By Jennifer Lenhart
Soap Opera Digest, November 23, 2004, pp. 38-4
Imagine this sight: A few weeks ago, Mary Beth Evans, beloved soap veteran, mother of three, California girl, trudging about 20 city blocks with a load of supplies for fixing up the empty Manhattan apartment that she just moved into, all alone. “I couldn’t find a cab, so I walked a mile with two gallons of paint and a shower caddy hanging out of my bag,” she laughs. “I keep thinking that it’s going to keep me young: all the schlepping and hoisting the carry-on in the overhead of the plane. The say you should stay active as you get older—but this is really taking it to the limit!”
On the phone for the interview, she speed-talks, which is as much as reflection of her free-spirited openness as it is to the fact that she seems to be in a near-constant state of busy-ness. She’s waiting for a car service to pick her up and take her to Brooklyn with Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda), whose daughter she played on a recurring basis for the last four years until ONE LIFE TO LIVE came knocking on Evans’s door (to play Paige) and ATWT persuaded her to stay with a long-term story for Sierra. “I just never thought I really could and then I thought, ‘Well, maybe I could,’” She says of the year-long contract she signed. “When I first said I’d do it, I thought, ‘Oh yeah, sure.’ And then I was so racked with guilt, thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I have three kids! What am I going to do?”
What she did was try to get organized for the first time in her life–“I have sort of a triage approach to everything, but it gets done!” — and make sure that the family communicates as much as possible. Husband Michael, who has a thriving plastic surgery practice, is pitching in, as has the children’s favorite nanny. Now, she has an internet message account for chatting with her kids and plenty of airline miles. “Every week gets better and better. I actually talked to a flight attendant about how they do their flying. She goes across the country four times a week, and she just drinks a lot of water, doesn’t look at the time…..So, I try to think like that: ‘I’m a flight attendant, and the flights aren’t a problem and I drink lots of water,’” she laughs. “I have to say, so far so good. My husband has certainly stepped up to the plate to be every position. It’s a huge thing: My family really has to rally together in support of this sort of adventure. We all just need to stay on top of it and talk a lot. And when I go home, I spend the whole time just loving everybody, hugging and kissing them a lot, hanging out with them and really trying to soak it up. It’s so much a mind-set: I used to think, ‘Oh, my God, that flight.’ Now, I try not to think about it. I feel like it’s all in my power to have a good attitude…or not.”
It’s an interesting situation for Evans, who, of course made her name in soaps as quintessential heroine Kayla on DAYS OF OUR LIVES in 1986; within three years, she and co-star Stephen Nichols (Patch) had become an iconic couple. Evans expected to be there for the rest of her life. “I always wanted to. When you’re young you think, ‘I don’t know if I want to keep doing a soap.’ But once I was there, I really thought I would stay forever. I certainly never thought I’d go from soap to soap. That’s just not the way it went,” she shrugs. “Stephen left and a year later, they had me move away and I was surprised. And then when I went to GENERAL HOSPITAL [as Katherine], I swear it was probably three years before I was even happy there. I always wanted to go back to DAYS because that felt like home to me. I finally enjoyed my time at GENERAL HOSPITAL, but to me DAYS always seemed like where I was meant to be. It’s always been surprising that they didn’t bring Stephen and me back there. But that show has changed so much—AS THE WORLD TURNS is more like DAYS OF OUR LIVES when I did it. I like heartfelt, real stories. But who knows what the future holds? I have no idea.”
For now, Oakdale is making a nice home-away-from-home. “The show is so much fun and it’s just amplified now that I’m spending more time here. Everyone is so professional, and we really are a band of actors out there in Brooklyn, “ says the actress. “And I always came to New York anyway because my mother-in-law was here. I love California, but this sort of lifestyle is more my personality because I like to be moving all the time. For me, to go walk 50 blocks is fabulous, and I don’t do that at home. I love zillions of people all around you. I talk to everybody, which I think is odd for a New Yorker, but I love being around people. Everybody is sort of going their ways and it’s so fun. In California, it’s different. You really are either in your house or in your car or you’ve made arrangements to go with someone. But it’s not just roaming around and running into people. There are neighborhoods where I live where I swear, during the day, I don’t even see a single soul on the sidewalk.”
Still, she admits that her car is a luxury she misses, as more New York City madness sets in (and winter looms). “I finally went and bought a cart yesterday, after the paint can experience,” she chuckles. “So, it’s weird, but that’s part of the fun: navigating my way through this. You know, I’ve been married for a long time with kids and lived a certain lifestyle, so this is a whole new groove. I just hope if I talk to you in six months down the road, I’m still laughing!”
just the facts
Birthday: March 7
Married To: Dr. Michael Schwartz, since 1985
Children: Daniel, 17, Katie, 14, Matthew, 12
Airplane Reading: Scripts, books and “People magazine, if it’s Friday. I’m usually so tired from whatever rushing I’ve done that I fall dead asleep for like an hour. I try to say to myself that this is good quiet time and time to get things done for myself.”
R&R Techniques: “I do some yoga, and just walking around—roaming endlessly–is very relaxing for me.”
Web Site: www.marybethevans.com
As DAYS’s Patch and Kayla, Stephen Nichols and Mary Beth Evans were one of soaps’ biggest supercouples in the ‘80’s, and they even revisited their chemistry on GH in the ‘90’s. “I just went to an Adopt-A-Landmine fundraiser hosted by Stephen and his wife, Lisa. When I see him, I think, ‘I’ve known him forever now,’” Evans notes. “I still get recognized the most for DAYS OF OUR LIVES. It was such a long time ago–I didn’t think I looked the same. Fans do follow you forever and ever. It’s pretty amazing.” Not surprisingly, Nichols and Evans have appeared as a duo on nine Digest covers, spanning 15 years. These are three of our favorites:
Soap Opera Digest, October 7, 1986 (first cover), August 22, 1989 (last DAYS cover), March 25, 1997 (GH cover).
Photo by Jeff Katz pp. 38-39.
Group photo by Kathy Jarvis p. 40.