Commentary

Paying Tribute To Legend John Aniston – Acting Icon And Daytime Dynamo

He claims that “being a goody-two-shoes,” especially on a soap opera, “is no good,” which might go a long way in explaining John Aniston’s longevity…

John AnistonJohn Aniston

He claims that “being a goody-two-shoes,” especially on a soap opera, “is no good,” which might go a long way in explaining John Aniston’s longevity in show business in general and daytime TV in particular, especially when one considers that the man has a made a literal career out of playing cads, ne’er-do-wells, and out and out villains. And tonight, he is being honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Daytime Emmys.

Celebrating John Aniston

Born to a business-minded nomad of Greek persuasion, Yannis Anastassakis arrived in the United States — Chester, Pennsylvania to be specific — when he was but a babe. In time, he would be rechristened John Aniston, and in the years to come he would gain recognition the world over, but first, he had some growing to do and there were a plethora of other adventures to be had.

At first, Aniston thought he’d make a go of it as a sportsman, but a hip condition known as Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis put paid to that. On the advice of a teacher, he joined his high school’s theatre program and was amongst the performers who put on You Can’t Take It With You.

Upon graduation, and still unsure where his future lay, Aniston enrolled in Penn State and majored in acting by default, though, to be clear, his diploma read Bachelor of Arts in Arts & Letters; ‘Acting’ was merely the emphasis.

Aniston had spent the summers during his collegiate years toiling in several stock theatre productions for the grand sum of $17 a week, but the dog days post-degree were spent at an OSC training facility, the direct result of Aniston speeding up his conscription into the U.S. Armed Forces.

The future actor, who would ultimately achieve the rank of Lieutenant Commander, served three years in the Navy as an intelligence officer, two of which were spent in Panama.

In addition to his official duties — boarding ships passing through the canal, inspecting the cargo within, and questioning the crew onboard — Aniston busied himself entertaining fellow servicemen, ex-pats, and locals as part of a theatre troupe that operated out of a nearby playhouse.

His first professional credit came courtesy of a guest spot on the crime drama Brenner, but acclaim remained elusive until he joined the ensemble putting on Little Mary Sunshine. His acting prowess clinched the deal; the fact that he was dating the actress playing the title role didn’t hurt.

After 18 months, Aniston returned to the small screen and guest-starred on several of the era’s most popular series, including Combat!, I Spy, and The Virginian; to secure employment on the latter, Aniston bluffed that he was a horseman par excellence.

John Aniston Does Daytime

In 1969, Aniston agreed to audition for Days of our Lives producers Al Rabin and Betty Corday. The duo was looking for an actor to play white-collar criminal Brent Douglas, but Aniston didn’t exactly fit the bill. Would he be amenable to shaving his mustache, they wondered. Aniston did, but Bill Hayes got the job.

Within a few days, Aniston was called back. Would he regrow the mustache and agree to play prison physician Eric Richards? Yes and yes. Deciding that Eric’s background was lacking, Aniston invented his own, though his considerable effort was for naught. Eric appeared in only a handful of episodes before departing.

Over the next decade and a half, the handsome actor would grace two further soap operas with his presence. The first was CBS’ Love of Life. He stuck around for three years — long enough to make the acquaintance of one Sherry Rooney, who would become his second wife, before jumping ship for Search for Tomorrow. Wily Martin Tourneur would make history for being the only one of heroine Joanne Barron’s four husbands not to meet an untimely end.

Five years and one decampment to Los Angeles later, Aniston landed his career-making role — DAYS’ Victor Kiriakis. Since making his July 19, 1985, debut, Aniston has filmed over 2,000 episodes, and as his alter-ego, he’s romanced a number of beauties, become a proud papa — with two fully grown children, namely Bo Brady and Isabella Toscano springing from the woodwork — saw off several business rivals, and arranged a hit or two.

Additionally Speaking – More Facts About John Aniston

* Fluent in Greek and in possession of enough Spanish to “get fed.”

* Has the distinction of appearing on the cover of the first Soap Opera Digest alongside several other Love of Life players.

* His most agreeable equine co-star in The Virginian was named Bo.

* In another bit of serendipity, Aniston’s daughter, Jennifer Aniston, über famous for having played Rachel Green on Friends, and who did wind up appearing in a bit role on Search for Tomorrow, came a hair’s breadth from landing a plum role that ultimately went to actress Jane Krakowski, who in turn read for the part of Rachel.

* The palpable chemistry between Aniston and Mary Tyler Moore caused producers of The Mary Tyler Moore Show to ixnay their plans to cast him.

* Owned and operated The Fives, an upscale eatery that catered to the cast and crews of several locally filmed CBS shows including LOL and 60 Minutes.

* Vodka on the rocks with olives is his drink of choice and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts are his secret obsession.

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