Soap-Hopper Who Played One of Daytime’s Vilest Baddies Dead at 87: He Was a ‘Shameless Flirt and a Fierce Protector’
George De Sota/JPI, Jimmy Wood/JPI, Courtesy of the Everett Collection
Few and far between were the actors who were better at being abominable than Gil Rogers.
The saying “They don’t make ’em like that anymore” was all but coined for actors like Gil Rogers. When he set foot on screen, you didn’t see someone who’d gotten into costume and memorized a script, you saw whoever he was playing, simple as that. He vanished, and his character… materialized.
It was as magical as it sounds.
It’s also why to this day Ray Gardner, the rat bastard he played on All My Children, remains one of daytime’s most notorious villains. We understood entirely why son Tad was scared bleepless of his biological father — he frightened the crap out of us, too!
Rogers was no one-trick pony, though. He brought to every role a depth that served him well, especially when he was allowed to sketch in shades of gray instead of black and white. Take Hawk Shayne, for instance, the rolling stone that he played on Guiding Light.
Was Reva’s daddy a good man? Mm, debatable. He had good in ’im, that was for sure. But at times, he made it damn hard to see it. And that right there was Rogers’ sweet spot: the limbo between irredeemable and incorrigible.
So needless to say, all of us who so vividly remember his soap work — as well as his appearances in movies like Eddie Macon’s Run and The Children — are saddened to learn that the Kentucky native passed away on March 2 at the age of 87.
“As you all know, my dad was awesome. He was my best friend, confidant, mentor and just an awesome dad,” Facebooked his daughter, Amanda Rogers. “He came to pick me and Charlotte Whitaker Zdanowski up at clubs at 2 am in our teens to keep us safe, and drank bourbon with me every day since moving out here [to San Diego] two years ago.
“He was welcoming and kind, funny and gregarious, a shameless flirt and a fierce protector,” she continued. “He loved his dinners with grandkids and endured animated movies and discussions about Pokemon. And I miss him so terribly already. He died in his sleep, without pain or fear. I am so grateful to have had such a great father and to have spent these past two years with him every day.”
Yeah, it’s gonna take a minute to absorb this news. Heck, it took us a while to wrap our minds around the fact that Rogers had been 87; to us, he’d sorta always been the same vague age, old enough to know better but impetuous enough to do it, anyway.
On your way to the comments to share your memories of Rogers’ roles, stop off at the below photo gallery, which revisits highlights of Guiding Light’s incomparable run.