Gregg Marx’s first foray into the soap world was as a member of the Horton family on Days of our Lives. He took over the role of Julie’s beloved son, David Banning, in 1981 after popular actor Richard Guthrie left the show.
David (Eli’s father) became enmeshed in a triangle with Renee Dumonde (Philece Sampler) and Count Antony DiMera (Thaao Penghlis). When David left Salem two years later, Gregg Marx vacated the role.
Gregg Marx: Catching Up
In 1984, Gregg Marx had the unenviable task of taking over another popular role, that of As The World Turns’ Tom Hughes. This time, he wasn’t only taking over a popular character, he was becoming a part of a popular and well-established couple in Tom and Margo.
“There was an additional dimension to the ATWT role since the Tom and Margo relationship was so established and beloved,” notes Marx. “So I did feel a bit of an extra challenge, and a responsibility to pay homage to what had already been created and at the same time, add my own voice to the mix.
“Luckily for me, and for Margo and Tom, I had the great good fortune to have Hillary Bailey Smith as my ‘partner in crime,’ which made the job not only easier but an absolute blast.”
What could have been a disaster turned out to be a jackpot due in large part to his fantastic chemistry with Hillary B. Smith, who played Margo. “I remember calling Hillary before I moved to New York to take over the role of Tom. ‘Hi’ I said, ‘this is your new husband. Can I take you out for dinner?’ Luckily, she said yes. Our connection was instantaneous. [It was] truly a gift for an actor because you don’t have to work to create it, it just flows.
“Working with Hillary was one of the most rewarding experiences of my acting life,” marvels Marx. “Luckily, we just clicked from day one, but in addition, her generosity as an actor made me a better actor and really fed our relationship, both as characters and actors. It was a true collaboration, in the best sense of the word.”
Gregg Marx played Tom during a tumultuous time in the character’s life as the newly-evil Barbara Ryan (Colleen Zenk) set out to destroy the marriage of Tom and Margo. Fortunately for fans of the couple, good conquered evil (this time), and the marriage was saved. Not so fortunate for fans, however, was Gregg Marx’s decision to leave ATWT in 1987 after winning an Emmy award for his performance.
Leaving the Soap World
“I left ATWT for a number of reasons, partly because I was homesick for my life in California. The producers wanted me to stay and held the role open for about nine months, but they ultimately recast Tom once I decided I was home to stay. In hindsight, I have often wondered what might have been, had I stayed. But like all choices in life, they sometimes look different in the rearview mirror and we’ll never know.”
Although fans may miss seeing Gregg Marx on their television screens, they certainly haven’t missed his voice. After ATWT, Marx began a successful voiceover career that keeps him busy to this day.
“For me, voiceover was a way for me to keep ‘acting,’ but was less of a pressure cooker than working in front of the camera. It’s not the same, of course, but I do love voiceover work, and am lucky that I could segue into it full time. And, of course, there’s the added benefit that you don’t have to deal with makeup, wardrobe, etc.
“Since there’s no visual component, you could theoretically do it in your underwear — not that I ever have. It also tends to be a more solitary pursuit, and is usually a less collaborative enterprise, which can be – and is – both good and bad.”
Singing is another passion that keeps Marx busy. He’s appeared in a number of cabaret venues across the country, mostly singing classics from the Great American Songbook.
The Music Man
“Music is something I came to – or came back to – kind of late. I hadn’t really pursued it at all professionally while on DAYS or ATWT, but it was something that fed me creatively and I kept being drawn to just because of that organic connection. It’s probably the closest thing to my heart and soul, creatively speaking. I don’t know if I have the ‘soul’ of an actor, maybe I do, but I definitely feel that ‘soul connection’ to the music.
“I was actually about to start a new and hopefully ongoing singing gig at a club here in Los Angeles, but Mother Nature and the Coronavirus apparently had other plans. I can’t wait for this all to be over so I can get back on that horse. In preparation for that eventuality, I’m actually resuming my work with my vocal coach so I don’t get too rusty.”
Might some of his former co-stars be spotted in the audience? “I’m still in touch with Philece Sampler and Patty Weaver (Trish Clayton) from DAYS. And Hillary and I catch up whenever we can – it’s truly one of those relationships that we just pick up wherever we left off, no matter how much time has sped by. I guess you could say I’m still on good terms with all my exes.”
It’s been a while since his soap opera days, but Gregg Marx still hears from fans occasionally. “I continue to be amazed at how deeply we impacted people’s lives and how incredibly loyal the daytime audience continues to be.”