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Exclusive Interview: Harley Jane Kozak Looks Back on Guiding Light


Actress/author Harley Jane Kozak celebrates her birthday on January 28, and what better way to celebrate the beloved star than a walk down Memory Lane! She played three memorable soap roles in the 1980s. Her first one, Brette Wheeler on NBC’s Texas, came to an end when the show went off the air in late 1982.

Harley Jane Kozak Looks Back

However, Kozak wasn’t done working with that show’s creative team. After producer Gail Kobe and head writer Pam Long took over the creative helm at Guiding Light, Kozak was tapped to play the mysterious Annabelle Sims, future wife of Tony Reardon (Greg Beecroft).

In the second of a three-part QA, Kozak talks about her time in Springfield, which included a murder mystery, psychic phenomenon, and a trip to Barbados!

Soap Hub Insider: What did you think of Annabelle’s psychic visions?
Harley Jane Kozak:
I love that storyline! My mother was way into psychic phenomenon. That was her closet life; her real world was being a university professor. So, I grew up with all that. It wasn’t a stretch for me at all.

Annabelle was first introduced as a mystery woman whose late mother, Annie (also played by you), had a past with Tom Reardon (also played by Beecroft), Bill Bauer (Ed Bryce), Brandon Spaulding (John Wardell), Henry Chamberlain (William Roerick), and H.B. Lewis (Larry Gates).
Yes. It turned out that Annabelle’s father, Eli [Stephen Joyce], had killed her mother decades earlier. Annabelle had blocked out all her memories and they had started to resurface. Her father was psychotic. I remember playing Annie in flashbacks and being cold and in a lake when we shot on location.

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What else do you recall about that time?
Around that time, I was actually visiting a friend at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. I remember visiting him and seeing all these deeply medicated patients who were watching Guiding Light and during a visit I was appearing on screen [as Annabelle]. It was the oddest professional and personal confluence of events in my entire life.

Your other big storyline revealed Brandon Spaulding (Keith Charles) being alive in Barbados living with a secret family. You and Michael Woods (Jim Reardon) had to take a big jump into the ocean while on location.
That was scary! [Producers] assured me I wouldn’t drown or crash. Michael, whom I’m still friends with, grabbed my hand and said, ‘Let’s do it!’ I’m a good swimmer, but [laughs] I’m not a good jumper!

Do you recall when Annabelle was threatened by Susan Piper (Carrie Nye) with a tarantula? That tarantula was in the show’s opening credits for a while!
I remember having to act with a rat that was supposed to run over my face when Annabelle was stuck in a tunnel or a house? I was supposed to be unconscious when that happened. I don’t think I ever want to do that again!

Annabelle and Tony left Springfield in the middle of a big gala at the Blue Orchid. It was an abrupt departure.
Yeah. I think we were sending postcards from the northeast…I didn’t watch the show [after I left]. My contract was up. I thought, ‘That’s it. I’m done with soaps.’ But then I got an offer I couldn’t refuse – to play Mary Duvall on Santa Barbara. They wanted me out there in two days! I had never moved so fast in my life. I didn’t want to do another soap, but I thought doing this one will take me to Los Angeles.

Watch for part three of Harley Jane Kozak’s interview in the near future where she’ll talk about her experience on Santa Barbara and Mary’s untimely death. She was killed after being conked on the head by a giant “C” on top of the Capwell Hotel!

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