Now this is Big Love! Days of Our Lives will celebrate the life, and honor the passing, of legendary actress Frances Reid with a farewell that's unprecedented in soap history. The beloved veteran, who played Salem matriarch Alice Horton from the show's debut in 1965 until her health became too fragile in 2007, died last February at age 95. On June 9, Days viewers will learn that Alice is rapidly declining, at which point several characters from the past will gather for a final visit. Among the returning fan faves: Melissa Reeves (Jennifer), Jaime Lyn Bauer (Laura), Maree Cheatham (Marie), Lisa Trusel (Melissa), Patsy Pease (Kimberly), Mary Beth Evans (Kayla) and V's Roark Critchlow (Mike). Alice's death on June 23 will be followed by a splendid memorial loaded with flashbacks. TV Guide Magazine spoke about the tribute with longtime Days star Peter Reckell (Bo), one of Reid's great screen partners.
TV Guide Magazine: Soap fans love those rare friendships between characters of vastly different generations — Lila [Anna Lee] and Brenda [Vanessa Marcil] on General Hospital, Myrtle [Eileen Herlie] and Bianca [Eden Riegel] on All My Children, Nancy [Helen Wagner] and Katie [Terri Colombino] on As the World Turns. And then, most memorably, there was you and Frances Reid — the rebel biker and the donut-making granny! You two had a very special bond dating back to your whippersnapper days in the '80s. Why isn't this more common on soaps?
Reckell: It's so true. Bo and Mrs. H! I loved our scenes together. It would be great if we mixed it up more on the show these days. I don't see the kids on our show hardly at all anymore. And that's a shame because, you're right, the audience eats that up. But we do have Suzanne Rogers [Maggie] picking up the torch from Frances and working with the younger ones. It's good to see her step up and become our matriarch. She's the one with the history now.
TV Guide Magazine: It's so smart that Days is doing that because it's been lost altogether on other shows. No one filled Anna Lee's shoes or Eileen Herlie's.
Reckell: Maybe what's happening on the soaps is reflective of our American society, where we don't have reverence for the older generation—the people with the wisdom and the sage advice—like they do in most parts of the world. We're still such an immature culture.
TV Guide Magazine: Plus, the cross-generational thing provides a service — the newbies get to work with the pros and learn how to act!
Reckell: And, let me tell you, nobody was better at that than Frances. This medium can really chew up actors but Frances never let that happen to her. She came to Days quite late in her career but she didn't look at the job as a cushy way to relax and live out the rest of her days. Never! She demanded the best from herself and the rest of us. Right to the very end she was on top of people and giving advice — not just the actors but she even gave it to the writers, directors and producers! — and that advice was always right on the nose. Losing her is a blow to us all. She has been missed by everyone on the Days set for the last couple of years. To not have that presence and energy and humor and integrity around here anymore is a huge loss. I'm so proud of our show for going the distance and giving Frances the goodbye she deserves.
TV Guide Magazine: How was it to play the death watch?
Reckell: We loved having the opportunity to say goodbye — both as actors and characters. It was wonderful to have all those great old friends come back to the show and it was much like catching up with people at a real funeral. "It's great to see you but, boy, do the circumstances suck!" And it was funny because we just kept going between takes — looking through all these great old photo books, reminiscing about our storylines with Mrs. H, and telling stories about Frances some of which aren't repeatable. [Laughs]. She was not a G-rated person! The emotion of it all just clobbered me over the head. I'd come out of scenes not able to speak because the bond we had with her was so tremendous. There was no acting necessary!
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