Billy Clyde could have saved ‘All My Children’
Now this affects me in no measurable way, but I have a confession to make: when I was in college, I got hooked on soap, and my detergent of choice was “All My Children”.
Actually, you could say that my dealer was one Waylon Allen, my good friend who turned me on to the wacky goings-on in Pine Valley.
Despite the fact that Waylon was attending the University of Texas and I Southwest Texas State, we most always had lunch together between classes and he would not leave the trailer when AMC was on, which back then, was at Noon.
We ate our Alvin Ord sandwiches to the glow of the television set in his fetid trailer.
I read somewhere that in the mid-70s, AMC’s sizeable audience was 30 percent male.
Now, I fought it at first, but I was soon mesmerized by the buffoonish characters.
The Trump-like Palmer Cortlandt; the white trash Opal Gardner and of course, the diabolical Erica Kane, played with scene chewing delight by Susan Lucci for the shows entire run.
The famously passed over Lucci started on the show when she was 18.
Then there was Phoebe Tyler Wallingford played by Ruth Warrick who was so old that she was in Citizen Kane for gosh sakes.
But by far, Waylon and mine’s favorite character without a doubt was a myopic supporting player by the name of Billy Clyde Tuggle.
Billy Clyde, played with devilish delight by veteran stage actor Matthew Cowles, brought a layer of scum with him to the pristine Pine Valley.
(By the way, Cowles is married to talented knockout actress Christine Boranski.)
We worshiped at the alter of Billy Clyde as he delighted in manipulating all who crossed his path—old or young, rich or poor.
He was obsessed with his lovely Estelle La Tour, a prostitute with whom he had a child, Emily. Emily was conceived in...well...a coffin.
He loved his peanuts he called “goobers”. His alliance with the aristocratic Phoebe was priceless.
In all honesty, we thought the show was hilarious.
Sadly, Billy Clyde was killed by a bomb of his own design while he was trying to off Tad Martin. His dead body washed up on shore to mark the end of an era.
I sought comfort elsewhere: “The Guiding Light”, “As The World Turns.” It just wasn’t the same.
In this age of reality shows where pawn shop workers become TV stars, a concocted program just isn’t as interesting as real life. AMC is being replaced by a cooking show.
A few months ago, I happened to meet one of AMC’s current writers at a function I was attending. I begged him to bring back Billy Clyde.
Perhaps had he listened to me, soap fans all over the world wouldn’t be suffering today.
In honor of the upcoming royal wedding, here are the five best wedding movies:
1. The Quiet Man (1952)— John Wayne and romance? Ya better believe it pilgrim.
2. Father of the Bride (1950)—Elizabeth Taylor at her loveliest.
3. Moonstruck (1989)—Snap out of it!
4. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)—Social significance unparalleled.
5. Arthur (1981)—Not so sure I’d want to marry Liza Minelli, but hilarious non-the-less.