In 1975, there was no hotter couple on daytime television than Another World's Steve and Alice. After surviving AW's definitive love triangle of Steve/Alice/Rachel (details here), the newly married couple was finally blissfully happy, even going so far as planning to adopt little ten year old orphan Sally. Alas, it was not to be. While on a business trip to Australia, Steve's plane went down and he was presumed dead. (Which, as we all know, doesn't really mean completely dead, just slightly dead. Not unlike Schrodinger's cat.)
The on-screen cause of Steve's death may have been bad tail winds, but the off-screen reason was an ongoing feud between actor George Reinholt and AW's Headwriter Harding Lemay. While Lemay had many complaints about Reinholt's acting and overall on-set behavior, the biggest bone of contention was their differing takes on Steve Frame's past.
When Reinholt assumed the role, he received no information on Steve's background. So the actor made up his own backstory, deciding that Steve had grown up in working class Pennsylvania and left to make his fortune -- just like Reinholt himself had.
When Lemay took over Headwriting duties at AW, he noticed that Steve had no established background and proceeded to give him one. Lemay decided that Steve had grown up on a farm with multiple brothers and sisters -- just like Lemay had.
When Lemay and Executive Producer Paul Rauch butted heads with Reinholt over the introduction of Willis Frame, one of Steve's many heretofore unmentioned siblings, Reinholt was fired. A few months later, his love-interest, actress Jacqueline Courtney was recast. (For the actors' take on what happened, click here.)
Almost immediately, One Life to Live swept in to hire both actors, creating the characters of star-crossed lovers Tony Lord and Pat Ashley Kendall in the hope that lightening would strike again and the duo would become as big of a sensation in Llanview as they had been in Bay City.
They did not.
Reinholt left OLTL within two years, complaining:
We created the biggest success on daytime on Another World, and Courtney and I saved One Life to Live from going off the air. But they're not grateful. They put me in a dressing room with three other men. They negotiate a contract with me that says they will give me a foot in prime time, but then they turn around and say, No, we'd rather pay you off and let you go. And that's what they've done. So they won't develop me as an artist, so why should I stay there?
Since 1975, several other soaps have attempted to reunite couples who'd been huge on other shows in the hope of mimicking their earlier success.
Mary Beth Evans and Stephen Nichols (Kayla and Patch on DOOL, Katherine and Stefan on GH).
Nancy Lee Grahn and Lane Davies (Julia and Mason on SB, Alexis and Cameron on GH).
Debbie Morgan and Darnell Williams (Angie and Jesse on AMC, Angie and Jacob on The City).
Laura Wright and Paul Anthony Stewart (Ally and Casey on Loving, Cassie and Danny on GL).
None of them were able to duplicate the previous coupling's success. (As always, in the interest of full disclosure, it is very difficult for a single actor associated with a character on one show to make an equally big splash on another show or as another character. Even daytime's biggest names, Genie Francis and Tony Geary couldn't stir up the same passions, separately, as Diana on DOOL or Ceara on AMC, or as Luke's cousin Bill on GH. But the task becomes even more difficult when it's a couple making the attempt.)
There are probably a few more examples I've left off the above list. Do you have a favorite example of Soap Opera Pair Jumpers?