News & Rumors

As the World Turns Star Rita McLaughlin Walter Dead at 71

The actress was wed on-screen to both Tom Hughes and Steve Andropoulos

Rita McLaughlin Walter

Rita McLaughlin Walter, known to long-time fans of As the World Turns as Carol Demming Hughes Stallings Andropoulos Frazier, has passed away at 71.

In Memoriam: Rita McLaughlin Walter

The actress had been diagnosed with Multifocal Glioblastoma this past August and a GoFundMe had been started in her name to help with expenses. The red-haired actress was a fan favorite during her 11 years in Oakdale.

“My sweet, loving sister Rita was called to Jesus today on Christmas day, his birthday,” David McLaughlin, Rita’s brother, posted on Facebook. “She was a well known actress as well as dedicated server of the Lord Jesus. May you rest in peace Sis, I love you forever. You’ve taken my heart with you.”

Born on March 8, 1951, in Brooklyn New York, McLaughlin worked as Patty Duke’s stand-in on The Patty Duke Show in which Duke played look-a-like cousins Patty Lane and Cathy Lane. McLaughlin first made the soap opera scene in 1966 on The Secret Storm as Wendy Porter.

In 1970, the actress made her ATWT debut as Carol Demming, who worked for Lisa Eldridge [Eileen Fulton] at the Wade bookstore. Carol saw Lisa’s son Tom Hughes through some difficult times and love blossomed. They married but their union didn’t last long as Tom was too obsessed with his law career. Tom and Carol parted amicably.

Next, Carol fell for Jay Stallings (Dennis Cooney) and became his wife. Jay had a wandering eye, however, and he took up with Natalie Bannon (Judith Chapman), who just happened to be Tom’s new wife!

Judith Chapman Remembers Rita McLaughlin Walter

Chapman shared memories of McLaughlin on her Facebook page. “The passing of beautiful Rita McLaughlin has taken me back nearly half a century to ATWT,” Chapman wrote. “When we were performing [a play together], ‘THE WORLD OF CARL SANDBERG,’ I had lines that Rita said took her ‘LORD’S NAME IN VAIN…WOULD I CHANGE IT?’…

“A very long pause from a very insulted me…” Chapman adds. “I offered some options, but we stayed true to MR. SANDBERG’S words. Gotta tell you on OPENING NIGHT, more than a bit nervous about those lines, my naughty ANGEL said, ‘Stick to your principles!!’ While my good ANGEL whispered, ‘BE CAREFUL, Rita may have a point…!’ I laugh now.

“Thank the ‘LORD!’ I remembered my lines as written and Rita and I were fine,” Chapman continues. “Can’t believe such a good Soul is gone. And on Christmas Day. I guess her Lord needed her there more than on earth. God Bless you, Heavenly Rita, rest in your Lord’s arms in peace…”

A Real-Life Supercouple

Carol and Jay went through many ups and downs throughout the course of their marriage including taking in Jay and Natalie’s daughter Amy. Jay tragically died in a mining accident. Carol was next paired with Steve Andropoulos (Frank Runyeon) but their marriage ended after she learned of his alliance with villain James Stenbeck (Anthony Herrera).

The ATWT writers gave Carol a happy ending by having her fall in love one last time with a minister, Norman Frazier, who was played by McLaughlin’s real-life husband, Reverend Norman Walter. Her last air date on ATWT was Christmas Day, 1981. She passed away 41 years later to the day of her final appearance in Oakdale.

After As the World Turns

Rita McLaughlin Walter mostly left acting behind after leaving ATWT, however, she did appear in the 1985 faith-based movie Cry from the Mountain. The former actress went on to work as an optician in Westfield, New Jersey. She had three children Brian, Jillian, Amy, and eight grandchildren. Soap Hub sends sincere condolences to McLaughlin Walter’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.

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