to Helen Wagner, who celebrated her 90th yesterday. Thanks to Roger Newcomb at welovesoaps.blogspot.com (having technical problems and can't insert live links), who shared his memories of meeting Helen a few years ago, which, in turn, prompted me to share the first time I met her.
It was maybe 15 years ago, a couple of days after Christmas. My cousin, Michael, and I were visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It had been a while since I had been at the Met and I couldn’t remember where the bathrooms were. So I went to the information table and asked the volunteer behind the table for directions. And she told me. But the only thing going through my mind was, “what is Nancy Hughes doing at the Met?”
It was clearly not the first time Helen Wagner had a museum-goer struck dumb at her table. She repeated the directions several times, asking me if I understood. As we made our way to the bathrooms, Michael was looking at me as though I had lost my mind. Now I knew perfectly well that the woman sitting behind the table was Helen Wagner, the actor, not Nancy Hughes, the character. But my brain was seized by the cognitive dissonance of seeing her out of context.
The next time we met was when I was visiting the As the World Turns set for the taping of the 40th anniversary episode. The publicist brought her into the room, and after we were introduced she cocked her head and asked, “Have we met before?” So I fessed up, told her the story of the Met and we had a good laugh. She looked fabulous, decked out in a pair of stilettos that made my feet hurt just to look at them.
I hadn’t know about her touring in Streetcar… with Lee Marvin. But almost the first thing her husband, Bob Wiley, told me when we met was, “You know, I stole Helen away from Lee Marvin.” He seemed quite proud of his accomplishment, as well he should be. I expect he still is.
update: I forgot that I while it was the 4th when I posted here from the East Coast, it was still the 3rd in Red Room's California digs.
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