Jason47 Catches Up with Former "Days" Star Regina Gleason (Kitty Horton)

KITTY HORTON RECAP: In the early 1950's (before "Days" premiered), Kitty was married to Alice & Tom's son, Tommy Horton. They had a daughter, Sandy. Tommy was then presumed dead in the Korean War. He came back to Salem with amnesia in 1967, eventually regained his memory, and attempted to get back together with Kitty. When Tommy found out that Kitty had numerous affairs during his absence (and even after his return to Salem), they got divorced in 1969. While working as Tom's secretary, Kitty overheard Tom and Laura talking about Michael really being Bill's son (not Mickey's). Kitty tried seducing Bill, who was furious when he found out she had a tape of Tom and Laura's chat and that Kitty was trying to blackmail him. Bill ransacked Kitty's apartment and got into an altercation with Kitty, but could not find the tape and left. After the fight, Kitty had a heart attack and died in November 1969. Bill became the prime suspect in her death and was eventually sent to prison in 1970.

Where did you grow up? How young were you when you realized you wanted to be an actress?

My hometown is San Diego, CA. My family lived there by the ocean -I was a beach girl! I started modeling at 15 years old and getting my picture in local newspapers. My mother encouraged it-she had been an actress, a part of some small touring plays. And her mother, my Grandmother, wrote religious plays that she put on in local theaters/neighborhood clubs, and she had me act in them at a young age. She also filmed and directed the entire family and I (and any available relatives) in biblical shorts. Because of this, I think the idea of acting was sort of put into my head.

IMDB lists you as doing two episodes of "Dennis the Menace" in 1959 and 1960. Did you have scenes with "Dennis" himself, Jay North?

[It was so long ago] I don’t remember if I was in a scene with him. I know he was there on the set. I hope to see those episodes again.

Your resume also lists you doing two episodes of "Perry Mason" in the early 1960s. Did you get a chance to work with the series star, Raymond Burr?

Yes, I did work with Raymond Burr.

Do you remember much about your audition for "Days?" Did executive producer Betty Corday handle the casting sessions herself?

NBC executives had seen me in "Ben Jerrod", the series, and maybe a few other shows. And the next thing I know I was there talking to them and being told I had the role [of Kitty]. Yes, Betty was there and maybe 3 others. 

Were you on contract from the time you joined "Days" or did you have to go through a trial period before being placed on contract?

Yes, on contract right from the start.

Regina and her "Days" husband, John Lupton (Tommy)

What are some of your favorite memories of working with the cast and crew?

John Lupton (Tommy) was a wonderful actor and great to work with. My favorite memories were working with ALL of those wonderful talented people. Betty Corday was a kind and caring woman, MacDonald Carey (Tom) always had a wonderful twinkle in his eye (and used to throw the best beach parties out at his home in Malibu)! Frances Reid (Alice) was a lovely, sparkling actress. Heather North (Sandy) was also very talented and great to work with - she became a good pal of mine. (We used to hang out off set. My kids adored her.) John Aniston (who is the father of Jennifer Aniston) was another of my favorite Days actors [Jason47 Note: Aniston played prison Dr. Eric Richards on "Days" in 1970 before joining the show again in 1985 as Victor Kiriakis] Bill and Susan Seaforth Hayes (Doug and Julie) and Denise Alexander (Susan) were also amazing actors. I also have to mention [co-executive producer] Jack Herzberg, what a dynamic man!

Regina (front row left) and Heather North (Sandy) relax at a cast party in 1968. Top row: Denise Alexander (Susan), Susan Seaforth (Julie), Susan Flannery (Laura) and Frances Reid (Alice).

Your character had a dramatic exit from the show in 1969. Did you have a feeling that you were getting ready to be written off the show, or did it come as a surprise? Did anyone tell you about your upcoming death or did you only find out by reading the script?

I knew five months before it happened. One of the producers had tears in his eyes when he told me they wanted my character to die in a dramatic way due to the ongoing story line. My final scene was an emotional build up I think for everyone...especially with the big drama of my staged death of falling and having a heart attack. After, there was a farewell party with lots of hugs and kind speeches in my honor. One of the gifts I received from the show was a wonderful, very large hour glass (with the sand) signed by the entire cast. I have had it displayed in my living room to this day.

Joyce Easton (Janet), Marie Cheatham (Marie), Macdonald Carey (Tom), Susan Flannery (Laura), Denise Alexander (Susan),
Regina Gleason (Kitty) and Heather North (Sandy) celebrate the show's 3rd anniversary in November 1968.

Kitty Horton was the first female character to die on "Days." What do you remember of taping your final scenes with Ed Mallory (Bill)? I've never had a chance to see those scenes, but knowing the type of writer Bill Bell was, I'm sure they were very dramatic!

Ed was supposed to be pushing me around angrily (but he told me later he was actually scared to push me too hard ) and I fell down like I was supposed to and started acting like I was having heart attack -and then I die. And as a side note about Bill Bell--he had told me that he tried to re-write it so that my character didn’t die but it just couldn’t be done. He had also said he’d like to hire me for maybe another soap in the future. It didn’t end up happening for whatever reason but I thought it was so sweet of him to have said that.

