AWT: The AW episodes on Hulu and YouTube debuted with the 1991 Sharlene vs. Taylor Benson storyline. What do you remember about it?
AH: Oh, I think it was a lot of fun. Christine Andreas was new to the soap world and I think she did a wonderful job of playing the manipulative "shrink"(apologies to any real ones!). I, unfortunately, vividly remember the episode in which Taylor is chasing Sharlene around the merry-go-round with a gun. I actually winced when I saw it again - some acute overacting on my part!
AWT: What is your favorite storyline from your time in Bay City? Was there a storyline that you wished had gone a different way? Was there a storyline that you would have liked for Sharlene that, unfortunately, did not happen?
AH: Hmmm, been a long time. I loved the early romance between John and Sharlene. The split personality was great fun. I do, however, wish that it had been a more truthful telling of a person struggling with MPD. But, I guess that would have been a bit ugly for daytime entertainment. I always liked Grayson McCouch (Dusty) and Charles Keating's (Carl) work. I think it would have been fun to 'play' with them. As actors, it's always fun to hit the ball with someone who can hit it back, someone who challenges you. I wish they'd brought back Christine Jones as Janice Frame - maybe we could have had some kind of family feud! It would have been fun to spar with her! AWT: What would be your dream storyline for what Sharlene has been up to all these years?
AH: Calling on my imagination here! Hellloooooo! Anyone in there . . . let's see . . . Sharlene and John have gone off together, right? So, at some point, Sharlene tells John that it's time to bring back the "Pet Rock". Remember those, anyone? Little rocks painted up with faces, sold in little cages on convenience store counters - a total fad that sold millions, and made millions for whomever the inventor was back in the '70s. So, Sharlene convinces John that this idea has merit and that the timing might be just right to try the silliness again. Together, against all odds, they raise the funds, Sharlene hides out in a little studio she's rented, painting faces on rocks and 'caging them'. People think the two of them have gone mad - but, NO, they sell like hotcakes! Soon they are interviewed and on the cover of every major magazine, newspaper and TV show - they're a hit - the rocks, too! And, they make their fortune. After that, the potential storylines are ripe - sky's the limit!!! What goes up . . . :)
AWT: What have you been up to these days? Where can your fans see you? Do you have any projects in the works?
AH: I have enjoyed a nice voice-over career, which I am extremely grateful for, while basically being a stay-at-home mom. Since Bruce is still a pilot who, therefore, is on the road half the month, I am the hub. And, I have to tell you, I am happy being 'the hub'. Johanna is off in her freshman year of college,(how did that happen?!), and Henry will be a freshman in HS next year. Henry likes 'the party' of afterschool friends to be at his house - and I like having my finger on the pulse of my 14 year old's life. I have been teaching my one little acting class a week for the past four years. About ten children ages 10-13, who are such a kick. The only project I have in the works is the play that I've just written for them. Don't believe it will win any Tonys, but, oh my, it has been very rewarding to watch them dive into this piece.
AWT: Would you like to say anything to the fans of AW?
AH: Thank you. It was a treat to have experienced the commitment fans have towards daytime and its characters. I had a blast. I wish you all the best!
AWT: Do you remember your initial audition for the role of Sharlene Frame? What did they tell you they were looking for in the character? What do you think you brought to the audition that landed you the role?
AH: I actually happened into a copy of that audition a few years ago, so it brought back the memory of it rather vividly. Mainly, I remember being terrified. Seeing a few of the other women who were also testing for Sharlene in the hair and make-up room, certain that they were more right for the role than I, certain that they were real actresses, certain that they could never be as nervous as me. Then, David (Forsyth; John), of course - I'd never met him and we had to kiss. Bingo, just like that. He was lovely. Anyone who meets David knows that almost immediately. Considerate and a pro at putting a person at ease. Well, we did the scene, I headed back to the theater, I was doing an Off Broadway show. I found my dear friend and castmate Marilyn, and cried my eyes out, sure that I had failed miserably.
AWT: How did Sharlene evolve from the time you started playing her to the time you left? How much did you contribute to the character's evolution and direction?
AH: Well, I can tell you that initially I was, as a fan would know, a farm woman. Country girl, divorcee, widow raising a teenage daughter, making pies and canning a variety of fruits and veggies out on the family farm. My wardrobe was the cheapest on the show, consisting of a number of gingham aprons and my own jeans. Then, I went to the AW Christmas party up in the Rainbow Room at 30 Rock, wearing some sexy black number wardrobe had let me borrow, and danced up a storm. Next thing I knew, (Executive Producer) Michael Laibson called me into his office and said the writers were very excited because they had decided to give me a multiple personality disorder. Of course, this was music to my actor ears! But, the main reason for giving Sharlene the disorder was to get her out of the kitchen, into more little black dresses and therefore into the mainstream of Bay City life! So perhaps my choice of clothing - and a little Jack Daniels - helped shed a different light on Sharlene!
AWT: Why do you think Sharlene has continued to be so popular with Another World fans?
