-anniversary book, Days of Our Lives: The Complete Family Album. Three decades later, “most of my professional life has been as Alice Horton, and I have no regrets.”
A Lasting Legacy
Reid was perfectly happy as one of the “old folk” of Salem — Alice was already a grandmother in the pilot episode — though she was delighted that as Alice aged, she got more involved in the Salem community. It seemed nothing could keep her down, not even Tom’s death (portrayer Macdonald Carey passed away from lung cancer in 1994), or her own “murder” at the hands of the Salem Stalker.
We last saw Alice and her gentle smile at the Horton Christmas-ornament ceremony on December 26, 2007. Even if we didn’t realize it at the time, it was a beautiful way to say goodbye. Alice had started the tradition decades earlier, and to this day, it wouldn’t feel like Christmas without the heartwarming gathering.
Reid had been living in an assisted-living facility when she died a little over two years later at the age of 95. Alice, meanwhile, passed away peacefully in her sleep in June of 2010, at the age of 99. Her passing left a hole in our hearts that Reid, sadly, never quite anticipated.
“I don’t think I will be remembered,” she mused of her legacy during the Archive of American Television interview. “I think most people are not remembered. Maybe some people that I had an effect on, some people I worked with. That’s the way I’ll be remembered. Not much.”
This is probably the only time we’re happy to prove Reid wrong. It’s been a dozen years since we lost her, and we can promise she’ll be remembered for many, many more years to come. In fact, to mark this melancholy occasion, we’ve put together the below photo album featuring highlights of her storied run as Alice.