At 17 years old, the future One Tree Hill star was cast by Guiding Light in a role that completely and totally shouldn’t have worked — that of Reva Shayne’s rapidly-maturing clone. The odds were stacked against the daytime newcomer, yet she struck a nerve and so impressed the powers that be, as well as the audience, that after the remake was aged into Kim Zimmer, Lenz was hired by the CBS soap to replace Rebecca Budig (later Greenlee on All My Children) as ingenue Michelle Bauer.
11. Joanna Johnson
The world wept when in 1990, The Bold and the Beautiful killed off its virtuous original heroine, Caroline Spencer. So it didn’t take long for the CBS soap to attempt to dry our tears with pages upon pages of script rewrites. Only a year later, Johnson was reintroduced to the canvas as Caroline’s brunette twin sister, Karen, who hung around for three years before returning in 2012 with a new significant other, wife Danielle (Days of our Lives’ Carly, Crystal Chappell).
10. Anthony Geary
Following a 1978-84 stint on General Hospital that was so wildly successful, it made him the envy of every other soap star, the actor, ultimately an eight-time Emmy winner, returned to the show in 1991, but not as mega-popular Luke Spencer, as his cousin, Bill Eckert. He’d wanted to try something new. Who wouldn’t, right? But when viewers’ reaction to the character was more lukewarm than Luke-hot, Geary reclaimed his original role, frizz and all, and played it until he retired to Amsterdam in 2015.
9. Roger Howarth
After ABC made the boneheaded decision to cancel One Life to Live in 2011 — still pissed, BTW — this Emmy winner was invited to cross over his popular character to General Hospital. When legal issues subsequently sent Todd Manning packing, the actor took on a new role, that of the psychotic artist that James Franco had previously played. Howarth not only rose to the challenge, he managed to do exactly what he had with Todd and transform Franco from persona non grata to an MVP.
8. Judith Chapman
In the late 1980s, this undervalued scene stealer from The Young and the Restless did what Shelley Taylor Morgan (ex-Lorena, General Hospital) couldn’t and successfully replaced Jane Elliot (ex-Tracy, General Hospital) as Days of our Lives man-eater Anjelica Deveraux. Nearly 30 years later, Chapman returned to Salem, albeit in a new role, that of Diana Colville, previously played by Genie Francis (Laura, General Hospital).
7. Camryn Grimes
Kids on soaps are generally sent to their rooms and/or shipped off to a Swiss boarding school. But not The Young and the Restless’ Cassie Newman. So adorable and talented was her portrayer that in 2000, the 10-year-old became the youngest-ever winner of the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actress. Following her character’s heartrending demise in 2005, she was “resurrected” in a sense in 2014, when the CBS soap rehired her to play Cassie’s heretofore-unknown twin sister, Mariah Copeland.
6. Judi Evans
After a highly successful — enviable, even! — run as Days of our Lives’ Adrienne Kiriakis, the Emmy winner (for her work as Beth Raines on Guiding Light) jumped ship to play Paulina Cory on Another World. She then returned to Days of our Lives, but as Bonnie Lockhart, who was basically the antithesis of sweet Adrienne. In the years that followed, she’s played one, the other and sometimes both, only further cementing her status in our heads as a soap legend.
5. Tamara Braun
The saying “You can never go home again” simply doesn’t apply to Braun. A dozen years after leaving General Hospital as a stunningly well-received recast Carly Corinthos, she made tracks back to Port Charles in the new role of Dr. Kim Nero. She also doubled up at Days of our Lives, where she first played the Patch-obsessed Ava Vitali, then Nicole Walker’s sister, Taylor (the less said about that, the better), then poor, ill-fated Ava again.
4. Mishael Morgan
From 2013-18, the then-soap newcomer succeeded against all odds at The Young and the Restless, overcoming a godawful introduction storyline to make Hilary Curtis a fan favorite. When contract renegotiations broke down over salary squabbles, she exited stage left, only to return in 2019 as Hilary’s lookalike, lawyer Amanda Sinclair. Jeepers, wonder if the characters could be related! (OK, we don’t really wonder, but whatevs, we’ll play along!)
3. Josh Taylor
Back in the late ’70s, this soap icon made his mark as Days of our Lives’ Chris Kositchek, aka the non-throttling-inclined big brother of the Salem Strangler. After he left the soap in 1987 in order to focus on his primetime series — Valerie, which was suddenly without its lead, Valerie Harper — he returned 10 years later, but in the role of Roman Brady, which had been handily vacated by Wayne Northrop.
2. Sarah Brown
Debuts don’t get any more impressive than Brown’s. After she landed in Port Charles as General Hospital spitfire Carly Roberts, she picked up Emmy after Emmy after Emmy. Then, seven years after she took her leave, she returned to the ABC soap in the new role of Mafia princess Claudia Zacchara — who awesomely got to lock horns with the show’s current Carly, Laura Wright!
1. Michael Easton
“Two-timer” doesn’t even begin to cover it where Easton is concerned. He first appeared on General Hospital in his former One Life to Live role of John McBain. Then he reprised his Port Charles role of Caleb Morley (Stephen Clay if you’re nasty!) and created not one but two new characters: doctors Silas Clay and Hamilton Finn. Does anybody think that they can beat his record for reinvention? That’s what we thought. Not just no but hell, no!