She played five memorable roles on soaps over the last few decades and now comes word that beloved actress Marj Dusay has passed away at the age of 83. But her amazing career began long before she made it to the soap scene.
Marj Dusay — An Amazing Career
Born February 20, 1936, in Kansas as Marjorie Ellen Pivonka Mahoney, the second of six kids, she appeared in several theater productions while attending the University of Kansas. While there, she was crowned Homecoming Queen and soon started a modeling career. She also married her childhood love, John Dusay, and they had two children — Debra and Randall (who passed in 1993).
But Los Angeles came calling. In the late 1960s, she was a founding member of the comedy improv troupe, The Session. Other members included Rob Reiner and Richard Dreyfuss. By 1967, she started booking roles, including as a waitress in the Elvis Presley film, Clambake, as well as TV appearances on shows like Get Smart and Cimarron Strip.
The following year, she would make pop culture history appearing on Star Trek: The Original Series as Kara in the episode titled Spock’s Brain. Guest stints on the greatest shows of the time would follow, including Hawaii Five-O, Hogan’s Heroes, Mod Squad, and The Odd Couple. She also played Blair’s (Lisa Whelchel) mom in eight episodes on The Facts of Life.
Soaps Came Calling
Marj Dusay’s career took a turn in 1983 when she replaced former The Addams Family matriarch, Carolyn Jones (who passed away that same year at age 53), in the pivotal role of Myrna Clegg on the political soap, Capitol. She stayed for the rest of the run of the show, which went off the air in 1987.
Taking over a role became a theme for the actress, as she soon replaced Shirley Anne Field as Pamela Capwell Conrad on Santa Barbara later that same year and stayed until 1991. The following year she filled in briefly for her former SB co-star Louise Sorel in the role of Vivian Alamain on Days of our Lives.
But she wasn’t done being the next actress to take over a role — when she took over as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light from Beverlee McKinsey. She would play the role on and off until the show ended in 2009 (with an off stint having Dynasty’s Joan Collins in the role).
During one of those off periods, she was brought onto All My Children as Vanessa Bennett — a delicious villainess she was able to create in 1998. She would play the role on and off for several years until the character was killed off in 2002. She returned to GL after that.
On the personal front, she divorced John Dusay in 1967 and in that same year married Thomas Perine, whom she stayed married until his death in 1987. Soap Hub sends condolences to her family, co-stars, friends, and fans during this difficult time.