We were recently invited to the set of Days of our Lives to take part in a special, surprise 40th anniversary party for Emmy-winning actress Suzanne Rogers, who has played the role of Maggie Horton since 1973. Find out what the actress has to say about her time on DAYS in our new interview!
The actress had no idea that a celebration with the crew, cast, press and even her own mother, was going to take place. So did they pull it off without her suspecting something was going on?
“They pulled it off because I had two shows to shoot [that day], so I was very busy,” Rogers shared. “But we went through my scenes pretty fast and they had said there were people that wanted to interview me for my 40 year anniversary. I was sitting in my dressing room doing the interview so I didn’t have a clue.”
When asked about how it felt to walk on set and see the surprise party, Rogers said, “It was a surprise to see Ken [Corday], Greg [Meng, executive producer], Susan and Bill [Hayes, her long time co-stars]. Then I looked across the set and here comes my mom. I was shocked because she didn’t say a word to me! They sent a car for her.”
Rogers described watching her bosses and costars give emotional speeches about her as ‘almost an out-of-body experience’.
“You almost think that they are talking about someone else because I am not really someone who pats myself on the back a lot so when someone else is doing it, it gets a little strange. I take it all with love, the way it was meant,” Rogers said.
It could not have happened to a more deserving soap star, if you ask us. Rogers has spent many years in a central supporting, and occasional leading, role on the NBC drama, and is one of only three actresses from the show to win an Emmy before being sidelined, seemingly forgotten about, and eventually being fired, when Maggie was killed in 2003.
After the character was resurrected, Rogers slowly started to gain more and more material before becoming a central supporting character again in 2008.
Since then, she has played out the deaths of Maggie’s longtime husband, Mickey, and mother-in-law Alice Horton, along with ushering in a new set of young soap stars, a fan favorite coupling with John Anison’s Victor Kirakis, and gaining some new family ties of her own.
The actress talked about her first reading for the role of Maggie. “There were eight girls and I was the last one to read,” Rogers said. “It was in front of the head of NBC, Betty Corday, three other people I didn’t know, opposite an actor. It was just one scene that they had given us to do.”
“After it was over, I was in my car and as I got to the stop light, this car pulled up next to me and it was the guy I had just read with. He motioned for me to roll my window down and said, ‘You just blew me away.’ That made me feel good because you don’t necessarily get feedback.”
So did she feel like she’d nailed it after that encounter? “No!” she shared. “Then I had to test, that was just a reading. The next time was a test with me and just one other girl. She had blonde hair and I had red hair and I thought ‘boy, they don’t know what they want!’ Turned out I just happened to have the right things on that day, jeans and a little flower blouse and I just felt that’s what a farm girl would wear.”
We were curious if she was worried about taking on a role that required her not to use her legs, as Maggie was paralyzed. “I told them they were very lucky I was coordinated,” she joked, referencing her past as a dancer. “I studied dancing from the time I was a little girl and that’s what I thought I would do before getting married, having kids and staying in Virginia.”
So what made her dream big and pursue a career in the entertainment industry? “When I was eleven, there was a girl in our town that went to the Miss America pageant and my mom sewed her gown. She kept talking about one day she was going to be a Rockette and I didn’t know what the Rockettes were, but I thought to myself, ‘that’s what I am going to do,’ so as I got older, it was in the back of my mind and at sixteen, I wrote them a letter and they told me I had missed the auditions for that year, but what I needed to do and when I had to do it.”
Among the requirements, Rogers needed to be trained in ballet and jazz, have high kicks, and be a specific height. She met the requirements. “On April 3, my mother’s birthday, I flew to audition and 71 other girls were there with the same hopes and dreams as me and they took three of us, and I was one of the three” she shared with a smile.
After 40 years, her favorite storyline was the red shoes and the story she got her Emmy for, when Maggie lost her daughter. Rogers also has been quite happy with last few years.
“I have got to tell you, the past five years, and being with John Aniston and that whole storyline, has been a hoot. He is lovely and funny and we just click really well, it has been nice and I have having the most fun I have ever had right now.”
Special Suzanne Rogers Gallery: Photos from her surprise 40th anniversary party and a look back at Suzanne through the years