Home > Interviews

Soap Hub Flashback Friday: Brynn Thayer Recalls Jenny’s Anguish

Daytime Emmy nominee Brynn Thayer recalls an emotional OLTL storyline.

Brynn Thayer one life to live story with jenny giving her daughter to katrinaThis One Life to Live story was legendary.

Brynn Thayer played fan favorite Jenny Wolek on One Life to Live from 1978 to 1986. Soap Hub chatted with the actress recently about a new play, Let Me In, which she’s written and directed, and also about one of her more powerful stories from her time in Llanview.

Brynn Thayer Recalls Baby Mary on OLTL

Soap opera baby switch storylines are a staple in daytime dramas. Way back in the early 1980s, Jenny Wolek was pregnant with Brad Vernon’s (Steve Fletcher) baby. Brad also impregnated Katrina Karr (Nancy Snyder), only Katrina had decided to give up her child for adoption. The two women gave birth around the same time. Jenny’s sister Karen (Judith Light) and Marco Dane (Gerry Anthony) made the heart-wrenching decision to swap in the hospital nursery Jenny and Katrina’s newborn daughters after Jenny’s daughter died shortly after birth.

Katrina, however, later revealed that she was going to keep her baby — not knowing that her daughter was alive and living with Jenny. If you think stories go on too long today, keep in mind that the saga of baby Mary (later, toddler Mary) went on for years. (And viewers were glued to their seats.) Eventually, the truth came out, and Jenny made the heartbreaking decision to return Katrina’s daughter to her.

“We played that story out for, I think, three years,” Thayer tells Soap Hub. “Mary was 3-years-old when [Jenny] gave her back. That was incredible.”

A Memorable Story of Two Mothers

Thayer gives kudos to the show’s writers and co-star Snyder for making the tale so powerful. “She’s such an incredible actress,” Thayer says. “She’s like no other. She was so different with the way in which she acted. There was no ‘soap opera’ in her. She’s such a fascinating woman. I really like her.” Off-screen, Snyder is wed to former OLTL co-star Stephen Schnetzer (Marcello Salta), best known to soap fans as Another World’s Cass Winthrop.

What do you think? Post a comment!

It may have appeared at times that Katrina and her baby would never be reunited. The OLTL scribes, led by late great head writer Gordon Russell, never forgot the story, but it didn’t always play on the front burner. “Nothing would happen for months…but it was always there,” Thayer recollects. “That was a brilliant way to write a soap opera, I think.”

In 1997, after The City had aired its finale but before Port Charles debuted, ABC broadcast a limited series, A Daytime to Remember. Country singer/actress/soap opera devotee Reba McEntire narrated half-hour episodes that re-aired dramatic scenes from memorable ABC storylines. Jenny giving Mary to Katrina was included in this series, a testament to the story’s impact as well as the incredible writing and acting that was part of a Golden Age of daytime drama.

Brynn Thayer Talks Let Me In

Katrina opted to move to Florida with Mary to begin their new, reunited life together. A few years later, Jenny moved to Europe with husband David Renaldi (Michael Zaslow). In 1997, Jenny was presumed dead in an avalanche. (Translation: a door was left open for her return.)

Now, Thayer has written and directed a play, Let Me In, inspired by a real-life tragedy, the passing of Thayer’s best friend in a car accident. She recently spoke to Soap Hub about the play’s origins and her memories of co-star Zaslow.

If you’re in the Los Angeles area and would like to see Let Me In, go to Theatre 68 for ticket information. Performances are Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. from February 25 to April 2. General admission to all performances is $35. Theatre 68 Arts Complex is located at 5112 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601.

Subscribe Now

Get spoilers, news and recaps in your inbox daily.

Subscribe Now

Get spoilers, news and recaps in your inbox daily.