GOOD-BYE ALL MY CHILDREN: MY ALL TIME FAVORITE AMC ACTOR AND CHARACTER(S), DAVID CANARY AS ADAM AND STUART CHANDLER
By Nicole Walker
There aren’t enough words to do David Canary’s tenure on All My Children as the charismatic, arrogant, ruthless, yet rootable anti-hero Adam Chandler and his simple minded sweet, open-hearted, brother, Stuart, who was, is, and always will be the heart of the Chandler family, and truly Adam’s heart, as well, justice. I mean, not only did the man believably amaze you by playing two completely different characters, but he consistently played Adam and Stuart with 1000% conviction, 1000% focus, and1000% energy never, ever phoning in a performance for either character and just leaving you staring in awe at how he could play against himself without missing a beat, without ever faltered and- AND- creating one of the most sublime, heartfelt, achingly real and beautiful sibling relationships that you will ever find in daytime or primetime television.
Sniffly Chandler brother scene after the jump...
I mean…DAMN. I had been watching All My Children for a good number of years before I realized (to my mother’s amusement) that Adam and Stuart were played by the same actor. Even after I knew and I’d watch a scene between the two, I was still just baffled at just how good the interplay was, how natural, how DC was able to distinguish not only between Stuart and Adam, but Stuart imitating Adam and Adam imitation Stuart OR the few times DC had to pull off Stuart playing Adam imitating Stuart and vice versa.
David Canary had his craft down to a science but it never felt stale. A scene between these two disparate brothers was always a joy to behold; not just because of the craft but also because of the heart and emotion at play between them. Adam was Stuart’s first, last, and always protector. Sure, Adam would use his brother for a game or two and enlist him in his scams, but let anyone else come after his sweet, innocent brother and there would be hell to pay.
Stuart was Adam’s conscience and heart. He was the only one- the ONLY one- that could make Adam think twice about the dastardly action he was about to take, the only one that could make Adam come clean and admit to the guilt and remorse he would bury, the only one who could set Adam back on the right course, and the only one who could give his brother forgiveness and understanding when everyone else had abandoned him (many times justifiably) and Adam believe that he deserved it so that he could accept it in order to move on. Stuart was the peacemaker and uniter of his family, often instrumental in reconciling Adam with his many fed up children- and a few wives- because Adam’s happiness was all Stuart wanted for his brother and he knew what would ultimately make Adam happy more often than Adam did. Not power and money (although Adam looooove those a lot) but love and family won by Adam’s deeply buried and protected soft side, not his overbearing flaws.
But David Canary’s awesomeness wasn’t just with himself as a screen partner. He shined with a number of up to the task actors to create riveting magic on screen the most enthralling (although DC could make reading the phone book can’t miss television) Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane (the best playful, infuriated, unwillfully smitten, begrudgingly respectful exes you could ever hope to watch), James Mitchell’s Palmer Cortlandt (the best, most hateful, begrudgingly respectful, old school rivalry you could ever enjoy on AMC), and last but certainly not least with Julia Barr’s Brooke English, the best of Adam’s wives, his equal and soul mate.
It was with his pairing with Brooke that I became truly enraptured with Adam Chandler. The man worked his butt off to charm and win her over, Brooke hesitant to pick up yet another of Erica’s sloppy seconds and also a bit put off by Adam’s more ruthless tendencies (even if a part of was attracted just a smidge to his relentless bad boy ways) but the two did marry and were happy for a time until it was revealed Brooke couldn’t hope to have more children which was a blow to Adam who dreamed of having an heir with his beloved wife.
But Adam, never being one for taking no for an answer and having a nigh obsessive tendency to see things through to the end in his vision, began contemplating how he could have his cake and eat it too; an heir of his blood to raise with Brooke.
And into his life waltzed the very compliant Dixie Cooney, onetime nanny to Brooke’s late daughter Laura, future answer to Adam’s prayers.
For you see, Dixie Cooney was quite smitten with the handsome, powerful Adam Chandler which he realized he could use to his advantage. In Dixie Adam saw the woman who could give him his heir- and then easily dump (with a healthy payment for her time and sacrifice) once he had the child in hand.
What followed was the most amazing, juicy, twisty and turny story of a man torn between his love for a woman and his primal (selfish) need for a child; a story that had Adam doing the most unbelievable things (bedding Dixie despite his love and devotion to Brooke; lying to Brooke left and right; coercing Dixie to give him and Brooke his son; telling Dixie every sweet nothing to keep her in line; plotting to steal his son from Dixie when she began to have second thoughts to the point of wanting to commit her to a mental institution). Adams crimes went on and on and on with David Canary walking the thinnest of tightropes while plate spinning to somehow, somehow keep Adam sympathetic enough that when his house of lies finally came crashing down on him in dramatic fashion (Dixie won full custody of their son, Palmer mounted a silent, complete takeover of Adam’s company, Chandler Enterprises, to leave Adam penniless, AND Adam suffered a debilitating stroke) you felt for him. You ached for him. Even though part of you was satisfied with him finally getting his comeuppance and hitting rock bottom, another part of you had hoped he was going to get away with it, hoped that he’d somehow squeak out the win and have both Brooke and his son and live happily ever after. Alas, it was not meant to be and Adam had to start over again, without Brooke at his side, slowly, but surely rising from the ashes to take on Dixie and Palmer once again, to make new enemies, to have new loves and fleeting moments of happiness before they slipped through his tightly held fingers, and to be his own worst enemy too many times to count before finally, finally he found his peace and happiness in the arms of the woman who had loved him the longest and the best, his always and forever loved Brooke.
It was a gift to have David Canary return for AMC’s final week to give proper closure to Adam and Stuart. You were able to grin like an idiot in awe at Canary holding his own against himself as he brought both Adam and Stuart to life once again and cheer and weep for the reunion between two brothers, one lost, the other believed to have been lost, a broken heart’s two halves witnessed to be gloriously made whole and happy through Canary’s performances. You were able to nod your head in satisfaction that Adam got the ending you wanted and deserved; together again with his brother, Stuart, with Brooke by his side, and Winifred the ever loyal Chandler maid happily banging around the Chandler mansion.
As sad as I am at the thought of not seeing the next chapter in Adam and Stuart’s lives, I am happy to have seen their journey thus far and to leave them in such a happy place to face the future. Thank you All My Children for introducing me to Adam and Stuart Chandler and thank you David Canary for your exemplary, irresistible performances that endeared me to the Chandler boys and want to see their journey through to the end.
Nicole Walker is Associate Producer of Another World Today.