Regina and John Lupton on the cover of the December 1969 issue of Afternoon TV.

Several years after you left the show, Kitty is listed as appearing in a new scene on May 1, 1972. Did you come back to the studio to do a new scene then?

I really had to think back on this, but yes, I believe I came back and played the part of an angel. At that time I was acting in another soap “Bright Promise" at NBC, right on the same lot/close by so I recall I just popped over to film it.

Have you ever watched a "Days" episode since you left the show?

Yes. Over the years, I’d be out somewhere..a hair salon, at the doctor's office or wherever..and I’d see that it was on and smile. Over the years my daughter Julia would also watch it when she could. Both my children had small parts on the show when they were very young so they always liked the show (and memories of the delicious donuts and goodies served on the set, lol!)

Did you keep in touch with any cast or crew after you left the show?

For a few years off and on Heather North (Sandy) and producer, Wes Kenney- a wonderful couple (I attended their beautiful wedding). I also spoke to Frances Reid (Alice) every once in awhile.

Did you ever think "Days" would still be on the air all these years later? What's it like to have been a part of NBC history, appearing on NBC's longest-running series?

No. I never would have imagined it but I think it is amazing.

After leaving "Days", you only acted for a few more years. Why did you decide to leave show business?

[I got into] Beverly Hills real estate! I had always loved looking at beautiful homes for sale and thought what a great way to make money. Well, I sold my first home in about 15 minutes after showing it, so I was hooked.
I starting doing it pretty much full time. I did some small roles here and there like "Revenge of the Cheerleaders" but I was happy to just be a business woman/ real estate agent and more of a full-time mom.

What have you been up to since leaving acting?

Raising and enjoying my family, a lot of traveling, teaching acting when I can and writing (and READING, I love to read). In general, I’m still astounded and honored that after all this time I will be somewhere, (like of all places the restroom of The Louvre in Paris) and have someone say: “Kitty Horton!”

Any parting words you'd like to share with the "Days" fans who will be reading this interview?
Please continue to love and support the best soap opera ever on TV! And always remember to take a moment to listen to the beautiful beginning theme song…I love that hauntingly melodic theme to "Days of Our Lives"…so glad they never changed it.

In this publicity photo, Regina poses with series star Macdonald Carey (Tom) in the Tom's Office set.

Regina's last stint on contract. Note that it says "contract terminated" during this cycle of episodes which aired from 9/29/69-12/26/69.

For the first time online, here is the debut scene of Kitty Horton from Episode # 463 (Air Date: August 31, 1967)

Tom and Alice are talking about Bill and Tommy. Alice tells Tom that Bill believes he (Tom) is partly responsible for Tommy enlisting and eventually getting killed. Bill thinks that Tommy didn’t want to go into medicine and enlisted in order to get away from the pressure of following in the footsteps of his father. Alice wonders what would have happened if Tommy didn’t get killed. She brings up Kitty’s name. Tom wonders how a woman could keep their granddaughter away from them and their family. Tom explains to Alice that the last time he saw Kitty in Denver, she made it pretty clear that she wanted to live her own life, to not be tied to her dead husband’s family. Alice worries about Sandy. Tom thinks that Kitty’s probably remarried...

(Dissolve to door of apartment in St. Louis, to small nameplate “Kitty Horton.” Cut to interior of her apartment, where she and her gentleman friend, Greg Walters, are semi-reclined on the couch. Take Kitty in close up as she tenderly touches Greg’s face. Then she bends closer to him—as we close on a very passionate kiss and fade to black)

(Take it up a few moments later. Close up of a coaster on which is imprinted “Kitty” at the bar area. She puts an empty glass beside it, and as we pull back we see her fixing cocktail refills for the two of them. Greg is a man of around 35 or 40, handsome, vital, well groomed, well mannered—to all appearances, a very desirable man. Kitty enjoys his company, isn’t certain of her love for him, but is reaching out for marriage and security. Greg, who is from New York, but who comes to St. Louis frequently on business, is playing the relationship for all its worth—without committing himself. What Kitty doesn’t know is that he is married. But make no mistake, Kitty is clever, intelligent, a woman of the world who knows how to maneuver people and will always survive in life because of this ability. He comes up behind her, put his arms around her waist from behind.)

Kitty serves him a quick drink because he has to meet with some clients. She tells him not to take her for granted. He tells her that he doesn’t but that what bothers her. He says that they are mature adults and know what they are doing. He’s 38, she’s 31 (he’s not buying it) and tells her to enjoy life. She wants to know if this relationship is headed somewhere or if it is “just sex.” She tells him that she doesn’t want to be in this type of relationship forever, that next time she wants him to meet her daughter, who is away as a counselor at a summer camp. He inquires about the father and she tells him that he died in the war. She had Sandy when she was 17. He never knew she was pregnant. Greg asks about how she supports herself? Family? She mentions the Hortons and how she wants to have her freedom and she supports herself.  She tells him that he should know that she always knows how to get by. He leaves hoping to come back for “dessert.” She tells herself to be patient. Greg leaves and searches in his coat pocket for his wedding ring.