Soap Opera Digest, August 22, 1989
By Mary Beth Sammons
Their screen personas are familiar to daytime audiences who are utterly infatuated with the star-crossed lovers. He is Patch, the former street rebel with a trademark eye patch and leather jacket, who cleaned up his act (and recently shed his patch) to become one of soap’s best-loved anti-heroes. She is Kayla, the sweet, sensitive beauty from the right side of the tracks who drew out the nobler qualities – the tenderness and vulnerability – in this once-masked thug. The immediate click viewers saw between Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols, the actors who portray them, was no fluke; off screen they are great friends, devoted to each other.
To find out what makes them click, we interviewed their friends, family and castmates. What we found out was that unlike Kayla, Mary Beth doesn’t take things too seriously. She is a very funny lady who can make just about anyone laugh – even her very serious castmate and friend, Stephen. They both are also very devoted parents; she, the mother to an almost two-year old son and he, dad to two grade school-aged children (a son and daughter). And they are very private about the details of their home lives, refusing to allow their spouses to be interviewed for this story. “My husband loves and respects what I do, but he doesn’t like to talk about our private life,” explains Mary Beth. Nevertheless, we were able to nab other close to the duo to learn more about them. Here is what those people had to say and what the stars had to offer about each other.
STEPHEN NICHOLS explains the very close friendship he shares with Mary Beth and how, intuitively, they always know what is going on in each other’s hearts and minds:
Mary Beth is the very best friend I have at the studio. I’ve just never had this type of platonic good, good friendship with a woman before. We both share the same outlook on life. We have the same way of working and we both are deeply committed to our children and families.
When Mary Beth was pregnant, I went through the whole pregnancy with her here at work. I’d been through two of my own and it was as if this was my third. I enjoyed that third pregnancy, taking care of her, making sure she was comfortable. And one of the most special moments in my career was when we did the fantasy scene where Kayla was pregnant. We ad-libbed the whole thing. The emotions were just there and it was very sweet, a very tender moment that meant so much to us.
Mary Beth and I are each other’s support systems. I never said anything and neither did she, but I knew she knew I was very upset when we did the eye surgery scenes, and I didn’t have the eye patch anymore. She was just there for me and I could tell she understood that, just like Patch, I too was very emotionally involved in the surgery. That scene when Patch had the eye patch in his hand on the operating table, that wasn’t in the script. It just came from Mary Beth and me, and our strong feelings for each other.
We also don’t lie to each other. When I’m being a jerk, Mary Beth will tell me. We’re real friends. When she’s not at the studio, I’m miserable. Who am I going to go to lunch with, who will I work out with at the gym? I’m just lost without Mary Beth.
I loved Mary Beth’s honesty and outspokenness right from the start. I remember she was testing for the part, under this tremendous amount of pressure, and we were done, she just walked away and said, ‘That was sh—.’ Most actors are so totally paranoid to ever admit they did something wrong. But not Mary Beth. She knows when she’s on and when she’s off and isn’t afraid to admit it. I thought right then, this is my kind of actress, my kind of actor.
MARY BETH EVANS reveals how Stephen inspires her and explains how their opposite personalities complement one another in real life and on screen:
He’s very serious about his work, a much more serious-type person than I am. I’m always cracking up at everything. Like when we did the deaf story line and I had to do the sign language, well I was always hacking everything up and I’d just break out hysterically laughing. He was very patient with me, kept me in line. We trust each other as actors. We really pay attention to what each other is doing. He’ll say, ‘Look at me,’ and we’ll black out all the rest of the baloney and concentrate on the scene that we are doing.
There is a very sweet, tender side to him. He’s a guy who just loves kids and loves me, and so when I was pregnant, he’d always be rubbing my tummy and asking me how I was feeling. He never made fat jokes. When I had my baby [Mary Beth’s son Daniel was born in October, 1987], he came to see me at the hospital. He is very special to me in that way.
RICHARD BIGGS (Marcus Hunter) on what it is like to work with and be friends with them:
Mary Beth is one of those rare people who goes out of her way to get along with everyone. People are just drawn to her, they want to make sure that she’s always all right. I can’t explain it really, but she’s very relaxed. She makes everyone laugh and knows everyone by name from the cameramen and all the stage people to the actors.
She’s also an extremely devoted mother. Both Stephen and Mary Beth are very into their families. Every moment they’re not doing their scenes or practicing, they’re talking about their kids.I mean if Mary Beth isn’t reading a script, she’s reading some kind of parenting or children‘s book. If you gave Mary Beth a chance, she’d talk about her son until the sun went down.
And Stephen spends almost all of his free time doing stuff with his kids. He’s always rushing out of here to coach a Little League game for his son.
He’s very serious about his work. When he comes in, there is not fooling around. He has every line memorized and is always agonizing about how he can make it better, many times changing the script.
