Where are They Now? Richard Shoberg (ex-Tom Cudahy; 1977-1996, 1997, 1998, 2004-05)

Shoberg's Hero Legacy is Not Forgotten

Richard Shoberg
Just the Facts

Fun Fact 1: Shoberg's wife, Varaporn Shoberg, operates a restaurant in New City, New Yokr, called Lemon Grass Thai Restaurant. He can sometimes be seen there as host or bartender, most likely on a Tuesday.

Fun Fact 2: When Oprah Winfrey arranged for an on-screen reunion for Erica and her many ex's, Shoberg could not appear for the taping in Chicago. Instead, he sent a recorded segment in his place.

Fun Fact 3: As a guest on the Mike Douglas show, Shoberg got to show off his musical talents. His performance ended abruptly when their gag called for someone to dump a bucket of water on Shoberg from a set window above him.

Fun Fact 4: Walt Willey (Jackson Montgomery), James Patrick Stuart (ex-Will Cortlandt) and Shoberg performed in a band together. "I played the guitar…I like writing songs. It was another creative outlet apart and separate from my character," Shoberg said.


An early promotional photo of Shoberg as Tom.


For almost twenty years as a contract star, and almost ten more as a consistent recurring player, Richard Shoberg played the role Tom Cudahy, a former football star who made a name for himself as a small-town hero on All My Children. Even after a departure that can be best described as uneventful, viewers are always pleased when Shoberg reprises his role for brief episode stints.

"The viewers always mattered to me," Shoberg said

Shoberg still remembers the storyline that brought Tom to Pine Valley. "There was someone trying to kidnap Little Phillip. I plopped him on the head with my fist," Shoberg remembered. Tom's good looks and kind demeanor was a throwback to the "All American" values that were once the common place in the historic town.

"As I recall, I was a retired football star. He had a knee injury," Shoberg said. "I was coming to Pine Valley and staying in a motel or hotel. They had a little room set up for me." By year's end, Tom had opened The Goalpost, a restaurant-bar that began to compete with Pine Valley's most popular eatery, Nick Davis' The Château.

Shoberg was no stranger to daytime television, having got his start on CBS' The Edge of Night."I had worked on a show called Somerset. Jack [Coffee] had moved to All My Children from that show," Shoberg said. Coffee was now a director at All My Children and referred Shoberg to casting director Joan D'Incecco. He did not even have to audition for the role. "Joan talked to me for a hour, and then asked me if I would be interested," Shoberg said. It was ultimately Producer Bud Kloss' decision to hire him.

All My Children was at the top of its game in 1977. By 1979, they would be the number one daytime drama on the air. "It was a great show," Shoberg remembered. "Some time prior to arriving, it had gone to an hour. It had been a popular show for a number of years by then."

"I thought I would get to work for a while," Shoberg said. Little did he know his contract run would last almost 20 years.

The show's ratings success did not go unrecognized, nor did the stellar cast's contribution. "In those days, CBS was CBS, NBC was NBC and ABC was ABC. They were the companies," Shoberg remembered. "We were part of the company, and contributed to its success. We were always treated very well by the people at headquarters for what we did."
"It inspired us to do the very best we could," Shoberg said.

Shoberg became one of the show's leading men after he was paired with Susan Lucci's Erica Kane. "I know that she was one of the main attractions. She was very popular at the time, especially on college campuses," Shoberg said. "I noticed it was a huge difference, the attention I was getting when I was working with her. The amount of press was significantly higher."

Tom and Erica's whirlwind romance culminated with Daytime's first overseas location shoot in St. Croix. "I got married to my wife, and the next week Tom went on his honeymoon to St. Croix," Shoberg said. "I did have a honeymoon, it just was not with the woman I married."

"When they told me it was happening," Shoberg remembered, "they said, 'You cannot show the script to anybody. You cannot tell anybody.'" The week's worth of taping was a production that had never been seen in Daytime. The scripts called for Shoberg to snorkel and horseback ride amongst a myriad of other activities.

