Thirty-Eight Years After His Passing, We Honor a Beloved Soap Vet Taken From Us by AIDS at Just 43 Years Old: ‘It Was Such a Tragic End for Him’
NBC, Courtesy of the Everett Collection
On January 27, 1983, an actor who should’ve been anticipating a brilliant future… slipped into the past.
Honestly, this is one of those stories that we don’t want to write — that we don’t want to have to write. We should be updating you today on what Robert Christian’s next movie role will be, or announcing that he’s accepted a new part on a soap, or… sharing his peach-cobbler recipe — anything but lamenting his loss.
But on this day in 1983, the soap vet — a seemingly unstoppable ball of charisma — was felled at the age of 43 by AIDS-related complications. And it still hurts.
Whether you remember Christian from his big-screen performances, in everything from the gay cult classic Some of My Best Friends Are… (with Rue McLanahan and Fannie Flagg) to Al Pacino’s revered …And Justice for All, or from his stint as cop Bob Morgan on Another World, it’s gotta still hurt.
In 2011, Petronia Paley, who played Quinn Harding, the knockout for whom married man Bob fell before succumbing to a gunshot wound at a video arcade, shared her recollections of Christian with We Love Soaps. “He was a wonderful, wonderful actor,” she said, “and we got along so beautifully.
“He died tragically, from AIDS, and it was working on that show that I learned about it,” she added. “In fact, he was one of the first people diagnosed, so it was a sad and tragic time. I had this lovely person who I loved working with, and we had such a great time, and yet it was such a tragic end for him.”
A few years earlier, Christian’s friend, Bonnie Greer, described him to In the Family as “one of those New York actors who could play anything. He lived hard, partied hard and did all the big roles.”
After he was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia, Greer thought little of it. “I expected to see him very soon, being his same crazy self, only maybe a bit weaker from the illness,” she said. “Bobby died two weeks after being admitted. No one could understand it… It was impossible to imagine life without him.”
Like many a soap fan, Greer had been smitten with Christian. “I had had a massive crush on him,” she admitted, “until I met his gorgeous boyfriend, and to be honest, even he didn’t completely erase my feelings for the handsomest Black man I had ever seen.”
On this sad anniversary, since you’re already feeling forlorn, maybe you’d like to pay your respects to the soap stars we lost in 2020 via the photo gallery below.