On the First Anniversary of His Passing, Take a Look Back at the Unforgettable Roles That Made John Callahan a Soap Superstar
Bill Morris/ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, ABC screenshot, Sean Smith/JPI
March 28 will always be a dark day for daytime fans; in 2020, it took from us an actor whose eye had a mischievous glint in it that only death could ever dim.
John Callahan was one of those performers, the kind that automatically attracts your attention when they walk into a scene. There was a life to him, a vivacity that was undeniable. He was so “there” that you wanted to be there, too — or at very least keep a close eye on what was going on there.
It took a minute for daytime to figure out how best to capitalize on his wicked grin and playful gaze. After making the rounds in primetime (guest-starring on everything from Three’s Company to Fantasy Island), Callahan made his soap debut in 1974 as General Hospital conniver Leo Russell. But it wasn’t until he’d returned to primetime — spending two years as Eric Stavros on Falcon Crest — that daytime sorta got the hang of him.
Craig Hunt on Santa Barbara was an ideal role for Callahan. He was a bad guy who wanted to be good, and a good guy who had bad tendencies. So the actor got to play both sides of the coin, often at the same time.
Then, in 1992, he struck pay dirt: Callahan was cast as Edmund Grey on All My Children. And though Dimitri Marick’s brother had a dark side, to be sure, he was by and large a hero, allowing the charismatic leading man to turn the charm up to 11.
Possibly 12 at times; he was crazy appealing. So much so that for years, he was married to Eva LaRue, who played on-screen significant other, Maria Santos.
After his stay in Pine Valley ended in 2005, Callahan returned to primetime, making appearances on series such as Desperate Housewives and Cold Case, before lathering up again to play Days of Our Lives’ Dr. Baker off and on from 2008-10.
No one was prepared for a massive stroke to take the MVP from us at the age of 66. Certainly not LaRue and their daughter, Kaya. “We are devastated,” the actress said at the time. His “bigger-than-life, gregarious personality will leave a hole in our hearts forever.”
Sadly, that it will. On this poignant occasion, perhaps you’d like to pay your respects to some other soap stars who passed away in 2020 via the below photo gallery. Or maybe you’d rather cheer up by returning to Pine Valley through a different photo album of images from the ABC soap’s long run.