Stephen Schnetzer played debonair Cass Winthrop on Another World from 1983 until the show’s 1999 finale. Early on in his tenure, he had a magical pairing with Nancy Frangione, the irrepressible Cecile DePoulignac. Now, Schnetzer is sharing with Soap Hub memories of his late leading lady.
Stephen Schnetzer: Cass and Cecile
Frangione took over the role of Cecile from Susan Keith (Shana, Loving) in 1981 and built upon the foundation firmly established by her predecessor. After pitting stepbrothers Sandy Cory (Christopher Rich) and Jamie Frame (Richard Bekins) against one another, Cecile moved on to a romance with newcomer Cass.
“Nancy was a force of nature,” Schnetzer says. “She did my screentest with the intention of us working opposite each other. My memories are flooded with flashbacks to that time. Nancy was a powerhouse. We had a great sense of fun together. There was an irreverence Nancy had to the stories, but she was never disrespectful to them.
“I had to hit the ground running if I was going to keep up with her,” Schnetzer notes. “In order to be in the same scene with her, I was going to have to have the same sense of fun mixed with a little danger and self-effacing, irreverent humor that she did. We bounced off each other. The writers saw us bouncing off each other, so they started bouncing off of us.”
Cecile DePoulignac: Larger Than Life
One storyline took Cass and Cecile to Majorca, Spain. Schnetzer and Frangione brought their then-respective spouses, Nancy Snyder (ex-Katrina, One Life to Live) and Rich, along with them. “We’d rent a car and go sightseeing,” Schnetzer says. “We did quite a bit together.”
Cecile once both comically and dramatically delivered a memorable line after receiving a comeuppance: “As God is my witness, I’ll never tell the truth again!” Schnetzer says, “[Nancy] was wickedly funny to drama. She was a great one, absolutely, and a good scene partner, a good teammate.”
Frangione took Cecile out of Bay City in 1984 following an aborted wedding to Peter Love (John Hutton). Some soap opera characters took on an even larger-than-life presence around this time, and Cecile was no exception when she next reprised the role.
Stephen Schnetzer: From Bay City to the Island of Tanquir
When Frangione returned to AW in 1986, Cecile, who once schemed her way to become Brava magazine’s editor-in-chief, had an even flashier title — the Queen of Tanquir! Wed to the island’s sterile king, Cecile kidnapped Cass, just as he was about to marry Kathleen McKinnon (Julie Osburn), hoping he’d impregnate her with an heir.
Wanting to make Kathleen think that she and Cass were being intimate, Cecile rolled around in the surf with her ex-lover just like Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr did on the big screen. “That was our From Here to Eternity moment,” Schnetzer fondly recalls. “Those kinds of ideas were spontaneous. That could have been Nancy’s idea or mine. One of us would say, ‘Why don’t we throw that in?’ It was very collaborative that way.”
Frangione returned to AW for visits in 1989, 1993, and 1995-96, but despite the actress’s and the character’s popularity, she never remained in Bay City for very long, much to viewers’ dismay. “I don’t know what it was, but she wanted to move on,” Schnetzer says. “Then, she moved away from us. She went back to Cape Cod, where she was raised. She became hard to reach, if not reclusive. I think I spoke to her once after she left.”
Stephen Schnetzer: What’s Your Sign
Schnetzer, whose birthday is June 11, says he once received a gift related to his being born under the sign of Gemini. “Nancy dabbled in astrology, and she wrote an astrological assessment of me on 10 pages of yellow legal pad paper — both sides,” the actor says. “A lot of it was really astute. It was spot-on, and I still have it. I have to find it.”
The actor says he’ll remember the joy he and Frangione experienced whenever they worked together. “Nancy loved to laugh, and she laughed all the time,” Schnetzer says. “We cracked each other up. The force was with her, for sure.”