Saturday, June 23, 2007


One of the most electrifying and polarizing presences on the GUIDING LIGHT canvas in the last 30 years was Rita Bauer. Played by the stunningly beautiful Lenore Kasdorf, Rita inspired legions of loyal fans and ardent detractors and the name still pops up fairly frequently on message boards to this day.

In his book Taking Soaps Seriously: The World of Guiding Light (1984, Praeger Publishers), Michael James Intintoli quotes from an interview with then-executive producer Allen Potter:
"One example of the influence of the audience in relation to character development was recounted by the executive producer of Guiding Light. Asked which letters had an impact, he stated, 'Letters that surprise you,' and gave the following example.
'Rita (a character who had been continually unfaithful to her husband) had a past in Texas. Someone was killed and a finger was pointed at Rita. She didn't really do it. What happened was we were trying to clean up Rita a little bit--she was getting to be a whore really. We tried to clean her up. The letters, they hated her. They said, "How can you tell us she is so good when she killed that man in Texas? She lied about this:" That wasn't what we said at all; we said she didn't kill this person. But they didn't want to believe this, they wanted to believe she did (kill this person). We got so much mail with nobody believing what we were trying to do with this character we ended up throwing our hands in the air saying it was useless to try to clean up this woman because they don't see her that way. So we went with it.'

Satisfaction finds us in the summer of 1979, probably about a year after the decision had been made to "give up" on reforming Rita. Unlike today's soaps, this didn't mean writing stories that cast Rita as a deranged "villainess," but rather it meant that Rita would be deeply flawed, gripped by a profound restlessness and yearning for more than her present circumstances offered. It's in this state that we find Rita as she and husband Ed grapple with the fallout from Rita's tragically belated admission of her rape by Roger. Rita's struggles against the loneliness and distance of what she sees as her crumbling marriage, seeking advice from Sara McIntyre on her unsatisfactory sexual relationship with Ed.
In addition to Kasdorf's surprisingly effective and powerful work in these clips, Satisfaction also features great performances by Mart Hulswit as Ed, the incomparable Charita Bauer as Bert, Millette Alexander as Sara, as well as a brief snippet of Anna Maria Horsford as Clara. Horsford would go on to sitcom fame as Thelma in AMEN and silver screen immortality as Naomi the Hooker in St. Elmo's Fire ("You wanna date?" LOL!!)
As I say everytime I present a clipset from this era, I love, love, love this period of GL. Satisfaction is very "low key." Nobody explodes or gets stabbed or even screams. The viewer really gets to know these characters (every single one of them) as people-- well defined, beautifully human people. Very satisfying, if you ask me.


Blogger Mark Thivierge said...

Wow, this is FASCINATING to read after all these years. I think that's what I liked so much about the charcter Rita, that she was so real. She was neither a demented villainess nor an angel. She was real, had flaws and shortcomings, but was trying to live her life in a decent way. And when they introduced her family a bit later, her sister Evie and her mother Viola, the character became even more three-dimensional. Even though they didn't spend a lot of time on backstory, that I can recall, one got a real sense of Rita and Eve's childhoods, their relationship with one another, and what made Rita the way she was. Her mother was a sweet, decent "salt-of-the-earth" type -- the actress who played her, Kate Wilkinson, was wonderful, I wish they'd kept her character on the show longer -- and she tried to raise her daughters with a certain set of values. Sweet, kind Evie certainly reflected this, but Rita rebelled, no doubt feeling stilfed by her small town childhood in West Virginia, and she went to nursing school and left home as soon she could, never looking back. With this in mind, it's easy to see why she was dazzled by the charmes of Roger Thorpe early on, and why the relative poverty of her upbringing caused her to seek the security of stable, secure guy like Ed Bauer.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Wonderful clipset Ivn. I go back to it often because it is such a beautiful selection from this period. Thank you for all you do for the Guiding Light Memory Project.

8:44 PM  

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