Interview: Soap Opera Prop Masters Share Fun Stories From the Set
Image: Howard Wise, Jill Johnson/JPI
Behind the chess pieces, barware and Thanksgiving dinners on soaps.
Soaps.com knows daytime viewers pay attention to every detail, down to the glasses and chess pieces actors use onscreen every day. Those props are specially chosen and often created by prop masters and set decorators who recently shared stories with Soap Opera Digest about their set pieces and the actors who use them.
The Bold and the Beautiful
Set decorators Charlotte Garnell and Richard Domabyl said the most challenging prop they had to make was a full latex body double of Taylor Hayes (Hunter Tylo) in 2005, citing a tight deadline and the task of recreating her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. They also gave a nod to the late Darlene Conley (Sally Spectra) as one of the best at handling props because she, “Always valued the props she was given to make her scenes hilarious.” As for those big traditional Thanksgiving dinners the Forresters share? They create duplicates and even triplicates of all the food shot and then the cast stays behind after their scenes to eat together onstage.
Days of our Lives
In a not so surprising reveal, prop master Steve Dempsey called the retractable syringe one of their most popular props, which they’ve often made on their own with fibers from a broom. There is also a full set of DiMera chess pieces, as well as a backup set and several other miscellaneous pieces – “Because they sweep that thing all the time, sometimes the pieces break.” The Horton Christmas ornaments are of sentimental value to not only the fans, but Dempsey as well, and he is the one who hangs them every year on the tree.
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Prop master Kyle Bell noted they have to get multiple duplicates of things like “breakaways,” which are often used in scenes with Maurice Benard, whose Sonny Corinthos is famous for smashing his barware. But Bell has to make sure to remind Benard (who gets “all fired up in the scene”) to be careful when he picks up a breakaway because they crumble easily. “You know when you have a Maurice scene, you have to have at least five or six backups.” Food needs duplicates as well in eating scenes, especially with actors like Roger Howarth (Franco Baldwin) and Ingo Rademacher, who is returning to General Hospital as Jasper Jax. As Bell recalled, “[Rademacher] would eat like there was no tomorrow.”
The Young and the Restless
Set decorator Jennifer Haybach recalled Tessa’s teddy bear with $250,000 stuffed inside being the most unusual prop they’ve had to find recently. They also don’t like to use the same prop twice, because as Haybach said, if someone notices the same prop being used, “It could take them out of the moment and out of the storyline.” When Eileen Davidson left as Ashley Abbott, they gave her framed photos of her office in hopes she’d bring them back with her upon a return. Haybach’s plan seems to have worked as Davidson is in fact returning to Y&R. Likewise, Mishael Morgan (ex-Hilary Curtis Hamilton) was given the Hilary star mug from The Hilary Hour – “We couldn’t bear to think of anyone else using it in her absence!”