"I grew up on a hunting/fishing resort on Lake Huron. I spent my summers swimming and snorkeling," Shoberg said. But, he would not be so confidant about riding horses. Producers arranged for Shoberg to prepare by sending him to a stable on Long Island. Only, the horses in St. Croix were not what anyone had expected. They were quarter horses, a breed that excels at sprinting. "When you say "giddy-up," they giddy up," Shoberg said. "I have never been on a horse running that fast. On the first take, the horse began to split around the camera car." Shoberg and Lucci had to give the scene another try because the horse had seemingly out ran the crew.

The show experimented with the new steady-cam technique to capture Erica and Tom as they frolicked around the beach. "I am sure they are much more advanced now. He [Cameraman Nick Udack] could walk or jog along side us on the beach. The steady-cam had a gyroscope that would keep it from bouncing when you took steps," Shoberg said. Shoberg and Lucci were working from sunrise to past sunset.

St. Croix was an important locale for other reasons. It was there that creator Agnes Nixon wrote the original story bible for All My Children."We were the guests at Agnes' home after shooting. The people of St. Croix could not be any nicer," Shoberg said. The cast and crew enjoyed the hospitality of Wilhem Samuels, a local who served as sort of a guide for the ensemble.

About the soiree at the Nixon's, Shoberg said, "We all seamed really pleased with the results. There was not really an analysis of the shoot, everyone was just relieved. It was a wonderful party and gesture on her part." Shoberg and Lucci ended the week by taking promotional photos on the beach the day they were to return to New York City.

Nixon continued as Executive Producer and Headwriter of All My Children into the early 1980's. "Agnes was such an important part of All My Children. Some of the best scenes we have played, she wrote," Shoberg said. Though Nixon was working out of her home in Chicago, Nixon's presence was constantly felt on set. "I think that was a very supportive aspect of the show. She was very involved in it. You cannot help but care about it because she cared so much."

Shoberg pictured with Susan Lucci (Erica) while on location in St. Croix.

Early on, the ensemble feeling in the studio was very clear to Shoberg. "We had our production staff, makeup and hair, cameramen, sound men, technical people and props… we were all there with each other all the time," Shoberg remembered. "When it came time to tape the show, there was a sense of, 'it's showtime' We tried to make it as good a show as we could."

Unlike today, the show used to be taped like a play. The scenes were shot in order, from start to finish. "All My Children was like a theatre experience. It was almost that contained. It felt like you were part of a production in an exciting way," Shoberg said.

Nixon carefully crafted Tom to be a character like no other already in Pine Valley. Though a conservative Catholic and almost priest, Tom was unlike the other conservative characters because of his compassion and level-headedness. Unlike the Phoebe Tyler's of the show, Tom was also more middle class, working as a restaurateur and gym owner.

A 1996 storyline featured Tom in a Pro-life protest outside an abortion clinic. The scene called for a crowd to form after news leaked that high profile rape victim, Julia Santos, was there to get an abortion. "I was on top of a car, telling everyone to calm down. I remember doing it about 5-7 times. They kept having camera problems," Shoberg remembered. "Henry Kaplan directed that particular show. I thought the best take was my first take, but sometimes there are technical difficulties you don't know about."

"You do it again, because it is your job," Shoberg said. "It happens all the time and your job is to go back and do it again."
Unlike the character of Tom, Shoberg considers himself to be very progressive. "I identify with Obama's position, that you need all sides. If we aren't all going to go there together, we are not going at all," Shoberg said. "The position I took as 'Tom Cudahy' was a scripted part of my job."

Another memorable storyline involving Shoberg was the Deconstruction storyline in 1992. Tom was now in a controversial interracial relationship with African American attorney Livia Frye, played by Broadway star Tonya Pinkins. There was a sudden upswing in prejudice related hate crimes in Pine Valley. But to Shoberg, this plot point seemed rushed.

