Beloved Soap Vet Reflects On the ‘Vicious, Threatening Hate’ He Endured — for Playing Out One of Daytime’s Greatest Love Stories
This never, ever should have happened.
In the annals of soap opera supercoupledom, even now, decades after Santa Barbara went off the air, few pairings can match the popularity of Eden and Cruz. The two were pure fire and there’s a reason that, even today, they’re number four on our top 45 greatest supercouples of all time.
In short, Santa Barbara bottled lightning with them — but not everyone thought that. A Martinez chatted with Soap Opera Digest recently about his time on the NBC soap and what it was like being half of one of daytime’s greatest couples. “It was just dumb luck,” the actor suggested of why they took off like they did. “The luck of the draw.”
Plus, both he and Marcy Walker were protective of their characters and the relationship and were committed to “keeping the quality as high as we could.” It worked, clearly, but that couldn’t win over everyone. Some folks just didn’t want the two of them together and it was for the most disgusting of reasons.
Credit: New World Releasing/Courtesy of the Everett Collection
“You realize that they were courageous to put Cruz with Eden,” Martinez explained to Digest, “because it doesn’t go down good with everybody.”
He put it a bit kindly in explaining that the two of them together “provoked that certain percentage of people, who can’t stand that kind of thing, to come forward and make some noise about it.”
In other words, the racists came out of the woodwork. “I got hate mail,” Martinez shared. They were calling him a “‘greasy piece of s***'” and condemning him for putting his “‘hands on this beautiful blonde woman.'”
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But being in the public spotlight, the threats and insults were even more insidious than that. People were coming after him where he lived and over who he loved in real life.
“I had it happen to me for being married to a woman who everyone perceives to be a white woman,” the actor recalled. “It happened to my friend, an actor who’s a white man married to a Black woman. It happened on the same day. We got vicious, threatening hate mail put in our mailboxes at the physical place where we lived.”
But that didn’t, that couldn’t stop the juggernaut that was Eden and Cruz. Nor did it stop Martinez from living his life. He and wife Leslie Bryan have been married since 1982 — for over 40 years. And Eden and Cruz are still and will always be one of daytime’s greatest couples.
Look back at all we loved about Santa Barbara with our photo gallery tribute to the much-missed NBC sudser.