Stella & Roger Lombard: Two Decades
Later Catching Up With Elaine Bromka & Mark
Stella & Roger Lombard arrived in Salem in March
1992. Roger, an alcoholic, soon developed feelings for his
therapist, Dr. Marlena Evans. Stella thought Roger was having an
affair with Marlena and decided to kidnap her. After holding Marlena hostage,
Stella ended up being hit and killed by a car. Now, almost 20 years later,
Elaine Bromka & Mark Drexler remember their time in Salem, and update
fans on what they've been up to since leaving "Days."
ELAINE BROMKA (Stella Lombard)
Where were you born and raised? Rochester,
How did you get into
I had just finished a master's degree at Smith College when I got a call
to join the National Theater of the Deaf. I toured with them for two
years. Lovely people and a beautiful new language!
When you first appeared on "Days" in March 1992, was it
originally just a short-term role? I believe it was for three days. There were absolutely
no plans for a contract. Deidre Hall (Marlena) and I clicked instantly,
though -- and when I got the contract offer months later, it was her
doing: She got me that job by suggesting the idea to the producer.
Who did you have your "Days" audition with?
I auditioned alone for
Fran Bascom, the casting director. As soon as I walked through the door, I knew
it was magic time. She was a New Yorker, with a wonderfully blunt and
refreshing take on life.
Do you have any favorite "Days" episodes or
scenes? Loved every
single day I worked -- each was a unique challenge. Producer Tom Langan
had a brilliant eye. After my dress rehearsal, sometimes even after
my first take, he would add the one suggestion or tweak to knock the next take
out of the ballpark. It is very rare to have that keen and quick an eye
under time pressure (or even the freedom to do such a thing anymore) and I am
forever grateful to him. We really, really cared about doing the best work
possible. I do remember their asking me to
bleach my hair, supposedly because Stella wanted to imitate Marlena, but I
didn't want to. We ended up compromising with some temporary product that
is sprayed onto the hair. It made my hair so still and gummy I couldn't get a
comb through it for weeks. Ay yi yi!
Any memories to share of
your co-stars Deidre Hall, Mark Drexler and Tony
Rhodes? Dee and I became very close, and have remained in touch.
I saw her just this fall, the last time I was in L.A. Mark and Tony
were both princes, but I have long since lost touch.
Were there originally any longer-term plans for Stella
or did you know for awhile that she would be dying after holding Marlena
hostage? I had no idea Stella would
die. I was commuting weekly, sometimes twice weekly, from
Brooklyn (a fact I kept to myself, since I was hired as an L.A. actor)
and juggling an extremely intricate schedule of cross-country plane
reservations because I had two young children there and was in the process
of packing and moving to New Jersey with the family (could the pressure get
greater?!) Only when I noticed that I was not on the following
week's taping schedule and pressed to find out more in the office in
order to purchase my plane ticket did I find out. You could have knocked
me over. I sputtered, "But why do you have to KILL me???" and was told, "It's
more fun. Better for the ratings." I learned then never to count
chickens in advance!
Did you get much angry fan mail once Stella
started holding the Marlena hostage? I definitely got some. Listen, I was shocked myself. I
thought, what happened to that woman-to-woman bonding thing we were doing?
Marlena helping Stella cope with her dysfunctional family. I resisted at
first when Stella grew more deranged, but when I went with it, I had a complete
blast. The writers were fantastic with where they went with that
storyline. Every time I picked up a new script, I had no idea where it
would take me!
Any stories to share of your time with Deidre and
the hostage storyline? How was it filming the "turkey" scene when Stella sent
down Marlena her Thanskgiving dinner?
Keeping Marlena in the pit was really freaky for
me, because they got that effect by having Dee on the main floor of the set and
elevating me and two crew members way up into the air on a tiny platform.
