Veteran soap actress Ellen Wheeler is usually too busy to reflect upon, revisit or recreate her many soap roles. The statuesque blonde has won two Emmys, played dual roles on two East Coast shows, done stints on Dark Shadows and The Bold and the Beautiful in L.A., and is currently winning raves for her work as a director on As the World Turns. Therefore, it's a little odd, you'll agree, that All My Children asked her to reprise the role of Cindy Parker for one day ? especially since Cindy died of AIDS in the late 1980s.

"Of course I was very surprised to hear from AMC," Wheeler tells TV Guide Online. "I knew even before I got to talk to them that it must be something supernatural because there's no other way for her to be there." Wheeler's instincts are correct: She plays a friendly ghost on today's episode, comforting Cindy's husband's current wife, who thinks he's dead.

Confusing, but also exciting. "That was maybe the dearest soap opera experience I had, not just because I got to play her but the entire way the show dealt with Cindy and with that illness. I remember how professionally everybody handled what could have been... it was at a time when nobody was really talking about [AIDS], and they handled themselves so well. The idea of going back to see that group was really heartwarming to me."

Unlike some divas with delusions of grandeur, Wheeler says she's happy to be involved in any aspect of showbiz, even if she never acts again. "I don't really have a preference of one thing over the other. I love it all. When I say 'one thing over the other' I don't mean directing or acting or the things that seem glamorous ? I would move the cables for the cameras! I'm so enthusiastic about it... sometimes I wish I weren't!"