Several cast members of The Bold and the Beautiful have taken to social media to share memories of their first days on the half-hour CBS soap opera on the occasion of its 34th anniversary. But there is someone else who wants to give you a behind-the-scenes look at this glorious CBS show.
The Bold and the Beautiful Turns 34
Here are some recollections from the perspective of a former BB production staffer turned reporter/writer — mine.
March 23, 1987
Like most soap opera fans, my relationship with BB started the day it began. A soap opera premiere was a special occasion. I caught the first episode and was hooked. How would Bill Spencer (Jim Storm) respond to his daughter Caroline (Joanna Johnson) getting engaged to Ridge (then, Ronn Moss; now, Thorsten Kaye)? Would Brooke (Katherine Kelly Lang) find the men who tried to abduct her? BB established a lot in one 30-minute show.
Behind The Scenery
Fast-forward to the summer that year, I had landed a job as a CBS Page and one of the assigned shifts was answering the phone on the BB set. This was before everyone carried a cell phone with them. One of my first assignments with the show was to work as a runner on the memorable Queen Mary Fashion Show shoot. Forrester Creations and Spectra Fashions presented their lines and the big shock at the end was Kristen Forrester (Teri Ann Linn) and Donna (then, Carrie Mitchum; now, Jennifer Gareis) wearing similar gowns as they’d been designed by the same man — Clarke Garrison (Dan McVicar) AKA “Beau Rivage.”
One of the show’s major storylines in its first few years was which woman would Ridge choose — fun-loving Brooke or his sister-in-law Caroline? The story ebbed and flowed, but there was always tension in the air. Brooke and Stephanie (Susan Flannery) were at odds from nearly the beginning.
As the CBS Page gig was winding down, I landed a job in the BB office as a production office assistant, allowing me to experience up-close how a daily soap opera is produced. This was pre-voicemail and pre-Internet, so a lot of business was handled face-to-face and with live phone calls. The production packed up and headed to Palm Springs at the end of 1990 to shoot Eric (John McCook) and Brooke’s wedding. When the newlyweds took off in the hot air balloon, I was tasked with following them in a rental car so the actors could be driven back to set!
Later, I was offered a job away from the show, which I accepted with the blessing of the show’s creators, William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell. In a way, my new gig brought me closer to BB than I’d ever been. I joined the fourth estate as a reporter for Soap Opera Digest. Again, this was mostly in a pre-Internet world. There were message boards but nobody truly comprehended at the time just how big the World Wide Web was going to get. Soap fans didn’t get their soap scoop on their phones – they got it by reading magazines.
I covered fashion shows, weddings, Sally (the late, great Darlene Conley) falling into the Forrester pool, guest stars galore (Phyllis Diller! Charlton Heston! Fabio!), musical performances by Macy (Bobbie Eakes) and Thorne (Jeff Trachta), and more.
One of my favorite things to do while I was both on the show’s staff and as a reporter was to talk to Michael Fox (ex-Saul). He had many stories about working alongside Hollywood greats and appearing on a live soap opera, The Clear Horizon, which shot at the same studio that BB does, in the early 1960s. Production designer Sy Tomashoff had stories about designing sets for soaps including Dark Shadows and Ryan’s Hope.
I (along with other members of the press) were invited to cover the show on remotes, too. I recall being in Malibu the day of the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles when Ridge and Taylor (Hunter Tylo) were getting married on the show. We could see smoke rising from L.A. in the distance.
I went to Universal Studios with Maitland Ward (Jessica) and Dylan Neal (Dylan) and got to travel to Barbados when Brooke had her “brief reactive psychosis.” The following year, there was a remote to a marina in Southern California. On both shoots, Ridge cried out “Brooke! Brooke!” to a body of water. I thought we could travel all over the world doing this!
Being privy on occasion to what was going to happen next in order to meet deadlines never dampened my enthusiasm for the show. I knew that Ridge was going to ask Taylor – not Brooke, as planned – to marry him at the end of a Forrester fashion show, but I was still blown away when I saw that dramatic plot twist unfold on air.
The Beat Goes On
Over the years, magazines and my positions at them came and went. I continued to write about BB and other soaps for both soap opera and mainstream publications and the web, too. No matter which outlet I write for, the BB cast greets me with warmth and professionalism – and great quotes! In 2003, members of the press were invited to play extras at the opening of Ozzz, Oscar’s (Brian Gaskill) club.
The fun was dampened a bit once I realized that the chandelier above Macy was going to come crashing down on her, sending the singer to the hospital. (She’s really in a coma somewhere in Europe, right?) Eakes stepped out just before the chandelier fell and her stunt double took her place. Plus, the heavy metal and glass construct was replaced with something much, much softer, but you can’t really tell when you watch. It fell on cue, hitting the stunt woman, bouncing off of her, and nearly nicked me as it fell to the ground of Oscar’s nightclub.
The Write Stuff
In what can be described as both an honor and a wonderful “full circle” moment, I returned to BB, in a sense, in 2009 when Lee Phillip Bell invited me to write with her a memoir of her late husband, Bill, who had died in 2005. I spent the next few years researching, interviewing, writing, and editing the manuscript and meeting with editors to bring the book to life.
Once completed, I sat in on publicity meetings in order to map out ways to promote the book. Here’s what I learned about publicists during this time: they take care of a million details in advance that people don’t always notice. Why? Because they’re taken care of in advance!
The photo at the top of this story of Lee Phillip Bell, John McCook, and myself was taken at the first book signing of The Young and Restless Life of William J. Bell in 2012 at the Barnes & Noble bookstore at the Grove, adjacent to TV City where BB tapes. Bill had said in interviews that YR held a special place in his heart given its significance to his career, but there’s plenty of BB history in the tome, too!
Tune In Tomorrow
Over the last decade, BB’s continued to thrill, entertain, and surprise me with the following twists: Oliver (Zack Conway) having sex with not Steffy (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood) but Brooke! Nicole (Reign Edwards) telling Maya (Karla Mosley) that she wasn’t her sister but rather her brother! Taylor being Bill’s (Don Diamont) shooter! Douglas (Henry Joseph Samiri) being the one to reveal baby Beth was alive! One of the keys to great drama is to “trick expectancy” — and BB delivers on this.
I’ve covered the show from afar over the past year due to the coronavirus, marveling at how BB, led by executive producer/head writer Brad Bell, managed to be the first scripted show to get back into production, paving the way for other shows to return to work. Perhaps by the show’s 35th anniversary in 2022, everyone will be able to gather to celebrate its success. Either way, it has been – and continues to be – a great ride. Thank you, BB! The Bold and the Beautiful (BB) airs weekdays on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes.