Days of Our Lives’ Belle as General Hospital’s Elizabeth? Martha Madison Reflects on Her Stint as Rebecca Herbst’s Sub
A temporary recast blast from the past.
A General Hospital fan account tweeted out a fun reminder today, on June 8, that involved the ABC soap, one of its most popular characters and Days of Our Lives actress Martha Madison (Belle). “On this day in 2011, Days star Martha Madison made her first appearance as Elizabeth Webber, temporarily filling in for Rebecca Herbst on General Hospital.
Madison took notice of the post that contained flashback pics and replied, “Such a great experience.”
Such a great experience. 🙂 https://t.co/ZXS46pnbG5
— Martha Madison (@Marth27) June 8, 2022
For those who don’t remember, back in May 2011 news surfaced that the role of Elizabeth had to be temporarily recast, due to Herbst suffering from an illness. Though Madison only filled in for six episodes, it was during an emotional storyline when the character was going through a parent’s worst nightmare… Her son Jake had been hit by a car, driven by a drunk Luke, and was later declared brain dead. Though it tore Elizabeth and Lucky’s hearts out, they removed him from life-support — only to find out later that Jake was alive and had been kidnapped by Helena.
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Here’s a look back at a scene where Madison as Elizabeth lashed out at her brother Steven and Olivia for packing up Jake’s things without asking her.
And while we are on the subject of temporary recasts, there have been a lot on the soap as of late, including fill-ins for the characters of Alexis, Sasha, Monica and most recently Michael and Brando to name a few.
However, while some have been good, others have been bad and we’ve compiled a few of soaps’ best and worse temporary recasts of all time in the photo gallery below.
<p><em>General Hospital</em> fans sat up and took notice in 2021 when Marcus Coloma was out sick and replaced as Nikolas Cassadine. They missed the character’s regular portrayer, of course, but couldn’t help but notice that that Huss guy… he had something, an intensity, maybe, a gravitas that made him an unusually good sub. So although it was a bummer when, in 2023, Coloma bowed out at the end of Nikolas’ storyline, it was also a treat to see Huss dive into those especially explosive final episodes.</p>
<p>It’s downright impossible today to imagine anyone but Katherine Kelly Lang playing Brooke Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful. But in the soap’s first year — <em>waaay</em> back in 1987 — the actress was out sick for a couple of days and replaced with soap vet Hickland, who’d already appeared on <em>Texas</em> and <em>Capitol</em> and would go on to play Tess Wilder on <em>The City</em> and Lindsay Rappaport on <em>One Life to Live.</em> Suffice it to say, it didn’t work, and as soon as Lang was on the mend, she was back on the show.</p>
<p>In the spring of 2021, emergency eye surgery left <em>Young & Restless</em> leading lady Mishael Morgan rocking what she good-naturedly called “a sexy, new pirate look” for long enough that Amanda Sinclair’s calls had to be taken for a minute by someone else — but not just <em>anyone</em> else. The soap wisely rang up the daytime MVP whose presence on <em>Bold & Beautiful</em> we still miss as Maya Avant.</p>
<p>When an arrest and lawsuit prompted <em>All My Children</em> to drop Michael Nader from his long-running role of Count Dimitri Marick, soap vet Addabbo (best known as good-’n’-evil twins Rush and Jonny Carrera on <em>The Bold and the Beautiful</em>) was called to Pine Valley. It would <em>not</em> be a long stay, however. Addabbo lacked the air of Old World regality that Nader exuded, fans balked, and the recast was sent packing before he’d even had time to finish nibbling his Welcome to <em>All My Children</em> gift basket.</p>
<p>The alum of <em>Passions</em>, <em>All My Children</em> and <em>Days of Our Lives </em>was such a hit when she stepped in as Sam McCall for Kelly Monaco, who tested positive for COVID in 2020, that when the show needed another fill-in for the fan favorite in 2022, it knew <em>exactly</em> to whom it should turn. In fact, Hartley brought so much vivacity and emotion to the role, we even started trying to think up ways to keep her around — and came up with <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/news/622925/general-hospital-lindsay-hartley-sam-recast-permanent-role/" target="_blank">a part that would make her a permanent resident</a> of Port Charles.</p>
<p>When Ronn Moss went on leave from <em>The Bold and the Beautiful</em> in 1992, the CBS soap made the inexplicable decision to replace him as Ridge Forrester with Lane Davies, who’d played silver-tongued devil Mason Capwell on <em>Santa Barbara</em>. Just thinking about it still makes us shake our heads in disbelief. Moss and Davies were as different as a Speedo and a tux, washboard abs and Shakespearian training. It was, to put it mildly, not a great fit.</p>
<p>Anytime you can get this Daytime Emmy winner (now Nina Reeves on <em>General Hospital</em>) to accept a role, whether it’s short-term or for the long haul, you should go for it as far as we’re concerned. So it struck us as all kindsa brilliant in 1998 when, shortly after Watros had left <em>Guiding Light</em> and her breakout role of wackadoo Annie Dutton, <em>Another World</em> convinced her to be an inordinately talented seat-filler for Jensen Buchanan as Vicky Hudson.</p>
