Thursday, December 20, 2007


Twenty-nine minutes into the 150th episode of Texas, a whirlwind by the name of Ashley Linden blows through the Top of the World Club. Wielding a soft Southern accent and a hard-as-nails ambition, she lays on the charm for Ryan, kisses up to Iris and annoys an exiting Terry. The actress's name is Pamela K. Long. She is Miss Alabama of 1974. Texas is her television debut.

Cut to a year later: Pamela K. Long is Texas' headwriter (while continuing to play Ashley) for six months before the show goes off the air December 31, 1982. (A pregnant Ashley, who had been missing for weeks, returns in time to dramatically give birth to baby daughter Katherine at Christmas-time. While, for some reason, wrapped in white, Bedouin-style robes. )

In 1983, Long took over Headwriting duties for Guiding Light. Save for a brief break 1986-1987, she stayed in the post until 1990. Among her most memorable creations were Reva Shayne, the Four Musketeers, Alexandra Spaulding, Lujak, the Barbados mystery, the Fishing Trip photo, Sonni/Solita, Harley Davidson Cooper, Blake Lindsey, Fletcher Reade (played by Long's former Texas co-star and sometimes she says he was/sometimes she says he wasn't husband, Jay Hammer) and the Bouncing Baby Ben story.

Though its cancellation was more or less a done deal by 1993, Pamela Long was given six months to turn NBC's Santa Barbara around. (Its ratings, which fluctuated between a high of 4.9 to a low of 3.4, left the show perennially mired at the bottom of the ratings. Contrast that to today's #1 ranked soap, Y&R, which, these days, averages around a 4.0). During her reign, Long marginalized SB's previous core family, the Capwells, and brought on the Walkers, played by Kim Zimmer (on her initial GL break), Sydney Penny (her daytime debut after a childhood of primetime gigs like The Thorn Birds), and Eric Close (now starring on Without a Trace). The show's last episode, on January 15, 1993 featured Penny's character marrying Jack Wagner, while another GL alum, Krista Tesreau (ex-Mindy), aimed a gun at the celebrating crowd.

In 1998, Long took on her final daytime headwriting role, with OLTL, where her primary legacy seems to be having really annoyed the Todd and Tea fans. (I'm not familiar with her tenure there, perhaps a OLTL fan could chime in.)

Sixteen years is a pretty good run in daytime. To check out Pamela Long's first day in our favorite genre, check out the AOL/PGP Classic Soap Channel's broadcast of Texas, now!


Kevin said...

Pam Long wrote some great stories on Guiding Light. Will you be able to show those classic shows on the AOL web site soon? The fishing trip photo mystery was very good.

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