He’s a serious, sensitive man. He loves blues music, street musicians, that kind of thing. He likes to hang out and just play blues. When he knows you, he opens up and can be even silly at times. But he hides that under this serious veneer. I remember one night we went out dancing and when he got in the crowd, he just kind of shut down, like he was trying to become part of the wall or something. He hides his real self sometimes.
CHARLES SHAUGHNESSY (Shane Donovan) on why he cherishes the rare opportunity he gets to work with Mary Beth and Stephen:
Our characters don’t get a lot of chances to work together, but whenever we do, we’re all usually sitting over some map or plan and saying, ‘Golly, gosh, how can we find the secret entrance?’ And inevitably, whenever you’re working with Mary Beth, you just can’t help becoming completely hysterical. She’s just a crack-up. We’ve got this secret joke between us where we just mention The Secret Seven [an English children’s adventure story series] and we just start laughing and can’t stop. We’ll say, ‘Hey we’re going to be doing some great Secret Seven story line today,’ and we’ll see how far we can go without cracking up. Working should be fun and Mary Beth keeps Stephen and everybody else from getting too serious.
ROBERT SLOAN (DAYS makeup artist) on what he sees in the makeup room:
Mary Beth should be the next Lucille Ball. She has more facial expressions than anyone I’ve ever met. She cracks me up all the time. She’s very open and tells it like it is. I mean when she was pregnant, she described everything in vivid detail, but I can’t say some of the stuff she comes up with. I don’t think you could print it.
Stephen is a very dedicated actor who fights for his character and how he thinks the role should be played more than any other actor I’ve ever seen. He’s extremely dedicated to the point that when he had to take the patch off, it was a very traumatic thing for him.
We call him the nap king because I’m always having to go to his room and wake him up. That’s because he leads a very busy family life away from here. He’s always talking about his kids and all the things he’s done with them.
DEBBIE EVANS (Mary Beth’s older sister and “good buddy,” a private investigator in Newport Beach, California) on what it was like to grow up with Mary Beth:
Mary Beth is the youngest of the four of us. My brother is thirty-three, I’m thirty-two, my other sister is thirty and Mary Beth is twenty-eight, so we were all very close as kids growing up in Orange County and we are still very close-knit today. None of us lives more than an hour away and we all get together at least once a month. Mary Beth is the baby, she was born that way and she’ll always be that to us. She was a very, very striking little girl with white hair, and a tow head with big crystal blue eyes and always got a lot of attention for her looks.
Mary Beth wanted to be either an actress, a nurse or a nun when she grew up–which is kind of funny, because our family isn’t even Catholic. She loved to dress up in fanciful clothes, bizarre outfits, like the time when she was five, or four maybe, and ran away from home. Well, she only got as far as our property line (that’s as far as she was allowed to venture), but she had on everything a runaway would need for the occasion: one of my dad’s wing-tipped shoes, one of my brother’s shoes, an empty ice cream carton for a hat, Kleenex boxes for mittens and several necklaces. She just loved costumes.
Living with Mary Beth was like living with Lucille Ball. She was always very funny, very witty and quick, the bright spot in our family. So many times, I’ll be watching I LOVE LUCY re-runs and I’ll think, ‘I’ve seen Mary Beth do that exact same skit in real life,’ I mean that is just how funny she is, but not in a frivolous way.
Mary Beth also was very well-rounded. At Huntington Beach High School where she graduated, and even when she was younger, she tried everything. First it was ice-skating–of course, with the entire outfit – then the swim team. Nothing was too outrageous for Mary Beth. If she wanted to try something, she just did. She would surf every day before school, but everything, her entire curriculum, was always centered around acting.
MARTY DAVICH (DAYS music director and husband of Mary Beth’s life-long best friend, Carrie Davich – Mary Beth set the couple up on a blind date) on why Mary Beth and Stephen have good chemistry:
Mary Beth has a great sense of humor and relieves all her stress in that way. It’s not uncommon to see her having this hysterical jag on the set, and if things stop, it’s only because she’s laughing. She just never gets upset in any way. She’s very affectionate.
Stephen and Mary Beth balance each other. He’s prone to be intense and to take himself seriously and she tempers that. What most people don’t realize about him, though, because he never talks or boasts about it, is that he’s a very giving man. He always takes time out for those who are down and out, his friends and society. He’s always got time for people who aren’t as lucky as him. I don’t want to get into specifics, because that’s his personal business, but I’ve seen him help people many, many times.
SHELLY CURTIS (DAYS producer) on what makes their on-screen romance sizzle:
Stephen has an incredible loyalty to and knowledge about his character, so much so that we rely on his input in the writing and development of Patch. He feels the same way about Mary Beth. He very committed to her as a woman and fellow actor. They have a really genuine affection of one another, almost as if they were husband and wife at work. But, of course, they both have spouses at home that they love very much. Their devotion to each other rubs off on their characters. They rarely spend time apart. And when Mary Beth is on vacation, Stephen just mopes around here. He’s completely lost without her. Professional actors give 99.9 percent of themselves to their work – Stephen gives 150 percent.