AH: Gee, I don't know, I'd really have to ask them. But, perhaps she seemed like a friend you could talk to, or even a mother who would fight for you. She, before the Multiple Personality Disorder, was a solid citizen, fighting for her daughter, herself, her brother, and then John. Though Sharly wasn't very likable, I always thought of her and Sharlene as a survivors and actually missed Sharly when she was gone.
AWT: You shared the screen with several of AW's leading men. What was it like working with David Forsyth? Mark Pinter (Grant)? Kale Browne (Michael)? Was there a character you wished Sharlene had interacted with more?
AH: Forsyth = extremely special, great fun, loads of laughs, lots of trust, a gift, FFL (friend for life). Pinter = a total pro, great fun, wonderful actor, glad I had the chance. KB = like working with a child - in the best of ways! I recall some very touching moments, love him. AWT: What do you think contributed to your fantastic chemistry with David Forsyth? How did the two of you go about creating it? What are your thoughts on how John and Sharlene's romance ended?
AH: I did get lucky there. It is awfully nice when you genuinely like the person you're supposed to be falling for. We had a real respect for one another, and truly had so much fun. I think there was an innocence to this couple, and I was so grateful that the writers gave us such lovely material. Two people sort of finding themselves again through each other. It was loaded, rich. In the later years of my time on the show, there were times when I was so sad for the need the producers felt to tear the couple apart. Well, truthfully, there's nothing quite as boring as a well adjusted couple on a soap! And I loved the idea of a love triangle, I just never felt it was executed very well. It seemed arbitrary, with no foundation. But, I loved working off of Linda Dano (Felicia), that's a treat.
When we spoke to Russell Todd (Jamie) in January of 2009, he mentioned, "I still do some television commercials, including one I did that's showing in Europe and Asia, with Sharon Stone as my date. It was for a scotch."
AWT: What is your favorite storyline from your time in Bay City?
KB: Courting Donna. That was great. We had so much fun. Mike never really had a job to speak of that you could point a finger at; he did this, that and the other thing, but his main job was Donna. It was just an awful lot of fun. There weren’t specific storylines, but I remember actors, especially all the Vicky/Marleys (Ellen Wheeler, Anne Heche, and Jensen Buchanan). Jensen was great. I can’t remember anyone ever just walking in and taking over a role like she did, she was fabulous. I also remember doing a scene with Ellen Wheeler one time where she was Marley pretending to be Vicky, I think, and if I ever got confused about which daughter I was talking to, all I had to do was look at her feet because Marley was pigeon-toed. Ellen stands differently depending on which character she was playing, and as long as you knew that, you could tell who you were working with in a scene. That’s the kind of actor she is. And of course working with John (Considine), David (Forsyth), Linda Dano (Felicia), and Anna Holbrook (Sharlene) – talk about an actor who shows up 100% in a scene. The people who I worked with closely were people you could develop a real bond with. You got to depend on that other person to be there for you, and they always were. Some actors, if you go up (ed note. Forget your lines) will just let you die, and some will jump in and give you a little bit to get you back. The latter is what I found while working on AW.
AWT: Was there a storyline that you wished had gone a different way or one you didn’t like?
KB: I don’t remember a specific storyline. Every so often they would experiment; they don’t have anything for you or you fall out of favor with the fans, but they have you on contract and so they’ll try to shake things up. I remember a couple of times they’d try to put me with different women and I was so spoiled from working with Anna that I wasn’t always generous and probably tanked a storyline by bad acting or non-acting. But you know, the only thing I ever put my foot down with anybody on that show was somebody kept writing Michael saying ‘I could just kill her’ (referring to his daughter) and I wouldn’t say it. There’s a lot of things I can say, but I won’t even say that jokingly on the air, just because I get letters from abused kids and all kinds of people, and I just don’t want to put that out there. That was the only thing I ever said absolutely no to.
AWT: Was there a storyline you would have liked for Michael?
KB: How about bringing Another World back and bringing back Michael older, in the Mac Cory part? They actually did talk to me about that at one point, about Michael being the patriarch of the town, and I thought: I’m not sure I’m ready to be put out to pasture. But then a new EP was brought on to the show, and the idea was dropped.
AWT: What have you been up to since leaving AW? Where can your fans see you?
KB: Lately, episodes of Without a Trace, Law & Order, and Cold Case, although last year I played Dr. Miles Berman briefly on Days of Our Lives, and did a number of small films. I was in a production of Michael Weller’s Moonchildren, directed by my ex-wife, Karen (Allen), last summer. I do a lot of voice-over work, but the majority of my time is spent writing. At times, I’m a paid screenwriter. My work has been optioned, but so far not produced. But there’s nothing better than being paid to do what you’d do for free. Otherwise, I’m a full-time dad. My son lives with me now, and he’s training as a chef. I live where it’s peaceful and quiet, and the beavers are my neighbors. I like it.
AWT: Would you like to say anything to the AW fans who are still following you and your career?
KB: God bless you all, then and now. The AW audience continues to be the most incredibly loyal and enthusiastic fans I’ve ever come across. Thanks… you made the job so much fun.