Actress Terri Garber is known to both daytime and primetime soap fans for her roles on such series as General Hospital, and As the World Turns, and Dynasty but she’s mostly remembered for her part as the wicked and willful Ashton Main on the North and South mini-series – North and South Book 1, North and South; North and South Book 2, Love and War; and North and South Book 3, Heaven and Hell.
Former GH Star Terri Garber Looks Back On Her Soap Career
Soap Hub recently caught up with the actress, who is in a different kind of suds business these days. She and her sister Lisa Garber Rubenstein have started their own soap-making business named Sisters Alchemy. Read this insightful Q&A in which Garber looks back at her varied soap opera career.
How did your soap-making business with your sister, Lisa, come about?
Terri Garber: Lisa and I were in Miami and she told me she had made some soap and asked me if I wanted to make some with her. It sounded like fun. I love the whole “scents and smell” part of it. Lisa is great at coming up with the recipe. There are all different kinds of soaps. I’ve learned so much by working with my sister. We’re so close now — not that we weren’t before.
Your first soap was Texas in 1982. Did you work with Beverlee McKinsey (Iris Carrington Wheeler)?
She may have still been on the show my first month or so but I didn’t have any scenes with her. Texas was a great show and I was thrilled to be on it. I learned so much and I especially learned that I like working on a soap opera. I enjoyed the pace and the confidence being on a show gave me.
A few years after Texas, you landed the role of Ashton Main on North and South. What was that experience like?
I felt so honored to have been chosen to play Ashton. I thought she was the juiciest role I’d ever read. I don’t think I was intimidated because I was feeling so confident. I knew what I was going to do with this character. Genie Francis [Laura, GH] played Ashton’s sister Brett. We got to be really close and got to know each other before we started shooting. We didn’t know they were going to do a Book II. We took off only about two months before they said we need everyone back.
I read you’d gotten married in real life wearing one of Ashton’s gowns?
[Laughs] That is such a crock! No, I did not. I wore something from the show but not [Ashton’s gown]. The series is available on streaming, I believe. It’s great that a whole new audience can find the show. I get messages from people all the time on social media about North and South. We went back for a third movie that aired in 1994 and it was really nice to see everyone again.
Next, you came onto Dynasty as Leslie Carrington.
Yes. I had finished North and South and had just had a baby. [Feelers] were put out to both Dynasty and Dallas and I went with Dynasty. On my first day of work, I was waiting to get my hair styled. I heard screaming from another room and a woman’s voice saying, ‘No! You can’t do that!’ I sat there thinking, ‘Just don’t leave your room!’ Later, I ran into the woman — Joan Collins [Alexis] — and she said, ‘I suppose you’re the new girl. I’m Joan Collins — or at least I thought I was.’ I said, ‘No. You’re still Joan Collins.'”
What was Leslie’s story?
I was involved with Ted McGinley’s character Clay Fallmont but we had to stop seeing each other because he might have been Leslie’s half-brother!
Next, you took on a very challenging role for different reasons — Suzanne Collier on Santa Barbara.
Yes. Marcy Walker [Eden] wanted to leave. The show needed a love interest for A [Martinez, Cruz]. I got the role but I also got so much hate mail! It was shocking in that it was so vicious! I thought, ‘It was Marcy’s choice to leave!’ Working with A was wonderful. He is so gracious, handsome, and giving.
You then went over to GH as Victoria, Bill Eckert’s (Anthony Geary) blind girlfriend.
Yes. It was a strange time there. Tony was playing Bill Eckert and my character was involved with him. I was on the show for a year and then, I went off and did North and South Book 3. Bill was such a dark character. There really wasn’t much levity. Emma Samms, whom I’d work with on Dynasty where she played Fallon, was on GH as Holly Scorpio. Victoria ended up leaving town and leaving Bill.
I loved being on GH because I grew up as an ABC soap opera gal. I’d watch Ryan’s Hope, All My Children, One Life to Live, and GH. I love being on a soap opera because of the challenges. You have a lot to learn in a very short amount of time. I love the people I worked with. I love doing soaps.
Your next daytime role was Gwen’s (Jen Landon) mom Iris Dumbrowskiz — great name, by the way!
I was so lucky to play her. She was such a great character. I worked with Jen Landon. I’d never come across her dad [the late Michael Landon]. But I loved working with her and I’m so proud of her. I was flattered to be asked back in the show’s final months. As the World Turns was a huge show that had aired for 54 years! We shot it in the same studio where Texas had taped, so there was a full-circle element.
Do you ever get confused for Teri Garr (Tootsie) or Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives)?
I would get Teri Garr’s fan mail and she’d get mine. I introduced myself to Teri Garr one time outside The Ivy [restaurant]. She said, ‘Oh, you’re the one whose mail I’m getting!’
General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on GH spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.
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