Friday, October 10, 2008


Irene Dailey, a late-blooming actress perhaps best known for her roles in television soap operas and for her portrayal of the quick-witted, sensitive mother, Nettie Cleary, in the 1964 Tony Award-winning drama "The Subject Was Roses," died Sept. 24 in Santa Rosa. She was 88 and lived in Guerneville.

Full obituary, here.

The Emmy Award-winning actress began her daytime career on The Edge of Night in 1969, playing Pamela Stewart. Her best known soap role, however, was as the third Liz Matthews on Another World which she assumed from 1974 to 1986 and then again from 1988 to 1994.

Then-Headwriter Harding Lemay recalled in his book about her initial audition:

What she played went far beyond anything we expected and the Aunt Liz who had existed only as a vague blur in my mind sprang into viperous form by the time she finished... We had found our Aunt Liz, and her display of hard-learned, confidently conveyed acting technique was a preview of the richness and skill of the on-camera performances that followed it.

When Ms. Dailey took over the role in 1974, Liz, who'd once been the epitome of the controlling mother, poking her nose into every aspect of her children's business -- and regularly finding the choices they made for themselves lacking, had, at long last, decided to focus on her own life.

She began dating the dashing Mac Cory, seeing in him the man her late husband might have become (if only he'd listened more to Liz) and in Mac's daughter, Iris, the upper-class princess Liz's own daughter, Susan, should have been -- if she hadn't rejected all of her mother's social climbing goals and insisted on having a career (!) instead.

Mac, unfortunately, was in the process of falling for Rachel, a woman not only half his age, but also the one who'd made life miserable for Liz's niece, Alice. Liz and Iris were not amused.

Iris responded to Mac and Rachel's marriage in traditional Iris fashion by hiring a gigolo to seduce her new stepmother.

Liz responded by suffering a nervous breakdown and violently attacking Rachel. When she recovered, Liz attempted to get back the life she had lost by making a play for her widowed brother-in-law, Jim, and attempting to fill the role of mother for her nieces and nephews.

She did this by tattling about great-niece Marianne's abortion, and by meddling in nephew Russ' latest romance with a young widow named Sharlene Frame, threatening to expose Sharlene's past as a prostitute. Sharlene ended up leaving town, only to return years later with a young daughter named Josie -- Russ' secret child. (In Liz's defense, when Russ found out that Sharlene had been a hooker he began drinking and beating his wife. So that marriage breaking up was actually a blessing for everyone concerned.)

At the same time as she was ruining the relationships of various young people, Liz continued making a play for Jim. Knowing that he was attracted to Rachel's mother, Ada, Liz tried to make Jim believe that Ada was sleeping around with Charlie Hobson. Liz and Ada ended up getting into the mother of all arguments, with Ada threatening Liz to butt out -- or else! Ironically enough, once Ada and Charlie genuinely grew closer, Liz found herself kind of falling for the kindhearted, though working class, lug.

The above storyline earned Irene Dailey the Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Emmy for 1978-79.

To watch the late star in action, check out either the 1981 season of Another World on the AOL/PGP Classic Soap Channel, or the 1991 season on!


Derek said...

Thank you so much for posting this news and the link to the obituary. How sad that we have lost both Ms. Dailey and Beverlee McKinsey in the same year.

Your blogger is to be praised for this loving look back at Ms. Dailey's run as the formidable Liz Matthews. My earlies memories are of Liz working with Mac at the Cory Complex, so I was delighted to learn the earlier history.

At one point, there were some classic AW scenes of Ms. Dailey on You Tube. The first was with the late Douglass Watson. Liz broke down in Mac's arms while exclaiming that nobody had time for her, or something to that effect. The other powerful scene was when Liz broke up a very physical confrontation between Victoria Wyndham's Rachel and Jacquie Courtney's Alice. I would love to see both of those scenes restored to You Tube in memory of Irene Dailey. Any chance the P&G holdings contains such scenes?

It would be great to have a Procter & Gamble / Telenext channel on You Tube to house some memories of all the amazing actors who appeared on classic P&G soaps.

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