In May 1986, Mary Beth Evans made her Days of our Lives debut after being cast as Kayla Brady, Shawn and Caroline’s youngest daughter. In no time at all, the actress was paired with Stephen Nichols (Steve AKA “Patch”) and a daytime supercouple was born.
Mary Beth Evans Reminisces On The Past
Over the years, Evans, along with Nichols, have helped catapult the NBC soap opera to the No. 1 spot in the weekly ratings (the week the two married in the summer of 1988) and amassed a loyal and passionate fanbase as Kayla and Steve’s epic love story has been and continues to be told. Soap Hub chatted with Evans about the last three and a half decades — not all of which has been spent in Salem.
As followers of the actress know, she had tenures as mercurial Katherine on General Hospital and strong-willed Sierra on As the World Turns. However, it’s Kayla, the role Evans won the Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in Drama Series in 2016 that she’s most known for playing. Read on as Evans takes a trip down memory lane.
Do you recall your screentest?
Yes. Stephen always talks about this. I said to him after it was over, “Well, between you and me, that wasn’t good.”
Ha! What did you know!
How cool is it that it’s been this long? The longevity that can happen in this business is wild. I look back at the early scenes Stephen and I played and I see how wonderful they were and how wonderful it all still is. Stephen and I should be in the Guinness World Records — we’ve both been with our spouses for 35 years and have been together on-air all these years, too.
I think the biggest change over the years is how long the days were back in the 1980s.
Yes. We used to have rehearsal, lunch, dress rehearsal, notes, and then we’d tape. There were some long days back then. When I go off and do an episodic guest spot, I think, “Let’s go!” because I’m so used to the fast pace. I think we have to be flexible with the way life is now.
Patch and Kayla always had some big threat keeping them apart back in the day. Do you recall when Kayla was deaf?
Yes. A woman came in and taught us sign language. It wasn’t to where we were fluent, but she helped us with our scripts so that we could communicate what was in them. Stephen and I were so immersed and so committed. We still are. It seems like scenes were longer back then.
Your supporters are loyal and passionate about you and Stephen. There’s an intimacy at your events that you don’t always feel at others.
I do know that that’s rare with us because I’ve been with other people [to other events]. I did have a swell time working with Wally [Kurth, Justin] during the time-jump storyline. When we started that, Wally joked that he was never going to win over the Patch and Kayla fans. But we had a wonderful time working together. It’s like when two grownups who’ve known each other a long time get together.
The Patch and Kayla wedding in 1988 shot DAYS to No. 1 in the ratings, a feat it hadn’t achieved since the Bill Bell era back in the 1970s.
Back then, Stephen and I won these awards from Daytime TV magazine. I remember standing there with Stephen on the Sunset Gower Studios, getting our pictures taken with our awards. I remember thinking I need to stop and appreciate this because it’s so special. I don’t know if I truly did though. Everything happens so fast.
DAYS laid the groundwork for Patch’s return after it showed his coffin being switched with another one after his “death.”
I loved that they did that. I always wanted him back. Later, I left DAYS and went to General Hospital and was there for a while. One year, I brought him to the Daytime Emmys with me when I was still on GH and then they brought him on as Stefan but the characters weren’t the same. We were written differently. I loved working with him there, though. The only show we didn’t do together was As the World Turns!
You went there to play Sierra in 2000.
I never meant to be a soap hopper! But I loved that experience. Chris Goutman, the executive producer, treated me like soap opera royalty from the beginning. For years, I went back and forth between Los Angeles and the Brooklyn studios where we shot the show. It was fun being on it with Maura West [Carly, now, Ava, GH], Lesli Kay [Molly], Michael Park [Jack], and, of course, Elizabeth Hubbard [Lucinda], who played my mother. She and I would ride in the car [that would take us back into Manhattan] and she was a hoot. She’s in the “hoot” category. I loved being in New York where I could see my mother-in-law.
Commuting and raising a family must have been challenging.
I got to the point where I couldn’t handle it every week. I remember getting on a plane [in L.A.] around 1:30 p.m. and getting into bed at midnight on the east coast, then, getting up at 5 a.m. the next day, doing the show, and then, getting back on a plane and I’d be back in Los Angeles [the same day] to pick my son up at school. At one point, I said to Michael Bruno [my manager], “Do you think DAYS would take me back?”
Fortunately, the answer was a resounding yes, and Evans was back in Salem in 2006. In part two of our interview with her, the actress will talk about returning to DAYS, reprising Kayla after an absence of nearly 15 years, reuniting with Nichols, and more! Days of our Lives (DOOL) airs weekdays on NBC. Check your local listings for airtimes.
When @marybeth_evans1 debuted on #Days, there was a tectonic shift in Daytime Television and in my life. I am forever grateful to you, my colleague, my friend, my Sweetness. Happy 35th Anniversary, baby. I love you.❤️ ❤️ #patchandkaylaforever https://t.co/pmixJcUCSE
— Stephen Nichols (@officialnichols) May 23, 2021