Four decades ago today, Peter Reckell made his Days of our Lives debut as Beauregard Aurelius “Bo” Brady, the youngest child of Shawn and Caroline. Any hunk can wear a leather jacket and ride a motorcycle, but Reckell broke the mold when it comes to playing romantic, heroic rebels on soaps. The actor brings humanity, depth, passion, and compassion to the character of Bo. Soap Hub recently sat down with Reckell in honor of his 40th anniversary as one of daytime’s most popular leading men.
Peter Reckell: Oakdale to Salem
In 1982, Reckell ended his run as Eric Hollister (opposite Dana Delany, who played Hayley Wilson) on As the World Turns. Fortunately, another soap was in his future. The following year, on May 3, Reckell made his first DAYS appearance. There was no mistaking clean-cut Eric for bearded Bo. “I came in looking like that,” the actor says of his longer locks and facial hair. Reckell recalls the show asking him to shave his beard off but he told a little fib to keep the look that helped identify his character.
“I said, ‘Oh, I have this [hair] for another role, which wasn’t true,” Reckell confesses. “For some reason, I had the cojones to do something like that.” He recalls Bo putting his feet up on Abe’s (James Reynolds) desk at the Salem Police station early on to show his rebellious side. “Where’d all that cockiness come from?” the actor rhetorically asks with a chuckle. “[Producers] Al [Rabin] and Shelley [Curtis] let it happen. That’s one of the amazing things in daytime. Writers and producers see where actors are going, and then, they write to those personalities.”
Bo and Hope: Supercouple Supreme
Reckell and Kristian Alfonso (Hope) had tons of chemistry from the beginning, but the show gave them the slow burn. Bo was a smidge older than teen Hope Williams. However, he wasn’t about to take advantage of her feelings for him when she took a spot at a kissing booth at a fair. Bo had a string of tickets around his neck, but he kissed an innocent Hope on the forehead instead of on the lips. Then, she grabbed him and planted one on his lips! “That was scripted,” Reckell says. “I can’t give the writers enough credit. Things developed from that moment. Bo has had all these powerful relationships with Hope, Roman [Wayne Northrop; now, Josh Taylor], and Alice [Frances Reid] and others.”
Peter Reckell: Bound for Stardom
In the 1980s, university students scheduled their classes around soap opera air times so they wouldn’t miss their favorite programs. Reckell says initially, he was unaware of just how popular Bo and Hope were. “Kristian and I were on an airplane and had landed in New Orleans [for a remote],” Reckell says. “We saw this huge crowd and a band. Was there a rock star on the plane? We found out they were there for us.”
Holding Out for a Hero
DAYS has always known how to make its viewer wait for big payoffs. In June 1984, Bo was finally (!) able to tell Hope that he had lied to her about not caring for her so that he could help save Roman from Stefano DiMera (Joe Mascolo). Alas, she was about to walk down the aisle and wed ambitious politician Larry Welch (Andrew Masset). Bo burst into the room at the church where Hope was getting ready. They argued but Bo convinced Hope to ride off with him on a “borrowed” policeman’s motorcycle so they could talk things out — and make up. “Those payoffs were great,” Reckell recalls. “Fans are always saying, ‘Come on!’ Let them get together!'” But, then, he says, it becomes, “Where do you go from there?”
Married at Last
On May 23, 1985, Bo and Hope were married in England. In reality, the show rented a church in Hollywood to shoot the ceremony. “It was a moment we’d been building up to for years,” Reckell recalls. Being in a real church helped add authenticity to the occasion. “As an actor, you go, ‘Okay, I gotta be in this moment with my TV bride.’ Again, what saved it was Kristian and I locking eyes and just supporting each other and making it about that moment.”
Peter Reckell: Father Time
Reckell and Alfonso left DAYS in 1987, and viewers watched Bo and Hope sail off into the sunset. The actors took on other roles. He was cast as Johnny on Knots Landing; she became Pilar on Falcon Crest. The duo returned to the soap in 1990. Alfonso was back for a brief stint, Reckell stayed for a longer one, which meant he played Bo as a “widower” and single dad to their son Shawn-Douglas for a while. Bo affectionately called his son “Sailor Man” and taught him how to shave.
“We have some friends over now with a three-month-old,” Reckell shared during our interview with him. “I was playing with the baby, and my wife, Kelly [Moneymaker], was saying that I’m the ‘Baby Whisperer’ because of all the different children I’ve worked with on the show. Some of them have called me, ‘Bo Daddy.’ That old adage of never working with kids in show business doesn’t make sense to me.”
Bo and Hope: Reunited
Alfonso returned to DAYS in 1994 as “Gina,” who took about a year to realize that she was actually Hope. Reckell reprised Bo in 1995, and eventually, Bo and Hope were back together. “There was a scene where ‘Gina’ opened the puzzle box,” says Reckell of the moment that helped prove Gina was truly Hope, as only she and her late grandfather Tom (Macdonald Carey) knew how to do it. “It was so wonderfully simple — just the two of us looking at each other. I remember getting the chills. When you go to a new show, there’s a lot of homework you have to do. Kristian and I, however, had gone through so much with each other.”
Check back for Part Two of our interview with Peter Reckell as we talk more about his 40 years as Bo Brady. The actor will address Bo’s relationship with his birth father, Victor Kiriakis (John Aniston), his return to DAYS in 2015 where Bo “died,” and whether or not we’ll see Reckell return to the soap in the future.