On June 21, 1976, actress Deidre Hall made her debut on the NBC Daytime serial drama Days of our Lives as the stunningly perfect Dr. Marlena Evans. Now forty-seven years later Ms. Hall is celebrating a landmark 5,000 episodes filmed on the now streaming serial.
In a celebratory interview with TV Source Magazine, Ms. Hall spoke with us and discussed her lengthy career and the evolution of the television landscape as she shared this historic event.
Congratulations on reaching 5,000 episodes on Days of our Lives! What does this milestone mean to you, and how does it feel to have been a part of the show for so long?
Somebody one day said I was coming up on 5000 and I went, “Ok, bye.” Of course in hindsight it’s extraordinary. There’s no such thing as 5000 shows. I don’t even think there’s much of anything that’s close to that. So I’m, I’m very pleased to have been the person that got to make it to this landmark. It meant a life. It’s meant that I get to do a job that I love, that I get to work with people that I admire and respect. The phone number doesn’t change. The parking space doesn’t change. I love all that. I get to come home and have time with my family and know what my schedule is for the next three or four weeks. I know when my vacations are. I mean it’s the best job there is.
You’ve played Marlena Evans for over 40 years. How has the character of Marlena evolved over the course of those 5,000 episodes?
Well, Marlena evolves as the country evolves. We tell current and topical stories. For example; many, many years ago I did the first crib death, which had never been discussed on television. We had the first gay wedding. Our writers have always felt that being relevant was important. Ken Corday and Ron Carlavati continue this. Because I think one thing the daytime does is it helps you see how somebody else handles it. It’s not watching the Kardashians. So if there was a death in the family everybody is shell shocked and horrified and heartbroken. Now what do they do? You know, Don and Marlena could not survive a crib death. Most couples can’t. The fact that we get to do a little bit of teaching along the way I think is awfully important.
What would you say is the key to the show’s longevity and continued success after so many years on the air?
First of all, I think it’s being run by a family. Because the Corday’s are a family. When I came on Betty Corday was my boss and then Ken swept in and he took over at one point. So we’re family run you know so we have those values. Betty and even Ken are very attached to the story that we’re doing. What are we telling and what are we saying.
We’ve got the wealthy family, we’ve got the not so wealthy family. The Brady family of whom I was apart. We knew how they lived and what was important and how they held together and the things that were incredibly important to them. Then we have the Horton family, which was the doctors, lawyers and you know, all those fancy folks and we got to see how they live and how they interacted. We got to see a lot of contrast, which I think is important for people to see.
We also get to be a family off camera as well. That means that when there is a tragedy, when there’s a joy, we’re such a safe place. A person coming to work gets to be handled anyway they want to be handled. We know each other really well. I don’t think a lot of us get together outside the studio but we don’t have to. I know what my makeup artist is going through, I know what my hairdresser is going through. I know what the stage manager is finding a challenge at the moment. So those things I get to know and it makes a real difference working in such a positive environment.
How have you seen the soap opera genre change over the course of your career, and where do you see it going in the future?
I think we’ve stayed current with our storylines. Things that couldn’t have been told 10 or 20 years ago we were telling. I think our audience has an appetite for it and they appreciate our take on what’s going on. Where do I see it going? I don’t know where I see it going. I think I see it staying the same and getting better.
What message would you like to say to your fans?
What I want to say to the fans is, first of all, we do it as a family, and you are a part of that. Because we don’t do it without somebody watching. We don’t do it without somebody being moved by it and being inspired by it. and that’s important to us. So that’s what keeps us on the air and especially to the people that followed us to Peacock. Thank you so very much, Thank you for all of that. It’s just been a real blessing, so thank you.
Thank you so much for speaking with us today and once again congratulations on this amazing achievement.
Peacock is now the new exclusive home of the fan-favorite drama series Days of our Lives. The 61-time Emmy Award-winning daytime drama began streaming daily ONLY on Peacock in September. In addition to new episodes streaming daily, the past season will also be available exclusively to Peacock Premium customers.
Peacock is also home to the Peacock’s Original limited drama series Days of our Lives: Beyond Salem and the holiday film Days of our Lives: A Very Salem Christmas.