'As The World Turns' Villainess Will Miss Fans, Family Eileen Fulton has played the character "Lisa" on the soap opera for nearly 50 years. Last week, CBS officials announced the show's cancellation. Fulton reflects on her longtime relationship with fans — and her role as one of the first "mean girls" on TV soaps.
NPR logo

'As The World Turns' Villainess Will Miss Fans, Family

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121349026/121402348" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
'As The World Turns' Villainess Will Miss Fans, Family

'As The World Turns' Villainess Will Miss Fans, Family

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/121349026/121402348" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, host:

As the World Turns is about to stop turning. CBS has announced it will cancel the soap opera next year after more than 13,000 episodes. Actress Eileen Fulton joined the show's cast in 1960 and she joins us.

Welcome to the program.

Ms. EILEEN FULTON (Actress): Thank you.

SHAPIRO: You have been with this show half a century. How did you react to hearing that it was going to come to an end?

Ms. FULTON: I'm very sad about it. I'm sad for the fan. We are family. Years ago when I was doing a tour a women came up to me and she said, I want to know why when my mother was dying you were the one she was concerned about. And her family was gathered around but your character was dying.

And she asked the priest, how is Lisa. And he turned around and he said, Is there a Lisa here? And they said, No, no. Oh it's mother's soap opera. She said, Why was your name on my mother's lips as she died? And I said, Well, I came into her home every day. We were company for your mother.

SHAPIRO: Tell us a little bit about your character for listeners who might not be familiar with the program.

Ms. FULTON: Well, when I started in 1960 she was just supposed to be a sweet little girl next door. I had little cute lines to say or something, but I thought the worst thoughts the worst, most obscene things and it came across. And Erna Philips, the writer, said, well, that little rascal can play a (censored) and so that's what I did.

SHAPIRO: So you were really the first mean girl

Ms. FULTON: Yeah. Yeah.

SHAPIRO: in television soap operas? And people feel strongly about your character. I understand you even had to have body guards at one point?

Ms. FULTON: Of course I did, and that's fun. They love to hate me. but you know how it really began was I was standing on the street corner in front of Lord and Taylor's and this elegant women came up to me and she said, Aren't you Lisa? And I thought, oh, my first autograph. I said, yes, that's the character I play. And she said, well, I hate you and she hit me. And that was the beginning. I thought, well, this is kind of scary. But at least it was a compliment to the acting.

SHAPIRO: Is it hard to be believable when your character has been married eight times, widowed several times over, divorced again and again?

Ms. FULTON: No. And let's correct that. I've been married nine times.

SHAPIRO: Oh, pardon me.

Ms. FULTON: That's ok.

SHAPIRO: Can you even recite Lisa's full name with all of the husbands you've had?

Ms. FULTON: Yes, I can.

SHAPIRO: Oh, please do.

Ms. FULTON: I hoped you would ask. Lisa Miller Hughes Eldridge Hughes Shea Colman Almost Hadley McColl Mitchell Grimaldi Chedwyn.

SHAPIRO: That is impressive. How did the show change over the years that you've been with the program?

Ms. FULTON: Oh, it's changed monstrously. When I started it was a half hour show and it was live. That kept your weigh down, if you know what I mean.

SHAPIRO: Absolutely.

Ms. FULTON: I was terrified.

SHAPIRO: Were there any famous bloopers?

Ms. FULTON: Sure. There was a time when I was to make cherries jubilee. We had to

SHAPIRO: Now, that's a recipe that involves fire.

Ms. FULTON: Yes, it does. And I had to start by making it in rehearsal. And I kept lighting it and lighting it. And it wouldn't catch on fire.

SHAPIRO: Oh, no.

Ms. FULTON: So finally on air they just poured, I don't know, kerosene or something in it and it went boom

(Soundbite of laughter)

up to the curtains above the set, caught the curtains on fire. And Walter Cronkite was in the next studio. He was testing for the noon news or something and he said

(Soundbite of sniffing)

is the studio on fire. And they said, oh, it's just the soap opera next door.

SHAPIRO: Thank you so much.

Ms. FULTON: It has been a pleasure.

SHAPIRO: Eileen Fulton if a long time actor on As the World Turns. CBS says it will cancel the long running soap opera next year.

(Soundbite of music)

This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.