Actors Who Got Their Start On Soap Operas

Looking at the thread about “As The World Turns” I got to thinking about the decline in the number of soap operas. I do realize many actors got their start on soap operas. I was wondering, since I never watch any soap operas really, if we could get kind of a list of actors that got their start in soap operas.

For this I mean, their big break came in soap operas, that lead to the take off of their careers.

I am not talking about an actor who was on a night time show and then doesn’t get work and then 10 years later goes on a soap and becomes famous again.

Or I wouldn’t count someone like Rick Springfield, because he had a recording career long before he came back as an actor on “General Hospital”

Like didn’t Demi Moore get her start on “General Hospital”? As well as John Stamos get his start on that soap too?

According to his IMDb page, Alec Baldwin’s first TV acting job was on the now-defunct soap “The Doctors” in 1980-1982. By 1984 he had a supporting role on “Knots Landing”, which pretty much launched his career.

Meg Ryan

Don Knotts was on Search for Tomorrow before he was deputized.

I cannot see Ray Liotta in anything without thinking about Joey Perini on Another World when he was ten.

Jensen Buchannan was Eric Brady on Days of Our Lives.

Kate Mulgrew’s first acting job was Mary Ryan Fenelli on Ryan’s Hope. Her daugher Ryan Fenelli was played by a very young Yasmine Bleeth.

Guy Pearce started in the Australian soap Neighbors.
I think Russel Crowe also appeared in a few episodes very early in his career

Bree from “Desperate Houseives” started out on “One Life to Live.” She played Kate Sanders.

Meg Ryan, Julianne Moore & Parker Posey all started out on “As the World Turns.”

Going back a loooong way, Kate Jackson was first a ghost, then a shrinking violet heroine on “Dark Shadows.”

From the time period when I was actively watching General Hospital (during the Luke & Laura saga) I remember Demi Moore and Janine Turner playing sisters Jackie and Laura Templeton, John Stamos, Jack Wagner, and Rick Springfield (yeah, I know he doesn’t count, but Dr. Noah Drake was cute!).

Tommy Lee Jones played a husband on, I believe, One Life To Live. (I was a regular viewer of all those ABC soaps at the time, and my murky memory has them somewhat blended together.) IIRC, he was initially a sympathetic character who turned into a hot mess of evil before being, predictably, bumped off.

Anna Friel started out in British soap Brookside.

Not really a big star in acting, but Kylie Minogue started on an Australian soap, didn’t she?

Marisa Tomei began on As The World Turns, too.

Before he was Superman, Christopher Reeve got his start on the soaps.
Much of the cast of the Broadway musical 1776 were doing soaps in town during the day and the musical at night. When the play got turned into a film, a lot of them reprised their roles, so you could say that a lot of the cast of the film 1776 got their start doing soaps.

Unfortunately, that was it for the motion picture experience of many of them, so they got their start onscreen and their finish onscreen with the same movie.

Check out their bios at IMDB. David Ford, for instance, was in nothing else but soaps:

Nathan Fillion worked on One Life to Live. According to Wikipedia, he returned for a guest appearance in 2007!

Eva Perón

Nitpick: Jensen Ackles.

Shemar Moore (Criminal Minds) played Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless.
Jennifer Finnigan, who went on to star in Close to Home, played Bridget Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful.

So Neil was on Broadway
While I was on the soaps
Who’s got the high score on Ninja Ropes?

Anne Heche’s first professional gig was as twins Marley Love & Vicky Hudson and Another World. Christopher Rich was Sandy Cory on the show before playing Brock Hart on Reba.

Charles Shaughnessy. played Shane Donovan on Days of Our LIves before starring opposite Fran Drescher on both The Nanny & Life with Fran.

I can’t believe I forgot that!

Also, Ryan Phillipe (remember him?) started out on “One Life to Live.” He played a friend of Joey Buchanan (before Fillion was in the part) who came out as gay.

Also, Judith Light first became well known on “One Life to Live” playing Karen Wolek, the housewife/hooker in the late 70s. The courtroom scene in which she is grilled to the point of breaking down and confessing to being a prostitute is often mentioned as one of the best acting jobs in the history of soaps.

Kelly Ripa got her start on All My Children, she also met her husband Mark Consuelos there.

Eva LaRue (on one of the CSI shows) played Consuelos’ character’s sister.