<p>Less than a year into his starmaking run as <em>Guiding Light</em> heartbreaker Hart Jessup, Leonard Stabb suffered brain damage in a tragic hang-gliding accident in 1993. As a result, a sub was needed so fast that the show underwent a change of Hart mid-scene. Broadway mainstay McDermott is a fine actor but was as miscast as a haystack would be as a volcano. Marshall Hilliard was soon tapped to take over permanently, but he, too, turned out to be a temp; Frank Grillo went on to play the part from 1996-99.</p>
<p>We didn’t mind it nearly as much when the late, great Dusay (best known as <em>Guiding Light</em>’s formidable Alexandra Spaulding) stepped in for Louise Sorel as <em>Days of our Lives</em>’ Vivian Alamain in 1993 as we did when Robin Strasser (formerly Dorian on <em>One Life to Live</em>) or Linda Dano (previously Felicia on <em>Another World</em>) later did. Maybe because, in Dusay’s case, we never had the impression that Sorel’s role was being bequeathed to another diva. Yeah, we’re a little protective of our Viv.</p>
<p>When Nancy Lee Grahn’s father passed away in 2001, <em>General Hospital</em> needed to find itself a new Alexis Davis fast. Enter Diol, previously Angela Holliday on <em>One Life to Live</em>. (You may also remember her from the nose-job episode of <em>Seinfeld</em>.) And she was fine. But asking anyone to come in and strap on all of Alexis’ quirks and neuroses overnight — <em>and</em> make them seem natural? Come on. You’d have a better chance of convincing the character to make smart choices when it comes to men!</p>
<p>Back in 2020, when <em>The Young and the Restless</em>’ Chance Chancellor was being played by Donny Boaz, the actor, who’s since been replaced by Conner Floyd, tested positive for COVID. Which was tricky in and of itself but even more so because the nuptials of his character and Melissa Ordway’s Abby Newman were to be the focus of the show’s 12,000th episode! Thankfully, Ordway’s real-life husband Justin Gaston was willing to say “I do… want to step in at the last minute!” And, to put it mildly, his performance took the (wedding) cake.</p>
<p>Before <em>Santa Barbara</em> inexplicably snuffed out supervixen Flame Beaufort by banishing her from the titular town in 1991, her unforgettable portrayer Roberta Weiss got the hell outta Dodge. Tasked with taking the combustible character over the finish line was a… um… let’s say less memorable actress, one who’s probably best known for her real-life romance with ’90s heartthrob Jeff Fahey.</p>
<p><em>Days of our Lives</em>’ Theresa Donovan scored one of the longer temp gigs in soap history: She filled in for Kirsten Storms as <em>General Hospital</em> fashionista Maxie Jones for almost a year while her regular portrayer was on medical leave for endometriosis. Lilley also scored, period, wowing not only the audience but the industry. Mere months after Storms had reclaimed her role, her replacement had been snapped up by <em>Days of our Lives</em> to play its newest troublemaker.</p>
<p>OK, technically, the <em>One Life to Live</em> vet was a really excellent choice to succeed Michael Zaslow as Roger Thorpe on <em>Guiding Light</em>; Parlato’s a strong actor who can play charming and dangerous equally well. However, we’re still throwing the recast on this list, because no way in <em>hell</em> should the CBS soap have canned and replaced Zaslow in 1997 — and by then, he was a veteran of more than a quarter of a century! — when he began to show symptoms of Lou Gehrig’s disease, which eventually took his life.</p>
<p>When <em>The Bold and the Beautiful</em> leading lady Katherine Kelly Lang took maternity leave in 1997, it presented this <em>Another World</em> grad (who’d played Amanda Cory) with the mother of all opportunities. And honey, she ran with it, making the most of every moment that she got to play “the slut from the valley,” Brooke Logan. Sadly, she was less well-received when she took over as <em>General Hospital</em> heroine Felicia Jones in 2005; viewers were not keen on the idea that they wouldn’t be getting Kristina Wagner back. And by “not keen,” you know very well we mean “pissed.”</p>
<p>Don’t go getting riled up; we’re not actually dissing the beloved mom from <em>The Waltons</em>. (As <em>if</em>!) We’re just saying that <em>The Young and the Restless</em> asked her to do the impossible in 2011 by slipping into Katherine Chancellor’s bling while Jeanne Cooper was on medical leave. No one, and we <em>do</em> mean no one, could bring to the role the same magic that Cooper did. And Learned, wonderful as she is, didn’t. Again, impossible task — and one that made for a jarring stretch for viewers.</p>
<p>Looking back, she would’ve made a great Viki Buchanan for <em>One Life to Live</em>. But, instead, Jones (perhaps most vividly remembered as the wicked Janice Frame on <em>Another World</em>) only subbed for Erika Slezak in the early 1980s when she was on maternity and personal leave. Fun fact, though: Jones, who eventually won her own role on <em>One Life to Live</em> — that of Asa Buchanan’s secret wife, Pamela — also filled in for Jane Elliot as <em>General Hospital</em> viper Tracy Quartermaine in 1989.</p>
