Saturday, November 1, 2014

Michael Zaslow Remembered

Michael Zaslow
Emmy Award-winning actor Michael Zaslow mesmerized audiences as Roger Thorpe on the CBS daytime drama Guiding Light for many years. He also starred as a victim of Lou Gehrig's disease on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live, and struggled with the illness in real life. He died on Sunday, December 6, 1998, after a courageous public battle with ALS. He was 54.

Note: There are conflicting reports about Mr. Zaslow's age, but according to The New York Times and a tribute at the 1999 Soap Opera Digest Awards, he would have turned 70 today.

Mr. Zaslow won a Daytime Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in 1994 for his portrayal of the villainous Roger Thorpe on Guiding Light, a role he played at various times over the course of 27 years. He was dismissed from the show in April 1997, some eight months after the early symptoms of his illness caused his speech to slur.

In May 1998, Mr. Zaslow appeared on One Life to Live, reprising his role as the pianist David Renaldi, which he had played from 1983 to 1986. When Lou Gehrig's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, was diagnosed in late 1997, he incorporated the degenerative nervous-system disorder into the life of his character to raise awareness about it.

Mr. Zaslow's early roles included Dick Hart on CBS' Search for Tomorrow and Dr. Peter Chernak on Love Is a Many Splendored Thing. He also guest-starred on a number of other television shows, including Barnaby Jones, Law & Order, and the 1966 premiere of Star Trek. Mr. Zaslow's Broadway credits included "Fiddler on the Roof," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Boccaccio."

There is much more I could say about Michael Zaslow. His performances made me laugh and cry, scared me silly as a kid when his Roger Thorpe dressed as a clown at the Cedars Hospital charity bazaar, kept me on the edge of my seat countless times and, in the final year, he educated me about ALS.

In honor of Mr. Zaslow's birthday, below is the beautiful remembrance shown at the 1999 Soap Opera Digest Awards, as well as "Roger Thorpe: The Scandal Years," a 1994 VHS release featuring the best of Roger Thorpe on Guiding Light.

Editor's Choice Award presentation at the 1999 Soap Opera Digest Awards:
(Brynn Thayer and Robin Strasser made the presentation with appearances by Maureen Garrett, Alec Baldwin and more.)



"Roger Thorpe: The Scandal Years":














RELATED:
* James Pritchett Remembered

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