"I would have liked the story to be more, to be more about love and having a normal life.," Shoberg said. "There should have been much more of a relationship established before the events developed."

"Before, Tom and Livia really established a relationship…she had her ex-husband played by Richard Lawson (ex-Lucas Barnes), I think even that was a little quick," Shoberg said. "You need to get the audience rolling with you before you start injecting other things."

"Let us discover it slowly as a opposed to a brick through the window and Terrence being threatened at the club. It did not have to go that far. It could have been a more interesting and complex story," Shoberg said. "I never had any objections. Certainly they wrote the racist things into the story. From a performance standpoint, it was a love story. Two people fall in love and have a lot in common. Everything else that happened we would then have to deal with."

By 1992, Livia was Tom's fifth wife. Arguably his most successful pairing was opposite Julia Barr as Brooke English. "Julia is wonderful, just a terrific actress," Shoberg said. "Whenever you were getting her, I called it 'playing catch.' She took whatever ball you threw: a curve ball, a fastball, knuckleball… she would watch it, and throw it right back. She was always so present." Tom and Brooke's marriage would be one of his longest lasting, almost hitting the four year mark.

For a year of their pairing, the role of Brooke was recast with Harriet Hall. Barr was performing in a show with the late Katherine Hepburn. "I only remember Julia as Brooke. I know someone came in for a while," Shoberg said. "As far as I am concerned, she is impossible to replace," Shoberg said about his co-star. "She is unique. She is who she is."

Like viewers, Shoberg knew there was more potential in his storyline with Tonya Pinkins (Livia Cudahy).

Tom would be the first in a line of love interests that Brooke and Erica shared. "Every relationship, I enjoyed," Shoberg said. "I think Julia Barr and I had a natural chemistry to make it work. Working with Susan was terrific too. We had good chemistry as well. It was just different. They were like apples and oranges." During their popular pairing, Shoberg was nominated for a Lead Actor Emmy in 1981.

One of Shoberg's most memorable scenes opposite Barr was when Tom had to tell Brooke that a drunk driver had killed their daughter, Laura. "I believe in committing myself as much as I can and when it is over, it is over. You go home," Shoberg said. "When Brooke and Tom had the scenes relating to the death of their child, that was difficult to work on. I may have backed off a little that day, more than I should have." The episode won Barr her first Emmy Award as Supporting Actress.

Being the town hero sometimes compromised Shoberg's own health. Shoberg had to do many of his own stunts as soap operas used to rarely hire stunt doubles. "You want the scenes to look good. You always want it to be real but you don't want people to get hurt," Shoberg said. "You did not want to look stupid."

In a scene that called for Tom to tackle Brooke's assailant, Shoberg miscalculated his actions and ended up hurting his back when he fell on the hard cement studio floor. "We did not have any pads." Shoberg said. "You do things closer than you would generally do because there is no stunt person coordinating and making sure it is completely safe."

By the mid-nineties, Shoberg saw his screen time diminish significantly. In 1994, his onscreen wife Pinkins left the show full time. No resolution to their marriage was provided. Instead, Tom referred to Livia as being appointed a judge in another county. In 1996, Producers called Shoberg into their office to deliver some news. "I was let go. They told me that they did not have any more stories for me," Shoberg said. Though he continued to make recurring appearances, "I never got involved where I could be worked out more."

All My Children was changing from the top down. ABC was now part of Walt Disney Entertainment. "In the early days, it seemed like we were part of the corporation that we were an important part to ABC. Everybody was involved in the final outcome," Shoberg said. "When ABC was purchased, we became a part of a much larger entity. ABC was a much smaller piece of that entity. There was a distance that seemed to develop."

Shoberg saw this disconnect growing since 1989 when All My Children moved to a new studio, where they continue to tape today. "The actors were now on one floor, the production on another, the control room… It did not have the same feeling," Shoberg remembered. "Though we all still watch each other and got along well, it was not as interrelated. In the early days when we were all in the same area, we felt more like a team."

