On the Anniversary of His Death at Just 44, a Loving Tribute to a Soap-Hopping Leading Man Taken From Us by AIDS Only Months After His Castmate
Joel Crothers died on November 6, 1985.
In the mid-1980s, it was impossible to escape the dark shadow that AIDS cast over the world. Certainly, daytime television wasn’t immune to its ravages, with the cast of The Edge of Night being particularly hard hit.
In January of ’85, only weeks after the soap’s last broadcast, Dennis Parker, who’d played Police Chief Derek Mallory from 1979-84, succumbed to the disease, leaving behind a legion of heartbroken fans and a pretty awesome disco album produced by the creator of the Village People. (Sample it below.)
Less than a year later, AIDS claimed the life of Parker’s castmate, Joel Crothers, just 44 at the time. His handsome face had been familiar to daytime viewers for years, owing to his roles on Dark Shadows (as Carolyn and later Maggie’s beau, Joe Haskell), The Secret Storm (as no-good rat bastard Ken Stevens) and especially The Edge of Night, where he’s played Dr. Miles Cavanaugh from 1977-84. (Remember just how charismatic he was via the clips in the below fan tribute.)
Crothers didn’t hide from his co-stars that he was gay. But he took pains to keep it a secret from the public, going so far as to become engaged to his good friend and Somerset leading lady Veleka Gray, who’d played Vicki Paisley to his Julian Cannell. They were still said to be posing as a couple when he grew sicker and sicker during his last soap stint, as good and evil cousins Jack Lee and Jerry Cooper on Santa Barbara.
Following Crothers’ passing of AIDS-related lymphoma on November 6, 1985, his ashes were scattered in Lake George, NY. On this crushing anniversary, pay your respects to the stars we’ve lost this year by perusing the below photo gallery.
Video: YouTube/VideoJukeboxClassics, The Edge of Night Man