On the Day a Soap Legend Should Have Turned 70, We Remember His Iconic Roles… and Lament What Could Have Been
Robert Milazzo/ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Aaron Montgomery/JPI, Howard Wise/JPI
November 24 should have been a happy occasion. Instead, it is, at best, bittersweet.
Right about now, Roscoe Born should be blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, celebrating the fact that he’s turning 70. We, meanwhile, should be writing a story about how the soap legend has been cast by General Hospital as a new mobster in Port Charles, one who’s so powerful that he’s about to make the likes of Sonny and Cyrus seem less like made men than unmade ones.
But none of that is happening. On March 3 of this year, the actor, perhaps best known for his long, intermittent run as the Machiavellian Mitch Laurence on One Life to Live, killed himself.
At the time of Born’s death, his family explained what had happened thusly. “The gleaming charisma and creativity that shone through his on-screen performances, fueled his robust songwriting repertoire and charmed all those around him were matched by a darkness in his life. Roscoe has long struggled with bipolar disorder, a shadow that he succumbed to when he took his own life.”
To those of us who thrilled to his work not only as Mitch but also as Ryan’s Hope mafioso Joe Novak, Santa Barbara twins Robert Barr and Quinn Armitage, and The Young and the Restless’ aptly-named Terrible Tom Fisher — to name but a few of his roles — it’s inconceivable that he is gone. In our minds, in our hearts, he is forever, like the hourglass on Days of Our Lives, where he played the evil Trent Robbins.
Born wasn’t just a fine actor, he was iconic. He was the sort of magician who could do the impossible, like make fans of Santa Barbara supercouple Cruz and Eden consider his character a real threat. Not just a real threat, either, but a really appealing one. To be able to do that is the equivalent of being able to make steel bend with one’s bare hands. (See him in action below.)
Truth to be told, Robert was our favorite of Born’s characters. Mitch, colorful and over-the-top as he was, was probably the most fun. But Robert… he was tortured, a man painfully aware that his heart would never be his own.
A moment I will never forget pic.twitter.com/TxTTNd9F27
— rodrigosworld81 (@rodrigosworld81) March 6, 2020
Of course, Born being Born, he didn’t stop at creating an alter ego that was a viable spoiler to a single supercouple, he also graduated Eden’s kid sister, Kelly, from vacuous puppy-love stories to a complicated adult relationship. (Watch him turn the charm up to 11 below opposite Carrington Garland.)
That was Born’s gift, really. He could throw sparks with a blank canvas. If he was tasked with being bad, there was no one who could be worse. But if he was asked to take a character’s — and an audience’s — breath away, you could be damn sure that he’d do just that. When he fixed a leading lady with his gaze, viewers were as lost as her character was.
So on the much-missed MVP’s birthday, we raise a glass to him. Possibly six; we’re like that. Should you need a little extra time to work through your feelings, maybe the below photo gallery of stars we’ve lost this year can help.