Where are They Now? William Mooney
(ex-Paul Martin; 1972-82, 1984, 1985, 1995)


Landing the Role of Paul: I had auditioned for a role or two on All My Children before the role of Paul came up. They auditioned me for another role on the show shortly before they fired Ken Rabat (the origial Paul Martin). They asked if I would come in again and audition. I told them I couldn't because I was on my way to the Royal Poinciana Playhouse in Palm Beach, Florida, to be part of their Winter season. When they heard that, they just offered me the job.

Life Before the Valley: I had been in New York City since 1961. I had come in 1959, and was a bit player in Richard III starring George C. Scott at the New York Shakespeare Festival, but I was having trouble making enough money, so I went back to Boulder, Colorado, for a bit. I got a full scholarship to the American Theater Wing, and began acting professionally while I was still in school. I did some off-Broadway. Then, in 1963, I was cast in the Broadway run of A Man For All Seasons. At the end on the Broadway run, I went on the National tour for a year.
During the tour, my wife, Valorie, received a contract from the opera house in Graz, Austria. When A Man For All Seasons made a return visit to New York Cirty at the City Center Theater, I auditioned for the producer of Vienna's English Theater, and landed a job doing myriad characters in Spoon River Anthology. I left the national tour a little early, flew to Vienna, and Valorie joined me there in June, after her opera season ended in Graz.
During the tour of A Man For All Seasons, I had put together a one-man show of American humor of the 19th century. When Spoon River dried up, there were still six weeks left before the German-language season started in the Theater in Palais Erzherzog Karl in Vienna. I talked the producer into doing my show, which I called Half Horse, Half Alligator. It was a huge hit, running sold-out for the six weeks. A stringer for the New York Times wrote an article about the show that was printed in the Sunday edition. A booking agent called from New York City and arranged a fifty-city tour for my show sight-unseen. The Department of State also engaged me to play in America Houses all over Europe.
With the money I received from the touring, I produced myself in New York City at the Players Theater in March of 1966. I had only one dark night during the first five weeks of the run. I was flying to various venues on my dark night to perform the show, and that was the day my wife gave birth to our twins, Sean and Will. Following the New York run of Half Horse, Half Alligator, CBS filmed a half-hour of it- RCA Victor Red Seal recorded the show, I played a run at the Harper Theater in Chicago. My wife (and the twins) went back to Graz to resume her career, and I joined her in 1967, coming back to the United Stated periodically to tour my show. I did a little television and voice-over work in Europe, but since I was an English-speaking actor, my focus was mainly on New York City.
We returned to the USA in the summer of 1969. I had some work on the straw-hat circuit in musicals with Cyd Charisse, Gordon MacRae, etc., and I was doing off-Broadway in New York. And I was also making a fair number of commercials.

First Day of School: The only thing I remember about my first day on the set (actually, the first month or so) was stark terror. I had never had to memorize that fast, never had had to do "instant acting." I had been a theater actor, not a television actor, and certainly not a soap actor. My colleagues, however, were wonderful to me, encouraging and helpful. It's one of the finest group of actors I've ever worked with: Larry Keith (ex-Nick Davis), Mary Fickett (ex-Ruth Martin), Ruth Warrick (ex-Phoebe English), Judith Barcroft (ex-Anne Tyler), Francesca James (ex-Kitty Shea/Kelly Tyler), Peter White (ex-Lincoln Tyler), Hugh Franklin (ex-Charles Tyler), Kay Campbell (ex-Kate Martin), Ray MacDonald (Joe Martin, pictured r.).

A Theatre for Social Change: My view on the Vietnam war was the same as it is now about the Iraq war. I was not a war enthusiast. It was a part I was cast to play, and I enjoyed the problems I had to try to solve [Editor Note: Paul was a Vietnam Veteran and was MIA when All My Children premiered].
We were always amazed that so many people watched the show. We went down to the University of Maryland once, to a seminar on Popular Culture. I asked some of the college kids why in the world they watched the show. I got the best answer form a young man there who said, "Pine Valley is the one constant in my life. I know it will always be there, and that's comforting."
Remember this was during a time a great unrest among the young in this country. We had a series of episodes on spousal abuse, and during one show, the Philadelphia outlet ran a ticker on the bottom of the screen giving the phone number of a Crisis Center. From that one thirty-minute show, they received hundreds of phone calls from battered women. That's when we all realized how powerful the show must be.

The Death of Beth Martin: You cannot fake an emotion in front of the camera. It will pick up fakery every time. So, you have to embrace the emotion and go with it. The death of a child is a hideous event to even contemplate. To carry that mourning day after day--to keep the sorrow percolating through the hours of shooting--was quite trying for me, and I know it was for Judith (pictured, l.) as well.

Love of Life: All of my daytime wives and lovers were wonderful- Judith Barcroft, Kathleen Noone (whose eyes were so large I always kidded her that she must have had silicone injections in them), Eileen Lechtworth, and sweet Gwynn Gillis (whose first day on the set, she had to do a love scene in bed with me. I said, "Hi, I'm Bill." She said, "Hi, I'm Gwynn." We then hopped under the sheets and made out for the cameras.). They were all good working actors.
I have always tried to fall in love with my leading ladies. And It's nice when they can return the favor. That doesn't mean that you are off doing hanky-panky someplace, just that there is a mutual feeling of admiration and respect. I was very lucky to have worked with Judith Barcroft. She's an extremely skilled and inventive actor, and a gloriously beautiful woman. I think we have a very special chemistry together.

Crossing-over: There were no major changes when Agnes [Nixon, Creator of All My Children] sold the show to ABC. It was more work for all of us (particularly the technicians and crew) when we moved to an hour. After we had been an hour show for some time, ABC became fearful that NBC's Another World was going to expand to a ninety-minute show per day. So they decided to tie One Life to Live and All My Children more closely together--after all, Pine Valley and Llanview were only twenty or so miles apart. So I was chosen as the crossover actor that would tie the two shows together. I was sent to Llanview to defend Vicky [Buchanan, played by Erika Slezak] in a big trial. But, as will happen, the schedules of the two shows got awry, and I ended up shooting three shows in one day. I was half-crazy with fatigue.

Life Goes On: Even though Agnes left the show (as Headwriter), she didn't really leave it. She was always in on the plotting sessions. And Wisner [Washam] did a fine job.
Since moving back to Boulder, I have lost touch with everyone except Francesca James. Larry Keith and I did several theater pieces together. Larry's a fine actor and a fine friend, and I miss him.


For more on William Mooney check out her Website
For more on Paul Martin check out her Quick Guide Biography
Interview conducted on January 28th, 2009