Portrayed by
: Dorothy Lyman (1981-83); Jill Larson (1989-present)
Family: Adrian Sword (Son); Tad Gardner Martin (Son); Jenny Gardner (Daughter); Petey Cortlandt (Son); Jamie Martin (Grandson); Kate Martin (Granddaughter); Jenny Colby Martin (Granddaughter)
Marriages: Ray Gardner; Ralp Purdy; Palmer Cortlandt

1981: Wild and eccentric Opal Gardner had seen a lot in her life, but nothing could have prepared her for the hell that was marriage to Ray Gardner. Opal grew thick skin, which sometimes caused her to neglect those she loved the most. There was no one she loved more than her children: Jenny and Tad.
The Martin family in Pine Valley had adopted Tad. Down on her luck, Opal took Jenny to Pine Valley in search of her son. Tad had run away from the Martin home. But. Joe and Ruth Martin still welcomed their son’s family.
Opal wanted to open her own salon, the Glamorama. In the meantime she needed to augment her dwindling funds. She feigned a heart condition so as to force Jenny into working. Jenny got her a job at a sleazy men’s bar, Foxy’s.

1982: Opal knew something was amiss at the Miss Teen Pine Valley contest. The judges had all acted very favorably towards Jenny, but Liza Colby was proclaimed the winner. She polled each judges individually, and realized that Jenny was in fact the real winner. Liza had manipulated the contest to make it seem like she had won. Opal warned Liza to stop trying to make life hard for Jenny or she would get what was coming to her.
Opal wrongfully blamed Jenny for the end of relationship with Sam. Sam was obsessed with Jenny. Opal got her revenge on Sam by dying his latest date's hair blue.
Opal was now working for Phoebe Wallingford as her maid. Myrtle got Opal the job by blackmailing Phoebe's husband, Langley Wallingford. But she was doing more than just cleaning the English Estate. She had began an affair with Langley. Opal told Langley their affair was going to cease unless he divorced Phoebe. But, Langley was not about to part ways with his new life, and Phoebe’s money. Opal saw a golden opportunity and began to blackmail her one time lover. She accumulated enough money from Langley to set up the Glamoramma.
When Jenny left for New York to pursue a modeling career, Opal found herself under staffed. She was surprised to find Ray back on her doorstep. He had managed an early parole. But Opal wanted nothing to do with her ex-husband. Ray was too powerful for Opal and managed to keep her silent while he lived in the Glamoramma’s back room. Opal had no idea he was creating a bomb that he intended to kill all the Martins with. His plan went awry when he tried to disarm it in the last minute learning Jenny was in the house too. Opal did not waste any time mourning Ray.

1983: Opal and the Martins welcomed Tad home to Pine Valley, but Opal knew something was amiss. She recognized an oppurtunist when she saw one. Opal worked hard to keep one step ahead of Tad and his current plot. This caused much tension between she and Ruth, who took on a more compassionate approach to Tad’s shenanigans. Ruth was content as long as Tad remained enrolled at Pine Valley University. Opal made Tad work for his keep at the Glamoramma.
Opal met Ralph Purdy through a personal ad. They had a whirlwind courtship and married. Opal was very protective of Ralph. Ralph wanted to show Opal the world. Opal packed her bags and left Pine Valley for Europe.

1989: Opal returned from her around the world adventure just in time for Tad’s wedding to southern belle Dixie Cooney. Opal had left Ralph in the Australian outback and decided that she had an itch to return to Pine Valley. Palmer Corltandt facilitated the return, hoping she would distract Tad long enough so that he could plan a way to turn Dixie against him. Tad wished his mother had kept her distance. At the wedding, she was sure to catch Dixie’s bouquet. Opal was never one to stay single for very long, especially in a town of so many eligible and wealthy men.

1990: Opal set her sites on Palmer Cortlandt. But, even Opal knew he was out of her league. She was content to date his lackies, including Sean Cudahy and Palmer’s old cellmate, Stan Ulatowski. Daisy Murdoch noticed Opal admiring her ex-husband. She recognized that Opal’s intentions were pure. She approached Opal with a proposition. She would help Opal transform herself into a woman of society. The only catch was that Palmer was to never know of Daisy’s involvement.
At the University Ball, Opal and Palmer caught eyes from across the room. Opal could not believe it, Palmer was approaching her for a dance. Palmer and Opal’s courtship was brief. She quickly became the newest Mrs. Palmer Cortlandt.
Palmer wanted Opal to help him break up Tad and Dixie. Opal acquiesced. It did not take much to cause their marriage to crumble. Opal would soon regret her actions. In a startling turn of events, Tad fell victim to a bomb set by Billy Clyde Tuggle. Opal could not bear the loss of another child. Jenny had died while she was married to Ralph. She held on to hope for as long as she could. Ruth lashed out against Palmer and made her come to terms with Tad’s death. Dixie and Opal bonded as a result of their loss.

