One of daytime’s biggest scandals occurred on Another World in 1975 when actors George Reinholt and Jacqueline Courtney were unceremoniously fired from the show they helped catapult to the top of the ratings. What could have happened to make such popular stars expendable?
Another World’s Shocking Move
George Reinholt, as Steve Frame, became daytime television’s most popular leading man in the 1970s. His Steve was rugged, virile, and brooding — and fans went wild. His pairing with the sweet and innocent Alice Matthews, played by Jacqueline Courtney, proved to be ratings gold. So what went oh-so-wrong?
Their romance was even complicated by the devious and manipulating Rachel Davis (Robin Strasser, then Victoria Wyndham). The storyline played out, with Steve vacillating between both women, although he knew that Alice was his one true love. The audience ate it up – the ratings for the show soared, the actors topped the popularity polls, and daytime television saw its first genuine supercouple.
Behind-the-scenes, however, things weren’t all that merry. In the middle of the Steve/Alice/Rachel story, a new writer and producer joined Another World. Harding “Pete” Lemay was a renowned writer who was new to soaps but quickly realized that he could apply his love for dialogue and psychological drama to the serial format to make a fascinating show.
Executive Producer Paul Rauch brought with him a background in theater that enhanced the Lemay scripts with production values and key direction. Almost immediately, their touch was felt by all. George Reinholt and Jackie Courtney, however, weren’t enamored of their touch.
Both actors, especially George Reinholt, were not happy with the direction their parts were headed in. The storyline he’d played out with his co-stars was being decimated by newcomers who hadn’t understood what they’d established.
George Reinholt Reveals His Side
“In the early days,” noted Reinholt, “Jackie was like the upper-middle-class blonde-haired, blue-eyed, WASP girl who was to be promised to Mr. Perfect. And Robin Strasser played Rachel in a kind of lower-class way. We were the first to sort of strike out soaps in a kind of class-consciousness.
“And Steve was a kind of pull-yourself-up-by-your-own-boot straps guy from the lower classes, trying to make the choices that would further his career and yet at the same time trying to find a woman that he really wanted. And he was always pulled between the two. This is what we were really going for,” he explained.
“But Paul Rauch didn’t know what the hell we were doing. That was the problem. I liked Paul, but he didn’t really understand. And as far as I was concerned, we lost a major side of the triangle when Strasser left. The important stuff was done between Strasser and me. Robin, Jackie, and I were doing a sort of sotto voce, tacit, class-conscious number without saying, ‘This is class consciousness we’re talking about.’
“And then Pete Lemay came in and took Steve… into the country. And that’s when I said, ‘Oh, this is not where we were.’ You’re taking a guy who I was sort of playing like out of the streets of an urban center like New York or Philadelphia or Boston and who grew up in a sort of streetwise mentality and you’re putting him into you’re background, Pete, which is rural, Canadian, farm and it’s not what we’ve been doing. So Pete didn’t like that. That was a major rift between Pete and Paul and myself. That was really one of the major problems.”
George Reinholt’s contention manifested itself in bad behavior. He became increasingly difficult on the set as his performances became more and more unreliable. Harding Lemay knew that he didn’t want to work with the temperamental star.
Harding Lemay Reveals His Side
“It was very tricky on Another World because the two most popular actors were the two I hated the most – George Reinholt and Jackie Courtney. I’d worked for many years with actors in the theater and I expected them to do their homework and I expected them to know their lines.
“Jackie Courtney used to write crucial words on her nurse’s cuffs and look at them and get her cue from them. She always looked demure, not because she was demure, but because she was looking down at her cuffs. And George was a bully, entirely on the set. Some days, as an actor, he was perfect. Some days he would mumble his way through it. You couldn’t rely on him.”
“I was just going along at that point and not very happy about it,” recalled Reinholt. “There was no sense of continuity in my mind. I was just going along from day to day to day. Paul put his foot down, saying I had to bring the changes I wanted to make in the next day’s script into his office at the end of the day. I said, ‘No, I can’t do it. You have to trust us, Paul.’ It didn’t work. That’s the way it goes. So he fired me.”
As the show expanded to an hour, George Reinholt was fired, and Jackie Courtney was let go soon thereafter. Harding Lemay was very relieved. “I found them boring, as characters. It wasn’t only my idea to get rid of them; the producer also wanted to.
“They were very destructive on the set and we were going from a half-hour to an hour and we didn’t have time for the kind of temperament they were exhibiting. They set a very bad example for the rest of the cast. They would sit on the sidelines while other actors rehearsed and make nasty comments about what they were doing. I mean they were very unprofessional, both of them.”
The dismissal of two of daytime’s most popular stars was a scandal that found itself being played out in the press. Magazines covered the story, complete with official statements by Rauch, Lemay, Reinholt, and Courtney. Fans were intrigued by all of the backstage shenanigans that were revealed, and a good many followed Reinholt and Courtney over to Another World’s timeslot competitor, One Life To Live. Jackie Courtney settled into her new role on the soap, but Reinholt found his success difficult to duplicate. After a few years, he left OLTL and the public eye.
The Passage of Time
Time tempered George Reinholt’s attitude as he had to learn a harsh lesson about the trappings of celebrity. “I got too nuts. I should have shut up. I just went too far. I fought too long, too hard. I should have known when to pull back. That’s when I got too celebrated, I got too hot-headed, I got too big-headed. I didn’t know enough about the politics of how to address the other professionals properly.
“I have great reservations and compunctions and guilt about all of that because there were a lot of people who tried to help me and I got a big head. I made several mistakes with my career in this industry. And I’m sorry about them and this is one of the major ones. How’s that for realignment?”
Unfortunately, Reinholt never really got a chance to reignite his career. He died in 2013. Jacqueline Courtney died in 2010. Paul Rauch passed away in 2012, and Harding “Pete” Lemay died in 2018. But they left an indelible impression on those who were fortunate enough to watch Another World in the 1970s.