"In the days back when there was ABC, CBS and NBC and nothing else, you had your daytime viewership and it was huge, as much as tens of millions. If you were number one of number two, as All My Children was, the viewership was huge," Shoberg said. "I think is quiet predictable that the viewership is going to change dramatically. With the advent of cable, computers… people have more choices."

Shoberg and Tom never got a final episode. Shoberg began to fade into the background, and stopped making appearances all together in 1998. "I am told there are no more stores. I knew this was not true," Shoberg said. "So that was what I was given, there is no way to know what the real reasons are. I do not dwell on it."

In 2004, Megan McTavish invited Shoberg back for a string of recurring appearances. Pinkins had rejoined the cast as a contract cast member. One such appearance would be for the 35th Anniversary of the show.

Shoberg and Julia Barr (ex-Brooke) created one of the most memorable scenes in All My Children history when their daughter Laura was killed by a drunk driver.

"I got to see Agnes and Ruth Warrick. I was happy to come back when they called," Shoberg said. "Larry Keith (ex-Nick Davis), Peter White (ex-Lincoln Tyler) and Mark LaMura (ex-Mark Dalton) were there. A lot of the people, I had not seen in a long time."

"All of us had turned grey. We've added a few pounds," Shoberg said. "It was like nothing had changed. I still recognized everybody."

The event marked the last onscreen appearance for Warrick. The original cast member and veteran Hollywood film star passed away only weeks after the show aired in 2005. Tom would make another appearance for Phoebe's funeral. "I was at Ruth Warrick's real funeral as well. I always had difficulty attending these kinds of events," Shoberg said. "When you are doing a show you are doing a show. Although your real relationships with the people tend to come into it a lot more, it is still a show. There is a distance."

Shoberg's 2005 stint put Tom back on the radar for All My Children viewers. In 2008, he was invited to attend the Annual Fan Club Luncheon in New York City.

Though keeping busy with "Crime," Shoberg would not rule out a visit to Pine Valley, "Someone has to be interested in you. Nobody has called me, but I will certainly talk about it if they do."

Shoberg has also found another starring role, this time in the New York City theater scene. Shoberg plays Detective Ascher in Warren Manzi's "Perfect Crime." On his character, Shoberg said, "He is a small town detective who comes into a situation where he has to investigate something that doesn't seem to be real." The main character is a psychologist who is sure that she had committed the perfect crime.

"My theater background began in college. I saw my first Arthur Miller play and it triggered my interest," Shoberg said. Then, Shoberg landed a spot in the prestigious fine arts program at the Great Lake Colleges that brought aspiring artists to New York City to work in apprenticeships within the entertainment industry. Shoberg apprenticed at the Actor's Studio under Lee Strasberg.

"After that, I never left New York," Shoberg said.

The play also stars Catherine Russell, who has played the lead role since the play first started over 8,000 performances ago. Amongst its alums in Michael Minor (ex-Brandon Kingsley). Shoberg understudies the three lead roles for six months. Minor and Shoberg's All My Children personas crossed paths as both were romantic interests for Erica in 1980.

Shoberg will never forget his time in daytime television, but knows that the genre has changed. "I thought that when nighttime shows became very popular, like Dallas and Dynasty, what you had, they were like soap operas because they had continuing stories," Shoberg said. "But they were sexed-up and flashy, it would have come and gone, and they did."
"The real format of a soap opera is that you could see children being born, grow up, become teenagers and later adults, parents and grandparents… the shows let you get to know people over many years. You did not just see them develop as characters, you saw them develop as actors as well," Shoberg said.

"This format is the essence of a soap opera," Shoberg said.

Shoberg's last cameo in Pine Valley was opposite some old friends, namely William Christian (ex-Derek) and Shari Headley (ex-Mimi).


For more on Richad Shoberg check out the Main Site
Interview conducted on February 3, 2009