Jason47's Interview with Tammy Taylor (Hope Williams, 1981-1982)

Tammy Taylor during her time on "Days" and as she looks today.

How did you end up getting the role of Hope? Did you test with a "Days" actor or was it a solo audition?

I did test for the role of Hope, doing a scene with the formidable Susan Seaforth Hayes. It was memorable because I had been told that Susan could be intimidating and difficult, but I found her to be extremely supportive and giving as an actress. I am sure that her vote of confidence in me helped me to secure the role!

When you were hired as Hope, did you know you would be playing the daughter/stepdaughter of the very popular Bill & Susan Hayes? Had you watched the show before?

I was not a Days watcher before I landed the role, although, interestingly, I had come to know the young actress, Natasha Ryan, who played Hope as a child up to the time I took over the role. Natasha played one of the 3 children in the family featured in the feature film "The Amityville Horror", starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder. I had been hired as a "set-sitter" for Meeno Peluce, who played one of the two sons (the other son was played by K.C. Martel who was in E.T.) Meeno's mother had taken a liking to me when I played opposite Meeno in a low-budget horror film, and helped me by introducing me around and helping me land an agent. Meeno's sister was the soon-to-be-famous Soleil Moon-Fry, who 7 or 8 years later became TV's "Punky Brewster". Anyway, I came to know Natasha and her family during the Amityville shoot, and unfortunately, lost touch with them after I started on Days. I think Natasha's mother was a little irked that Days chose to age the character!

What was it like working with Bill & Susan? Did they offer any advice?

I can't say enough nice things about Bill Hayes! I adore him. A song-and-dance man from way back, he and I shared a love of tap dancing. I remember getting in trouble once for being seen on the monitor doing a little time-step with Bill right before our entrance, when the director seemed to feel I should have been preparing! Interesting that it was fine with them that Bill was messing around! And Susan was always professional, supportive, honest and real. She knew what she wanted - what worked for her as an actress - and made sure she got it. I always respected her for that. And the directors and producers clearly loved both of them as they've continued to bring them back over the last 30+ years for special storylines and episodes. I still get a personalized photo Christmas card from them every year, and even met up with them a few years ago at AFTRA when they did a personal appearance to promote their book, "Like Sands Through The Hourglass.."

Being cast as a Horton, you got to be "related" to one of the longest-running families in soap opera history, and more specifically, you got to work with three of the original cast members of the show. Any memories/stories to share of working with Frances Reid, Macdonald Carey and John Clarke?

Ah, Frances Reid! What an example of grace and charm that woman was! And when I first met her, she was really a very active, forward-thinking, liberated woman, involved in the National Organization for Women and a huge supporter of Women's charities. To work with Frances was pure joy, and she always made me feel like I was the only person who mattered when we had a scene together. I truly felt like I was her actual granddaughter! She would stroke my hair, hug me and counsel me as if I was, and I loved her. I was so sad to hear of her passing two years ago. Even at 95, she was the picture of beauty and dignity.

Macdonald Carey and I didn't have as many scenes together, but he was just like he seemed on the show - gentle, solid, sweet and grounded. He didn't hang around on set unless he was working, so I would only get to chat with him in the makeup room or when we would shoot "remotes" on location. He was a true professional and a dear man.

John Clarke was another one I didn't really get to know, as we didn't have many scenes together, but I do remember he had a wicked sense of humor, and a great energy. His spirit of comaraderie always lifted everyone's mood and injected a great energy into his scenes.

The Christmas show is always one of the most anticipated episodes of the year, as it usually brings together all of the Hortons and fans look forward to the annual hanging of the Horton ornaments. Do you remember if you got to hang Hope's ornament on the tree that year?

I don't actually remember doing the ornament thing back then, however in 1995, when my daughter Jenna Wexler was cast as Hope in flashbacks, she did make a wish on the ornament, and as she put it on the tree she wished for Bo Brady to love her forever! I have that scene on tape and love it to this day!

Gary Tomlin was head writer during your time at "Days", and he is back in that position now. When Pat Falken Smith replaced him in October 1981, she immediately created the Brady, DiMera and Carver families. Was there another story planned for Hope if Gary had stayed on as the writer? Do you think the change in head writers was the reason that Hope was phased out at the end of the year?

The actors are always the last to know (if ever) the plan of the writers! In fact, when I was on The Young and the Restless the year before I started on Days, I was told only 6 months into my 2 year contract that the writers were "going a different way" with the character, and I was released from my contract. I later learned that on my last day working on the show, they were actually auditioning other actresses to take my place!

My storyline, at the time when I left Days, was all about my infatuation with Jake Kositchek, who ended up being The Salem Strangler. And in the last few weeks of my time on the show, it became clear that Doug was intent on sending Hope away to keep her out of harm's way. Little did he know, then, that he had permitted his own daughter to actually date the murderer! Anyway, I have no idea if Gary Tomlin had other plans for Hope. I rarely, if ever, even spoke with the writers.

Hope gets ready to depart Salem.

Long-time "Days" fans have been mourning the loss of executive producer Al Rabin, who passed away in August. He was always talked about in such high regard by all of the cast. Any memories you'd like to share of him?

Al Rabin was a great guy, and worked his ASS off! I really don't have any stories about him, though. I was only 21 or 22 when I knew him, and I think he was (understandably) closer to the older cast members. I do remember, however, several times when we'd all get together on special occasions and he would be there, holding court! The cast participated in a Soap Opera Softball game (from which I still have my "Days" jersey!), and I remember Al was front and center, cheering on his cast! He also attended different parties like one I remember so well at the home of the late, great Brenda Benet (Lee DuMonde), who had designed a line of clothing for petite women (5'4" and under). Philece Sampler (Renee DuMonde) and I modeled the brightly colored costume-like clothes for a magazine spread at the time. So much fun.

Hope, with Doug & Julie, discussing Jessica Blake (Nick's mom)

Jean Bruce Scott set a new "Days" record last week, when she reprised her role as Jessica after a 30-year absence. What was it like working with her?

Jeannie!!! LOVED her! As we were very close in age, and our storylines overlapped for awhile, we spent quite a bit of time together, sharing our personal lives and attending lots of Days events together. Jeannie was the ultimate professional, and yet retained a sweetness and vulnerability that drew me to her. She had (and I'm sure still has) a great sense of humor and she genuinely cares for people. As an actress, she was wonderful to work with because she really listened and lived "in the moment". It was a pleasure to "play" with her and I am so happy to see that Days has brought her back! Who knows - I could come back as Hope's long lost cousin! :)

Tammy & Jack Coleman (Jake Kositchek aka The Salem Strangler)

Do you have a favorite scene or storyline that you did on "Days?"

My favorite storyline must have been the one where my cousin I adored, the sweet and proper Sister Angelique, was dating the guy I was crushing on, Jake Kositchek, behind my back and didn't even know it! By day, she was Hope's compassionate, loving friend and confidante, but by night, (unbeknownst to her), she became "Angel", the wild and seductive temptress who worked her magic on Jake and stole her away from Hope. And it was a dream working with the amazing Jack Coleman who played Jake! Talk about funny - the guy's hysterical! And another very giving, talented actor with whom I loved working. (He wasn't a bad kisser, either!) :)

Have you kept in touch with anyone from the show through the years? Have you tuned in and watched "Days" at all since you left?

Every now and then I will turn on Days and see who's still on and where the storylines have gone, but I admit I haven't done so in a couple years. I actually lived across the street from Philece Sampler who played Renee DuMonde, for about 8 years in the late 80's/early 90's, and we've remained friends through the years. Philece has made a great career for herself as a voiceover actress, voicing many of the most popular animated characters today, on TV and in video games.

Tammy (on the far right) and the "Days" cast celebrate the taping of the show's 4,000th episode.

You were on set to celebrate the taping of the 4,000th episode in 1981. "Days" will be taping its 12,000th episode later this month. What do you think accounts for its longevity, especially when so many other soaps have been cancelled in recent years?

I think the thing that keeps Days on the air is that the basis of the show has always been the family. As crazy and off-the-wall the plots have gone (and there have been some doozies!), the foundation of the show really is the love of family and everyone can relate to it. Even if a viewer doesn't experience that same closeness with his/her own family, it's that desire to connect that we all have that keeps viewers wanting to be a part of the Horton Family and to care about the generations beyond the original family of Alice and Tom's.

Your daughter, Jenna, ended up playing Young Hope in some newly-created flashbacks that aired in 1994 and 1995. What was it like being back at the studio, seeing a lot of the same faces who were still around from the cast & crew? Did you get to spend any time with Kristian Alfonso?

It was meant to be, Jenna (now 23) being cast as Hope! Our agent called, not realizing the role was for that of a young Hope, and Jenna went in and read for the part along with probably a dozen or more other young actresses. When she was called back to read for the producers, the casting director, Doris Sabbagh, had no idea Jenna's mother had played Hope 15 years earlier! It wasn't until she had been cast that our agent told production about the connection. Jenna appeared on three episodes of Days, twice as Hope, and once as Bo and Billie's "imaginary" child. (Billie's fantasy on the boat). When the show's PR people got wind of the fact that I was Jenna's mom, they arranged for Soap Opera Digest to interview me and come to the set to photograph "the 3 Hopes" together. I have some pictures from that day - great memories! By the way, a little bit of trivia, Doris Sabbagh had cast me in Eight is Enough 15 years earlier, around the same time I was working on Days!

What have you been up to since leaving "Days." Anything you'd like to update the fans on?

I continued to work in commercials, voiceovers, film and TV throughout the 80's and into the 90's, doing guest star appearances on shows like Happy Days, Eight is Enough, Gimme A Break and the cult-classic feature film Meatballs Part 2, until Jenna became of school age and now had a little brother (Ian, now 21). I chose to put my career on the back-burner to raise my two kids and to become a PTA volunteer-extraordinaire! I was Co-President of two parent organizations, vice president several times, chair of countless committees, and Room Parent for what seemed like decades! Jenna started acting at age 4 and her career became quite busy so I was running around with her for auditions and jobs, and didn't want to hand over that job to someone else. I actually taught acting in a few different after school programs and am currently teaching at Carpenter Community Charter, the elementary school in Studio City where both my kids went to school. I've recently returned to acting, currently auditioning for commercials and seeking theatrical representation. I've appeared in two plays, two student films, and a short that just won "Best Comedic Short" in the Playhouse West 72 Hour Film Festival! Hoping to get back on the screen as an adult actress. Stay tuned!

Many fans are still watching since you were last on "Days" in January 1982. Any final thoughts you'd like to say to the "Days" fans?

I will just always feel connected to the show and want to thank all the Days fans for being so loyal and committed, and for supporting what is now an iconic television jewel, sure to go down in broadcast history as the best of all the daytime dramas. It's because of the fans that the show survives and thrives to this day!