Days of our Lives

Sunset Beach: Before These Five Actors Became Primetime Stars

Sunset Beach Sherri Saum and Jason GeorgeSunset Beach Sherri Saum and Jason George

When primetime darling Aaron Spelling dipped his producing hat into the daytime pool in 1997, the man behind Dynasty, Charlie’s Angeles, and The Love Boat wanted to offer something different than what was already on the soap opera landscape. The result was Sunset Beach, a show designed to appeal to a younger audience, complete with sun, surf, and the first daytime on-screen Internet love match.

While Sunset Beach lasted just two years, many of its stars have gone on to find success in primetime. Find out where the top five landed and found their ongoing success.

Jason George

Discovered out of the University of Virginia, Jason George was an immediate fan-favorite when he made his daytime debut as lifeguard Michael Bourne on Sunset Beach and lasted until the series’ end in 1999. His love triangle with Sherri Saum’s Vanessa and Dominique Jennings’ devious Virginia delivered some of the show’s most memorable storylines. Turkey baster anyone?

Today, George is one of the stars of Station 19 on ABC, playing Dr. Ben Warren, a role he originated on Grey’s Anatomy. He’s also popped up over the years in shows such as Off the Map, Mistresses, and Eve.

Sherri Saum

Primetime lovers know Sherri Saum best from her five-year run as Lena Adams Foster in the Freeform drama series The Fosters, and the actress has also left her mark on shows such as Beggars and Choosers, Rescue Me, and In Treatment.

But it was as lovable journalist Vanessa Hart on Sunset Beach where Saum first had millions of fans fall in love with her. Her coupling with Jason George’s Michael was one of the show’s best romances.

Saum most recently appeared in recreated flashbacks on Grey’s Anatomy to shed light on Teddy’s past. She was Allison — the same Allison for whom Teddy named her and Owen’s daughter. Turns out she wasn’t Teddy’s sister but rather her lover — who died in the terrorist attacks on 9/11. That’s a whopper of a lie Teddy’s been telling for years.

The day her episode aired, George tweeted a throwback photo of Michael and Vanessa and wrote, “if somebody happens to see this woman on @greysabc, tell her to give me a call. I’m still mad we didn’t have any scenes together.”

Kelli Hu

When Sunset Beach started, the love story of lifeguard/wannabe lawyer Casey Mitchum and doctor Rae Chang, played by Tim Adams and Kelly Hu, served as the show’s B-story romance early on, though they never quite achieved the supercouple status of Ben and Meg. For some reason, the writers quickly moved on from what was an enjoyable match and Hu was one of the first regulars to leave the show.

But Hu went on to bigger and better things, landing a series regular role on Nash Bridges and being a fixture in primetime over the years, with appearances on shows such as Vampire Diaries, Arrow, NCIS, and Warehouse 13. She’s also a major voice artist in video games, known best for D’Vorah in Mortal Kombat X and X1.

Eddie Cibrian

Although Eddie Cibrian wasn’t an original Sunset Beach cast member, he took over the role of the adventurous Cole Deschanel from Ashley Hamilton only two weeks after the show started.

Once his Beach gig ended, Cibrian appeared regularly on primetime, with starring roles in CSI Miami, Third Watch, and most recently ABC’s Take Two opposite Rachel Bilson.

Off-screen, he married singer LeAnn Rimes and he continues to pop up on primetime.

Susan Ward

As nice girl Kansas import Meg Cummings, Susan Ward and her romance with Clive Robertson’s Ben Evans comprised Sunset Beach’s first true supercouple. The two met over the Internet and their love survived an evil twin, a back-from-the-grave wife, and even a serial killer.

Meg and Ben would marry in a double wedding alongside Michael and Vanessa in the show’s final episode.

Ward went on to star in movies such as Shallow Hal, The in Crowd, and Wild Things 2, plus guests on TV shows like Friends, Monk, and Criminal Minds. Most people today know her for her two-season run as Chloe Kmetko, the mother of young gymnast Emily, who is striving for Olympic glory on Make It or Break It.

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