1991: When Palmer was found poisoned in Cortlandt Manor, Opal became the prime suspect. It did not help that she was found with a vile of the poison, CRS-17. Opal made her plea to Palmer, but it fell on deaf ears. Opal left Cortlandt Manor.
Stan was revealed to be the real culprit behind the poisoning. Opal refused to return to Palmer after his doubts during the ordeal. Daisy returned to Pine Valley. When it looked like Palmer and Daisy were ready to reunite, Opal admitted her feeling to Palmer. Their marriage was back on track.

1992: After the near end to their marriage the year before, Opal was happy to announce that she was pregnant with Palmer’s son. Only, Palmer still believed he was sterile. Opal was insulted when he insisted on a paternity test after the child’s birth. Opal had been faithful to her husband.
On Christmas Eve, Peter Cortlandt, was born in the middle of the Cortlandt living room. Palmer had to deliver his own son after the roadways shut down because of snow. A DNA test would support Opal’s claim that Petey was in fact Palmer’s son.

1993: Opal was reunited with Tad. Just as Opal had suspected all along, Tad survived his fall off the bridge. He had been living for two years as an amnesiac in the Napa Valley.

1994: Palmer lost control of Cortlandt Electronics. So, he and Opal went into business together to make ends meet. Opal’s secret fried chicken recipe made the Cluck-Cluck Chicken Shack a rousing success. Behind Opal’s back, Palmer sold the franchise for capital to buy back Cortlandt Electronics. Opal felt betrayed because the recipe was always meant to stay in the family.

1995: Opal helped reunite Langley with his daughter, Verla Grubbs. Opal was able to talk Phoebe down after she thought Verla to be Langley’s new lover.
Opal learned of Palmer’s infidelity with Janet Green. She kicked him out of Cortlandt Manor and began romancing Seabone Hunkle, Dixie’s father. But Palmer still pined for his wife. Daisy came back to Pine Valley upon hearing of their breakup. Daisy helped Opal realize that she was still very much in love with Palmer. The couple again reconciled.

1996: Opal and Palmer took in homosexual teenager Kevin Sheffield after his parents kicked him out of their home. Opal helped him come to grips with his parent’s rejection. Opal confronted Kevin’s mother, Judith Sheffield, who blamed Kevin for her other son, Jason Sheffield’s, incarceration. Jason attempted to kill Kevin's homsexual teacher Michael Delaney, blaming him for Kevin's sexual orientation. Judith agreed to take Kevin back in if he attended a psychiatrist. Only, the psychiatrist was convinced that he could turn Kevin straight. Opal offered Kevin the open and accepting home that he never had.

1998: Opal had made many mistakes in her past, but none was greater than her marraige to Ray. Opal tried to get away from him once, starting a new life with Fred Dawson. But, Ray tracked her down and used threats to Tad's life to get her back. Opal left Fred, but she had a secret. She had given birth to a son. A son she never thought she would see again.
Adrian Sword was a spy hired to find Palmer’s stash of Nazi artifacts. He took a job as Opal’s chauffeur. Opal knew that she had met Adrian before. When he revealed his father was Fred, Opal knew she had found her son. Belinda Keefer discovered Adrian’s link to Opal’s past. Opal was finally reunited with her son.
Palmer tried to elude Adrian. He faked his death to protect himself. Opal mourned the loss of her husband with her new son by her side. Tad and Dixie found Palmer alive in New York. Betrayed, Opal kicked Palmer out of Cortlandt Manor. This was the final straw for Opal; there would be no reconciliation. Though the couple divorced, Opal's feelings for Palmer were still very much evident. When Palmer was temporarily blinded in the Holidays explosion, Opal helped him recover.

1999: Palmer wanted to make Opal pay. He wanted to leave her with nothing. He told The Intruder about how she had abandoned Adrian as a child. Adrian came to Opal’s defense. Adrian was able to pressure Palmer to stop his offensive. Opal was awarded all of Palmer’s assets. She also got primary custody of Petey.
Opal re-opened the Glamoramma in Cortlandt Manor. To help her with Petey, Opal hired Pigeon's Hallow native Becca Tyree to be his babysitter.
Adrian and Opal attempted a hostile takeover of Cortlandt Electronics. Their efforts were crushed when Erica, Opal’s best friend, voted in Palmer’s favor. She explained to Opal how Palmer had always been there for her, like the father she never had. Erica could not betray him. With time, the friends repaired their broken relationship.
Opal did not want to admit that she still had feelings for Palmer. This became apparent when Palmer rashly eloped with Vanessa Bennett. Vanessa had weaseled her way into Erica’s friendship so as to profit from a tell-all book about her life. Opal did not want Palmer to suffer the same fate.

2001: Erica needed Opal to offer Bianca’s new girlfriend, Frankie Stone, a place to stay. In reality, Erica was going to plant drugs in Frankie’s room at the Cortlandt Manor in hopes of driving her out of town. Frankie was found dead in her room and Erica was taken into custody for the murder. Opal learned that Frankie was actually Vanessa’s niece and a con-artist.
Gillian Andrassy’s spirit used Opal’s body as vehicle to make contact with Ryan. Opal always felt like she had a connection with the supernatural, especially through her use of terot cards.

2002: Opal asked a musician named Hank to accompany her to the Crystal Ball. She hoped the move would make Palmer notice her, and it worked. Only, Hank was sincere in his feelings for Opal. Palmer arranged for Hank to go on a world tour, and Hank begged Opal to accompany him. She admitted she might still have feelings for Palmer and let Hank down gently.
Opal was at Cortlandt Manor alone when Palmer’s niece, Lanie Rampal, called looking for him. Lanie had devastating news. She was with Dixie moments before her car swerved off an embankment in the Swiss Alps. Dixie was dead.
Opal was weary of Petey’s new nanny, Kendall Hart. Opal thought Kendall was taking advantage of Palmer’s state of mind since Dixie’s unexpected death. Palmer's fragile state also lead to heart problems.

2003: Opal discovered Palmer and Adam’s plot to kill Michael Cambias for escaping prosecution of Bianca Montgmery’s rape. For the first time in her life, Opal kept her silence.

2004: Opal was among those at Erica’s intervention for alcoholism. That night, Opal learned the truth behind Erica’s rape. Eric Kane had exchanged Erica to Richard Fields so that he would star in his next movie. The ordeal began Erica’s long road to recovery.
When Bianca got her baby, Miranda Montgomery, back, Opal planted a kiss on Palmer. Opal was surprised when Palmer returned with one of his own. Opal was always jealous of Palmer’s relationship with other women. Old friend Myrtle Fargate encouraged her to pursue him again.

2005: Opal was among those deceived into thinking that Di Kirby was the late Dixie. She had fallen in love with Di, so much so that she pushed Tad to pursue her again.

2006: Opal enlisted Del Henry’s help to make Palmer jealous. He wanted him to be seen with her at public events. In return, she fueled his passion for the finer things in life. Alas, the plan never really helped her win Palmer back.
Palmer and Opal confronted Dixie, who had returned to Pine Valley. Opal could not understand why Dixie stayed away for so long causing their family so much pain.

2007: Opal rushed to the hospital when she learned the Satin Slayer had poisoned Dixie. Opal tried frantically to contact Palmer, but for some reason he was unreachable. No matter how much she prayed, the doctors could do nothing to save Dixie. Dixie died in Tad’s arms.
Opal welcomed a granddaughter with the birth of Jenny Martin, Tad’s daughter with Krystal Carey. Opal and Krystal’s relationship had been estranged because of her role in keeping Bianca away from her daughter. But Opal was willing to give Krystal another chance so that she could be a part of her granddaughter’s life.
That Christmas, Opal and Ruth were shocked to learn Tad and Krystal had eloped. Opal was upset the family was not invited to the wedding.

2008: Opal had visions of a past she wanted to forget when Ray’s brother, Robert Gardner, came to town. Robert came to Pine Valley under the guise of a Federal Agent wanting to reconnect with his family. Opal fell for his ruse. At Jesse and Angie Hubbard’s wedding, Angie caught Robert with a gun. He sedated Opal before she could tell anyone. When she came to, she found out Robert had gone on a shooting tirade, injuring Tad critically. When Tad came out of his coma, he was reunited with his family. Adam revealed that Kathy Mershon was in fact Tad and Dixie’s missing daughter Kate.
Babe Carey asked Opal to offer her friend Richie Novak a place to stay. Opal kicked Richie out after he began stealing from her.
Petey came back to Pine Valley for the summer before he was to attend Harvard University. Opal worried about her son when he began to spend a lot of time at Chandler Mansion. Petey had fallen for Colby Chandler. He was also working for Adam to sabotage FUSION’s new Bella fragrance. When Opal told Palmer, he took the lead to discipline his son.
Opal began to have visions of impending doom in Pine Valley. She turned to Krystal and Babe with her premonitions. Her high anxiety caused her to have a heart attack. The night she was rushed to the hospital, a tornado crashed through Pine Valley. Babe died when the Comeback’s roof caved in on her.
Another tragedy affected Opal when Erica found Myrtle had passed in her sleep. Myrtle was Opal’s first friend in Pine Valley. Myrtle left Opal her the Crystal ball she used to tell people’s fortunes while in the carnival.