Fans of One Life To Live fell in love with Marilyn Chris when she introduced the lovable character of Wanda Webb to Llanview back in 1972. Wanda was only intended to be a short-term role, but the producers immediately saw potential for the character and knew that they had a dynamo actor on their hands.
Marilyn Chris Takes The Soap By Storm
She had been a well-known theater actor, having won numerous awards, including the prestigious Obie and Drama Desk Awards. Plus, they had been looking for a love interest for the character of Vince Wolek, played by the late Antony Ponzini.
“Tony was already a regular on the show when I was hired for a two-day part. The scenes were with Tony. We had known each other slightly from the Village and the off-Broadway scene. We loved working together. I guess it showed. After my part was over, the show asked me back and it developed into a 20-year gig!”
Wanda had a humorous sensibility and, with Vinnie, the two became the show’s comic relief, adding levity to the drama. The producers encouraged the actors to have fun with it, and so Wanda and Vinnie brought viewers plenty of laughs and good cheer for years.
But by the late 1970s, with the show expanding to 45 minutes and then one hour, the ability to perform in plays while also performing on the show became difficult. Marilyn Chris took a break from One Life To Live, but she returned a few years later to find a new actor playing her husband, Vinnie.
When A Role Is Recast
During her absence from the show, actor Michael Ingram had taken over the role of Vince Wolek. Fortunately, Marilyn Chris didn’t miss a beat. “It was fairly seamless because I had been away for some time, so everything old was new again. Michael and I knew each other. We had done some commercials together and he was very nice to work with. It’s like going back in time. You go to your old house, for instance. It’s not the same but it’s good in a different way.”
A Final Farewell to OLTL
Finally, in 1993, Chris decided to leave OLTL for good. She simply felt it was time to go. “My husband, Lee, had taken his pensions and said we could afford to be without one salary. It was time to try to do small films and other things.”
Those things included award-winning short films, working on a one-person play, some episodic television, and traveling. She also moved a few times and had a granddaughter, whom she delights in talking about.
When asked which medium she prefers, Chris responds, “I just love to act! I prefer whichever medium I happen to be working in. But live theater is my first love.”
Life After One Life
These days, she continues to act but also spends time taking care of her husband, who has been in poor health. Chris adds she’s also “reading, doing crossword puzzles, and trying to age gracefully!”
When asked about her favorite memories of her time on the New York-based soap, she responds, “The early years seem to resonate the most with me, working with Tony Ponzini, may he rest in peace. The show was a half-hour and we worked on each episode like it was a short play.”
Marilyn Chris doesn’t really keep in touch with any former castmates, but she does keep up with some of the people she worked with via Facebook. She confesses to missing many of them.
Soap fans tend to hold beloved characters in their hearts, and OLTL fans are no different. “I love hearing from fans. I hear from them mostly on Facebook these days. Their reminiscences are so charming and touching. I’m pleased that I had the opportunity to touch so many lives and give people some pleasure and humor.”