I'm afraid of heights; I feel a magnetic pull to the edges for some reason, so I
was getting dizzy. I asked for at least a low railing on the platform, and
they kindly added that. Thank goodness, or they would have had a Stella
pancake on their hands as I dove off. The turkey
scene was infamous. I threw the turkey into the pit in this intense Stella
rage, and it bounced. Dee and I tried so hard not to laugh that we were in
Was it hard filming
Stella's death scene? Even though she was more of a villain, I've always
considered Stella's death scene as one of the sadder moments on
Well, thank you for saying that! I really
didn't want to leave the show, so it was very, very difficult. I remember
closing my eyes and thinking, well, that's that...only to hear Marlena's voice
urging, "Stella! Stella! Don't go! I brought the turkey!" I
thought I was hallucinating. Dee had arranged with the crew to add one
more take as a goof. It was hilarious. They played it on the show
"bloopers" reel several times. The writers sent me a huge bouquet of flowers in Jersey on
the day Stella's death scene aired. I was deeply touched. That
topped an absolutely crazy and fabulously creative chapter of my career,
and a wild ride with a great team.
Have you kept in touch with
any actors or crew from the show?
Unfortunately, I have lost contact with almost
everyone, but I continue to see Dee from time to time, and that's great
fun. She came to my one-woman show this fall. What a
How did you end up back on "Days" briefly in 2002 as Dr.
I was back in L.A. briefly at that time, and gave
them a call. It was fun to see the crew again.
still recognize you from "Days"?
They do still remember Stella --
Having appeared in all four, do you have a favorite
choice between daytime dramas, primetime television, Broadway or movies?
No, I truly enjoy it all. Daytime is
certainly, hands down, the most stressful work of all the above. I have
tremendous admiration for the actors who continue to master scripts in such
short order and deliver day after day.
Your resume lists two
iconic children's series, "Sesame Street" and "Mr. Rogers." Did you get to work
with Fred Rogers in your scene? And who did you appear
with on "Sesame Street"?
I did. He had that same preternatural
calm in real life! He was extremely intelligent. You could feel how
much his crew believed in him -- you could have heard a pin drop on the
floor between takes while he was thinking. On "Sesame Street",
I was a neighbor on the street with Mr.
Hooper. That all came up because I was friends with Linda Bove, from
the National Theater of the Deaf.
Having appeared on all
three long-running "Law & Order" series, do you have a favorite role among
the various characters you played?
No -- loved working each time. I adored
Mariska Hargitay. Such a generous heart.
Your primetime TV
work includes appearances on five of the most popular series of the 1990s and
2000s: "L.A. Law", "Will & Grace", "ER", "The Sopranos" and "Sex & the
City." Do you have a favorite role amongst them?
I make it a practice never to pick favorites.
Each role-- each moment -- is the most exciting,
the puzzle to solve. That's what keeps me engaged. That's the magic
How was it working with Rich Little in "The
He was astonishing -- completely
transforming, right down to the tiniest detail. Inspired by him, I
went on to co-write my one-woman show, "Lady Bird, Pat and Betty: Tea
for Three" with Eric H. Weinberger. I've taken it to over 60 theaters
across the country.
Any parting words for the "Days" fans
reading this interview?
I found them to be a passionate lot -- and I thank
them for a fabulous ride!
Where were you born and raised? Kansas
City, Mo, until I was 16, then my family moved to Seattle,
How did you get into acting originally? The
first show I did in LA was called "Buck James" with Dennis Weaver. There were
many TV shows and films that were shot in Seattle, so I had parts in some of
those, including "War Games" (I was Matthew Broderick's PE teacher, but the
director was fired and replaced and I was cut out, but I got my SAG
card), and "Francis" with Jessica Lange. I was also in a TV program called "Hot
Pursuit", filmed in Seattle, and several local TV shows and films. I worked on
two films with Stanley Kramer at his Think-Tank for Film Making that was
associated with a local college. I was a lead in both films that were made that
year, and I had the opportunity to work closely with Mr. Kramer, who is a film
legend. I also did many local, regional and national commercials. However,
Seattle is a great theatre town, so I studied for several years at the Northwest
Actor's Studio, as well as other local acting coaches. I worked at several
theatres in Seattle, and played the leads in many shows, including "One Flew
Over the Cuckoo's Nest", "Wait Until Dark", "The Rainmaker", "Pirates of
Penzance", "Picnic", "On Golden Pond", and original plays, as well. Prior to
this, I had performed in class productions at the University of Washington, and
in high school.
