Guiding Light live stream with Grant Aleksander, Michael O'Leary, Beth Chamberlin, Tina Sloan , Yvonna Kopacz Wright
Credit: Image: The Locher Room/YouTube

Fond memories and busy lives.

Last week, Alan Locher hosted the first online Guiding Light reunion of a few of the soap’s popular former castmates. On Wednesday April 15, the second cast reunion hosted by the show’s former publicist involved Grant Aleksander (Phillip), Michael O’Leary (Rick), Beth Chamberlin (Beth), Tina Sloan (Lillian), and Yvonna Kopacz Wright (Mel). has some highlights from the chat below.

After checking in with everyone about their health, adjusting the lighting, and discussing Aleksander’s wedding portrait hanging on the wall behind him, the topic turned to their fond memories of a trip to Italy to accept a Telegato award in 1988.

Keeping busy at home

One by one, the actors discussed what they were doing while in isolation. Chamberlin talked about turning her physical fitness training business into an online business. She feels very blessed by the people she’s met through her business and how supportive they have all been of each other. Chamberlin shot an episode of Billions the week before the health crisis started. This brought her into contact with fellow Guiding Light actor, Frank Grillo (Hart Jessup). Wright has also been busy with her own online business. She is making honey and beeswax candles for Lomar Farms. She and the family have been taking a lot of walks and keeping up the physical exercise. Her husband, Brett Wright, has even started his own cooking show on Instagram.

Sloan has been walking 15,000 steps a day to maintain her health while writing a sequel to her Chasing Cleopatra novel. She added that she wrote a book and a play called Changing Shoes that she took on tour. A few years ago, all of them were in O’Leary’s award-winning play, Breathing Under Dirt. They all thanked O’Leary for bringing them on board to do the play. O’Leary has been doing acting tutorials and mentoring young actors online. Aleksander has been finishing a book with his wife about the animals in their life. They are still adjusting to the house they moved into a few months ago.

Memorable scenes

O’Leary and Chamberlin recalled having to do a love scene and how awkward that was. The love scenes for him and Wright were equally awkward, especially since they took place on the floor while she was seven months pregnant, surrounded by flaming ducks.

They fondly recalled the Bauer barbecue episodes, which would involve the whole cast as well as many extras. Peter Simon (Ed Bauer) would always blow his top when he was made to wear a chef’s hat. Aleksander was frequently made to wear a speedo at these events for some gratuitous shots and O’Leary admitted that he felt daunted to be around such an ‘Adonis’.

Early days and acting challenges

Chamberlin had been a dancer before committing herself to acting. O’Leary had done a few commercials for money but was really inspired by a script reading given by the legendary Stella Adler. Wright had been a model but, while the money was good, it wasn’t fulfilling for her. Grant started acting in college. He got lucky and had a ‘charmed path’ to success. They also all recalled how improvisational they were allowed to be on Guiding Light and how unusual this was compared to other shows.

Aleksander remembered his first day on the set, which had him walking into the Spaulding house. O’Leary recalled that his first day involved cooking eggs and he was welcomed by everyone. When he arrived at the hospital he was an orderly and a surgeon by the end of the week. People in the chat joked about how many patients Dr. Rick lost (at least 47). Sloan’s first day was more dramatic since she was visiting Beth (then played by Judi Evans) after she’d been beaten by Bradley. Chamberlin appeared first as someone who Lillian thought was Beth but wasn’t. Years later, she joined the cast as the real Beth.

They discussed two of the Lizzie Spauldings, Hayden Panettiere and Brittany Snow, joining the cast as child actors and how comfortable they were on the set. They admitted that still aren’t sure what Spaulding Industries made, suggesting it was probably just a pyramid scheme. One of the hardest things of all was the dialog they had that was filled with medical terminology that they couldn’t understand. O’Leary even told a patient in labor she would have to have a C-SPAN.

More: Guiding Light’s Kim Zimmer talks past stories

Life behind-the-scenes

Aleksander and O’Leary were dressing roommates. Aleksander said it was like The Odd Couple. The room became a popular spot for the cast and crew to show up and drink. There was even a sign above the door that read “Chez Philippe.” Chamberlin admitted that the ladies’ dressing room also had a fair amount of drinking. Aleksander and O’Leary suggested that the secret to their characters’ friendship was that they clicked immediately.

O’Leary talked about shooting Quint and Nola’s wedding in Pennsylvania and meeting Charita Bauer (Bert Bauer). She and the other older generation of the cast, including Chris Bernau (Alan Spaulding), were ‘like gods’ for all of them. They were theatre trained actors who built careers the hard way and made sure that everyone stayed on form. Beverlee McKinsey (Alexandra Spaulding) wasn’t shy about critiquing the weakness of scripts. Aleksander also stressed that it was a real company and there wasn’t a great hierarchy between the cast and crew.

They recalled some of their favorite lines, which they used to say in their daily lives as jokes. They also remembered how wonderful James Rebhorn (Bradley) was when he was on the show, and how much he hated playing such a horrible character. What they miss the most is being together, and that extends beyond the cast to the crew and the writers.

Tune in below for the rest of the chat.

Video: The Locher Room/YouTube

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