Getting a branch on one iconic soap family tree might’ve been sufficient for some actors. Not Rylan, though. She’d no sooner bid adieu to the role of Spaulding heiress Lizzie on Guiding Light than she’d signed with The Young and the Restless to play Abby, who wasn’t just part Newman, she was part Abbott, too! Now, of course, we know and love her as General Hospital’s Lulu, the daughter of soapdom’s preeminent supercouple, Luke and Laura.
24. Darin Brooks
Many an actor would kill for a role with the legs of Brooks’ Days of our Lives’ character, Max, which he played from 2005-10. And Brooks was certainly grateful for it. What he wasn’t, though, was done. He needed new challenges. And when The Bold and the Beautiful presented him with a big one — it goes by the name of Wyatt — he rose to it and crafted a character who’s proven to be even more popular and enduring than his first one!
23. Maurice Benard
Anyone who remembers the future Emmy winner as All My Children bad boy Nico might also recall thinking, “Damn! That’s the role he was born to play! He’s perfect for it.” And he was. But it only allowed him to pull out a few of the tools in his actorly toolbox. It wasn’t until he joined General Hospital as Sonny, who really could’ve been Nico’s slightly older brother, that we got our first inkling of just how versatile and amazing the daytime legend really is.
22. Crystal Chappell
We shouldn’t have been surprised that Chappell managed to switch shows as easily as we do channels. In her big break in daytime, she’d done the impossible and gotten Days of our Lives fans to invest as heavily in the romance of Carly and Bo as they had in Hope and Bo’s relationship. Yes, her gig on One Life to Live, as ex-nun Maggie, was a non-starter, and her role of Dani on The Bold and the Beautiful went nowhere, but that doesn’t in any way diminish her accomplishments at Guiding Light, where she scored a 2002 Emmy for her sublime work as Olivia.
21. Jon Lindstrom
It would appear that there is nothing that Lindstrom can’t do. First he made us forget that, as Santa Barbara’s Mark, he got estranged wife Mary killed with a giant letter C — don’t ask — by tackling the roles of General Hospital twins Ryan and Kevin, then he crossed over the latter to his own spinoff, Port Charles, reinvented himself as Craig on As the World Turns and returned Kevin, then Ryan, to Port Charles, the city, not the soap. We’re not just awed, we’re exhausted!
20. Elizabeth Hubbard
What’s that you say? Why is she on this list when she only ever had one soap role, that of As the World Turns power monger Lucinda? Ha, we reply, throwing back our head haughtily for good measure. Years before the actress ever set foot in Oakdale, she didn’t just star in, she freaking carried The Doctors as Althea. In fact, so key to the success of the show was she that she earned herself the first-ever Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. So do not diminish the enormity of what the daytime vet pulled off; if you do, we’ll have, as Lucinda might’ve put it, a problem.
19. Michael Easton
Truth be told, we don’t remember much about Easton’s first role, that of Days of our Lives’ Tanner, aside from the fact that he was pretty. Like, real pretty. But where the actor majorly made us go “Holy cow!” was the point at which he transitioned from Port Charles vampire Caleb to One Life to Live straight-arrow McBain. He’s gone through umpteen characters on General Hospital, we know — McBain, Silas, Finn — but it was the way that he defanged himself to play McBain that really earned him a spot on this list.
18. Scott Clifton
After the future Emmy winner and his ridiculously, amazingly spiky hair debuted as General Hospital’s Dillon in 2003, we thought, “Done. Sold. That’s it. That’s him. This is perfect. He never needs to do anything else.” But then he went and did other things, anyway! The role of Schuyler on One Life to Live was kinda a dead end, but then he joined The Bold and the Beautiful as Liam, and boom! If history wasn’t made, it was remade. He went on to score three statuettes (and counting) and somehow make us forget that he’d ever played anyone else.
17. Melissa Claire Egan
We thought the actress was nuts when she left her spot on All My Children’s frontburner as Annie to join The Young and the Restless as Chelsea. But the laugh was on us. If she was crazy, she was crazy like a fox! Perhaps knowing that she could make lightning strike twice, she dazzled the CBS soap’s audience and crafted a character that has survived what amounted to Billy’s rape, con after con and a rotation of Adams to remain a fan favorite.
16. Roscoe Born
No one would ever call the late, great actor an invisible man. However, he did have a gift for disappearing into his characters, which might help explain why we bought him as readily as Ryan’s Hope’s Joe (the original mobster with a heart of gold) as we did One Life to Live’s demented Mitch, Santa Barbara’s hopelessly-romantic Robert (and his nefarious twin, Quinn!), The Young and the Restless’ aptly-named Terrible Tom… The list goes on. Need we continue? Didn’t think so.
15. Steve Burton
It was gonna take more than ditching the black T-shirts that were Burton’s required uniform as General Hospital hitman Jason to make us forget his former role when he left the ABC sudser to join the cast of The Young and the Restless as Dylan. And more was exactly what he gave us; he turned Nikki and Paul’s surprise son into a decidedly distinct character, and one for whom our hearts broke as one relationship after another went up in flames.
14. Louise Sorel
If the veteran actress had never done anything but play Santa Barbara’s incorrigible Augusta, that would have been enough; the character was iconic (and yes, we’d say that even if we were in her and Lionel’s circle of truth!). But Sorel was never going to be the type to rest on her laurels, so instead of sit back and enjoy rereading her fan mail, she got herself hired at Days of our Lives, where she turned Vivian into a villainess for the ages.
13. Jason Thompson
If an actor is lucky enough to find himself part of a supercouple, that’s often it; he counts his blessings and moves on. Thompson is more ambitious than that, though. So after catching fire opposite Kimberly McCullough’s Robin as General Hospital doc Patrick, he sought new challenges — and scored once again, taking on the hard-to-recast role of The Young and the Restless’ Billy and making it his own (and bagging an Emmy in the process — just sayin’!).