<p>If <em>Days of Our Lives</em> fans barely — or don’t <em>even</em> — remember this EJ DiMera, it’s altogether understandable. He was only on briefly in 2018, to establish that the character’s recovery after being resurrected wasn’t going either as smoothly or as quickly as anyone would have hoped. On the plus side (?), EJ did seem even younger than he had been when James Scott had played the part. Now, thankfully, we have Dan Feuerriegel installed in the role — and EJ’s power of speech returned to him.</p>
<p>When, less than a year after moving to Port Charles, Amanda Setton took a maternity leave of absence from <em>General Hospital</em> in the summer of 2020, Lane stepped in for several months as Brook Lynn. And to put it mildly, she did Bensonhurst proud, along the way having herself “an experience that I will always <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/wp-admin/_wp_link_placeholder" target="_blank">hold close to my heart.</a>” Considering how much she grew on viewers during her short tenure, maybe the show could bring her back as one of Brook Lynn’s cousins?</p>
<p>Sometimes it’s just best to let a character be “upstairs” for a while rather than recast. For instance, when Victoria Rowell took a break from <em>The Young and the Restless</em> in 2000, instead of send Drucilla Winters out of town or even simply to the next room while her portrayer was gone, the show brought in as a substitute King (who’d later play <em>General Hospital</em> doc Lainey Winters). It didn’t work. Lovely and talented, King dazzles in her own way, but powerhouse Rowell is a bottle rocket; her replacement, a sparkler.</p>
<p>When COVID sidelined <em>General Hospital</em> Emmy winner Chad Duell in 2022, the show didn’t have to wrack its brain for long to think up a suitable stand-in. The powers that be called in the actor who’d played, in essence, Michael Corinthos, on <em>The Young and the Restless</em>. Because really, what <em>is</em> Noah Newman but a Michael whose family business doesn’t have to be put in air quotes? Adamson even got the stamp of approval from Duell. “<a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/general-hospital/comings-and-goings/643404/general-hospital-chad-duell-out-temporarily-as-michael/" target="_blank">Robert did great</a>,” he tweeted. Agreed.</p>
<p>Yes, <em>that</em> Joan Crawford! When daughter Christina, whose tell-all inspired the movie <em>Mommie Dearest</em>, underwent emergency surgery in 1968, her mother — unbeknownst to her — asked to take over her role of Joan Borman Kane on <em>The Secret Storm</em>. Never mind that Christina was in her 20s; her mother, in her 60s. The result was, as you’d expect, ludicrous. Yet ratings rose by 40 percent on the four memorable days that the Oscar winner was a part of the cast. Wait, does that mean that she should’ve been on the “best” list?!?</p>
<p>Back in 2016, when Tyler Christopher had to take time off from <em>General Hospital</em> for personal reasons, <em>Sunset Beach</em> alum Stabile (who’d played Mark Wolper) rose to the challenge of playing Nikolas Cassadine. And, in fact, he did <em>such</em> a bang-up job that many a viewer was bummed when the character was “killed off,” then flummoxed anew when the dark prince was resurrected four years later… with someone <em>other</em> than Stabile in the role that he’d been well on his way to making his own.</p>
<p>To Erb’s credit, she walked into an all-but-impossible situation when <em>General Hospital</em> tasked her with filling in for Nancy Lee Grahn in 2022. It was the tail end of Harmony Miller’s murder spree, and would-be victim Alexis Davis was served a <em>lot</em> of uber-dramatic material… that fell uber-flat without her usual portrayer’s deep understanding of the stakes for the character. As a result, the culmination of months — heck, years — of buildup was less climactic than, unfortunately, anti-.</p>
<p>Consider her the one that got away. Following her second stint as incorrigible Kimberly Harris on <em>Ryan’s Hope</em>, <em>One Life to Live</em> snatched up the MVP in 1984 to succeed Andrea Evans as its supervixen, Tina Clayton — a move that was rich with potential… that, sadly, went untapped. Maroney stayed with the role for less than a year before <em>Guiding Light</em> alum Marsha Clark was called in to take over until Evans could reclaim the role that she’d originated.</p>
<p>It takes an exceedingly rare touch to bring to a boil <em>Days of Our Lives</em> pot stirrer Vivian Alamain. Needless to say, Louise Sorel, who originated the role in 1992, has it. And although Emmy winners Strasser (for her work as Dorian Lord on <em>One Life to Live</em>) and Dano (for her work as Felicia Gallant on <em>Another World</em>) are brilliant in their own right, they couldn’t get <em>Viv</em> right. Really, at this point, the character should be added to our list of <a href="https://soaps.sheknows.com/gallery/daytime-tv-actors-who-can-not-be-replaced-pictures/" target="_blank">roles that should never be recast</a>. Or at least never again!</p>
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