Where are They Now? William
Martin; 1972-82, 1984, 1985, 1995)
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.