12. Laura Wright
We thought that the former Laura Sisk had found The Role for her when she knocked us the hell off of our couches as Loving’s Ally. Then we thought it when she became stripper-turned-princess Cassie on Guiding Light. Then she said, in essence, “Hold my beer,” while she proved us wrong and staked her claim to the role of Carly on General Hospital. We’d say that this was it for her — she’s home — but she seems to have a gift as well as a yen for surprising us!
11. John McCook
Let’s face it. As dapper as McCook is, he has a type: well-dressed lady killers who are as smooth as the silk sheets on their beds. So perhaps it wasn’t the most humongous stretch ever for him to go from playing The Young and the Restless playboy Lance to The Bold and the Beautiful womanizer Eric. He still did it, and did it with such charm that heck, just writing this caption, we’re starting to feel… is it just this website, or is it getting hot in here? Well done, sir!
10. David Canary
This eventual five-time Emmy winner was already a television vet (owing to Bonanza) and a daytime vet (thanks to turns on The Doctors and Search for Tomorrow) when he booked his breakout role in soaps: He was tasked with replacing the incredibly popular George Reinholdt as Steven on Another World. It didn’t quite work — largely because his love interest was also a recast — but Canary wholly sold us on the idea of him as a romantic good guy… only to pull the rug out from under our feet with his next part, that of All My Children conniver Adam (and, for good measure, his mild-mannered twin, Stuart!).
9. Roger Howarth
This Emmy winner’s middle name might as well be “Prest-o Change-o,” so adept is he at metamorphosing for his roles. We might’ve thought that Loving’s Kent been defined by his dark turn as One Life to Live villain Todd… had he not managed to turn Marty’s rapist into not only a romantic lead (what?) but a comic-relief character (wait, whaaat?!?). Subsequently, he ran the gamut — good, bad and everything in between — as Paul on As the World Turns before replacing James Franco as General Hospital psycho Franco and recreating him as a lovable softy. Again… whaaat?!? Genius, that’s what.
8. Marcy Walker
In the early 1980s, Walker established herself as daytime’s pre-Mean Girls mean girl, All My Children’s viperish teenage nightmare Liza. And the actress initially brought a little of that character’s attitude with her to Santa Barbara and her new role of spoiled rich girl Eden — but only a little. Soon, she’d transformed Eden into a classic heroine and one half of a supercouple (with A Martinez as Cruz) that, to some of us, still has no equal.
7. Don Diamont
After making his daytime debut as Days of our Lives’ dangerous Carlo, Diamont struck pay dirt when he was cast as pool boy-turned-businessman Brad on The Young and the Restless. That was just his Act I, however; when Brad went to an icy grave, his portrayer was fabulously reheated and put to work on The Bold and the Beautiful, where any scene involving his Dollar Bill remains money in the bank. Ev. Ry. Time.
6. Heather Tom
Considering that this Emmy winner could read the phone book and make it compelling, we shouldn’t be surprised that she managed to go from playing The Young and the Restless spitfire Victoria to The Bold and the Beautiful “wallflower” Katie and leave a “Wow!” on our lips in the process. And maybe surprised isn’t what we are but impressed. Heck, she even managed to keep us invested in One Life to Live’s Kelly after the actress at No. 5 on this list left the part behind.
5. Gina Tognoni
We hope that One Life to Live’s original (and longest-lasting) Kelly has a crown somewhere, because as far as we’re concerned, she’s the queen of the recasts. Post-Llanview, she strapped into the role of Guiding Light minx Dinah and made us forget — or at least think twice before remembering — that Wendy Moniz had previously played the part. Then she added a third Emmy to her trophy case after she succeeded Michelle Stafford as The Young and the Restless’ Phyllis and made that role as much her own as her initials or blood type!
4. Peter Bergman
Throughout the 1980s, the future Emmy winner was so closely associated with his All My Children character — straight-laced M.D. Cliff — that he was even tapped to do those now-iconic cough-syrup commercials. You know the ones — the ones in which he reminded us that “I’m not a doctor, but a play one on TV.” So color us shocked — elated but shocked — by how fantastically he slipped into the loafers of The Young and the Restless lothario Jack Abbott and made us doubt that we’d ever pictured a halo among his accessories!
3. Thorsten Kaye
Even chameleons look at this soap vet in awe. He managed to go from playing One Life to Live poet Patrick to his twin, Ian, on Port Charles to Zach on All My Children and somehow make each character more popular than the last. Then, for his piece de resistance, he took over the well-established role of The Bold and the Beautiful playboy Ridge and made it his own. The word “miraculous” was all but invented for turns of events like that. And even if it hadn’t been, we’d still affix it to Kaye’s accomplishment.
2. Susan Flannery
To most soap fans — even longtime ones — this three-time Emmy winner was always simply Stephanie, the Mommie Dearest of The Bold and the Beautiful. And what she made of that role day in and day out would’ve been plenty sufficient to earn her the status of legend. But here’s the thing: She was already a legend when she joined The Bold and the Beautiful. From 1966-75, she’d been front and center on Days of our Lives as Laura, a hard-luck heroine who was as beloved then as, for instance, Marlena is now. Yeah, she was a big, big deal!
1. Maura West
Were there any justice, West would’ve been born in the era that made stars of the likes of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. But since West wasn’t, she did the next best thing and became daytime royalty, scoring first on As the World Turns as Carly, a vixen who could make us swear at our TVs in one scene and weep for her in the next. She was misused at The Young and the Restless, where she should’ve been a perfect fit as Diane, but rebounded brilliantly once she sunk her teeth into the role of General Hospital femme fatale Ava — for our money, the soap’s real “stone-cold.”