From the various primetime shows you've appeared
in, who did you get to work with over the years? On "Jake & the
Fatman" I worked with both William Conrad and Joe Penny. I don't believe
William Conrad ever picked up a script before coming to work, everything was off
cue cards, but he was very good at hiding that he was basically reading. On
"Highway to Heaven", I worked with Michael Landon. My scenes were with him, and
he was directing, and producing, so he was very businesslike and wanting to get
through each shot and on to the next. On "Dynasty" I worked with Emma Samms,
though many other members of the cast were on the periphery. The director was
Nancy Malone, who was at one time a very successful actress in the '60s and
'70s. On "Hunter" I worked with Fred Dryer and Stefanie Kramer and on "The
Wonder Years"I worked with Fred Savage and Soleil Moon Frye.
On "Matlock", I worked with Andy Griffith- nice man. On "Nash
Bridges" I worked with both Don Johnson and Cheech Marin...Cheech was
pleasant. I alsodid "Police Story" with a very young Benjamin
Bratt, "The Law and Harry McGraw" with Jerry Orbach, and "Something Is Out
There" Another film I did was "The Perfect Bride" with Kelly Preston and
When you first appeared on "Days", was it originally
a short-term role? I understood there was a possibility [we could
sign a contract], but it was originally for 2 weeks, I believe. Then we
found out they were going to expand the storyline.
How did you
end up getting the role of Roger? I had auditioned for many parts
for "Days", as well as "Santa Barbara", "One Life to Live", "General Hospital",
"All My Children", and even for Jack Abbott on "The Young & the Restless."
Do you have any favorite episodes or scenes? Scenes
with Deidre Hall when Roger was "drying out" were the most intense, and required
the most focus and intensity, but were the most rewarding.
memories to share of your co-stars Deidre Hall, Elaine Bromka and Tony
Rhodes? They were all very nice and great to work with. Because
Deidre had been in daytime for so long, she was very helpful in showing me the
ropes. Both she and Elaine were willing to work as required to make the scenes
the best they could be.
Were there originally longer-term plans
for Roger or were you phased out once Jim Reilly was hired as the new head
writer? I am not sure what happened, or why. The story lines seemed
to be moving Roger closer to Marlena, and I had heard unofficially from the
production team and various media reporters that this was the case, then the
Have you kept in touch with any actors or crew
from the show? For several years after the show I kept in
touch with Robert Kelker-Kelly (ex-Bo Brady), even attended his wedding in New
York. After he moved East, we lost contact.
Do you have any
memorable fan encounters? Do people still recognize you from "Days"?
The fans were always great, and I enjoyed interacting with them.
People still ask if I am an actor quite a bit, but no one specifically says
"Days." The most memorable fan encounter happened over a Thanksgiving
holiday weekend at a packed shopping mall in L.A. Roger had just begun "drying
out", and had been sober for a while. A couple recognized me across the central
pavilion of the mall, which was very crowded with holiday shoppers. The fans
were on the opposite side of the rotunda when one of them waved at me and
shouted, "Glad to see you are sober now!" Everyone in the place turned to look
at me, and I was with my family. I waved back and said "Thanks!"...but it
was a bit embarassing.
Since leaving "Days", you returned to your
original roots as an architect. Would you like to act again someday?
I still have an agent, and go out occasionally on auditions. Of
course, I would love to be gainfully employed as an actor again, in any
Any parting words for the "Days" fans reading this
interview? I think it is cool that the fans are multi-generational,
and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of "Days of Our Lives." I am glad the
show has had its run extended, and if they want Roger back . . . .