oltl blair kassie depaiva mia korf ec
Credit: Steve Fenn/ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, NBC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

It shouldn’t have worked… and yet…

On December 17, 1991, One Life to Live did a whole lot more than change the actress that played the role of Blair Cramer, the much-missed ABC soap went and changed the character’s race, too.

We know — we were like, “WTH?!?” too. And this was before Twitter abbreviations were even a thing.

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The Big Switch

Longtime viewers will recall that the part of Dorian Lord’s conniving niece was originated in 1991 by Mia Korf, who is of Japanese and Caucasian descent. And the role was virtually made for her; she and Blair shared the same birthplace, hobbies, even the same astrology sign. But when the newcomer left two years later to appear in a play, the show recast with… blonde Kentucky native Kassie Wesley, who’d previously appeared on Guiding Light as songbird Chelsea Reardon.

Even Wesley couldn’t believe it. As she told the Evansville Courier & Press in 2011, she was “a little bit shocked, because I didn’t think I looked the part.”

Why It Worked

Ah, but Wesley had the chutzpah to make it work. In fact, on her first day, she pulled off scene after scene that was nothing but double entendres. When a Speedo-clad rando warned Blair about the dangers of tanning for too long — it was, after all, a hot day in Miami Beach — her portrayer, without missing a beat, replied as Blair, “Well, that’s how I like most things — hot.”

From there, the One Life to Live newcomer set straight the audience about what Blair 2.0 would be like. She “only gets burned once,” intoned Wesley in character, letting a “Been there, done that” look cross her face. “There’ll never be a second time.”

AP Chemistry

At once, the audience could tell that Wesley could throw sparks with an inanimate object — which was pretty much what she had to do with this slab of beefcake. Long before she was paired on screen with future real-life husband James DePaiva’s Max Holden, she made it work with this vapid eye candy whose come-ons included, “I’ll show you my snorkel. Maybe you can teach me the breast stroke.”

More: Tribute to One Life to Live’s creator

Mrs. DePaiva reacted as Blair the same way that the audience did, with a virtual eye roll. The vixen liked a pastime that was, ahem, “a bit more active,” she said. So he offered to give her “a private lesson in water aerobics,” which honestly sounds odder than it does sexy, even as a cheesy double entendre.

You can watch the scenes play out in full above. And while you’re here, marveling at the fact that Days of Our Lives’ future Eve went on to become a soap icon owing to this, the most “Wait, whaaaat?” recast in soap history, peruse the below photos of daytime’s all-time best replacements.