FLASHBACK: "Ladies of the Day" Lunch with Jeanne Cooper, Rachel Ames, Judy Lewis, Emily McLaughlin, Dorothy Green & Patty Weaver

In the mid-1970s, an informal federation of Hollywood soap opera queens, called the "Ladies of the Day," met for occasional lunchtime gabfests. The photo above is from one of those lunches. Reprinted in the May 22, 1976 issue of TV Guide ("Love of Lunch [a continuing saga]"), one of the legendary actresses pictured is celebrating a birthday today.

Jeanne Cooper (October 25, 1928 – May 8, 2013)
Ms. Cooper played Katherine Chancellor on CBS' The Young and the Restless from 1973-2013. At the time of the lunch, Kay was a bored, widowed, filthy rich drunk being tortured by her late husband's lover. Ms. Cooper complained about the salary of soap stars at the time ($400-3,500 a week). During her run on the show, she was nominated 10 times for a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance (winning in 2008), and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004.

Jeanne Cooper, Rachel Ames and Judy Lewis.
Rachel Ames (November 2, 1929)
Ms. Ames has been playing Audrey March (later Baldwin, Hobard and Hardy), R.N. on ABC's General Hospital since 1964. Her character, Audrey Hobart at the time of the lunch, tried to see the best in everyone, with mixed results: three marriages, widowed once, divorced and a third marriage in trouble; a miscarriage (after artificial insemination) and one child by a husband who raped her. "I think [daytime serials] should get more attention from the industry," she told TV Guide. Nominated three times for a Daytime Emmy Award, Ms. Ames was given a Lifetime Achievement Award Emmy in 2004. Today is her 85th birthday!

Judy Lewis (November 6, 1935 – November 25, 2011)
Known for her portrayal of Susan Ames Dunbar Carver in CBS' The Secret Storm, Ms. Lewis later starred in ABC's General Hospital as Barbara Vining. At the lunch, she talked about being happy the networks had finally come to the realization that "casting daytime actors in the movies, for instance, [makes] the ratings go sky high." Her first soap role was Molly Scharf on Kitty Foyle. Behind the camera, Lewis was a producer on Texas, and she won a Writer's Guild Award in 1985 for her work on Search for Tomorrow.

Emily McLaughlin (December 1, 1930 - April 26, 1991)
Known to her generation as the "Queen of Daytime Soaps", Ms. McLaughlin was an original cast member of ABC's General Hospital in 1963, playing the role of nurse Jessie Brewer, and speaking the show's first line. In 1974 she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best TV Actress - Drama for her GH role. During the lunch above, Ms. McLaughlin was referred to as the group's "Queen Woe" for her character's long list of traumas: she had four marriages all ended by divorce, annulment or death; lost two children; been raped once; had a hysterectomy; been "near death" five times; and beaten two murder raps. Prior to GH, she starred as Dr. Eileen Seaton in Young Doctor Malone.

Emily McLauchlin, Dorothy Green and Patty Weaver.
Dorothy Green (January 12, 1920 - May 8, 2008)
Ms. Green played Jennifer Brooks on CBS' The Young and the Restless from 1973 until her character's death in 1977. She told TV Guide she believed soaps were now "doing relevant roles that both inform and entertain. Her character's history included an affair with a city slicker that she broke off after becoming pregnant. She convinced her husband, Stuart, that the child was his, only to have one of her daughters find out the truth. She then renewed her affair, had a mastectomy, and then went back to her husband.

Patty Weaver (September 23, 1949)
At the time of the "Ladies of the Day" lunch, Ms. Weaver was starring as Trish Clayton on NBC's Days of our Lives. Trish lived with a young mechanic but their relationship was purely platonic. She had never even been kissed. An unhappy childhood was her sole sorry but TV Guide joked that there was "always reason to hope for more elaborate misery. Because in soap operas' doom-haunted world, where there's hope, there's despair." Ms. Weaver went on to star for many years as Gina Roma in CBS' The Young and the Restless.

* James Pritchett Remembered
* Michael Zaslow Remembered

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