Ellen Dolan Chats About Leaving Soaps and What Brought Her Back

Would you rather listen to Ellen Dolan than read about her?
Hear Full Interview: Ellen Dolan with Susan Dansby

Guiding Light BookAfter four years of playing Maureen Reardon Bauer on the soap opera, Guiding Light, Ellen Dolan decided she should head to Los Angeles to broaden her acting career. Here’s what happened next:

Ellen Dolan: So, I quit and I went out and immediately did the standard ‘do two national commercials a year and then do a lot of regional theater.’ Which is what I did.

Until I went to buy dinner one night – which consisted of either a can of cat food for my cats or a little bit of peanut butter for me. And you had to feed the cats. And I couldn’t call home for money. So it was like, oh dear.

So I got on my agents, and I said, “get me out there, get me out there.” And they did. And I started doing all these pilots and everything. And testing. And that’s how we ended up thinking I should go to LA.

And that’s when I got the call from Doug Marland saying “Would you come back to do Margo?” And I thought… yeah. I want to go home. I want to be in New York. And I want to do the kinds of parts daytime allows women to do. Yeah.

And the same thing happened when I quit As the World Turns in ’92, I think. And I went back out to LA thinking I really do have to try this again. I have to give it a good shot, because I was in my late 30’s by then – 36ish? And in Hollywood standards, that’s…

Susan Dansby: Over the hill.

Ellen Dolan: That’s over the hill.

So I went out there, and I booked a pilot again, right away. I did all the good, right stuff. And I was living in a nice place. And I was working on different stuff.

You know I got to the point where I was doing two episodes on Walker, Texas Ranger. I was down in Texas and I looked at it all and thought, this isn’t as much fun as that character I was doing on daytime.

So when I found out that they were going to recast Margo, I called my agent and I said, I want to go back to New York.

And they said, are you sure? Are you absolutely sure? And I said, Yeah, I’m sure. I’ve just never done a character that’s as interesting as Margo.

About Susan Dansby

Susan Dansby has received four Emmy® Awards and two Writers Guild Awards for her work on the soap opera, AS THE WORLD TURNS. She is the author of HOW DID YOU GET THAT JOB? MY DREAM JOBS AND HOW THEY CAME TRUE.
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